Sunday, 31 August 2008

Sunday August 31st Selecting a New Vehicle

Are you looking for a new vehicle? It's a bit overwhelming with so much to choose from. I had trouble just choosing a colour, let alone deciding on which vehicle I liked. Do you want to feel safe in something like an SUV or do you want a sporty car? I've always wanted a corvette, but at my age I think that idea has gone the same route as my desire for a pony. Are you concerned with fuel economy? With so much to consider, here are a few sources you might want to check.

Lemon-aid SUVs, Vans, And Trucks by Phil Edmonston

For over 30 years now Phil has been helping us buy that new or used vehicle. If you're looking for vehicle ratings, advice on cheap but reliable buys, or information on secret warranties, check it out. He gives you the strong and weak points of each vehicle plus details about reliability, safety complaints and road performance. We also carry his guides to buying used vehicles. His website can be seen at

Consumer Reports

As well as at the return of the crows, March means the return of the April edition of Consumer Reports. The April issue covers the best and worst new and used vehicles. It covers reliability, extended warranties and extensive vehicle profiles as well as top picks. The technical information covers subjects such as seating, engine size, acceleration and fuel economy. This magazine is also indexed in the General OneFile database, in our Virtual Collection.


The Reference Departments at both Brodie and Waverley carry Carguide magazine. The February issue contains the annual buyers' guide. One of the nice things is that it's Canadian, so the prices and specifications are geared to us.

General OneFile

If you're looking for articles on a vehicle try the General OneFile database in our Virtual Collection. It's on our Web site and all you need to access it is your library card and telephone number. You can search under the name of a vehicle, and then narrow your results by adding a Document Type, such as Evaluation. If you want to be able to read an entire article, select the Limit to full-text box.


If you're wondering about the cost of a new vehicle or what you might be able to sell your current vehicle for, check out the Canadian Red Book. It can be found in the Reference Departments at Brodie and Waverley.


For consumer reviews visit the Epinions website. One of the tabs on the main screen is for Cars. After clicking on it you will see you can narrow your search down by topic, such as class, brand and year of vehicle. It's interesting to read what other owners have to say about a certain vehicle. This may help you decide if the new vehicle you're looking at really is the one for you. We also have this site in our Internet Links, which you can find by clicking on the Virtual Collection tab on our webpage. The Internet Links are on the left side of the screen. You'll find this site and others in the Consumer Information section.

Auto Repair Reference Center

If you're in the market for a used vehicle and are wondering if it has had many Technical Service Bulletins and Recalls, have a look at the Auto Repair Reference Center database in our Virtual Collection. This may give you an indication as to whether or not a vehicle seems to be having a lot of problems, which may also help you decide on a
purchase. Two vehicles I was interested in each had 17 bulletins/recalls, while another one had 174. That one was quickly voted off the island.

I hope I've put you on the fast track to finding the perfect set of wheels. Before you start searching, be sure to make a pit stop at your local library.

Karen Craib, Library Technician

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sunday August 24th, 2008 Back-to-School Daze

Another school year looms just around the corner. It seems that lately, everywhere I go I encounter determined parents herding reluctant, cranky, kids in and out of stores in a last ditch buying frenzy of new school clothes, school supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes and all the other paraphernalia indispensable to a new year of learning. Actually, this time of season is always very nostalgic for me. My children are grown now, but I still remember their reactions to the first day of school. My daughter happily skipped off the school bus and into the embrace of her new teacher without a backward glance. (I know because, to her mortification, I insisted on riding with her the first time.) I cried all the way home. It wasn’t any easier when my son began his “formal” education career. I left him at the schoolroom door, biting his trembling lips, trying hard not to cry, trying harder to be brave like the big boys. I felt like I was abandoning him and, once again, I cried all the way home.

If you or your child dread the coming school year, there are many helpful, practical exercises you can do to lessen separation anxiety. For instance, make at least one visit to the school before your child’s first day; talk about each place as you visit it; take a look at where the children will leave their coat, eat their lunch etc.; read some positive story books to your child about school; recount your own happy school memories. Many websites offer similar practical tips and more to help you survive the first-day jitters -- (a local initiative) and to name a couple -- or just google “starting school”. And of course, there are a variety of resources designed to ease the transition from home to school, available at the Thunder Bay Public Library. Some are listed below. (Parent-teacher materials appear first, followed by a small sample of the more popular children’s items.)


