Saturday, 26 May 2007

May 27th, 2007 For the love of Audiobooks

In my mind audiobooks are one of the most valuable resources in the library. And it's not because I don't like reading or don't appreciate the movies and music we provide access to. For me audiobooks are a way to keep up with the books that I don't have time to read and to motivate me to do chores.

There are as many different kinds of audiobooks as there are books. With people busier than ever (or so it seems) and all the great books there are out there for us to read it seems nearly impossible to keep up. Audiobooks are a great way of multitasking without feeling like you're multitasking, and being entertained at the same time. And so as we spend more time in transit (and bored silly) or just trying to get everything done, audiobooks help to keep our minds occupied.

There are a variety of formats for audiobooks, they come in cassettes (yes we still have them), compact discs, and now MP3s. We should also note that audiobooks aren't always books, we have some radio programs and language courses available as well, but it is easiest to refer to all of these spoken word recordings as audiobooks. It seems like everyone uses audiobooks for different reasons and so I'd like to highlight a few of the uses I know of.

Because I've already mentioned them, I'll address the audiobook as cleaning aide first. I don't enjoy doing the dishes and could take or leave ironing. So when I have a stack of things I need to do I pop on a book I've been meaning to read. Suddenly the chores don't seem so onerous and time flies by – this is particularly useful if you need to tidy a child's room or get them to.

When a million things are running through your mind and you just can't seem to settle down an audiobook can help you on your way to sleep. The only difficulty here is remembering where you were in the book the next time you listen to it.

Car trips
A long car trip is made much more enjoyable by the inclusion of a good story. Depending on the people in the vehicle you can listen to fiction or non-fiction, children's or adult books. Some of the children's books will also be enjoyable for the adults. Books like Airborn by Kenneth Oppel and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books are great family listening.

If exercising is something you do because you should and not because you truly enjoy it or you find your mind needs some stimulation you may also want to try an audiobook. It's a great use of time to catch up on your reading and exercise at the same time. Try a travelogue or humourous short stories – they make you laugh as you sweat!

Arts and Crafts
I'm including all arts and crafts here, whether you enjoy woodcraft or knitting, painting or sculpture an audiobook can keep you company. While there are times when it is not advisable (i.e. when using a radial arm saw) the story can be good company and in this case you're getting to do two fun things at once.

Some suggested titles:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Vinyl Cafe Stories by Stuart McLean
Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
The Beach House by James Patterson

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas, Children's and Youth Librarian

Thursday, 17 May 2007

May 20th, 2007 Thirty Years at TBPL

This year marks my thirtieth anniversary with Thunder Bay Public Library. It's hard to admit this because it gives you a clue as to how old I am. I'm not sure that in 1977 I would have guessed that I would still be 30 years later. It sounds like such a long time and yet it has gone by quickly. There have been a lot of changes in that time, in the library and the world in general. I've seen many staff come and go. Student helpers grew up and left, people retired or moved on and many are no longer with us. I'd like to share some of the things that were happening in our world in 1977.

The Way We Were
I started in the Circulation Department at Waverley. Back then you would see staff filing in the card catalogue. Patrons signed out items by writing their library card number on the card in the book pocket. At the end of the day staff would put all of those cards in order according to the Dewey Decimal system and this became the date due file. We carried vinyl records, slides and reels of film.

The Telex Machine
The Interlibrary Loan staff used a telex machine to send requests to the National Library of Canada. I was first trained on the telex in 1983. I thought it was very high tech. We would type the requests off line, then feed the tape into the telex to transmit it. I can still hear the sound of it running.

People were going to the movies to enjoy Smokey And The Bandit, Rocky, King Kong and Annie Hall, starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. It is a romantic comedy about a neurotic New York comedian and his equally neurotic girlfriend. This role earned Diane Keaton an Academy Award. The library carries it in both dvd and videocassette formats. Source:

Farrah Fawcett Hair
Long before Jennifer Aniston's famous hairstyle, there was Farrah Fawcett. Charlie's Angels premiered in late 1976 and everyone wanted hair like her. I recall at least one staff member that had a pretty amazing Farrah Fawcett hair style. She still works at the library, but
the hairdo is long gone. The library carries one of the original Charlie's Angels shows, on dvd.

