Sunday, 30 December 2007

December 30, 2007 Expiry Dates

Today is December 30, which means we are poking 2008 with a short stick. The calendar year 2007 is about to expire. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word expire has many meanings. It can mean to come to the end of a period of validity, to exhale air from your lungs or even to die. Most of what we own expires. We spend a lot of time renewing identification such as your driver's licence, bank cards, credit cards and even your library card. Here's a look at things that expire.

Library Cards

Have you expired? If you're reading this, you're probably wondering how that could be. You're not really expired, but your library card could be. Whenever I tell a library patron that they've expired, I can't help but chuckle. Library cards have a 3 year life span, unless you live in a rural area, in which case they are good for 1 year. We see all sorts of old cards being renewed, so don't be embarassed because you haven't been here in a long time. We've even seen the orange paper cards that were issued prior to automation in 1986. Children are now able to get a colourful new card, featuring Zoose the Moose. Having conducted a tour for a class of school children, I can
tell you the new card is a hit. We would like to welcome you back to visit the library any time. For more information about library cards visit the My Library Card section on our webpage.


I bet you've taken a mouthful of a nice cold glass of milk, only to find it was sour. Every food item has a shelf life. I was reading an issue of Real Simple magazine and they mentioned that they have a list of food and other consumer product expiration dates on their website. Did you know for example that an unopen jar of maraschino cherries lasts 3 to 4 years, but an open package of frozen vegetables lasts only 1 month? As far as a shelf life goes, it says that honey has an indefinite shelf life. The list also covers household products and cosmetics.

Life Spans

What about the animal kingdom? What sort of life span does an animal have? The average longevity of a polar bear is 20 years. This means that Bubba the polar bear at the Lake Superior Zoo, in Duluth, was close to his life span when he passed away. Born in 1989, he passed away on August 8 of this year. The domestic cat has an average life span of 12 years, and a maximum longevity of 28 years. We should all be so lucky to have a cat live 28 years. My cat Nermal lived to see her 18th birthday and I was very proud of that.
Source: The World Almanac And Book Of Facts 2007


How long is a passport good for? Passports for children (3 to 15 years of age) and adults (16 and over) are good for 5 years. Passports for children (under 3 years of age) are good for 3 years. You will soon need a passport to travel to the United States by land. So if your idea of fun is a day trip to Grand Marais for lunch and shopping, you're going to need a passport. The good news is, if you were issued a Canadian passport after January 31, 2002, you may be eligible for the simplified renewal process. To find out if you are, or for any other passport questions check out the Passport Canada website.

Other Cards

When do health cards expire? Your photo health card has an expiry date that is linked to your birth date. Renewal forms are mailed to you, but you can renew your card up to six months prior to its expiry. You can find information on renewing your health card, by visiting the Service Ontario website. It is a hub of government information. Here you can find out information on renewing other cards as well, such as an outdoors card, which is good for three calendar years. You need an outdoors card in conjunction with a fishing licence in order to fish.
The Service Ontario website is just one of the many sites you can find through our home page. Just click on the Virtual Collection and on the left hand side of the screen you will see a link to Service Ontario.

Articles On Expiration Dates

For further information on this topic visit our Virtual Collection and choose the Student Edition database. It is designed for high school students, but I found some interesting articles in it, by searching under the key words expiration dates. To access the databases in the Virtual Collection you will need to use your library card number and telephone number.

I would like to thank local columnist Annette O’Brien, for the inspiration for the subject of this column. If your library card has expired, please make it a new year's resolution to renew it. Since this year is almost expired, I wish you good health and happiness in 2008. Happy New Year everyone, from all of us at the Thunder Bay Public Library.

Karen Craib, Library Technician

Sunday, 23 December 2007

December 23, 2007 Manners

The holidays can be stressful. All that running around and preparation for the big day. So it's not surprising that people often forget simple manners. In fact, some encounters can be downright rude. A polite excuse me, thank you or sorry is often all it takes to soften any difficult situation. Why then, have we forgone common courtesies and polite formalities?

Lynne Truss tackles boorish behaviour with a humourous slant in her book Talk To The Hand, The Utter Bloody Rudeness Of the World Today. This book does not provide solutions to tricky situations but rather mourns the loss of good manners in today's society. You may find yourself nodding in agreement and saying wow, that's happened to me. She explores the effects that modern conveniences have on our communication skills. Automated telephone systems, online banking, and self-service kiosks, all contributing to a general attitude of do-it-yourself. People seem to be tuned out and plugged in, whether it is a cell phone attached to the ear or text-messaging, listening to an
ipod or leaving a message at the beep.