Jennifer Fox identifies 3 main strengths in children: Activity Strengths -- the tasks that engage and energize; Relationship Strengths -- the things you do for and with others that make you feel valued and competent; Learning Strengths -- the unique ways in which we approach and assimilate new information. She uses clear, step-by-step techniques to help parents and teachers recognize and learn how to capitalize on these strengths so that our children will be adaptable, resilient and competitive throughout life.

PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR SCHOOL by Dr. Helen Likierman and Dr. Valerie Muter. c2007

Two experienced child psychologists offer practical yet relaxed advice on how to help your child develop social and self-care skills, improve language and listening skills, prevent and curb inappropriate behaviour, deal with bullying, promote emotional well-being and much more.


Success in school begins long before the first day. It starts at home -- with you. In this little gem of a book, (my personal pick) Rosemary Wells, noted children’s author, outlines 10 simple, proven principles guaranteed to help any child succeed.


In this state-of-the art book about child rearing and early education, Berk, a leading authority on early childhood development, delineates clear roles for parents and teachers, offers concrete suggestions for creating and evaluating quality educational environments and addresses the unique challenges of helping children with special needs. In short, she gives us the basic guidance we need to raise caring, thoughtful, intelligent children.

STAYING SAFE ON THE SCHOOL BUS by Joanne Mattern. c2007

Using simple, easy-to-read language, this picture book teaches children to stay safe on the bus while also introducing new vocabulary and strengthening reading comprehension.

The following, is a small representation of the myriad of concept books, story books, junior magazines, CDROMS, DVDs etc. available:

by Mary Tomczyk c2003

OFF TO KINDERGARTEN by Tony Johnston; illustrated by Melissa Sweet c2007

FIRST GRADE STINKS! By Mary Ann Rodman; ill. by Beth Siegel c2006

by Toby Forward; illustrated by Carol Thompson c 2004



In addition to a dizzying array of children’s print and electronic resources, our Library also offers a wide variety of programs designed to promote literacy and prepare our kids for a relatively seamless entry into the school system. Books for Babies, Tales for Twos, Pre-School Storytime and Beginning with Books help develop a love of reading that is so vital to the success of any future learning endeavours. Readers are Leaders for children in Grades 2-3, improves language facility and reading skills and the ever-popular story and craft programs are designed to cultivate listening skills, conceptual creativity and eye-hand co-ordination. (It should be mentioned that FUN is a mandatory component of all.)

So, I cordially invite you and your family to visit your library and discover the many ways in which it can help achieve a happy and rewarding school experience for everyone!

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

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Sunday August 17th, 2008 Knitting Discoveries

I’ve recently rediscovered knitting. I tried it once many years ago when my children were small but they said it made me cranky so I stopped. As I recall, I did spend most of my time tearing back or retrieving dropped stitches so their observation was probably accurate. Nonetheless, I love the texture and the colours of wool and I have always nursed an abiding desire to create something knitted. Perhaps, this is because when I was very young I had an elderly great-aunt – she must have been at least 100 years old (or so it seemed to me) – who lingered in her rocking chair all day, rocking and talking and knitting, her false teeth clacking rhythmically in time to the clinking of her metal knitting needles. I never understood a word she said but I found the clacking and the clinking rather comforting, in a sort of hypnotic way. Perhaps for me, knitting is destined to become a calorie-free alternative for chocolate. Yeah, right.

Anyhow...I am proud to say that at long last I have actually completed my very first knitting project, a sweater, of which I am inordinately proud. To be honest, I haven’t pieced it together yet so for all I know it has 3 arms and 2 backs and will only fit one of Douglas Preston’s weird, nightmarish creatures, but I don’t care. I actually KNIT something. Furthermore, I shall continue to knit. And the Thunder Bay Public Library will help me because, in my humble and completely objective opinion, it has the best collection of knitting resources ever!

Got a knitting question you need answered? If so, this is the resource for you. Taylor is an expert on all aspects of knitting and she answers questions designed for beginners as well as experienced knitters, from casting on and basic stitches, to shaping, cables and much more.

