TBT: A Librarian’s Worst Nightmare

I’m a bit late with this. It’s actually already Friday here, but somewhere in the world it is still Thursday. #Firsttoseethesun.

What is worse than a million books on the floor?


A million books on the floor twice.


This actually happened here in Christchurch. When the September 2010 earthquake struck, the majority of the shelves in the University libraries experienced a domino effect. Thank goodness it was 4.35am at the time. The books came flying off any shelves that were left standing. Sensibly, the library realised they needed better shelving with special wires to stop the books falling out. So, they ordered a bunch of new ones that could be tethered in place preventing the domino effect. Unfortunately they couldn’t just leave all the books on the floor in the meantime. So the poor librarians had to methodically pick up the estimated 1 million books, check them for damage, and place them back into the shelves, waiting for the arrival of the new units.

But before the new units arrived, the February 2011 “aftershock” struck, much stronger in force, centred directly under the city. And so, back to square one. Whilst no one was injured in the library, this earthquake caused significant damage to the inner city, including the devastating collapse of several large office buildings.


And yes, Mr NW’s meticulously organised bookshelf toppled too.

But, if you thought that was bad…at least books don’t smash.


18 thoughts on “TBT: A Librarian’s Worst Nightmare

    1. It was very fortunate no one was trapped between the shelves even during the second event which happened just after lunch. Unfortunately, falling masonry does a lot more damage than books.


    1. Actually, they use the Library of Congress Classification system! We were very lucky no one on campus sustained any injuries. However, there were devasting effects on the buildings in the central city and many were injured or killed by collapsing buildings or falling masonry.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember the news coverage here in the Outer Rim of the UK. I watched carefully as I have relatives in Auckland and when I heard “earthquake” and New Zealand I obviously feared the worse.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think for Auckland the key words you want to look for are “Volcano Erupts”. The rest of the country has voted and it is definitely Auckland’s turn for a natural disaster next. Auckland actually seems quite immune compared to the rest of the country!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I don’t know if I would go as far as voting! I will keep my eyes open for volcano warning however. And regarding the safety of your sister, I think she will be safe here, we had a “quake” a few years ago and it was around 3.1!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I do know that feeling, though. I have a sister in London and every time something crazy happens I’m busy googling trying to figure out if it is near her or not.


  1. It’s an opportunity for the librarians to renew their relationship with each of the books in their library! (I have personally never shelved more than 100 books at a time, so I can pretend it’s a soothing task.)

    Liked by 1 person

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