Sunday, 27 April 2008

Sunday April 27th, 2008 Spring Projects

Spring has officially been here since March 20 but the weather hasn’t really co-operated until just recently. I think it’s pretty much safe to start getting underway with springtime projects. Come on into the library – we have a great number of resources for both information and inspiration!

Where can I find instructions on how to build an Adirondack chair?

There’s no easy way to search for specific woodworking plans. You’ll have to come in and look at the general woodworking books. Two that have plans for an Adirondack chair are: Better Homes and Gardens Wood: Outdoor Furniture and Accessories You Can Make and Building Garden & Patio Furniture.

I need some general books on gardening. What would you recommend?

Stick with books on gardening in Canada such as Gardening for Canadians for Dummies, Gardening Manual for Canada, Mark Cullen's Ontario Gardening, and the Great Canadian Plant Guide. Hint: when you’re browsing the shelves look for the Canadian flag on the spine. Don’t forget that you can also sign out issues of Canadian Gardening and Manitoba Gardener magazines.

Should I bag or leave lawn clippings?

Lawn clippings make excellent fertilizer, so you should leave them on the lawn. Mow your lawn when it’s dry and don’t let your grass grow more than 1 inch taller than its recommended mowing height (this varies depending on the species of grass) or else those unsightly masses of fresh clippings will accumulate and smother the grass instead of fertilizing it. (Source: Safe & Easy Lawn Care).

My lawnmower has broken down. Do you have repair manuals?

We do have some such as the Walk-behind Lawn Mower Service Manual. You may also wish to look at the Small Engine Repair Reference Center in our virtual collection. Click on Outdoor Power Equipment for walk-behind and riding lawn mowers.

I’m trying to be more environmentally friendly so I’d like to start using more natural lawn and garden pesticides. What does the library have that can help me with this?

Going green is such a good thing! And your request is very timely given the recent legislation introduced by the Ontario government to ban cosmetic pesticides. We have books such as the Organic Lawn Care Manual, Natural Insect Control, Safe & Easy Lawn Care and a short dvd entitled Lawn and Garden Pesticides: Reducing Harm. Articles in magazines can be found using the virtual collection indexes (Hint: Organic Gardening magazine is available in the Canadian Reference Centre). We’ve recently added GreenFILE, which has resources for anyone concerned about environmental issues.

Need some inspiration? Check out the Better Homes & Gardens special interest publication Garden Ideas & Outdoor Living. The early spring 2008 issue is now available.

Sylvia Renaud, Head of Reference and Information Servcies

Friday, 18 April 2008

April 20th, 2008 Librarians in Literature

Hair in a bun, glasses on a chain, frumpy clothes and sturdy shoes, do you know that stereotype? Yes, I will openly admit to being a librarian, and I frequently have to face some good-hearted bantering and admonishing shhs.

Recently, I attended PLA, a conference for Public Libraries. There were almost 10,000 librarians in attendance, and yes, some of them fit this stereotype, but many didn't. There were high fashion librarians, one with knee high red boots, non-bespectacled men in khaki and loafers, a young woman with bright green hair, even a smattering of suited CEOs, in other words a cross-section of people and personalities. They weren't a quiet bunch, they asked direct questions, stood in line for free merchandise, and cheered for their favorite speakers. Yes, some of the favorites were authors, but that is our stock in trade! One of my favorite sessions was on librarians in literature, and like the conference attendees, these too are a varied bunch. See if you recognize these librarians from books.

What librarians are sleuths, using their natural curiosity to identify the killer?

Helma Zukas is probably the best known crime-solving librarian. She was created by Jo Dereske, a former librarian. In Miss Zukas and the Stroke of Death, Miss Zukas is a conservative, intelligent librarian who is thrown into solving another murder when her flamboyant artist friend Ruth is implicated after body shows up on her lawn. These cozy mysteries are set in Michigan and allow you to experience the quirky world of the library. In Tome of Death, a mystery by D.R. Meredith, librarian Megan Clark, and her Murder by the Yard reading group must unravel the mystery behind a burial site in Palo Duro Canyon. The site containing two corpses--one a human skeleton, the other a mummy in Comanche garb--murdered more than 100 years apart. Elizabeth Peters follows the exploits of librarian Jacqueline Kirby in Die for Love. Jacqueline, a librarian from Nebraska poses as a romance author in order to attend the Historical Romance Writers Conference in New York. She is soon caught up in masquerades, intrigues, and deadly goings-on.

Can you name some Futuristic or Fantastic Librarians?

