Thursday, 19 April 2007

April 22nd, 2007 Genealogy

As the ground thaws and spring takes hold, it is time for most people to start digging out their flower beds, but as most of the Brodie library staff know, the annual search for roots also brings crops of summer genealogists. Local residents and summer travellers have been known to hunt feverishly through reference resources to lay claim on their personal heritage. In addition to the regular requests for city directories and historical newspapers, this summer should be especially exciting at Brodie with the arrival of our newest electronic resource, Ancestry Library Edition. So instead of spring cleaning, stir up your attic to round up lost letters and family photos. It could be the ideal time to probe into your family tree.

How can I start my genealogical quest?

One regular researcher at the Brodie Library suggests that you list all that you know about your direct family in a pedigree chart and work your way backwards. Once you have this, a good book like Family History 101: A Beginner's Guide to Finding Your Ancestors can identify strategies, pitfalls and sources for your research.

Where can I find obituary notices for Thunder Bay?

Notices can be found at Brodie Library dating back to 1965 and can occasionally be found through the Fort William news index which dates back to the early 1930's. In truth, the wealth of genealogical information at Brodie largely depends on the generosity of the local Ontario Genealogical Society chapter who's deposit collection includes gems like Birth, Marriage, and Death Notices Extracted from the Fort William Daily Times Newspaper (1900 to 1912).

Where can I obtain marriage and birth records for Ontario?

While recent records are protected by privacy legislation and are held by Ontario's Registrar General, historic birth (1869-1909), marriage (1801-1924), and death (1869-1934) records are in the custody of the provincial Archives. (see for full details). Brodie Reference Services does a steady business in borrowing this kind of material through Inter-Library loan from various archives across Canada. All you need to do is ask.

How do I start researching my ancestors before they were Canadians?

Brodie Reference has a few print resources that identifies archival records for Canadian and US immigrants between 1600 and 1900 but an increasing volume of information can be found online through sources like the Canadian Genealogy Center or the international genealogical index at This last source is part of an extensive database collection from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Can I use my old family photographs?

A few titles in our collection are geared to using photographs for genealogy. Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs by Maureen Taylor or Dating Old Photographs are resources that can help you extract historical evidence by identifying styles of clothing and photographic production techniques for dating clues. If using photographs prompts you to preserve their value, you may want to check out Preserving your family photographs by Maureen Taylor or Digitizing your Family History by Rhonda R. McClure.

Is there an easier way to do genealogy research?

It is not exhaustive, but a test drive of our newest database, Ancestry Library Edition can provide citations from and scanned copies of records like those already mentioned; photographs, birth, marriage death, immigration and census materials for both the US and Canada as well as selected genealogical information for countries all over the world. One huge advantage of the ancestry Library edition is the ability to search by keyword and the immediate access to scanned documents.

Another interesting option for genealogy research, DNA analysis, was in the news a few months ago. Searching our Canadian Business and Current Affairs database on the Library’s virtual collection, I found a recent article from the Canadian Press Newswire which names two companies; GeneTree DNA testing Center from Salt Lake City and Vancouver based Genetrack. Depending on your search, this can cost anywhere between $119 and $650 US. If dipping into the family gene pool through a home DNA kit does not present any nostalgia or sense of adventure, feel free to start your ancestry expedition the old fashioned way. Start early to avoid the summer rush to the Brodie Reference Library.

Tracey Zurich, Reference Librarian

April 15, 2007

Bookmarks are useful tools to hold your place in a book your reading. Bookmarks are also useful tools to mark an interesting website you’ve found. Bookmarks are sometimes known as “Favourites”, depending on which browser you use to search with.

The free web-based social bookmarking site “” will be of interest to you if you use several different computers, and wish you could access the bookmarks you have at work, while you’re at home, or on your laptop while you’re using your desktop. is also a great tool to organize your bookmarks, and as a discovery platform to find new websites of interest to you.

To get started, you’ll need to set up a free account. Once you have an account set up you can import bookmarks that you already have saved in your browser. Once uploaded, you can add “tags” – short, one or two word descriptions – to your bookmarks. The tags act like subject headings, and help to organize your bookmarks. You can add more than one tag to each bookmark. You can access your account from any computer with internet access.

Once you have some bookmarks saved in, you’ll be able to see if other users have bookmarked the same page. Then, you can click over to that person’s account to see what else they may have bookmarked on the same subject.

You can mark your bookmarks as “do not share” if you would prefer that others not be able to see them. You can also add a short description to your bookmarks, so you can easily remember why you saved a certain website.

Your Library has a account which lists website specially selected by our Reference Staff. You can see them at

The uses for are endless. Here are some ideas from the site:

What can I use for? is an open-ended system, so you decide how you want to use it. Here are examples of things you can do with saving bookmarks on

Research - Writing an article? Researching an industry? Slaving away on your dissertation? Use to keep track of all the source materials and commentary that you find online.

Wishlist - Go to any commerce site, find what you like, save it to and tag it as wishlist. Then you can tell people to check out your wishlist bookmarks by giving them a link to .

