Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sunday January 31st, 2010 Ojibway Culture and History

Me, I’m interested in learning about Ojibway, Chippewa and First Nation history of the Great Lakes, Northwestern Ontario and Canada. Recently, I began reading The Chippewas of Lake Superior by Edmund Danziger, Jr., and I think it’s great.

Published in 1978, it may seem a bit academic compared to the contemporary narrative-style of historical non-fiction, but Danziger’s writing is strong and the story he tells is compelling. Although it was not written as a narrative, the book does show a break from the old social-science-style of writing about Native people that depicted us as dead and gone. Instead of reconstituting the old formula of savage, civilization, colonization, Danziger weaves an intricate tapestry of cultures, economics and human endeavour.

Danziger contrasts the Chippewa of what is now mostly Minnesota and Wisconsin with other native nations like the Dakota and Santee Sioux, the Iroquois, peoples from the south like the Miami and Kickapoo, as well as French and British settlers, merchants, agents, soldiers and priests. This book is definitely worth a read if you’re interested in history and inter-cultural exchange.

Another worthwhile book to have a look at, History of the Ojibway Nation, was originally published in 1885 by William W. Warren, an Ojibway interpreter, legislator and historian. It’s an excellent source of history from someone who was there and experienced life in the mid-1800’s, a time of incredible change and adaptation.

If you were to combine the above two books with The Ojibwa of Western Canada, 1780-1870 by Laura Peers, then you would basically have about two hundred years of Anishnaabeg history in just three books. A good start. Plus, most non-fiction books have a recommended reading list appendix.

The Thunder Bay Public Library has other titles available that focus on Ojibway history. Killing the Shamen by Chief Thomas Fiddler is the story of a medicine man arrested and jailed for killing a windigo – a person turned to cannibalism – and really shows the demarcation between old traditions and new laws.

Legends of My People, the Great Ojibway by Norval Morrisseau contains great art and storytelling by Morrisseau himself.

The Orders of the Dreamed, George Nelson on Cree and Northern Ojibwa Religion and Myth, 1823, is a first-person documentation of experiences and observations of George Nelson, a man who worked for the XY Company, the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1802 to 1823. While in the lands of Ojbway and Cree people, Nelson witnessed preparatory hunting medicine and other such conjuring. The Orders of the Dreamed, edited by Jennifer Brown and Robert Brightman is an excellent resource for historical firsthand accounts of Ojibway and Cree magical practices.

While writing this column, I received a book through inter-library loan, a service where books from other cities can be brought to the TBPL. The book is called Ojibwe Waasa Inaabidaa: We Look in All Directions by Thomas Peacock and Marlene Wisuri. Though I’ve only had a chance to flip through it, it looks like it picks up where many of the above-mentioned books leave off. That is, Ojibwe Waasa Inaabidaa not only has history from the 1800’s, but also follows the culture of Ojibway people up until modern times, the turn of the 21st century.

If you are interested in Ojibway culture and history, then I highly recommend these books.

Happy reading!

Chris Waite, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sunday January 24th, 2010 Family Literacy Day

With Family Literacy Day just around the corner, you might be wondering what it’s all about. In 1999, ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation and Honda Canada founded Family Literacy Day with the goal of encouraging literacy among families and to create opportunities for families to read and learn together. This event is held every year on Jan. 27. While the common assumption may be that literacy refers to the ability to read, it involves much more than that. Literacy can be improved through reading, singing, telling a story, learning about different cultures, following a recipe, or playing a game.

Thunder Bay will be celebrating Family Literacy Day with a storytelling Family Supper Night at the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre on Jan. 26. Traditional Aboriginal stories and songs will be shared with Friendship Centre participants. If you missed the special presentation of Literacy is Magic! at the Thunder Bay Public Library on Jan. 23 we will also be celebrating with a preschooler Beginning With Books program in the story hour room at the Brodie Resource Library 10:30 am on Jan. 27.

Other ways to celebrate Family Literacy Day include getting a group of families together to do literacy related crafts (such as bookmarks) or organize a “book swap” where gently used materials can find a new home and you can pick up something interesting as well. Or simply spend some time with your family, exchanging stories, discussing books, or participating in a project together. Your public library has lots of ideas stashed on the shelves so come by and take a browse through the latest fiction, current events, blockbuster films, and crafting books for some inspiration. The TBPL website will also provide insight into literacy related websites and guides for parents. Go to / Services / Parents for links to further resources.

So on that note, think about taking some extra time out to do something different with your family at home, outside, or at the library where, let’s face it, everyday is family literacy day!

Jesse Roberts, Head of Reference Services

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday January 17th, 2010 Pets

This column comes complete with the gentle snoring of 18 pounds of ginger cat currently resting on my feet. With sincere apologies to those with allergies, not a day goes by in the library when eventually the conversation doesn’t include pets. Whether it’s a patron seeking materials concerning a pet’s health, information on adopting or a training manual; to a member of staff explaining the previous day’s antics of their own bundle of fur, dogs and cats and more exotic pets are perpetual source of joy and amusement, accompanied by occasional bouts of frustration.

