Our judges deliberations close this week and then it's over to the public to choose the winners of our Libraries change lives writing competition. Spot prize winner, Elok Halimah's story shows how libraries helped her settle in a new city.
Image: Julie and Uma from Public Libraries of New Zealand congratulate Elok Halimah on winning a Libraries change lives spot prize.
My family and I arrived in Wellington on Sunday, 1st February 2015. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, but we were terribly jet-lagged after the overnight journey from Tokyo via Christchurch. Apart from having a light meal at a café that now no longer exists, we couldn’t do much.
The following morning, on our second day in New Zealand, I took my 3 year old daughter to the Central Library. After submitting our IDs and a proof of residency, we applied to become new members. We spent the rest of the day at the library, exploring the children’s area, admiring the wide range of children’s books, having lunch at Clark’s Café on the mezzanine floor, and reading at least 10 picture books while sitting down leisurely on the comfortable sofa in the children’s area.
We didn’t have any friends yet. In fact, I didn’t know anybody yet. While searching for a suitable preschool for my daughter, I took her to the Central Library nearly every day. Our daily schedules mostly went like this; Frank Kitts Park, Central Library, Te Papa. Or Waitangi Park, Oriental Bay, Central Library. Or Central Library and Botanic Garden. Or Capital E, Frank Kitts Park, Central Library. I sometimes wondered if the security staff standing by at the gate ever thought why we were there so often. Of course they never said anything. Just like every other staff we encountered, they were nothing but friendly and polite.
The library has been a vital part of our lives ever since. When my daughter asked about rugby, haka, or other things about New Zealand, I went there to borrow books about them and read them for her. When I felt homesick and missed my family and friends, I went there to browse the “Biography” section, my most favourite area, to pick out one or two books and indulge myself into the unknown world of the well-known (well, sometimes less known) people. We attended and enjoyed countless “Story Time” sessions for pre-schoolers. We met many new friends there. In short, while his office was my husband’s first community here, the library has become my daughter’s and my very first door to the world outside our apartment. Looking back, I’m extremely glad that I headed straight away to the library and became a new member on my second day in the capital city.