The Canadian version of Reader's Digest published the results of a politeness poll in the October 2007 edition. A check of the 15 biggest cities in Canada found Moncton to be the most courteous on the consideration of strangers. In their article The Trouble With Technology 60% of Canadians surveyed felt that technology was to blame for a lack of manners. You can view the full results of the poll on their website, or you can read a copy of the print version available at the Brodie, Waverley or Mary J. L. Black libraries.

Peggy Post, daughter of the etiquette guru Emily Post offers up some suggestions for handling many of life's dilemmas in Excuse Me, But I Was Next. What to do when someone cuts in line in front of you? This happens quite often. You are standing in line to pay for an item, when another cashier opens up the till next to you. The person at the end of the line quickly heads there first. Or how about nosy questions? Do you dye your hair? How much money do you make? or Are you pregnant? Lots of practical everyday advice on tipping, cell phone etiquette, place settings, and unruly children. And yes, regifting is acceptable but only under very specific circumstances. To find out what they are you will have to borrow a copy of the book.

How about doing something just for the sake of kindness? In 2002, four young men embarked on a journey across Canada with the goal of committing as many random acts of kindness as possible. Their book Cool To Be Kind recounts their journey. Unlike most cross country tours which involve donations, the only requirement is that the recipients of an act of kindness pass along the same courtesy. These are not grandiose acts, some things are as simple as dishwashing, a massage, a hospital visit, or a hug. You many even remember hearing about their visit to Thunder Bay. They were introduced at the Fort William Gardens during a Lakehead University Thunderwolves game and sold chuck-a-pucks. The next day they lent a helping hand cooking for the shelter house. Their website can be found at

You may have heard of the concept of committing an act of kindness and instructing the receiver to do the same being referred to as pay it forward. The term Pay It Forward was popularized by the novel of the same title by Catherine Hyde which was also made into a movie. As part of a social studies assignment, Trevor must come up with an idea for world change and act upon it. He decides to start a goodwill chain. He begins by helping out three people telling them that in return they must pay it forward by helping three others. At first it appears that his attempts have failed, but slowly the plan takes root and spreads. The library has a copy of the novel in print and audio cassette, as well as the film version on dvd.

If you are interested in guiding your child into using good manners there are a number of materials to set them on the right path. Mama Bear comes up with a plan to help her family correct their rude behaviour in The Berenstain Bear's Forget Their Manners by Stan Berenstain available in both print and electronic format @ your library. On dvd, again featuring the Berenstain Bears, is the title Bears Mind Their Manners which teaches children simple life lessons and family values. Emily Post's The Gift Of Good Manners by Peggy Post is a guide for parents wanting to teach children the finer points of behaviour by setting the example.

Perhaps this holiday season we can take the time to focus on our social skills and etiquette and declare 2008 the year for kindness.

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician at the Brodie Resource Library.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

December 16, 2007 Christmas

It’s no secret that the Christmas season is absolutely and positively my most favourite time of the year – nauseatingly so, as one close friend recently observed. I revel in the traditions instilled in me since childhood. Attending Christmas Eve Mass is an abiding joy and I never complain about having to arrive half an hour early just to get a seat. I love baking for Christmas and every year I insist on hosting the family Christmas dinner at our house. As I cook, I blissfully and enthusiastically warble Christmas songs much to my kids’ and cats’ disgust (obviously they have no appreciation of good music). I decorate the Christmas tree immediately after Remembrance Day, which is why we switched to an artificial tree a few years ago because the real ones began to exhibit severe signs of Charlie Brown syndrome by the time Christmas Day rolled around. Oh yes, and I routinely display a few of my most cherished Christmas possessions well into the spring. I also love learning about how other countries celebrate the season and often incorporate some of their traditions into my own. So, for me, writing an article focusing on just one aspect of the library’s extensive, multi-cultural, Christmas collection is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. Instead, I have listed a veritable smorgasbord of Christmas delights, all of them non-fattening, all of them (and more) awaiting you at the Thunder Bay Public Library.


If you are fascinated by the religious traditions and holiday celebrations of other nationalities during this time of year, then this comprehensive, illustrated guide is for you! With over 240 alphabetically arranged entries, including folk and religious customs, history, legends and symbols from around the world, it offers an abundance of information on Christmas, New Years and related days of observance such as Hanukkah and Kwanza.