The Rover by Mel Odom, will set you off on a multi-volume fantasy adventure starring Edgewick Lamplighter, a third-level librarian, in the basement of the Great Library. The bookish, pint-sized fellow's vast knowledge of the world has been acquired through reading, follow him on a journey filled with magic, mystery and self-discovery. In Ringworld, Terry Pratchett creates an epic series, populated by memorable, mystical characters. In it, the Unseen University Library is the repository of magic, its librarian is a wise and brave banana-craving orangutan. Satire and spoofery make this a series to enjoy with gusto. The Greatwinter trilogy by Sean McMullen describes a futuristic Australia including libraries that are exciting places, staffed and fought over by quick-tempered duellists armed with old-style flintlock pistols. Three great characters in the first book, Souls in the Human Machine, will capture your interest. John Glasken, is a likeable rascal with a lust for life, Zarvora Cybeline is the lonely and brilliant head of the library system, and Lemorel Milderelle is a precocious librarian driven mad by the loss of her love.

Are there Romantic librarians?

Yes, many major authors have used librarians as their heroines. Jayne Ann Krentz has Leonora Hutton, reference librarian, in Smoke in Mirrors. Krentz brings a sexually repressed librarian and a handyman venture capitalist together to solve the case of a murderer who possesses the ability to make murder look like suicide. Nora Roberts in her Key trilogy introduces Dana Steele, a librarian who is sure that the key to unlocking the spellbound souls of ancient demigoddesses lies in a book. This is an energetic mix of fantasy and romance that Nora Roberts fans will enjoy. In the Dewey Decimal System of Love, Allison Sheffield, local librarian has been "on the shelf" for fifteen years when she falls madly in love with conductor Aleksi, even though he has a wife. This story is endearing and charming, and a bit kooky. Most people will recognize the stereotypical librarians and public, but will get a good chuckle with this light romance.

Roberta Casella, Librarian

Sunday, 6 April 2008

April 6th, 2008 Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning. We hear about it every year with the arrival of warmer weather. It has become a cultural phenomenon in colder climates. There is even an entry for the term spring cleaning in the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. I do spring cleaning for the same reason I put up Halloween and Christmas decorations. Everyone does it so I think I should too. This year change it up and put a twist on this annual chore.

The focus on a greener planet can be applied to cleaning. There are safer, more environmentally friendly products on the market now that are just as effective for cleaning as chemicals. Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus looks at some of the harmful chemicals found in today's traditional cleaners. It may surprise you to know that all of these toxins in our home promote indoor air pollution which can lead to unwanted health problems such as allergies and asthma. No longer do we require the smell of pine or bleach to indicate that our home is clean. Did you know that certain species of houseplants can absorb some of the toxins from the air? This book includes natural products already found in the home that can be used for cleaning plus resources listing green products and retailers.

For a quick guide to making your own household cleaners try The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier. Using herbal formulas you can create your own non-toxic dirt busters for everything from laundry soap to wood polish. The internet is also another useful tool for finding household cleaner recipes. Clean and Green is a great list of common cleaner ingredients found in the kitchen cupboard or readily available from the grocery or drugstore.

If you are confused about where to begin, Real Simple Cleaning written by Kathleen Squires is a good place to start. This book outlines the tools you will most likely need to use for cleaning with a room by room cleaning guide. There are tips on how to clean various types of surfaces and materials including stain removal. Part of the cleaning regimen generally includes deciding which things to keep and what to discard. I follow the one year rule. If I haven't used it or worn it in the last year it's time to get rid of it.

Whatever rule you choose to follow don't forget to recycle! Pack up those unwanted, but still useful items and donate them to the charity of your choice. Bring an item to work and leave it in the staff room. Attach a "free" sign and watch it disappear. Try a yard sale or join the millions of people already selling on eBay. Both are a good method of earning some extra cash and recycling unwanted stuff. The Official eBay Bible by Jim Griffith is a manual of how-to for the popular online auction website for both first time users and experts.

Sometimes we accumulate too much stuff and before you know it, cleaning up can become a monumental task. Clutter can become exhausting and have a negative impact on mental well being. We make excuses, keep putting it off, and soon it is all too overwhelming. If this is the case, Peter Walsh addresses the problem in his book titled It's All Too Much. It may be that you simply need to learn to live within the limits of your space. Perhaps he can inspire you to make a clean break.

If you are simply unable to part with that waffle maker, hand knitted sweater from 1973, or battery operated milk frother you will need to get organized. Mission Organization by Home and Garden Television will help you sift through and store all that clutter. The Organizing Idea Book by John Loecke can help you make the most of your space. Lots of choices are presented from boxes or bins, to stacking or hanging. As well, the February 2008 edition of the magazine Workbench is titled Get Organized! It provides storage solutions for the basement, bathroom, closet and kitchen with patterns for the do-it-yourselfer. This magazine is available at both the Waverley and Brodie Reference departments. So open up the windows, let the fresh air in and start dusting!

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician