Sunday, 26 October 2008

Sunday October 26th The Stock Market

As with most other Canadians, I have felt some angst during the last few weeks with all the ups and downs of the tock market. Most of us can discuss RRSPs and mortgages, and know something of the larger economic issues, but are a bit frightened by volatility of today's market and want to be reassured as to the outcome. One of the ways that you can come to terms with the issues is by learning more about it. Start with the knowledge you have, and look for books, magazines and online articles that will expand your knowledge. There are excellent resources at your library that can increase your knowledge and help you to adjust to the new realities.

How does the U.S. dollar figure in the issues?
Once looked upon as the strongest and most powerful currency in the world, the U.S. currency is under review by the financial world. For a better understanding, Craig Karmin's Biography of the Dollar is a great guide to understanding the way both the U.S. and the world economies work and the U.S. dollar's role in keeping the economic wheels turning. Karmin's best skill is his ability to take issues that would seem complex and opaque and make them transparent and relevant.

caused the credit crisis?
Financier, George Soros, points out that the accepted paradigm is that all markets tend toward equilibrium and deviations are random, false and misleading. In his book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets, he explores the implications of how economists perceive the credit crisis and want to resolve it. Interweaving politics with economics, Soros shows the role that greed and power have played in placing us in the current predicament. Both philosophical and practical, Soros, with his unrivaled experience in the financial markets places the current crisis in context with the decades of boom and bust cycles.

Where do environmental issues intersect with the financial issues?

Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman explains that "America has a problem and the world has a problem." America's problem is that it has lost its way in recent years partly because of 9/11 and partly because of the bad habits that have built up over the last three decades. The World also has a problem: It is getting hot, flat, and crowded. That is, global warming, the stunning rise of middle classes
all over the world, and rapid population growth have converged in away that could make our planet dangerously unstable. Environmentalism isn't just a survival imperative: it may be the best way to make America richer, more productive and secure.

What has been the role of debt in today's world?
For an interesting and literary take on the issue, pick up Margaret Atwood's Payback: Debt and the Shadows Side of Wealth. Atwood mixes autobiography, literary criticism and anthropology in an examination of debt as a concept deeply rooted in human behaviour. She builds an argument that wryly advances the familiar thesis that what goes around comes around. This is a timely subject during our current period of economic upheaval caused by the collapse of a system of interlocking debts.

Are there new biographies on some of the great financial geniuses?
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder, was published this September. In an authorized biography, Schroeder describes how this frugal, driven billionaire developed his personal philosophy and distinctive business style from his experiences. This book explains how Warren Buffett's principles and ideas enriched the lives of those around him while he created the most interesting American success story of our time. Another great biography is Relentless by and about Ted Rogers. Roger's company owns our country's biggest cable TV and wireless phone companies. His company has 52 AM and FM radio stations, five Citytv stations, several national magazines including Chatelaine and Macleans . His life storycredits his family history and values gained there as central to his success. A story of Main Street and Bay Street, this is a chance to learn more about Canadian entrepreneurship.

Roberta Casella, Librarian at the Brodie Resource Library

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Sunday October 19th Keen on Green

If you have visited the Library recently, you no doubt have heard about our Keen on Green campaign. With this initiative, we are trying to help to reduce consumption and the size of our carbon footprint here in Thunder Bay. Just by borrowing books or DVDs or other materials from the Library you are helping to do this and you can earn recognition for it with a special “green” card which gets marked every time you borrow. You can get extra points for other green activities too, such as riding your bicycle to the library or taking the bus. The campaign continues until December when we will choose one randomly drawn green card from the completed ones which you submit, and award that lucky person with an Energy Star laptop computer!

At the same time, we are highlighting our green resources. You might be surprised to learn what is available at the Library. Here are some highlights and interesting facts about what is available for you as you work towards the greening of your own life and that of our community.

Do you have any information programs?

Earthwise Thunder Bay has been presenting a series of ecologically-themed programs each month. For instance, on October 23 at the Waverley Library at 7pm they are showing The Story of Stuff, a documentary about the concept of Zero Waste.

What do you do with old books you no longer want to keep at the Library?

We recycle! Those items which are withdrawn from our collections are sent to the Friends of the Library Book Store in Victoriaville where you can pick up some great bargains very cheaply.

Do you have books to help children understand the importance of a greener earth?

What children can experience, they will understand and for that reason I would like to point out one very special book for children Eco-Fun by Dr. David Suzuki and Kathy Vanderlinden. It has some amazing projects, experiments and games for children to learn about our Earth and to understand our connection with it. Pachamamama: Our Earth- Our Future is another great title, but with a different approach. It is a United Nations-produced book which combines factual information about freshwater, smog, urbanization and other issues, along with artwork and writing by children from around the world. There are hundreds of other titles too but these two are especially notable and recommended.

Do you accept books as donations?

No one likes to get rid of their old books, least of all a book-lover as most of our library patrons are. Yes, we accept books as donations if they are in still in good condition. We may select some to put into the library collection, or send some to the Friends bookstore for possible resale. Either way, they are put to good use.

Do you use recyclables for your programs?

We certainly do. We have made reindeer puppets from mens’ old ties (thanks Dad!), wind chimes from bottle caps, bird feeders from milk cartons, pillows for teens from their old jeans….you name it, we’ve recycled it. Just yesterday kids were making sock puppets at the Brodie library. Look at our website for information about other upcoming children’s programs.

