Sunday, 29 July 2007

July 29, 2007 Mistakes, I've made a few...

Enduring in advertising and bad movies, but nowhere in reality, is the image of a librarian as a prim and sharp-nosed female (read: spinster) who, after shushing everyone in the near vicinity, retrieves a heavy book from a dusty shelf and hands it to the lowly library patron who backs away to read under her watchful glare. Luckily, we librarians have never bought into this tired cliche and enjoy our careers helping people find answers, navigate the computer web sites and databases, introduce new authors to readers and lead children to learning through rhyme, story and play. And luckily, thousands of users know better too.

But mistakes are made all the time, and some endure until they are
corrected or new and better information emerges. The leaning tower of Pisa, the Edsel, Columbus "discovering" Asia after landing in North America these and are at least as well known as the successes like the Eiffel Tower, the microchip or landing on the moon. There are mistakes that one regrets (New Coke), mistakes which anger (leaving the Sleeping Giant off of the Seven Wonders of Canada list), mistakes which amuse (The Tonight Show Headlines) and mistakes which have led to new discoveries and advanced our information about the world (penicillin being accidentally discovered as an effective killer of bacteria).

Our country's name is derived from a mistake. Explorer Jacques Cartier misunderstood the Iroquois people's word for the nearby Stadacona village to mean the whole land subject to Chief Donnacona. From this mistake, the Iroquois/Huron word "kanata" or village, developed into the Canada we know today. Source:

It shouldn't happen, but there are misspellings on the Stanley Cup, the
holy grail of hockey. Look close and you can see the Toronto Maple Leaes, the New York Ilanders and the Bqstqn Bruins to name a few.
Source: Hockey Facts and Fun. by Glenn Marlow

The Brontosaurus never existed. A paleontologist had fixed one dinosaur
skull onto a set of different dinosaur bones and the creation was named Brontosaurus. Years later the mistake was discovered and the skeleton was fixed and renamed Apatasaurus.
Source: The Dinosaur Atlas by Don Lessum

Pluto is not a planet. Despite what we learned in elementary school, it is no longer correct to say that there are nine planets in the solar system. In August 2005, Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet because the IAU determined that it only met two of the three necessary criterion for being classified as a planet.
Source: What's Out There by Mary K. Baumann et al

Safety glass was discovered by accident in 1903. When scientist Edouard
Benedictus knocked over a glass flask that had previously contained cellulose nitrate, it shattered but the pieces held together. The evaporated chemical had left a film that kept the glass intact. This discovery was first used for safety goggles during World War I and has been protecting people ever since.
Source: Mistakes that Worked by Charlotte Jones

I like to reflect on the mistakes I regularly make. I always learn something useful or interesting. I enjoy mistakes for their power to startle one into a different way of looking at something. Thomas Edison often said "I've failed my way to success" and it is true that it is only by making mistakes that you can progress and continue to learn. So I wish you readers many "happy accidents", "curious coincidences" and "mistakes that work". The Library always welcomes those who seek to learn and to grow.

Angela Meady, Head of Children's & Youth Services

Sunday, 22 July 2007

July 22, 2007 Facebook

Facebook is the fastest growing online social community. On July 10th, 2007 Facebook reported 30 million active users. Originally created in 2004 by students at Harvard, Facebook then expanded to Stanford, Columbia and Yale. Other colleges were quickly added. In 2005 Facebook added highschool networks. In May 2006 work networks were added, and in September 2006 Facebook was opened up for anyone to join (Facebook timeline). Now, more than half of Facebook users are outside of college.

The name of the site refers to the paper facebooks depicting members of the campus community that colleges and preparatory schools give to incoming students, faculty, and staff (Wikipedia).

Anyone with an email address can go to and create a free account. Then you can create and join groups, join in discussions, send messages and chat with people who have similar interests. You can post photos and videos, make friends, and promote real world events. It’s a great forum for connecting with old friends now living around the world, and to make new friends with common interests.

