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

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

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.