Sunday, 28 October 2007

October 28th, 2007 Words

For me the most difficult part about writing this column is picking a topic.  So I
got to thinking about writing, which is just so many words all strung together in
a way that's comprehensible to all, right? It can be that simple but the words
you choose and the way you put them together make all the difference. So
that gave me the idea for my topic today: words!

I know that meanings of words change over time, so how do I go about tracing
the origin of a particular word?
You'll need a good etymological dictionary.
The standard source for this is the Oxford English Dictionary. This hefty,
multi-volume set is located in the reference departments. There are numerous
other etymological dictionaries available in the library as well. The precise
subject term for these is English language -- etymology -- dictionaries.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word "word" has its origins in
Old English.
It's easy enough to look up the meaning of words in a regular
dictionary, but what about expressions like "your name is mud"?
A dictionary
of idioms should be able to help you out. Try the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms.
A book like The Whole Ball of Wax and Other Colloquial Phrases by Laurence
Urdang is both a fun and educational read. A site such as has a number of idioms, their meanings and origins.
While it lists a large number idioms, the following site does not provide
the origin of the idiom:

I heard the term "biPodding" the other day which sounds like it's a
newly made up word. Is there anywhere I can find new words like

New words, or neologisms, pop into our language all the time, however,
whether they get accepted into everyday language is another matter.
One neologism that has stood up is the use of the word "google" as a
verb, derived from the popular search engine Google and meaning to look
up information on the Internet using a search engine. It's fun to see what
words or phrases people are making up these days so have a look at The
Urban Dictionary: They have a Word of the
Day section and you can keep up to date with this by subscribing to it
via RSS.

I read the bestselling book Eats Shoots and Leaves: the Zero Tolerance
Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss. Are there any books like this
about words?

Gotta love those quirky titles! Yes, check out books like Words Fail Us:
Good English and Other Lost Causes by Bob Blackburn, Wanted Words: from
Amalgamots to Undercarments: Language Gaps Found and Fixed by Jane
Farrow, ed., and Death Sentences: How Cliches, Weasel Words, and
Management Speak are Strangling Public Language by Don Watson.
Browse the shelves at 428, 428.1 and 428.2 to find these and other equally
intriguing books.

Speaking of quirky did you know that there are dictionaries for almost any type
of word application? For example, there are rhyming dictionaries, crossword
dictionaries, spelling and visual dictionaries, dictionaries of eponyms (words
derived from the name of a person or place), quotations, allusions, foreign
phrases, slang and dictionaries of American and Canadian English. You'll
find the definition of Thunder Bay's unique pastry, the Persian, in the
Canadian Oxford Dictionary.

Here's a hint on how to use Google specifically for finding definitions. Type
"define: the word you're looking for", e.g., define: infrangible, and you'll get
exactly what you're looking for, without all the other unnecessary stuff a
typical Google search result would throw at you.
A site worth bookmarking
is You'll find a wealth of information, including all types of
dictionaries, a thesaurus, and much much more.

We'll have to wait until December to see what the American Dialect Society
decides is the word of the year. Last year the word was "truthiness", the
Stephen Colbert definition, which, according to the Society, "refers to the
quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than
concepts or facts known to be true�.

I hope I haven't been too wordy today (sorry, I couldn't resist the pun). I'll
leave you with this quote by Rudyard Kipling: "Words are, of course, the
most powerful drug used by mankind" (Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations).

Sylvia Renaud, Head of Reference and Information Services

Sunday, 21 October 2007

October 21st, 2007 Food

Do you know what's in your food? Our quest to make life easier has changed the way we eat. Preservatives to make our food stay fresh longer, pesticides to save our crops, additives for colour and flavour, plastics and styrofoam for packaging and fast food for convenience. All of this can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. To find out what's in your food read on.

