The first time I visit Mangere Bridge Library, a man is finding out he's next in the queue for big trouble. The reserve queue for Big Trouble by Dave Barry, that is. Ho ho.

I'm not sure anybody actually gets in big trouble at Mangere Bridge Library. It's so cosy, like a brick-and-tile grandparents' house, round the back of the shops. The book club is full of canny Miss Marple types.

"Next month we'll read a normal book," they say, after trawling through something terribly highbrow. "Yes, let's indulge ourselves with murder!" Much cackling.

Even the teenage boys playing chat roulette on their phones, having loud, quick-fire conversations all across the world don't get into trouble.


"Sup, cuz?" they ask people they've never met before. "Where are you in Australia, bro?" And then a second later: "This girl is from South Korea. How do you say hello in your language?" The library is indeed a place of learning.

In the summer, a small dog called Roka visits the library to listen to children read. Reading to a friendly animal can be easier than reading to all-knowing, judgemental grown-ups, so it's very responsible of the library to offer this service and also very cute.

Despite its excellent view of Mangere mountain - a truly magnificent volcano specimen - the library doesn't have many windows, making the children's section a bit pokey. But they do have a cardboard-box playhouse, a librarian with a mohawk and great air conditioning.

I was grateful for the cool air last Saturday, halfway through an impromptu cross-harbour triathlon: cycling, swimming and reading my way from Church St to Church Rd - that is, from Onehunga Library to Mangere Bridge Library - and back again. People were fishing along the old Mangere Bridge. Further along, on the new, raw and warm beaches by the motorway, washed-up mangrove seed pods looked like little books.

While the current Onehunga library/community centre building is barely 15 years old, its ornate predecessor was built in 1911, one of 18 in New Zealand funded by Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Saved from demolition several times, the now-protected Carnegie building was until recently the Library Cafe, but will re-open next month as one of "The Good Home" gastro bars.

Which current places of learning will be places of drinking in 100 years? Devonport's for sure. Onehunga's current library probably isn't quite fancy enough for such an exalted afterlife. But the rectangular building, larger than Mangere Bridge's, is attractively light, bright and high-ceilinged, even if a slight aeroplane food-like aroma wafted above the children's section. It has views across carparks to the Manukau Heads.

Cardboard-tube decorations include a "deadly bat" with rainbow wings and a multi-eyed alien who loves Paris. Remas, who is maybe 5 or 6 years old, matches apricot leggings with a white hijab and Jandals and tells me her favourite author is Dr Seuss. Her dad says the library is quieter now that the video games have been removed. Feel the serenity. Trouble-free.