This is the book that really compelled me to start knitting again. It offers some very stylish yet classic sweater and poncho patterns that are achievable, even for beginners who don’t want to have to start by knitting a dishcloth. Simple, step-by-step instructions, detailed illustrations of different kinds of stitches and techniques, (like how to finish a garment and sew it together) practical knitting advice and encouraging anecdotes are designed to appeal to both the neophyte and the more experienced knitter. (Incidentally, you’ll find the sweater I made on page 63!)

Sometimes it’s easier to learn a new craft when someone shows you how to do it. If this observation applies to you, then instructional DVDs (of which the library has many) are an ideal choice. Here, expert knitter Catherine Miller Scott demonstrates stitches close-up and offers clear instructions and tips on how to best execute them.

This excitingly innovative handbook encourages you to design your own sweaters by demystifying the measurement dilemma. Turner offers precise master patterns with instructions for multiple sizes and gauges and she shows you how to customize and experiment to create imaginative, vibrant and completely unique knitwear.

Add a little BLING to your knitting! Scarlet Taylor presents fifteen beautiful designs, each of which incorporate different kinds of beads. All patterns feature beautiful yarns, detailed instructions and photos for each creative technique, easy-to-knit stitch patterns and, of course, eye-catching beads for just the right touch of colour, style and sophistication.

Stephanie Pearl-Mcphee has been dubbed the knitting world’s Erma Bombeck. Here, she applies her trademark wit and wry insights to reveal the wise (and sometimes unexpected) truths contained within several familiar adages, understood as only a knitter could.

Of course, these titles are only a small sample of what’s actually available at the library. There are many, many more books containing knitting instructions and patterns designed for everyone (including four-legged friends) and every age, as well as a variety of knitting magazines and instructional electronic resources. So if you’re eager to start a new project or resurrect an old, browse the library website, or, better yet, visit us in person. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

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

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Sunday August 10th, 2008 Break time reads

What do you like to do on your coffee break? As well as talking (big surprise there), I like to catch up on some light reading. One of the great things about working in the library is our wide selection of magazines just waiting to be read. Among staff we have a variety of interests. We have pet lovers, gardeners, photographers, happy campers and some may even be all of the above. Here’s a few of the popular magazines we have in our reference collections.

Pets Magazine
As an animal lover I like to check out each new issue of Pets Magazine. I always read the column by Canadian author and humorist William J. Thomas. Over the years I’ve enjoyed hearing about his adventures with his cat Malcolm and dog Jake. The magazine is informative and covers a wide range of subjects. Recent articles include selecting a new pet, how to find a vet, puppy and kitten care and care of the senior pet. They cover health topics such as parasites and hyperthyroidism. We also carry Dogs in Canada magazine and there are copies in the library system that you can borrow.

Entertainment Weekly
It’s always fun to peruse Entertainment Weekly and share the latest gossip with your fellow coffee break members, even if they don’t want to hear it. If you enjoy reading about people in the entertainment field, this is the magazine for you. You can find reviews on the latest in books, music, movies and what’s new on DVD. There’s also a section on what to watch on television for each day of the week. The articles are timely, interesting and include recent topics such as Saturday Night Live, the return of Indiana Jones and the Miley Cyrus’ Vanity Fair photo shoot. We also carry People magazine and have copies that you can borrow.

Popular Photography
We have more than one photographer on staff and they can often be seen scanning Popular Photography. If you’re in the market for a new camera or lens check out their reviews. You can read articles on the various aspects of using Photoshop. They also cover interesting topics such
as how to shoot a butterfly in flight, advice on lighting, using a wide angle lens and help with nature photography. We also carry Photolife magazine.

gardening life
Gardening is a popular hobby among library staff. We even have a perennial support group that meets annually – pardon the pun. We drink coffee, talk gardening and even have a plant exchange, so I guess in actual fact the support group part isn’t working. There’s often a staff member/gardener reading gardening life. In the middle of winter, for a touch of summer, you can open the pages and dream. If you needadvice on plants, tools, garden designs and makeovers or even entertaining this magazine can help. Check out the latest dirt (sorry I couldn’t resist) on the hottest new plants and upcoming gardening trends. We have copies that you can borrow. We also carry Organic Gardening magazine.