Critics of Facebook cite incidents of bullying, stalking and identity theft, but by following some common sense guidelines, as you would in a “real life” community, you can be confident of your safety. Facebook allows users to set the level of security on their account. You can choose to share some or all of your personal information with everyone, those in your network, your friends, or with no one. Also, there is a process in place for users to report inappropriate behaviour. Like any community, Facebook is vulnerable to those who choose to abuse the privilege of belonging. Privacy has always been a top priority with Facebook, resulting in the hiring of a chief privacy officer in September 2005 (Facebook Fact Sheet).

Facebook is adding new applications all the time. In addition to typing a message to someone, you can spray paint on a graffiti wall, for example. You can start a virtual food fight, get your daily horoscope, send “gifts”, poke, tickle or hug your friends. There is a “marketplace” where users can post free classified ads within the following categories: For Sale, Housing, Jobs, and Other. Ads can be posted in either available or wanted format (Wikipedia). It’s fun, engaging and yes, can be addictive! Overwhelmingly though, Facebook is about connecting with people.

There are over 20,000 people on Facebook in the Thunder Bay network. That’s almost 20% of our population! In addition to being an easy way to stay in touch with friends and family, Facebook is also a great way to share information. Your Library is all about connecting people with information. Our vision, “A citizen enlightened, a community engaged, a City enriched” is being fulfilled in part by our ventures online, in Facebook, and other social networking sites.

Just like we’re a part of the community in real life, your Library is a part of the Facebook community. The Thunder Bay Public Library Facebook group keeps you informed about Library services and events. You can ask questions and leave comments. You can discuss the latest book you read or movie you watched. We also have a group for the Youth Advisory Council (YAC). The Library’s Facebook groups are part of the Library’s presence in the online community. Check out our groups, and consider joining, the next time you’re on Facebook.

Joanna Aegard, Head of Virtual Library Services

Sunday, 15 July 2007

July 15, 2007 Academic Encounters of the Curious Kind

Several months ago, an odd little book passed through my fingers. The Know It All by Al Jacobs. An editor for Esquire magazine, Jacobs found the knowledge he acquired during his university education was slipping away. His quirky resolution to remedy this situation? Read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. With the ambitious subtitle, One Man's Quest To Become The Smartest Person in the World, Jacob's book chronicles a journey from a-ak - defined as Ancient East Asian music - to a man obsessed with facts, testing his knowledge in humiliating adventures and inserting some awkward conversation stoppers along the way. In the same way that a person might risk bodily injury pursuing an extreme sport Jacobs seemed to have created an extreme academic pastime.

As a Reference Librarian, this obsession with facts gave me
pause. I thought I would investigate other academic encounters of the curious kind. The Know It All is not the only book to plumb the depths of a reference work. From a different perspective, Simon Winchester published a highly successful work in 1999 called The Professor and the Madman. As the definitive work on the history of the English language, the undertaking of the Oxford English Dictionary was a massive venture in its own right, but underneath this weighty tome of reference lies the compelling story of its editor James Murray and one of his best contributors, the mysterious Dr. W. C Minor. After corresponding for years by mail, Murray finally planned a trip to meet this valued lexicographer to find that Dr. Minor lived as a permanent resident in the Broadmore Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Following up on the success of The Professor and the Madman, Winchester wrote another work on the History of the Oxford English Dictionary called The Meaning of Everything.

Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius and Obsession in the World of
Competitive Scrabble players by Stephan Fatsis is another book that delves into the netherworld of the compulsive and smart. In this domain, Fatsis is no outsider either. He devoted a year of his life to research this book and had to play well enough to get on the inside. Ultimately, Word Freak tells the history of scrabble (it was invented by an architect), the intricacies of international play and incredibly the corporate battles to control this popular pastime. Biographical glimpses into the brains of the scrabble obsessed are also intriguing.