Elvis Presley
On August 16, 1977 the world was stunned to hear that the King was dead. Mourning fans flocked to Graceland. It was the end of an era. A few years later I was excited just to see one of his outfits on display at the Las Vegas Hilton. The library carries many books on the life and death of Elvis. You can also visit our Virtual Collection and find information on Elvis in the Biography Resource Center. Remember the Virtual Collection is available to you, 24 hours a day. Source: Chronicle Of The 20th Century

Colleen McCullough's novel The Thorn Birds was released. Set in the Australian outback, it chronicles three generations of a ranching family. At the center of the story is a tale of forbidden love between a young girl and a priest, which spans a lifetime. It later became a
television mini series starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. The library carries the book as well as the movie on videocassette. Source: Chronicle Of The 20th Century

In late 1977 John Travolta danced his way into the hearts of young girls everywhere, in Saturday Night Fever and the disco dance craze was born. The library doesn't carry the movie, but we do have the soundtrack on compact disc, as well as several movies starring him.
Source: Chronicle Of The 20th Century

On May 27, 1977 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his wife Margaret announced that they were officially separated. It was the end of their May-December marriage, which was very much in the spotlight. The library carries many books on Pierre Trudeau, as well as books on
Margaret. Thirty years later their son Justin, who seems to have the same charisma his father had, is embarking on a political career of his own. Source: Chronicle Of Canada

Metric System
On September 6, 1977 highway signs in most Canadian provinces, except Nova Scotia and Quebec were converted to metric. Thirty years later those of us raised on the Imperial system are still looking for charts on metric conversion. Source: Chronicle of Canada

If you were alive in 1977, then I hope this column gave you a few flashbacks to that time. The newly formed Thunder Bay Public Library was only seven years old then. Wow, look at us now.

Karen Craib, Library Technician

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

May 13th, 2007 Mother's Day

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day in North America! The Encyclopaedia Britannica in your Library’s Virtual Collection reveals that Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, whose mother had organized women's groups to promote friendship and health, originated Mother's Day in 1907. Seven years later President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday.

For those of you who rushed around yesterday trying to find the perfect gift, you’ll be happy to know that Ms. Jarvis did not approve of the commercialization of Mother’s Day. Although she had promoted the wearing of a white carnation as a tribute to one's mother, the custom developed of wearing a red or pink carnation to represent a living mother or a white carnation for a mother who was deceased. Over time the day was expanded to include others, such as grandmothers and aunts, who played mothering roles. What had originally been primarily a day of honour became associated with the sending of cards and the giving of gifts, however, and, in protest against its commercialization, Jarvis spent the last years of her life trying to abolish the holiday she had brought into being.

A variety of holidays celebrating mothers are found all around the world. For example, during the Middle Ages the custom developed of allowing those who had moved away to visit their home parishes and their mothers on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent. This became Mothering Sunday in Britain, where it continued into modern times, although it has largely been replaced by Mother's Day.

Festivals honouring mothers and mother goddesses date to ancient times. The Phrygians held a festival for Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods, as did the Greeks for the goddess Rhea. Likewise, the Romans adapted the practice to their own pantheon. Some countries have continued to observe ancient festivals; for example, Durga-puja, honouring the goddess Durga, remains an important festival in India.

Share these amazing Mother’s Day facts with your Mom:

Oldest Mother
On April 9, 2003, Satyabhama Mahapatra, a 65-year-old retired schoolteacher in India, became the world's oldest mother when she gave birth to a baby boy. Satyabhama and her husband had been married 50 years, but this is their first child. The baby was conceived through artificial insemination using eggs from the woman's 26-year-old niece, Veenarani Mahapatra, and the sperm of Veenarani's husband.