Homes & Cottages
There are staff members who like to check out the latest ideas for their home or cottage. I guess if this magazine had been published in Northwestern Ontario instead of Southern Ontario, it would have been called Homes & Camps. There’s not much of a ring to that title. Recent issues feature articles on replacing a water line, insulating your bathroom floor, fixing a running toilet and installing a skylight. If you did all of these you might end up with a spectacular bathroom. There’s practical advice on buying a wheelbarrow, choosing doors and windows and home security systems. If you’ve ever dreamed of having a French country kitchen, there’s an article on that. We also carry House Beautiful and This Old House.

This year we will be adding a few more titles to our reference collections. Here are some of the titles to watch for – Real Simple, Teen Vogue, Bicycling and Modern Bride. If you’re in the library and have time on your hands, feel free to sit in one of our comfy chairs and relax with a good magazine. It’s almost like being at home, but less disruptive.

Karen Craib Library Technician -

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Sunday August 3rd, 2008 Inventions

Necessity is the mother of invention. To invent requires creativity, ingeniousness, knowledge and a great deal of persistence. Many of the most famous inventions came about as a solution to a problem or to fill a need. Some remarkable products have been developed merely by accident. A lot of these articles or processes we take for granted
are worth a closer look.

Such a simple object yet with a long and interesting history. Used to record daily activities, note appointments, jot down a phone number or create an elaborate sketch. The functions are endless. Why are pencils always painted yellow and hexagonal in shape? What is pencil lead made of and what kind of wood was used to wrap it? This book has the answers. A single pencil can draw a line 70 miles long. Try it and see if it's true. Fourteen billion pencils are manufactured each year. You probably have one on your desk right now. The Pencil, A History Of Design And Circumstance by Henry Petroski is jam-packed with technical and historical information, more than you will ever need to know about this versatile instrument.

In 1946, Percy Spencer reached into the pocket of his lab coat for a magnetron, a tube that powers radar systems. Also inside his pocket was a chocolate bar which had melted into a sticky mess. It was soon discovered that the chocolate bar had been melted by microwaves that were being emitted from the magnetron. From this small discovery evolved the first microwave ovens patented in 1949. In the book Inventing Modern America, author David Brown explores numerous inventions over the last century contributing to our work, health, environment and our ability to communicate.

A number of very famous inventions are attributed to Canadians; Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone, the Canadarm by Spar Aerospace, the game of Trivial Pursuit by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, Canada Dry Ginger Ale in 1907 by John McLaughlin, the external pacemaker by John Hopps. For a more detailed look at some of Canada's creations, try Canadian Inventions, Fantastic Feats & Quirky Contraptions by Lisa Wojna.

Female inventors have also made significant contributions in the world of inventions. Patently Female by Ethlie Vare and Greg Ptacek showcases many of these achievements. The first automatic dishwasher, drip coffeemaker, carpet sweeper, tv dinner and sewing machine were all the results and efforts of women to support a practical need. However, not all inventions by women were related to housework. Kevlar, most commonly used in bullet proof vests is credited to chemist Stephanie Kwolek. AZT, the first effective drug for the treatment of Aids was discovered by chemist Janet Rideout. Donna Shirley invented the first mars rover, Sojourner Truth, a mechanized robot used to traverse the planet collecting important data.

Recently, CBC has produced a television show designed to showcase various products and inventions by Canadian entrepreneurs looking for monetary help to market and produce their items. Called Dragon's Den, applicants appear before a panel of successful Canadian business people, pitching the wonders of their product in hopes of securing production funds. Some of the products or inventions are quite humorous and provide good television entertainment, while others are good ideas and are negotiated on by the panel. These proven business experts are often ruthless and for good reason; it is their own personal funds at stake. This past April auditions for the Dragon's Den were held in Thunder Bay. Did you make the cut? The third season of this popular television show will begin airing sometime in October.

If you have a unique product or invention perhaps you may need to protect it from being copied. To do this you will require a patent. While the process may seem daunting and somewhat costly, if your item is a one of a kind it may be worth your time and money. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office website, a government agency of Industry Canada, has detailed information on patents. It can be found at Their faq page answers such questions as what is a patent, how to apply for one, do I need a patent, and how long is a patent effective.

If your interest in inventors and their inventions has been tweaked, check out the many resources available @ your library.

Michelle Paziuk, Library Technician, Brodie Resource Library