The library contains numerous volumes of practical information concerning the health and welfare of Rover or Princess as well as a variety of books featuring pets as their main characters, while many are fiction, there are also a number of true accounts of animals, ordinary and extraordinary, who have touched someone’s life. Here are a few from our book shelves that will have you laughing out loud, as well as reaching for a tissue. If you’ll excuse me, I need to type quickly before someone furry reminds me that he’d like to be fed.

Dewey : the small town library cat who touched the world by Vicki Myron

Dewey is the true story of a frostbitten ginger kitten shoved into the book return slot of the public library in Spencer, Iowa. Adopted by the library director,Vicki Myron, a single mother with a troubled past, as a the official library cat, Dewey Readmore Books was able for the nineteen years of his life to charm the staff, the patrons and Vicki herself with his innate ability to bond with those who need him the most.

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan

Newly married Grogan and his wife, Jenny decided that owning a dog would help prepare them for eventual parenthood, but nothing could prepare them for Marley. Marley a tiny, sweet Labrador retriever puppy with a naughty streak grew into 97 pounds of untrainable but lovable dog, known for destroying sections of the house, eating everything in sight and providing fodder for the column that journalist Grogan wrote for his newspaper.

A Big Little Life: a Memoir of a Joyful Dog by Dean Koontz

After long consideration, author Dean Koontz and his wife finally adopted a 3 year old golden retriever named Trixie who was a retired service dog. Trixie proved the perfect fit with her owners, for she was playful, intelligent and protective, and spending time with Trixie convinced Koontz that his workaholic lifestyle was robbing him of the wonder in life. Koontz has also written a follow up book called “Bliss to You: Trixie’s Guide to a Happy Life” in which the author details how Trixie became a guest blogger on his website, signing off with the phrase “Life is Good, Bliss to You” in which Koontz tried to share some of the wisdom and inspiration that he learned while watching Trixie experiencing the joy of being by feeling the happiness of each moment of life.

The Cat who came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory

A snowy Christmas in New York found Amory a longtime animal rights activist, rescuing an injured and underweight stray cat whom he keep and named Polar Bear. The cat arrived in his life, when the newly divorced and depressed Amory needed him most. The story chronicles the first year of sharing his home with Polar Bear; a cat with a mind of his own. In an effort to understand why Polar Bear behaved as he did, Amory investigated feline history and tried to see the world through a cat’s eye with hilarious results.

Howl : A collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit from the editors of The Bark

Everyone has a funny dog story, from a missing turkey to a ill-timed leg lift; so the editors of The Bark, a genuine online and print magazine that features all things canine, have collected stories from some of America’s top writers and comedians and complied an array of tales, mostly hilarious, frequently touching, that illustrate the relationship between man and his best friend, as well as, what dogs actually do when we’re not watching. Howl is the follow-up to the New York Times bestseller, Dog is My Co-Pilot, which won numerous awards for humour; and features stories by authors, such as Dave Barry, Al Franken, Kinky Friedman, Margaret Cho and many others.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sunday January 10th, 2010 Opera on Film

SilverCity has tapped an underutilized market in Thunder Bay - opera lovers! Sources tell me that the Met Operas screened at the local SilverCity Theatre are often sold-out affairs. So, if you have been one of the unfortunate ones that didn’t get into the screening, come and check out the library's collection of operas. We have some of the great composers – Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti, Offenbach, Bizet, Rossini and Mozart. Titles include La Boheme, La Traviata, Carmen, Don Giovanni, Marriage of Figaro, Barber of Seville as well as some ballets – Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Operatic companies include Opera Australia, Washington National Opera, and the LA Opera. These are all dvd formats, but we have many of the operatic sound recordings in our CD collection as well. For those of you more internet savvy, the online Music Library to which the library subscribes called NAXOS, carries many opera sound tracks. This online resource is available off the library website 24/7. Watch for the release of their video opera library some time in 2010. To access the NAXOS library, go to and click on Virtual Collection and then on the Sleeping Giant. You will need your library card and your PIN. If you forgot your PIN you can change it online.

New titles TBPL has in its dvd collection:

The Metropolitan Opera: Centennial Gala (1983). "Here are the greatest moments from the "ultimate in galas" a roof-rattling vocal display and the kind of cheering and free-flowing, heartfelt emotion on both sides of the footlights that opera evinces more than any other art form."

Madama Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini. (Opera Australia) "An American lieutenant marries a beautiful young geisha, to the dismay of her family. Shortly after the wedding the lieutenant departs for Amerca, and his wife bears him a child, alone. Three years later she excitedly awaits his return, only to find to her shock and dispair, that he is returning with an American wife. With a heart-rending love story and a brilliant score, Madama Butterfly is one of the most beloved opera classics."