Most Surviving Children
Bobbie McCaughey is the mother who holds the record for the most surviving children from a single birth. She gave birth to the first set of surviving septuplets - four boys and three girls -on November 19, 1997, at the University Hospital, Iowa, US. Conceived by in vitro fertilization, the babies were delivered after 31 weeks by cesarean in the space of 16 minutes. The babies are named Kenneth, Nathaniel, Brandon, Joel, Kelsey, Natalie and Alexis.

Shortest Interval Between Two Children
Jayne Bleackley is the mother who holds the record for the shortest interval between two children born in separate confinements. She gave birth to Joseph Robert on September 3, 1999, and Annie Jessica Joyce on March 30, 2000. The babies were born 208 days apart.

Longest Interval Between Two Children
Elizabeth Ann Buttle is the mother who holds the record for the longest interval between the birth of two children. She gave birth to Belinda on May 19,1956 and Joseph on November 20, 1997. The babies were born 41 years 185 days apart. The mother was 60 years old when her son Joseph was born.


Joanna Aegard, Head, Virtual Library Services

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

May 6th, 2007 Laughter

Recently at my yoga class, I learned about “Laughing Yoga” and it got me thinking about laughter and its cathartic component. You know, the feeling of utter of release and how exhausted you feel after you have had a good laugh! Yes, I can see the health benefits of laughing. But I really had a laugh when I learned, while researching this column, that today, May 6th is “World Laughter Day”? How funny is that?!?

We try to keep you smiling at the library by adding humorous titles to our collection – Bill Cosby, Stuart McLean and the like. Even though having a laugh while you read is a pleasant experience, I find listening to a recorded performance, or better yet, a live performance even better. If you agree, then you will be interested in attending an author reading on May 9th at 7 pm at the Waverley Auditorium. William Thomas – humourist, Gemini award-winning television scriptwriter and syndicated columnist ( - will be reading from his collection The Dog Rules (Damn Near Everything!).

Here are some interesting questions around Laughter:

What is Gelotology?
According to Wikipedia,org it is “The study of humor and laughter, and its psychological and physiological effects on the human body.”

I love Stuart McLean of CBC radio. Does he have a new book out?
Yes he does - Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe, or : closer to the truth than we've ever been. “Containing a faithful account of misdemeanors and transgressions, as well as clandestine matters of the heart, concerning a variety of characters, many familiar to friends of earlier chronicles, and some new acquaintances, which we have the pleasure to introduce in these pages.” The library has copies, so check it out today.

What is Laughter Yoga?
“Eleven years ago Dr Madan Kataria, an Indian doctor and student of Yoga was writing a paper for a medical journal titled 'Laughter is the best medicine'. Convinced of the medical benefits of laughter and Yogic breathing exercises, Doctor Kataria was searching for a way to bring these benefits to modern man. You can't prescribe 20 minutes of laughter a day, and for best effect a range of different types of laughter should be combined. In a flash of inspiration Laughter Yoga was born. Thanks to Doctor Kataria, countless people all over the world today enjoy the benefits of a daily dose of laughter practicing Laughter Yoga at laughter clubs or at their workplace.”

How did World Laughter Day come to be?
According to the Laugher Arts and Sciences Foundation, World Laughter Day was first observed on January 11, 1998 in India. In 2001, after Steve Wilson, president of the World Laughter Tour brought the event to North America, the date was changed to the first Sunday in May. “The world is so out of balance that it needs to lighten up and laugh more in order to maintain perspective. We set aside this day to send a message to get more people laughing, urging the world to lighten up!”

What is laughter therapy?
According to, “
It is a form of therapy which encourages us to use the natural physiological process of laughter to release the painful emotions of anger, fear and boredom.” Check out this website to find laughter tips on improving relationships with family members, fellow workers, and even airport security guards!!

So have a good laugh today and join us Wed. May 9th at 7 pm at the Waverley Library for a laughing workout with author and humourist William Thomas.

Barbara Philp is the Head of adult services at the Thunder Bay Public Library