Sunday, 24 February 2008

February 24th, 2008 The Virtual Collection

It'‘s hard to write a captivating introduction to the Virtual Collection. The topic sounds dry, but is really isn’t. If you're an adult you might think the Virtual Collection on our webpage is just for students, but it’s not. There are so many great databases it's hard to know where to begin, so keep reading, you just might be surprised. To access the collection from the comfort of your own home, you need only to enter your library card number and your telephone number, complete with area code (i.e.) 807-555-1212. Here are some of my favourite databases and they’re available 24 hours a day.

Health And Wellness Resource Center

If you're looking for information on prescription drugs, visit the Health And Wellness Resource Center. Choose Find Drugs and Herbal Remedies on the toolbar and enter the name of the medication. You'll find current information from sources such as the PDR Family Guide To Prescription Drugs. It provides information such as why it’'s prescribed, how to take it, side effects, interactions with other medications and any warnings. If you have questions about your medications, remember you can always talk to your pharmacist. This database also contains a medical encyclopedia and the latest news in the world of health. There's also a video library, where you can view videos on everything from hypertension to acid reflux. The Health Assessment section lets you check your risk factors for heart disease, diabetes etc. You can even find your Waist-Hip Ratio to determine if you're an apple or a pear. A good mirror can also tell you that. A general search on a topic such as cancer, will lead you to reference books, magazines, pamphlets, etc. It's like having a medical library right in your own home.

Auto Repair Reference Center

If you like doing basic repairs to your vehicle, check out the Auto Repair Reference Center. It's easy to use, just select the year of your vehicle, then the make and model. It has wiring diagrams for things like exterior lights and cooling fans. The repair procedures section covers topics such as the removal and installation of disc brake pads. This section has written instructions, diagrams and some actual photographs. There's also a section on service bulletins and recalls that might apply to your vehicle. If you're still in need of help and it's noon on a Saturday, you might be in luck. Tune in to Car Talk with Click and Clack the Tappet brothers, live on National Public Radio. With luck you'll be able to access 91.1 F.M. on your radio. They're informative and just plain fun to listen to. They also have a website you can visit at

What Do I Read Next?

You've just finished reading At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon and like me, you fell in love with the small town of Mitford and it's host of memorable characters. If you'd like to know what else is available, you can do a title search in What Do I Read Next? This will lead you to a list of all the books in the Mitford series. There's also the search feature called Who? What? Where? When? You can search by a place, a time period, a subject or a character, such as a chicken (although I'm not sure why anyone would want to read a book about a chicken). Now I could understand reading about a character such as a chipmunk. You can do genre searches such as fantasy, horror, romance. The Help Me Find A Book section will lead you to books similar to one you've enjoyed. Just enter a title and then pick what you liked about the book, such as the setting, the character, the time period etc.

Career Cruising

Do you need help finding a job? Thinking of changing careers? Career Cruising is a great resource for both students and adults. The Portfolio section allows you to set up a portfolio for yourself. It contains schools and careers that interest you, as well as your education and career plans. It has a built in resume builder that's easy to use. If you don’t know what you'd like to do after you finish school or are looking for a career change, be sure to take the
Matchmaker quiz. The results may help point you down the path to a new career. If you already have one it's fun to see if your profession comes up in the list.

Small Engine Repair Reference Center

Now that you have your vehicle in working order, what else is in need of repair? We have a database for maintaining and repairing small engines. It covers snowthrowers, motorcycles, snowmobiles, chain saws, personal water craft and more. Now there’s no excuse for not having things in working order. All you need is some free time.

I hope you found something in this column that interested you. There’'s a lot more than I touched on. The next time you decide to repair your car or lawn mower on a Sunday morning, maybe you'll think of us. We can't send someone over to help you, but the Virtual Collection is always there to lend a hand, just think of it as a virtual hand.

Karen Craib Library Technician

Sunday, 17 February 2008

February 17, 2008 Winter Doldrums

February can be a difficult month. We are now three months into winter and it may seem that there is no end in sight. For myself, I usually have something planned for the end of February that gives me that little something extra to look forward to. If you need some help making it through the winter doldrums here are some ideas to help you along.

For some people, it is not just a matter of the winter blahs but a serious case of depression. SAD, or seasonal affective disorder is a mood variation illness which is directly related to the amount of light a person is receiving. In addition to feeling depressed you may also find it difficult to concentrate, have very little energy, find yourself eating more, and have trouble getting up in the morning. Winter Blues by Norman Rosenthal, contains everything you need to know about the disorder and its treatments. Sufferers can benefit from such therapies as light boxes, medication, psychotherapy, and the support of family and friends. Hopefully this condition is temporary until the sun begins to appear on a regular basis.

If you are lucky enough to have the funds, a vacation might just be the ticket to lift your spirits. The library has a large number of travel publications from the well-known travel experts at Fodor's, everything from Canadian destinations, the Caribbean, to cruising or Europe. But what can you do if you can't afford that big getaway? Planning something simple will often be enough to get you through the rest of winter. A visit to Thunder Bay's Conservatory is like a mini trip to a warm, humid climate. Take a walk through the tropical plants and desert cactuses and pretend you are someplace exotic.

The Centennial Botanical Conservatory was constructed in 1967. It is located on Dease street, off Balmoral, and open seven days a week from 1-4 pm (but don't go there tomorrow as they are closed on statutory holidays). Admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated. Precede your trip to the conservatory with a lunch date with a good friend and you have an easy, inexpensive way to conquer the blahs.

Tired of looking at the same four walls? Maybe it's time to rearrange the living room furniture. My husband hates it when I do this because of course I can't do this by myself. For a starting point, check out some books on feng shui. Believe it or not, there is a way of placing your furniture that can have a huge impact on your spirit. Wikipedia defines feng shui as "the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment." Start with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Feng Shui by Elizabeth Moran which is available online through our virtual collection accessible with your library card. For those of us who still enjoy printed formats, try out some ideas from The Practical Encyclopedia of Feng Shui by Gill Hale. By adding a few colourful throw pillows into the mix, you have an inviting new space to enjoy with not a lot of effort or expense.

Forward thinking can often bring cheer into your life. I'm not referring to a complicated psychology technique. Think of something that you can look forward to when spring and summer arrives. Barbecuing, or gardening, cycling, or building that deck. Now is the time to do your research before the best books are all signed out! One of my favourites, The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward Smith, allows me to picture my garden in the summer with all of the vegetables I will plant.

It's often the simple things that bring us the most satisfaction. The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things by Larry Dossey can help put you back on track. He states "if you want to hide the treasure put it in plain sight, then no one will see it." Tears and feelings of unhappiness are okay as they can often be followed by renewed optimism. Plants and working in the dirt, as well as music are hidden opportunities for wellness that are easily overlooked.

Crafts or hobbies always come highly recommended for improving one's mood. But don't make yourself crazy by picking something extremely complicated. This is the time to focus on how you are feeling and not re-inventing the wheel. Find something that you already have an interest in and build on it. The library has many books on various crafts and hobbies guaranteed to spark your interest. Just ask for assistance at any service desk and staff would be more than happy to help you get started.

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician at the Brodie Resource Library

Sunday, 10 February 2008

February 10th, 2008 Coffee in Fiction

According to the Book Of Coffee by Anne Vantal, every day there are one and a half billion cups of coffee consumed on our planet. Now that's a lot of coffee. If you're like me, right now you may be sitting in a local coffee house reading this. I love the atmosphere of a coffee house, the smell of coffee, the sound of people chatting and a comfortable place to sit and read a book or newspaper. I enjoy it so much that a family member told our dog I would be more interested in him, if he was shaped like a coffee cup. So, if you’re out for an early morning coffee or at home in your housecoat sit back, relax and enjoy this article. Today’s theme is coffee in fiction.

Bitter Grounds
by Sandra Benitez follows three generations of El Salvadoran women. Set against a volatile backdrop of civil war, we follow the lives of Mercedes Prieto, wife of a poor coffee picker and Elena de Contreras, matriarch of a coffee plantation. After the loss of her husband and son, Mercedes becomes an employee in Elena's household. Although they come from very different backgrounds, their lives become intertwined and over several decades they help each other to survive many hardships. Although we have other books by this author, the library does not carry this title. We have a copy on order. If you would like to read it now, we can borrow it for you from out of town through our Interlibrary Loan service.

The Coffee Trader by David Liss takes place in Amsterdam in the Seventeenth century. Miguel Lienzo, who was once a successful commodity trader, is now living in the basement of his younger brother’s home. In an attempt to restore his wealth he accepts an offer from a sexy Dutch widow. They hope to capture the market with a new commodity, known as coffee. He soon discovers that things are not quite what they seem. He must face a powerful enemy, and betrayals await him at every turn. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and sit back and enjoy this thriller.

Irish Coffee: A Mystery Set At The University Of Notre Dame by Ralph McInery features Roger Knight and his private eye brother Philip. The two brothers like to spend time talking sports with a Fred Neville, a Notre Dame staff member. That is they do until Fred turns up dead, a result of what appears to be an Irish coffee laced with strychnine. When two women each claiming to be the fiancée of Fred, appear at the funeral, Fred's death takes an interesting turn. The brothers then begin their own investigation into the death. Sounds like an interesting book to read, perhaps while having an Irish Coffee, which you can make using 1 part whiskey and 3 parts of coffee, plus a little sugar and some whipping cream.

