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Quirky signs for serious issue

One of the signs in Martinborough supporting Shirley Nightingale, below, a librarian for 10 years at Martinborough Library known for her shoe collection. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Librarian a catalyst for range of issues

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A series of quirky signs on the main road into Martinborough have got the town talking, though facts are in short supply.

They’re lobbying for the return of Shirley Nightingale to Martinborough Library and are a bit of a nod to the woman herself.

Organiser Glenys Hansen, a vicar, admits she’s a good friend of Nightingale, who she said bought an “extra something” to her work at the library over 10 years, including a quirky shoe collection.

The 16 signs are wordplays, including “Don’t Shelve Shirley” and “The Community Supports Shoely”.

In the statement, Hansen and co-organiser Alex Wall said “we believe Shirley is being unjustly removed from her job as Martinborough librarian by the South Wairarapa District Council”.

“She is a caring, generous person and expresses our community values.

“We could name people who have been incapacitated and Shirley has delivered books to them in her own time, but more than this, she has always gone the extra mile to help in any way she can.”

They say Nightingale is a prolific book purchaser and set up the Friends of the Library group and the library book club.

They got permission from people living in Kitchener St to put the signs on their fences.

Another seven signs are being made, a picket at the council is planned for next week, and there’s talk of a fundraising event.

Petitions have been put in The Village Cafe, Medici, Kitcheners cafe, and the BP service station.

Hansen says she’s having no contact with Nightingale, who lives in Greytown, while the campaign is running and Nightingale can’t talk publicly because she is involved in a mediation process.

South Wairarapa District Council is not commenting on the issues involved.

“We are going through an employment process and it’s not appropriate for us to discuss the details in the media,” chief executive Harry Wilson said.

A person from the Nightingale camp who didn’t want to be named said 22 allegations had been made against the librarian, but they were “petty issues” that could be explained.

Hansen said Nightingale was the life and the soul of the library and a bit of a character.

Library displays have featured items from her shoe collection.

Hansen said there was a lot of dissatisfaction with the council in Martinborough, some of which was to do with the Waihinga Centre, which needed addressing.

“I actually think Shirley is a good catalyst for issues with the council because she is a good and popular person,” Hansen says.


  1. Martinborough is lucky to have a person with Shirley’s skills running our library she is highly knowledgeable and capable in her field and brings a wonderful creativity to her work as well.
    The badly resolved Waihinga Centre has been her downfall with such incompatible uses ‘cheek- by- jowl’. She expressed some of the complaints of library users and its been a case of ‘shoot the messenger’.
    Why on earth have we paid rates and used generous private gifts to build a cafe when we are very well served with such businesses already, also now the refurbished old hall is being booked up as a very inexpensive wedding venue in competition with all the private businesses in that space. Not the core community services for the local body to provide to residents.

  2. The site should have been sold, not developed at great expense when the council can’t even afford to run the water system properly.

  3. Thanks for this article.
    I have just returned from overseas, and feel very shocked that our wonderful, and well-qualified librarian seems to have become the victim of some sort of witch hunt.
    As a library user, rather than a ‘good friend’ I have always been impressed with Shirley’s work ethic, her integrity, and her friendly demeanour.
    The wonderful shoe collection was a bonus!
    I am wondering why your reporter felt the need to write: ‘Organiser…..admits she’s a good friend of Nightingale’.
    To admit means ‘to confess to be true’, or ‘to agree that something is true, especially unwillingly’.
    Is it a bad thing to support ones friends when they are going through a very stressful time?
    I’m also curious about your reporter’s choice of words further on: ‘A person from the Nightingale camp…..’
    Definitions of camp include:
    ‘a place where soldiers stay when they are training or fighting a war’ or ‘a group of people or organisations who have the same ideas or principles, especially in politics’, etc.
    As a strong supporter of Shirley, simply because I have been very impressed with her ability as an excellent librarian, I take exception to being referred to as part of a camp! I, like many others in our town, simply want this awful situation to be resolved as soon as possible, and to see Shirley’s smiling face back behind the library desk.

  4. Fully support Shoely – she belongs in our community the majority of an incompetent and officious. council don’t The local body elections can’t come soon enough Doug and Liz

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