An examination of any food packaging label can be confusing with such
unpronounceable words as benzyl isobutyrate and soya protein isolate. When Steve Ettlinger's 6 year old daughter asks the question "where does pol-y-sorbate six-tee come from" it leads him on a journey through the complicated world of processed food. In his book Twinkie, Deconstructed he tries to unravel this food mystery. Each ingredient on the twinkie package is investigated. Interestingly, the source of the ingredients are more closely related to rocks and petroleum than actual food. You will never look at this classic snack cake the same way again.

In 2004, Morgan Spurlock produced his Academy Award nominated movie
Super Size Me which focuses on a diet consisting strictly of fast food. He eats three meals every day at McDonald's, must try everything on the menu at least once, and if asked whether he would like to super size his meal he must say yes. It's a humourous film that shows an extreme example of what happens to our body when we eat fast foods. A copy of this film on dvd is available at your library. You can also borrow a copy of Don't Eat This Book for further funnies on the supersizing of America.

Chew On This
by Eric Schlosser is everything you don't want to know
about fast food. Learn about the secret ingredients that make fast food taste and smell so good and look attractive. Slick advertising and meals that come with a toy keep children coming back for more and set the trend into adulthood.

So, how do you know what to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle? We've
all learned about Canada's Food Guide from grade school. In 1942 the Canadian government published the first food guide to help prevent nutritional deficiencies and improve our health. The 1942 version included wartime rationing. The Food Guide was recently updated, in 2007, and now includes such foods as tofu, kefir and couscous. You can view a copy online.

When Thomas Pawlick cuts into a nice red, freshly purchased tomato
only to find it disappointingly hard and tasteless it leads him on an investigation into food industry practices. He places the tomato on a windowsill for several days thinking it will become juicy and soft. No such luck. The tomato never seems to ripen. Why? In his book The End Of Food he explores various methods of food production in order to raise consumer awareness. By the way, the tomato was picked while it was still green to withstand transportation and last longer. It is then gassed with the chemical ethylene to change it to a nice red colour for the shelf.

Is Our Food Safe?
by Warren Leon uncovers the hazards found in our
current food supply. He separates fact from fiction to try and guide consumers into making the correct choices in what can be a very confusing area. Reports of food-borne illnesses and recalls are becoming a common occurrence. Interestingly there are more recalls and warnings for vegetables than meats. This book points out how to avoid these risks while choosing a healthy diet.

If you are concerned about
foods that may have been recalled the Canadian Food Inspection Agency posts all current recalls on their website. There is a link on the right hand side for Food Recalls/Allergy Alerts under the heading hot topics.

Another interesting and fun read is The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael
Pollan. America's food process really relies heavily on fossil fuels and corn. Fossil fuels are used in fertilizers, pesticides, packaging and transporting the end product while corn is used to feed livestock, as a starch to thicken, corn syrup for sweetening and corn oil for cooking. It is in just about everything you can think of from vitamin pills to toothpastes. As well as industrial farming he covers organic farming and what it is like to hunt and gather food for yourself.

While all of this information on food processing sounds scary, it is possible to make good food choices for ourselves. By following nutritional guidelines and reading the packaging label you will be well on your way towards healthier eating. Bon Appetit!

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician

Sunday, 14 October 2007

October 14th, 2007 Celebrate Public Library Week

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Public Library Week in Ontario. This annual event provides a forum for people to reflect on and celebrate the role of public libraries in their communities and in their lives.

The Thunder Bay Public Library can trace its roots back to 1876 with the opening of a Mechanics Institute in the Port Arthur schoolhouse. Membership fees were $20.00 for life or $2.00 per year. Over the years the library moved many times until the present building at 285 Red River Road opened on June 1, 1951 as the Port Arthur Public Library.

Library services for Fort William began in 1885 when CPR employees opened a bath, smoking and literary room, with a library attached in the Round House, West Fort William. Fees were $1.25 per year for CPR employees; outsiders were required to pay $1.25 for use of the tub. In 1912, with the assistance of a $50,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation, the Fort William Library was opened at 216 South Brodie Street.