Think this passion for facts and words is all a bit remote? Think
again. Recently, residents of Thunder Bay were actively engaged in the annual rite of mental passage as they tackled the Thunder Bay Museum Canada Day Quiz. Microfilm newspapers and local history files have been scoured and the Brodie reference staff deluged by the demand to supply local history information by patrons in pursuit of historic facts. If you decide to indulge in a casual academic adventure of your own between bouts of summer fun, the Library is open for business. I don't recommend all 32 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica for leisure reading, but you can enhance your general knowledge by browsing an accessible book like the New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge or the upcoming book An Incomplete Education by Judy Jones. Similarly, only the true word warrior would sit down to peruse an entire OED, but we do have a few convenient reads on the curiosities of language. A good choice would be Six Words You Never Knew Had Something To Do With Pigs and Other Fascinating Facts About the Language.

It always pays to expand your horizons and reference staff
are always on hand to give you assistance.

Tracey Zurich, Reference Librarian

Sunday, 8 July 2007

July 8, 2007 Northwoodsy Books

I love the Midwest States, I really enjoy the whole northwoodsy feeling. There is nothing better than to read a local newspaper, while sipping a cold press iced coffee at a Caribou Coffee shop. For me that is true relaxation. And something else I really enjoy, is reading books that take place in the Midwest or are by area authors, such as Faith Sullivan and Lorna Landvik. They’re great storytellers and it’'s so fun to read about places you’ve visited. You truly become a part of the picture.

Moon Over Madeline Island by Wisconsin author, and former hair salon owner, Jay Gilbertson was fun to read. It is the story of the friendship between Eve and Ruby, two Wisconsin women looking for a change. It follows them from a beauty shop in Eau Claire to their stay on Madeline Island. Here they take up residence in Ruby's log cottage, which belonged to her late husband's family. Here the women set up a cottage industry, making aprons. If you’ve ever been to Maggie's Restaurant in Bayfield, you will feel like you are right there with them. If you enjoy this book, there is a sequel “Back To Madeline Island”. The library has a copy of it on order.

Night Of The Radishes
by Sandra Benitez is the first book I’ve ever
read in a day. It's the captivating tale of a family, that stretches from a small Minnesota farm to the Mexican town of Oaxaca. A tragic farm accident claims the life of an identical twin and changes her family forever. Their lives are filled with guilt, sorrow and misunderstandings. We follow them along the paths they must take to finally face the hurts of the past and perhaps bring them back together. In the end, out of the ashes there arises hope and the promise of new life. If you read one book this year, let it be this one. The library has a copy of this book on order.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
by Kim Edwards takes place in Kentucky.
It’s not really a Midwest State, but I’m sneaking it in here. On a snowy winter night in 1964, a doctor is pressed into delivering his own son. But there’s an added surprise, a second baby, a girl with Down Syndrome. In an instant he makes a decision that changes their lives forever. He asks a nurse to take the baby girl to an out of town institution, then tells his wife she was stillborn. The nurse decides to keep her and raise her as her own. The story spans twenty five years and is about secrets and how each family member handles the loss of a baby they never knew.

The Empress Of One
by Minnesota author Faith Sullivan has many of the
characters in her previous book The Cape Ann. Taking place in the 1930's and 40's, it revolves around a young girl, Sally Wheeler and her mother. Her mother suffers from depression, at a time when mental illness was not discussed and certainly not understood. As her mother becomes more erratic, residents of the town turn against her. Sally struggles to cope with being teased by fellow students and the stigma of having her mother institutionalized. It was hard growing up in a small town where everyone knew everything about you. Sally escapes her world through her love of reading and a desire to act.

The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane
by Minneapolis author Kate
DiCamillo, is the tale of a cold hearted china rabbit,owned by Abilene Tulane. His story begins when he falls overboard into the sea and is rescued by a fisherman. His adventure continues after he is taken to a dump, where a hobo and his dog find him. During his journey Edward comes to understand the meaning of love. This beautifully illustrated book is in the children's department, but is something that the child in all of us would enjoy. Kate DiCamillo is also the author of Because Of Winn Dixie.

Lake Wobegon Summer 1956
by Garrison Keillor. I would be remiss if I
didn't include my favourite National Public Radio personality, in this article. It's the story of a 14 year old boy living in a small town in the summer of '56. His days revolve around sexual fantasies, a preoccupation with flatulence and his new Underwood typewriter. It's the coming of age of a repressed young boy, who just wants to be bad.

