Group Study Room Bookings

Great news! We have a new booking system for our library group study rooms.

We have listened to all your feedback, and after much trial and error have finally put in place LibCal:

You can book any of the group study rooms in the library, at either the City or Timaru campuses, from anywhere, on any device.

It is live for bookings from Monday 14 September – for bookings before then, you can still use the existing Outlook system, or contact the library.

Group of young people studying together
Disclaimer: picture does not represent actual Ara Library group study rooms…

Some tips:

  • Book using your Ara email address
  • Each member of your group can book for one hour per day
  • You can make up to three bookings per week across all the study rooms (not per room)
  • These rooms are for use by groups, and individuals may be asked to leave – individual quiet study is available elsewhere in both the City and Timaru libraries

We hope this system will be easier to use than our old one. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Happy booking.

Summer opening hours

With classes and exams slowing down, the City campus library has moved to its usual summer timetable:

Mon – Fri: 8am – 5pm

Sat – Sun: Closed

We will also close at 1pm on Friday December 6th and Friday December 20th.

You can still access the 24 hour computer lab if you have a valid Ara student card.

All Ara libraries will be closed from December 21st to January 5th – we will reopen at 8am on January 6th. During this time there will be no access to the campuses, even with an ID card.

We hope you have an enjoyable summer!



Library reminders to your phone

Want to know the minute the book you requested is ready for collection? Want to know when the books you have out are due to be returned? Then the library’s new text alert system is for you. The text alerts can help you save money by getting your books back on time, or renewing them before they are due for return.


There are three types of text alert:

  • A reminder that your books are due soon (about three days before they are due).
  • Reminders that your books are overdue (about three and seven days after they are due).
  • An alert that your requested book is ready for collection (as soon as it is put on the hold shelf).

From next week, these messages will go automatically to the phone number we have for you. If you’d like to update this number, if you have any questions about this service, or if you don’t want to receive these text messages, please contact the library.

These notices, and other library reminders, will still be sent to your student email address as well, so make sure you check this as well.


New Zealand Sign Language Week

7th – 13th of May is New Zealand Sign Language week. 24,000 people use NZSL every day. NZSL became an official language of New Zealand in 2006 and is the main language used by the NZ Deaf community. NZSL reflects the culture of the Deaf Community here in New Zealand, including signs for Maori words and concepts, which cannot be found in other signed languages around the world.

NZSL is not only the use of hand movements but includes the body, mouth movements and facial gestures to indicate meaning. Each region of NZ also has its own NZSL variations, just like regional accents.


Ara is running NZSL taster classes where you can learn some NZSL for yourself.


Monday 7th May

12pm – 1pm

Atrium Rakaia Building City Campus

Tuesday 8th May

12pm – 1pm

SSB, Trades Campus

Wednesday 9th May

12pm – 1pm

Library, Ground floor City Campus

We would love to see you at these classes. If you cannot make it, check out for more information on NZSL.

Happy signing!

Changes to library searching

The library will be upgrading some of its systems over the summer. We’re getting a new computer system for the librarians, and there will be an upgrade to the library catalogue, Primo. As part of this, existing links to Primo will stop working.

 If you have items saved in your Primo e-shelf, and you’d like to keep using them after the summer, you will need to export your e-shelf contents via email. We’ve made some instructions on how to do this which you can download.


 If you have any questions, please come in and see us, or contact the library


New toys

Our Timaru campus library has some new toys: 5 shiny new laptops.


The laptops can be borrowed by students to use in the library (sorry, you can’t take them to class) for 4 hours. They are connected to the Ara network, so you have access to the same files, programs, and printers you do on a desktop computer – but you can do it from the comfort of a beanbag, if you want.

Come in and see Afoa and borrow one today.

Never lower your standards

My personal standards are pretty low. I could get out of bed earlier and straighten my hair and put more make up on but that would require waking earlier and I would hate that. In other areas of life deciding not to bother and taking shortcuts is not an option. For example, in Christchurch we are currently living through the “rebuild” – a lovely understated term for years of tears, disruption and frustration peppered with occasional joy.

A massive part of this is making sure standards are enforced. Standards are agreed specifications for products, services, or performance. They are there to improve safety and meet various industries best practices. When standards aren’t met then there are repercussions as you can see on the news with Christchurch families in tears at poorly restored foundations on their homes.

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We have access to Standards New Zealand through Ara Library so we can bask in the knowledge that our students and staff will always follow best practice. We even have a helpful handy handout to help you search for standards. So regardless of how late you like to get out of bed there is no excuse for remembering the standards that do count – straight lines rather than straight hair!

Colleen Finnerty

Knowledge Advisor

Bit chilly, isn’t it?


This time of year resounds with sharply indrawn breaths, chattering teeth, and cries of “it’s a bit chilly!”. I for one struggle to drag myself from my warm bed, and the walk to work is an exercise in determination.

We are now past the shortest day, so in theory it’s all uphill from here – but as weather records show, it is usually as cold (if not colder) in July and August as in June (scroll to the bottom of the page for historical data). I apologise for the bad news…

A warm jersey, a hot cup of tea (or coffee, or chocolate, or blackcurrant), a good book or movie, and something comforting for dinner can go a long way to make up for the rain, frost, and (lack of) snow. To achieve this, try some of these library resources:

For the jersey (although this may take until next winter):

Teach yourself visually: Knitting

Rowan’s designer collection: summer and winter knitting

Sew eco: sewing sustainable and re-used materials

For the tea (or coffee):

The book of coffee & tea : a guide to the appreciation of fine coffees, teas, and herbal beverages

Tea : discovering, exploring, enjoying

For the book or movie:

You will, of course, be studying hard – either for exams or for the start of semester two. Won’t you?

If you are lucky enough to have a break, the Books & Authors database has some good recommendations and background information on books new and old.

For the comforting meal:

Try the winter issues of Cuisine magazine, or Australian Gourmet Traveller, for some seasonal inspiration.

And remember: our libraries are open their usual hours over the semester break. Come in and see us – it’s nice and warm.





The magical world of Oxford Online

When I think of Oxford University I think of carved stone buildings, gargoyles and hidden passages filled with black caped beings walking swiftly while discussing clever things. My Oxford is a sort of older person’s Hogwarts without Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Oxford University Press buildings
Oxford University Press buildings (Photo: Fractal Angel, CC BY-SA 2.0)

In reality, Oxford University is a terribly advanced place which has embraced technology as a way to spread its brilliance. We can see this at our library with:

  • Oxford Art Online Information on all things artsy including architecture, design, fashion and crafts. Includes a range of New Zealand and Pacific content;
  • Oxford Music Online The hills are alive with music reference and research within this resource;
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online Find spellings, definitions, pronunciation and examples of use. They even explain the use of the word bootylicious!

Not everyone is blessed with the academic brilliance of an Oxford academic but that is not to say we cannot be warmed from the glow of their collective genius. All the answers produced from their devoted studies has resulted in the above online databases that are just waiting to provide you with answers. All you need is to use your nimble fingers to ask the questions from the discomfort of an ergonomically faulty computer chair or your couch at home. Question everything!

– Colleen Finnerty, Knowledge Advisor.