The Westfort Branch library, 151 West Brock Street opened in 1938. The Fort William Library saw its first major change when an addition was added to the south side of the building in 1955. The floor area was increased from 14,000 square feet to 23,150 square feet. In 1966 the front entrance was rebuilt. Mary J. L. Black was the librarian of the Fort William Library from 1909-1937. She was one of Canada's leading librarians in her day, and the Fort William Library was widely regarded as a fine small city library. She was the first woman president of the Ontario Library Association. It seems appropriate that the Westfort Branch was named the Mary J. L. Black Library in Miss Black's honour.

The present Thunder Bay Public Library officially came into being in 1970, after the amalgamation of Port Arthur and Fort William. The inaugural meeting of the Library Board was held in January, 1970.
The Library has changed a lot since 1970, but our fundamental role as a dynamic community resource has not. Computers revolutionized the way staff do their work as well as how people find information. In addition to providing the community with a collection of books, magazines, music and movies to borrow, we also provide access to quality online collections and services. Fittingly, the theme of this year’s Public Library Week is “The world at your fingertips.”

Our Virtual Collection includes world-class databases of information from thousands of academic and media sources. We have online interactive tools like Career Cruising and Auto Repair Reference Centre. Tumblebooks are fun, interactive online books for children, and help with learning to read – they even come in French and other languages! We have ebooks from NetLibrary and streaming music from Naxos. You can chat with our Reference Staff via MSN Messenger, ask a question from a form on our website, and register for a program online. You can save a “preferred search” in our online catalogue, and sign up to receive email notices of new material you’re interested in.

The blog for this column ( encourages you to “talk back” to us with your comments. The Library has a account where you can explore staff-selected websites, and we’ve posted photos from Library events on Flickr. Do you have Facebook? If so, join the Thunder Bay Public Library group and voice your opinions or chat about the book you’re reading.
With these resources and more, you can enjoy a visit to the Library from the comfort of your home computer.

For those without the luxury of a home computer with internet access, all branches have public internet stations.
In addition to the Virtual Library, we also continue to lend books (in hardcover, paperback, large print, easy reading, braille and other languages), magazines, cds, audiobooks, movies (on dvd and video), cd-roms and more. We also offer a wide range of programs for all ages. For children we have drop-in story times, puppet shows, concerts and stories and craft programs. For teens the Youth Advisory Council offers fun social events and a chance to help choose books for the Teen collection. For adults we have film nights, book clubs and special-interest programs, as well as computer classes ranging from basic searching to special topics.

Why not celebrate Public Library Week by visiting your library (virtually or in person!), taking out something new, leaving us a comment, and attending a program? Here’s a list of this week’s activities:

Monday October 15th

10:30 a.m., Brodie Library
Media Conference: Public Library Week Events and Aboriginal Art Commission

10:30 a.m., Mary J.L. Black Library, Beginning With Books, drop-in story time for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, with parent or caregiver

1:00 p.m., Mary J.L. Black Library, Novel Lunch Bunch, bring your lunch and discuss books about the British Empire

7:00 p.m., Waverley Library, StoryTimz Storytelling Circle, all ages welcome to listen to stories and share a story of your own

Tuesday October 16th

7:00 p.m., Waverley Library, Citizens Concerned About Pesticides presents “Gardening without Pesticides”, all welcome to attend

Wednesday October 17th

10:30 a.m., Brodie Library, Drop-in Storytime, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, with parent or caregiver

Thursday October 18th

10:30 a.m., Waverley Library, Drop-in Storytime, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, with parent or caregiver

7:00 p.m., Mary J.L. Black Library, Reading Rendezvous, Mass-Book Club Meeting, please call Roberta at 624-4206 to RSVP

Saturday October 20th

2:30 p.m., Waverley Library, Hallowe’en Haunts, for children age 5 and over, please register online or by phone