This is an inspiring book for everyone who believes that you can’t buy the spirit of Christmas ready-made. It features a wealth of ideas for Traditional, Nordic, Country and White Christmas themes and offers detailed instructions to help you create a magical Christmas at home, with ideas for room decorations, tree and table, creative cards and gift wrapping, displays using wreaths and candles, stylish stockings and more.

‘TIS THE SEASON TO CROCHET. Edited by Bobby Matela & Mary Ann Frits. c2006

Create a beautiful holiday setting with crocheted decorations, stockings on the fireplace, a wreath, shelf sitters, a tree skirt and garland and more. This book includes many beautiful decorations and timely gift projects that will create a warm and welcoming look throughout your home, please your loved ones and make the holidays truly special.


There is no better way to celebrate the Christmas season than by baking some special cookies. Mother-daughter bakers Kaye and Liv Hansen share their best cookie creations from simple roll-and-slice cookies to bars and cut outs including Chocolate Krinkles, Lemon Drop Cookies, Shortbread Snowflakes and Cream-Cheese Pastry Crescents, as well as detailed instructions for making truly impressive decorations!


Almost everyone has some kind of holiday collectible that they take out every year. From antique Christmas lights and ornaments to cherished Kwanza candle holders, people everywhere treasure their holiday accoutrements. This is the first guide that covers all major holidays and many minor ones ranging from Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza to Chinese and Japanese New Year, Passover, Cinco de Mayo and even Left-Handers’ Day. Organized by month, each section includes a history of the holiday, the items created and used for that holiday, and extensive price lists.

TO EVERY THING THERE IS A SEASON by Alistair MacLeod. c2004

This timeless tale of a farm family eagerly waiting for December 25th is our own classic Christmas story. The narrative, seen through the eyes of an 11 year old boy in 1940's Cape Breton Island, is simple, short and sweet. Beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated, this book deserves a place in every Canadian home that values a traditional Christmas.


Everyone needs some humour in their life (especially at Christmas) and, as always, Dave Barry delivers it in spades in this story for all ages that will touch your heart and make you laugh out loud. Incidentally, you may never look at a manger scene in the same way again!

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens.

A beloved favourite of many, the timeless tale of Scrooge, Bob Cratchett and Tiny Tim is a must to share with your family and friends at Christmas. It is available in book format as well as in VHS and DVD.


Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, Frank Capra’s classic tale of George Bailey and his Christmas Eve visit with Clarence, a guardian angel, remains as powerful and moving today as it was when it was made over 50 years ago. It is also available in VHS format.


Christmas would not be complete without listening at least once to the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas. If you’re like me, you listen to it all year ‘round despite the loud familial protests.

The Library has so many wonderful Christmas resources with which to tempt intellectual and creative palates that it is difficult to choose which ones to list. So come visit us – either in person or via the internet – select your favourites, sit back and enjoy. Merry Christmas!

Jill Otto, Library Technician, Mary J.L. Black Library

Sunday, 9 December 2007

December 9, 2007 Thinking Green

We all need to learn more about how to protect the environment. I would never claim to be an expert , but I am learning, one little step at a time. Walking to work, using compost in my garden, recycling cardboard, and purchasing an instant hot water system are a few of the small ways that our family is beginning to change the way we live. Using my library is one way that I can help the environment. The library is an institution based on the concept of sharing, so in many ways it is an eco-friendly organization. By purchasing books, dvds, and cds that are shared by a large number of users, there is less need to produce these items for individuals. Using your library card regularly is one small way that you can live green. The library also tries to support individuals in their desire to understand environmental issues. We have a wide range of books that will help you, as you pursue a safer and greener life.

How can I get my house clean without using chemicals?

Moving from a closet full of cleaners to a few natural products can be done in thoughtful steps. In Greening Your Cleaning Deidre Imus recommends simple steps to a safer, less toxic home. First, simplify your supplies, see which products can do multiple jobs and then stop purchasing special one application cleaners. Next, check your cupboards for existing natural cleaners, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and salt are all cleaners that can help to keep your house sparkling. Last, stop using disposable wipes. Use washable rags made from old t-shirts and towels. This will reduce the amount of garbage you produce and you will be on your way to a cleaner and safer home.

Are there green products for my pet?

Check out Green Living: The E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly on the Earth for a
wide range of eco-friendly products. Guidance on healthy pet foods, medical care, safety tips and pet selection will help you make Fido or Fluffy safer and happier. The resources include organizations, products and a wide range of websites to help make you a better pet parent.

How do I know which appliances in my house are using the most energy?