There is much more I could say on this subject such as how we lend out electronic energy meters (thanks Eco-Superior!) but I have to stop here so I can get back to working on the rehabilitation of a papier-mache puppet from the 1970s. With a little new papier-mache on the face, some re-painting of her hands and a new apron and scarf from the scrap bag, she can have new life as Strega Nona, star of an upcoming puppet show at the Library. Remember to stay Keen on Green and visit the Library soon.

By Angela Meady, Head of Children’s & Youth Services for the Thunder Bay Public Library

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sunday October 12th, 2008 Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! We haven’t featured Thanksgiving as a topic for about 10 years so I think it’s about time to do it again. Ten years ago most of the sources quoted were book resources but now you can find pretty much everything using the Internet. So I thought that just for fun I’d redo the column from ten years ago and use both book and online sources.

What is the origin of Thanksgiving in Canada?

According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, this holiday draws upon 3 traditions: 1) European harvest celebrations, 2) formal observances such as the 1578 celebration for safe passage by Martin Frobisher in the eastern Arctic, and 3) the well-known first harvest celebration by the Pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1621. (see also:

Here are some other significant dates:

1763 – citizens of Halifax celebrate the end of the Seven Years’ War (The Canadian Encyclopedia )
1871 – a day of thanks is given for the restoration to health of the Prince of Wales (High Days and Holidays in Canada; according to the Canadian Heritage web site, this event is listed as taking place in 1872
1879 – Parliament declares a day of Thanksgiving on Nov. 6 (The Canadian Encyclopedia)
1957 – Parliament proclaims the second Monday in October as Thanksgiving Day (The Canadian Encyclopedia )

Where can I find Thanksgiving recipes, crafts and stories?

Check out books like Betty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook, Thanksgiving Fun, and A Pioneer Thanksgiving. A simple subject search in our online catalogue for Thanksgiving will bring up a nice list of books, cd books, dvds, videos and e-books. Search Thanksgiving in Yahoo’s directory for good links to Internet resources.

Why do we eat turkey at Thanksgiving?

It’s commonly believed that turkey was consumed at the first American Thanksgiving in 1621. (Holidays of Legend). It is not known whether turkey was actually eaten during that feast but in the journal of Plymouth Colony's governor William Bradford he writes that he sent out four men to catch game and wild turkey did exist in the region at that time (Oxford Companion to Food).

Happy Turkey Day!

Sylvia Renaud, Head of Reference Services

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Sunday October 5th, 2008 Decorating on a Dime

One of the season's benefits of spending more time indoors is the delight of inexpensive decorating on a dime! It's easy to associate the term interior decorating with the possibility of spending exorbitant amounts of money. In the throes of making our living space more esthetically pleasing, going over budget can be as natural as the sun coming up! To help you make some excellent design decisions, and to kick start your creative flow, the Thunder Bay Public Library abounds with material to assist in inexpensive and practical ways to spruce up your indoor zones.

There are many reasons why you may want to change the interior look and feel of your home. I recall reading at my kitchen table last fall and as I glanced up, I caught a plastic hockey puck before it hit the wall. Plastic pucks reduce the possibility of injury for youth playing mini-stick hockey indoors, however; they wreck a great deal of havoc on a paint job. As I followed the trajectory of that plastic puck, the target was yet another paint chip that needed fixing. My eyes then averted to all the paint chips in my kitchen and I resolved to clean upby painting and color coordinating everything at the lowest cost possible.

Walking through retail stores to obtain color ideas, and bringing home paint swatches from paint stores can be helpful. This can also result in an overwhelming desire to hire an interior decorator, seamstress and painter because all the sudden my belief that Martha Stewart or Debbie Travis have nothing on me has hit the wall! I developed an
amazing imitation of the lady in the home depot commercial that flails her hands a lot when she's trying to explain to the sales associate what she's attempting to do. At this point, I return to my step by step practicality and organization skills which are of great assistance while working in the library, and much to my relief are very beneficial to employ for creating less-costly and coordinated decorating.

I believe the approach to decorating needs to be as methodical and logical as it does creative and whimsical! To start the brush stroking I began by researching some excellent resources such as: Roney Carley's 2008 brand book called [The Nest] Home Design Handbook: Simple Ways to Decorate, Organize, and Personalize your Place, Heather Paper's latest book Decorating Ideas that Work: Creative Design Solutions for Your Home, and another recent volume by Carol Spier, The Apartment Book: Smart Decorating for Spaces Large and Small. I found the guidance and images in these books to be exceptionally beneficial in helping me make decisions about use of space and color.

With the frequency in the change of color trends, it can be difficult to choose combinations of colors that will maintain a classic appeal yet also go with the trends of the time. With this being my goal, I started collecting material that would contribute to deciding on a lovely medley of palette blends. Better Homes and Gardens New Color Schemes Made Easy is a brand new book available that is full of fresh ideas blended with classic simplicity that will make you want to pick up a paint brush! Amy Wax's Can't Fail ColorSchemes is also a new resource to help in this zone of the decorating world. There are some amazing paint techniques to give old furniture a face lift or to add appeal to an accent wall and we have the latest resources at the public library to show you how to pull the artist out in you!
Lesley Riva can show you some fun and innovative ideas in her book, Paint Style: the New Approach to Decorative Paint Finishes, which is again a brand new resource which could be right at your fingertips.

From audio books on Tuscan decorating ideas to surfing our virtual databases for many of the top ten decorating periodicals for decoration inspiration you're bound to find something that works for you! If you would like to create beautiful window treatments, slipcovers and pillows we can suggest many new publications that will help you put the finishing touches to your new look. Whether you're changing one room, your child's space, or all your living areas, come and see the multitude of items we have to kick start your plans!

Raegan Rocco, Library Technician