If you're searching for other titles to read, you can visit our
Virtual Collection. The database What Do I Read Next? is a good place to start. You can use Who? What? Where? When? to do a search by place,such as Minnesota or Wisconsin. This will lead you to other books that may be of interest to you.

I hope you have a safe and happy summer. If you are planning a trip to
the Midwest, why not bring one of these books along with you. Then find yourself a Caribou Coffee, or any coffee shop for that matter and enjoy.

Karen Craib, Library Technician

Sunday, 1 July 2007

July 1, 2007 Canada Day

Happy Birthday Canada!

On July 1, 1967 the Dominion of Canada came into existence, marking today as Canada’s 140th birthday. How will you be celebrating Canada Day - going to Marina Park, Fort William Historical Park or Chippewa? enjoying a family picnic or barbeque? spending time at camp? enjoying the outdoors at Kakabeka Falls or Sleeping Giant? Are you patriotic? Will you be wearing red and white or a Canadian t-shirt? However you spend the day here’s some Canadian facts that may interest you...

What is the origin of the name Canada?
In 1535, Jacques Cartier was told about the route to kanata. The reference was to the village of Stadacona; kanata was simply the Huron-Iroquois word for village or settlement. But for want of another name, Cartier used Canada to refer not only to Stadacona (the site of present day Quebec City), but also to the entire area subject to its chief, Donnacona. The name was soon applied to a much larger area: maps in 1547 designated everything north of the St. Lawrence River as Canada. The first use of Canada as an official name came in 1791 when the Province of Quebec was divided into the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada. In 1841, the two Canadas were again united under one name, the Province of Canada. At the time of Confederation, the new country assumed the name of Canada. (

Before we officially became a country, were any names other than Canada suggested?
There were a number of names suggested including Brittania, Laurentia and even Ursalia. (The Great Canadian Trivia Book)

When did the name change from Dominion Day to Canada Day?
Dominion Day was celebrated for 115 years, on July 9, 1982 a private member’s bill was passed by the House of Commons, which amended the Holidays Act, renaming it Canada Day. (1000 Questions About Canada)

When was O Canada first used as the National anthem?
O Canada was proclaimed Canada's national anthem on July 1, 1980, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880. The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée, a well-known composer; French lyrics to accompany the music were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The song gained steadily in popularity. Many English versions have appeared over the years. The version on which the official English lyrics are based was written in 1908 by Mr. Justice Robert Stanley Weir. The official English version includes changes recommended in 1968 by a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons, changing two of the Stand on Guard phrases to From Far and Wide and God Keep Our Land. The French lyrics remain unaltered. (The Great Canadian Trivia Book)

Where can I get music for O Canada?
Sheet music, words, and various versions of O Canada can be downloaded from the Heritage Canada website,, select English or French, under subject select Citizenship and Identity, select Symbols of Canada and finally National Anthems O Canada. The library also has various recordings of O Canada on CD such as National Anthems of the World and O Canada by The Thunder Bay Children’s Chorus. This recording includes versions of O Canada in English, French and Ojibway.

What is Canada’s motto?
The motto on the Royal Arms of Canada is A MARI USQUE AD MARE - From sea to sea (2007 Canadian Almanac & Directory).

Are there any books on Canadian trivia?

Yes, access the online catalogue from the library’s homepage, or, change the drop down default from title to subject, enter Canada - Miscellanea for a list of titles such as, The Great Canadian Trivia Book 2 by Mark Kearney and Randy Ray; 1000 Questions About Canada by John Robert Colombo. This title is available in both print and e-book format.

Here are a few suggestions for a quick overview of Canadian history:
A Short History Of Canada by Desmond Morton
A Brief History Of Canada by Roger Riendeau

Go ahead, be patriotic, celebrate living in this great country and if you’re lucky enough to share Canada’s birthday, I envy you, and wish a Happy Birthday to both you and Canada!

Judy Belrose, Library Technician