Joanna Aegard, Head of Virtual Library Resources

Sunday, 7 October 2007

October 7th, 2007 French

Ah....French! La belle langue. The language of Baudelaire, Moliere and Rimbaud and the language spoken by so many Canadians and being taught to many more. I love to listen to French music and also like to brush up my language skills by listening to French language radio or television. Ever since I discovered Francoise Hardy as a young teen I've been an enthusiast for this most melodic and expressive of languages, and I feel very fortunate to be able to select children's French language materials for the Library and to assist people in finding what they want. You may be surprised to discover what is available at the Thunder Bay Public Library's French collections. In today's column I will share some of the questions I've received over the years about what is available and perhaps it may inspire you too to visit your local public library to pick up a French novel or picture book, CD or DVD or some of the other materials available for borrowing.

Do you have any CDs or books for learning French?

We have books, dictionaries, grammars, cassettes, CDs and CD-ROMs. The Rosetta Stone language learning CD-ROMs are considered the world's best learning tools.You can put the disc in your computer and then interact with native speakers and the rich images and sounds; you can even quiz yourself and check your pronunciation and answers. The Library has the Rosetta Stone French Level 1 and Level 2.

Do you have any French movies?

We have a variety of movies which were filmed in French and are
available in the original language with optional English subtitles. Additionally, many of the DVDs in our English collection have optional French subtitles or soundtracks. Find DVDs of classics like Mon oncle or Au revoir les enfants, or family films like Asterix & Obelix, Disney films or short features for children with Caillou or other animated characters.

Have you any French Canadian legends or folktales?

You can find some amazing stories in books like D'est en ouest: legendes
et contes canadiens or the video Legendes du Canada francais. For those who want to know the stories but who read in English only, there are also books available. One new one by Roch Carrier is The Flying Canoe (La chasse-galerie) and it is an amusing picture book which begs to be shared with an audience.

Do you have really really simple French books for a parent whose child
is in French Immersion classes and who wants to practice reading in French?

Yes. Each branch has a collection of beginner readers in French for
children (or adults) with simple sentences and illustrations to help the novice reader. There are also picture dictionaries which are great for identifying key objects. Also, I would refer you to a useful web site which provides a Beginner's List of French words - both verbs and useful words or phrases such as parce que (because) or maintenant (now). Don't be shy! Plunge right in and soon you'll be able to parler with your children.

Why don't you have books by my favourite French author?

We work to provide a good variety and a French collection which is
relevant to the francophone community and the French-learning students as well and we need and welcome your input. If there is a subject, or title, or author which you think that the Library should have, please fill out a suggestion form online or in card format at the Library. We want to provide the books and other materials that you most want.

Are there any award-winning French books?

At the Library can find many of the books which have won the Prix litteraires du gouveneur general (both for adult and children), or the Prix Alvine-Belisle, Prix Cecile-Gagnon or other Canadian and international awards.

Do you have books which are not translations but are in the original French?

We have both, although in the children's department we make a strong
effort to provide books written in French by Canadian authors. There are some excellent choices from among the talented French-Canadian writing and illustrating community such as Marie-Louise Gay, Pierre Pratt, Gilles Tibo, Louise LeBlanc and others. But then it is also possible to find your favourite English authors, like Robert Munsch, translated into French. Watch out for name changes - Franklin the Turtle is Benjamin en francais and Clifford the Big Red Dog is the much-more appropriately named, Betrand.

Here is one last tip you might enjoy. If you have ever listened to a
native French-speaker in an animated conversation and been curious about the meanings of certain words you hear interjected into the conversation and repeated over and over - words such as donc, alors or ben (pronounced like bain), then you will enjoy reading up on the French language web page for "fillers in speech" at Browse the list at this site and soon you'll be "donc"ing and "bon ben"ing like a Quebecoise.

Bon chance!