Borrow one of our Electronic Energy Meters. With the high cost of electricity, the Thunder Bay Public Library and the EcoSuperior Environmental Program is offering a valuable tool allowing consumers to monitor their electricity use and make smart energy choices. This simple gadget allows you to compare energy use between appliances. It comes with instructions for use, and it is free at your public library.

What is an Earthship?

Earthships were homes designed and built in New Mexico using tires for wall construction. The classic curved shape built into the earth was designed by architect Michael Reynolds to use tamped earth, angled glass, indoor planters, and solar power for an energy efficient green house. Building Green by Clarke Snell and Tim Callahan has pictures of both traditional and updated Earthships, and it includes information on planning and building cordwood, straw bale and modified Stick-Frame buildings. If you want to remodel your existing home in an ecologically friendly manner don't miss Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House. From simple decorative elements using recycled materials to full scale additions to your house this book will motivate you.

Is there a dvd that I could borrow to inspire my husband and me to think green?

Borrow Planet Earth, the complete series. This Emmy Award winning series, produced by BBC
and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation in association with CBC, is a celebration of the diversity and beauty of our world. Occasionally violent, but always moving, this 11 episode series, does not focus on the environmental concerns but reminds us of the fragile and exquisite nature of the earth. For a dvd more focused on practical eco-lifestyles borrow SimpleSteps to a Greener Home. From flooring to restoring, you can make your home an Earth-friendly oasis that proves creative ideas can make green living gorgeous living.

Do you have stocking stuffer for my ecologically minded friend?

Look up 1001 Ways to Save the Earth. This pocket size book, printed on sustainably produced paper, is a must for any conservationist. This colorful little book contains great ideas on how to clean your clothes, care for your children, manage your garden and cook with an eye to the environment. Good things do come in small packages!

Roberta Casella, Adult Services Librarian

Sunday, 2 December 2007

December 2, 2007 Your Library Wants to Hear from YOU!

The Public Library is a unique institution. It’s a place where people can go to share ideas, to learn new things and to enrich their lives by borrowing books and magazines to read, movies to watch and music to listen to. We provide a wide variety of services to people of all ages, diverse ethnic backgrounds and from all walks of life.

We offer puppet shows and story times for young children in addition to learn-to-read programs and craft programs. The Youth Advisory Council provides recreation for teens, as well as a forum for their input. For adults we offer book clubs, informative programs, film nights and more. Seniors’ needs are addressed with large print books, audio books and home service options. People of all ages enjoy our public internet access, local history, genealogy, special collections, our virtual collection of online databases and ebooks, meeting rooms, photocopiers and quiet spaces to study and relax. And we can’t forget that we also lend out books, movies, music, magazines, cd-roms, leap-pad books, Braille books, and books a variety of languages too!

Our Vision sums up what we stand for:

A Citizen Enlightened
Providing people of all ages, abilities and cultural heritages with the knowledge they need to pursue their goals and dreams.

A Community Engaged
Creating an accessible destination for learning and play that is dedicated to growth, partnerships, innovative programming, and connecting people to information and the world.

A City Enriched
Maintaining and developing services and programs that are relevant to the challenges and needs of our City and our Region.

The Public Library welcomes your feedback about our programs, services and collections. We have Customer Comment forms available at all locations, and online, and respond promptly to all concerns. If there is a certain book, movie or recording you think we should consider adding to our collection you can fill out a Purchase Suggestion Form – again, either at any location, or online. If there’s something we have in our collection that you think shouldn’t be there, we have a “Request for Reconsideration Form.”

Another way we collect your feedback is through surveys. There’s a link to the “Customer Satisfaction Survey” on the homepage of our Website. Information collected from this survey is used extensively by Librarians in planning new services, and refining existing ones. Further, many other public libraries across Canada are using the same survey, and information is shared, compared and studied.

Currently we are also conducting a very short online survey about our Website. This survey will be featured on our homepage, in the centre column, until the end of December. All opinions, comments and suggestions are welcome. The results of this survey will be used to make the Website easier to use.

Speaking of feedback, over the past year the Library has branched out on to the social web to give you more opportunities to share your ideas and opinions with us. This column has a home online, at, where you are welcome to add your comments.

We also have a Facebook group, and a new Facebook page, where lively discussions about books have taken place. We have a video tour, hosted by two members of our Youth Advisory Council, on YouTube – another site that welcomes your comments. Photos from Library events can be seen on Flickr, and you can send us notes there too.

The Public Library is YOURS to use and enjoy. Please help us make it the best it can be for YOU, by giving us your feedback.

Joanna Aegard, Head of Virtual Library Services