Latte Trouble
by Cleo Coyle is volume three in the Coffeehouse Mysteries series, starring Claire Cosi. Owner of the Village Blend Coffee Shop, Claire has her hands full, when a barista serves a poisonous latte at a fashion show. When a second person is poisoned Claire tries to solve the mystery in order to save her coffeehouse. The library also carries the previous books in this series – On What Grounds and Through The Grinder, in case you're interested in reading the entire series. Now this would be a good book to read while enjoying a low fat latte with a hazelnut flavour shot.

Uncommon Grounds is the debut novel of Sandra Balzo. It is the story of Maggy Thorsen, a divorcée, who along with two friends opens the Uncommon Grounds coffee shop in a small Wisconsin town. Running a small business is a challenge for the women, especially on opening day. When Maggy finds one of her partners dead in the coffee shop, lying in a pool of milk, she sets out to find the killer. Oh, if you're wondering how someone could die in a pool of milk, she was electrocuted by an espresso machine. The library does not carry this title, but we can borrow it for you from out of town. Sounds like a book to read while enjoying an espresso, just stay away from the machine.

The Virtual Collection on our Web site can assist you to find other fiction books with the topic of coffee, or any other topic for that matter. Try the NoveList database and search under the key word coffee, you'll find an urn full of novels to choose from. If you're a tea drinker don't feel left out. If you search under the word tea, you can find even more novels. I don't know if this means something. Well I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Hopefully you found a book you might be interested in reading. If so, be sure to take it with you next time you visit one of our local coffee houses. Thanks a latte for reading this column. I hope it satisfied your thirst for novels about coffee. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Karen Craib, Library Technician

Sunday, 3 February 2008

February 3rd, 2008 The Day the Music Died

Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash in Iowa on February 3rd, 1959. That tragic loss of three young rising stars of rock and roll inspired Don McLean to write “American Pie” thirteen years later.

The website includes Rich Kulawiec’s annotated version of Don McLean’s song “American Pie”. Here’s a taste, with an interpretation of the opening lines:

A long, long time ago...
"American Pie" reached #1 in the US in 1972, but the album containing it was released in 1971. Buddy Holly died in 1959.

I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance,
That I could make those people dance,
And maybe they'd be happy for a while

One of early rock and roll's functions was to provide dance music for various social events. McLean recalls his desire to become a musician playing that sort of music.

But February made me shiver,
Buddy Holly died on February 3, 1959 in a plane crash in Iowa during a snowstorm. The news came to most of the world on the morning of February 3, which is why it's known as The Day The Music Died.

With every paper I'd deliver,
Don McLean's only job besides being a full-time singer-songwriter was being a paperboy.

Bad news on the doorstep...
I couldn't take one more step.
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride

Holly's recent bride, Maria Elena, was pregnant when the crash took place; she had a miscarriage shortly afterward.

But something touched me deep inside,
The day the music died.

The same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly also took the lives of Richie Valens ("La Bamba") and The Big Bopper ("Chantilly Lace"). Since all three were so prominent at the time, February 3, 1959 became known as "The Day The Music Died".

The Buddy Holly Centre, which is housed in a renovated train depot in Texas, has an extensive website ( filled with details about the singer’s short life. Included in the display at the Centre are Buddy Holly's Fender Stratocaster; a songbook used by Holly and the Crickets, clothing, photographs, recording contracts, tour itineraries, Holly's glasses, homework assignments, report cards, and much more.

To learn more about the day the music died, check out these books from your Library:

The day the music died: The last tour of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens by Larry Lehmer.
This exhaustively researched account tragedy includes every detail of the tour, accident and aftermath.

Buddy Holly: A Biography by Ellis Ambrun
In depth interviews with family and friends add to the Buddy Holly story in this book.

Remembering Buddy: the definitive biography by John Goldrosen and John Beecher
This scrap-book style volume includes a discography, recording session log, chart file and tour dates.

Your Library has several Buddy Holly CDs available including originals “Oh boy”, 50 classic recordings in “The Buddy Holly Collection”, and tribute albums “Not fade away: Remembering Buddy Holly” and “Les grandes chansons du Buddy Holly” by Dick Rivers, a French singer of Holly’s generation.

Your Library carries the movie “The Buddy Holly Story” on DVD and VHS. This movie, starring Gary Busey, was made in 1978. Jeffry Westhoff, movie critic quoted on the web site, points out that “Gary Busey's great performance offsets the fact that the script is about 80 percent fiction.”

Whenever a rising star in the universe of entertainment dies, it prompts people to think about where their career could have gone, if only they had lived. Remember Buddy Holly, seize the day, and shape your future today.

Joanna Aegard, Head of Virtual Library Services, This column appears Sundays on this page. If you have a comment about today's column, we would love to hear from you. Check out the blog at