Angela Meady,
Head of Children's & Youth Services

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

September 30th, 2007 Local History

Are you interested in our city's past? One of the strong points of the Reference section at the Brodie Library is our Local History Collection. We have file cabinets chock full of old newspaper clippings. Taken from the Thunder Bay newspapers and the Fort William newspaper, this is a gem waiting to be discovered. We also have select clippings from the Port Arthur newspaper. We have files on topics such as area businesses, biographies, buildings, street names etc. As well we have a great collection of books by local authors and books about our area. Here is just a sample of what you can find.


Do you remember Spud's Burger Major Drive-In on Arthur Street? I recall going there as a child with my sister and her family. My nephew was in one of those car seats, complete with a plastic steering wheel and horn. I can recall how exciting it was to go there. This popular burger joint opened in 1959. Teens in the 1960's spent weekends cruising Victoria Avenue and then meeting at Spud's for a burger. It was also a popular family restaurant. If you're looking for information on Spud's or other local restaurants, keep our local history collection in mind. A quick search in our Thunder Bay News Index, which you can locate in the Virtual Collection on our web page, lead me to this article. Source: Chronicle Journal August 12, 2004 page A2 "Taste bud flashback"

Stanley Hill Cemetery
The library has newspaper articles on various area cemeteries. We also carry a book on the history of a small rural cemetery located on Stanley Hill. You can read about it's early beginnings, changes over the years and the recollections of area seniors. It is complete with photos and a list of people interred there. When the author was doing research for this book, another staff member and I mentioned to him that we have property there. I can't think of a quieter, more scenic spot for my future home. Source: Stanley Hill Cemetery: 1901-2001 by David Nicholson

The Train At Chippewa Park
Do you remember the miniature train ride at Chippewa Park? In the summer of 1960 the Lakeshore Express made it's debut. The train was operated by Fritz Altmann. I can still recall the excitement of riding this train. According to a newspaper article the ride was only 3 ½ minutes. As a child it seemed a lot longer than that. If you're interested in a general history of Chippewa Park, you can find a report on the City of Thunder Bay's website
Source: LF TB Parks and Playgrounds - Chippewa

Murillo Fall Fair
This year this rural community celebrated the116th annual Murillo Fall Fair. It still follows the same recipe for success – you can enter a pie, a quilt or a vegetable in one of the competitions. There are chariot races, live entertainment and of course there's plenty to eat. When I was a child the biggest attraction for me was seeing the farm animals, especially the pigs and the chance to win a goldfish in a small bowl. I guess some things never change, after all these years I am still thrilled whenever I get a new goldfish.
Source: LF NWO Fairs - Murillo

Local Race Car Drivers
Do you remember local stock car driver Barry Kettering? His career began in the 1950s at age 17, on the CLE track. He moved to the States in 1960 where he became well known in racing circles. Unfortunately his life was cut short during a racing accident in 1976. For information on Barry or other well known local residents, check out our biography files.
Source: LF TB Biography – Kettering, Barry

Slate River Churches
Are you looking for the history of rural churches? In Slate River, worship services were first held in a poplar grove on a farm, which is now the Gammondale farm. These services began around 1890. The first church constructed there in 1896, was a log structure built by the Presbyterians. An Anglican church was built in 1915 and a Baptist church was built in 1909. Oddly enough the Baptist church was hit by lightning twice, as was my Grandmother.
Source: LF NWO Churches

Gateway To Northwestern Ontario History
If you enjoy looking at old photographs, take a peek at our digitization site, also located in the Virtual Collection. With over 1,100 photos, you can find everything from royal visits to photos of
area people. There are photographs of hotels, schools, hospitals and train stations. There are photos of industries such as mining and logging. We even have a photo taken at the opening of the Pigeon River Bridge. If you can't find what you're looking for in the Local History files, we also have old newspapers on microfilm. Staff can show you how to search through the newspapers. They're always interesting to look at and you'd be surprised at the things you can find, that you didn't even know you were looking for. So the next time you're trying to dig up a piece of the past, visit the Brodie Resource Library. We just might be able to help with your search.

Karen Craib, Library Technician