Podcast - Want to hear some great podcasts? Visit the mp3+podcast tag combination and start listening. Are you a podcaster? Start posting your mp3 files to and we will create an RSS feed for you.

Vacation - Planning a trip? Save links to hotels, activities, and transportation and use tags like "travel", "vacation", and "to-visit". Collaborate with friends and family by using the "for:username" tag.

Linklog - Save bookmarks to interesting websites and add a bit of commentary to create a lightweight linklog. Then, use linkrolls or the daily blog posting feature to include your bookmarks on your blog or website.

Cookbook - Whenever you find a great recipe on a website, save it to Tag it with the recipe's ingredients or style of cooking, and then when you're wondering what to make for dinner, you can use your saved bookmarks to help you remember the perfect recipe.

Collaboration - Friends, coworkers, and other groups can use a shared account, special tag, or their networks to collect and organize bookmarks that are relevant -- and useful -- to the entire group.

Joanna Aegard, Head, Virtual Library Services

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

April 8th, 2007 Cats and Books

Although the weather may be better by the time this article runs, right now it appears that winter has returned with a vengeance and the snow is swirling and the wind is howling. My thoughts keep turning to a fireside chair, a good book and a warm cat purring nearby. There is something about the cat which goes well with reading, and literature abounds with cat characters, cat themes and cat subject matter.

Cats in the Library
Although I don't think it's a good idea due to the number of persons who suffer from allergies, some bookstores and libraries have cats as mascots who live on site and are enjoyed by the visitors. There is even one cat, named Dewey, who was rescued by a librarian in a small town in Iowa and who lived out his 19 years on the premises. The story of this cat just sold for 1.25 million dollars and the publisher who will print the tale of this kitty thinks it will be money well spent for cat-lovers will flock to this book like dog-lovers did to Marley and Me.

Lucky Cats
Dewey was one lucky cat, or should I say, his owner the Iowan librarian is one lucky woman. My cat Rocky is another lucky cat - lucky that he has owners who will tend to his outrageous demands for feedings every two hours and constant attention. But the kind of lucky cat I like to visualize are the Japanese beckoning cats one often sees in images and statuary in stores or restaurants. The cat seems to be sitting and has one paw raised as if in greeting or calling. Maneki-neko is the Japanese name, and these cats are thought to bring good luck and protect the owner from pain or ill health.

Cats and Mysteries
Going back to Edgar Allen Poe and his psychological story The Black Cat, cats have been intriguing characters for mystery writers. After the success of Lillian Jackson Braun's series about Quill and his feline crime-busters Koko and Yum Yum, cats became regular features in mystery novels. All of the cat mystery stories are cozies, that is, warm and somewhat comic mysteries which are entertaining to read. Besides the Braun books, there is Big Mike the Abyssinian alley cat and his bookstore owner in the series by Garrison Allen, Rita Mae Brown's cat, Mrs. Murphy who often seems smarter than her owner, Carole Douglas's Midnight Louie who talks to fellow animals but can only purr to his owner and finally, the most anthropomorphic of them all, the Joe Grey mysteries by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Joe Grey and Dulcie are regular feline Sherlock Holmes' and not only can they speak English with their owner, they can order take out and call in anonymous tips to police in order to solve crimes. Author Susan Campbell Bartoletti says it best : "nobody's cozier than a cat- a purred up, curled up, take-a-nap cat."
Source: NoveList database

Cats for Kids and Kids for Cats
When I am giving tours of the library for children, usually one of the first questions I get from a child trying to locate books is where are the cat books? There is a group of children who would gladly pour over glossy cats books for hours. And as with the books for adults, cats are well-loved and well-used characters in children's literature too. There are fables like Belling the Cat and nursery rhymes like The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens. There are pussy cat parables like Millions of Cats , feline fairy tales like Puss-in-Boots and poems like The Owl and the Pussycat. For beginning readers there is the series featuring Rotten Ralph the cat and most notably, the Cat in the Hat. 2007 is the 5oth anniversary of this revolutionary Dr.Seuss book . Prior to 1957, the books written for children who were learning to read were very dull and repetitive with phrases like See Spot run. Run, run, run. Spot can run. The cat in the hat burst onto the scene with

Look at me! Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun but you have to
know how. I can hold up the cup and the milk and the cake! I can hold up these books! And the fish on the rake!

This book went on to spawn a series of beginner books
like Hop on Pop, Green Eggs and Ham and other beloved classics.

But this is merely scratching the surface of all of the creative works that cats have inspired. From ancient Egyptian mythology and the tales of Bastet to Stimpson J. Cat of the Ren and Stimpy cartoons, cats have been hugely popular in the arts as allegories, icons and perhaps as mirrors to ourselves. Authors as diverse as T.S.Eliot, Mark Twain and William S. Burroughs have found inspiration in cats. So if you have a feline companion, why not invite him to your lap this evening and enjoy reading a book featuring or about cats as you let the cat's purring be your musical background and you feel your blood pressure lower and your soul relax.

Recommended for further reading: Cat World: A Feline Encyclopedia by Desmond Morris

Angela Meady is the Head of Children's & Youth Services