Published on 14th June 2013
Auckland librarian Philippa Robinson arrived in Bougainville on 17 June to spend a year as a VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad) volunteer, helping to catalogue and shelve more than 5000 books at the Bougainville Library in Arawa.
The library – or haus stori – is the inspiration of Wellington writer Lloyd Jones, whose acclaimed 2006 novel Mister Pip is set in Bougainville. A movie version of the book starring Hugh Laurie will be released in September.
Philippa, a librarian at Bell Gully lawyers in Auckland, arrived in Arawa in time for the library’s official opening on June 21. Lloyd Jones also attended the opening, as well as the building’s designer, Wellington architect Paul Kerr-Hislop, and Pete Carter from the Bougainville Library Trust which raised the funds for the building.
“It will be great to be there for the opening – it’s a great opportunity to meet all the local people who have been involved in the library,” she said, in an interview before leaving New Zealand.
A container of more than 5000 books for the library arrived in Bougainville in April. Philippa will work with
local staff to catalogue them and get them onto the shelves. The plan is to develop an online catalogue, as well as a traditional card catalogue to provide a back-up for Bougainville’s often unreliable internet services.
“It’s important to be able to keep using the library even if there are problems with the internet, or with the power supply.”
Philippa is looking forward to starting work on the project.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me, as a librarian,” she says. “It will be a huge change, moving from a corporate to a community library, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”