La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini. (Met Opera) "Set in Paris 1830, the story focuses on the love between the seamstress called Mimì and the poet Rodolfo. They almost immediately fall in love with each other, but Rodolfo later wants to leave Mimì because of her flirtatious behavior. However, Mimì also happens to be mortally ill, and Rodolfo also feels guilt, since their life together likely had worsened her health even further. They reunite for a brief moment at the end before Mimì dies."

If you are a ”Newbie” to the operatic world, here are some resources that can help you develop your appreciation for this art form.

Pocket Guide to Opera by Rupert Christiansen. “One of Faber's highly successful Pocket Guide series, this is an essential work of reference for all opera lovers, whether first-timers or hardened fans. Here is a handy, readable and easy-to-use opera guide, containing entries for over a hundred works, both familiar and unfamiliar. Features include snapshot plot summaries, straightforward pointers to help your appreciation of the music and production, recommended recordings on CD, video and DVD and a brief over-view of the history of opera.”

Who’s Who in Opera: a guide to opera characters by Joyce Bourne. “Containing over 2,500 operatic characters from Arabella to Wozzeck, this guide to opera provides both an invaluable source of reference and an absorbing read. A special feature is the articles written by well-known personalities from the world of opera including Janet Baker, Placido Domingo,and Jonathan Miller. Synopses for over 270 operas and operettas ; Information on each operatic role, including its creator and notable performances; Important arias and ensembles mentioned, with English translations; Illustrated with photographs of performances. A reference book for operaphiles and the answer to a prayer for those who attend operas without doing their homework properly.”

Let your library cultivate your musical mind!!

Barbara Philp, Head of Adult Services

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sunday January 3rd, 2010 Coffee Shop Novels

There are so many things that I’m inspired to write about. Today’s topic was given to me as a suggestion by a co-worker. At the time I thought, how could I write a column about coffee shops? Then one night it came to me - I could do a column about novels that take place in the towns of my favourite shops. First I discovered I’d have to shortlist the towns, due to the length of my list, and also you can’t always find novels that take place there. Otherwise my list would have included towns in Wisconsin, like Bayfield, Hayward and Rice Lake, and Minnesota towns like Moose Lake. I could go on and on. Really, I could. Ask anyone. Here are a few novels to keep things percolating.

Thunder Bay, Ontario

I’ve been patronizing Seattle Coffeehouse for about 10 years now. It’s like my second home and I feel like some of the staff are part of my family. So far it’s my only retirement plan. The coffee is good, the fireplaces are cozy and the desserts and light lunches are great. I actually visit all of the coffee shops in town, each of which has something special to offer, but I’d have to say Seattle is my personal favourite.

There are so many novels that take place in Thunder Bay, it’s hard to know where to begin. Two that I’ve read come to mind – Some Of Skippy’s Blues by Margie Taylor and Sailor Girl by Sheree-Lee Olson. We have The Factory Voice by Jeanette Lynes on order. This book is centered around a Fort William military aircraft factory. Hmmm – I wonder where that could be. There’s also Thunder Bay by William Kent Krueger. It’s part of the Cork O’Connor series. This time Cork’s old friend Henry, who is seriously ill, asks for two favours. One is to take care of his dog Walleye and the other is to locate a son that he’s never met. The search for the son takes him from his Minnesota home to Thunder Bay.

Duluth, Minnesota

The first Caribou Coffee we ever went to was in St. Cloud. I was hooked from the first cup. Later Duluth got its own Caribou Coffee shops, but the St. Cloud location is still my favourite. I love the wood, the fireplace, the bathrooms complete with a Toto toilet. Even the names of the drinks are fun, such as the Fa La Latte.

I wanted to include St. Cloud in this article, but could only find one novel that took place there. So, I’ll use Duluth instead. Here are some of the books that take place there – This Little Piggy Went To Murder by Ellen Hart, Something In The Water by Mike Savage and All Fall Down by Robert McGregor. The last title takes place during the flu epidemic of 1918, and involves a murder that’s disguised as a flu death. For some reason most of the books set in Duluth appear to be mysteries. I don’t know why, it’s a bit of a mystery. We don’t carry these three novels, but you can borrow them through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Grand Marais, Minnesota

I’m a big fan of the Java Moose in Grand Marais. If you’ve ever been there on a late December afternoon as the sun sets over the harbour and the waves crash on the shore, you’ll know why. My favourite drink is the butter brickle caramello. Yum!

Books that take place in or near Grand Marais are Lone Wolf by Kristine L. Franklin, Trial At Grand Marais by Gene Anderek, and The Keeper’s Daughter by Leanne Denise Knott. The last title is set on the shores of Lake Superior. After a horrific November storm, the sole survivor of a shipwreck washes ashore at the Haven Point Lighthouse and is found by the keeper’s young daughter, Eleanor. Thus begins a tale of friendship and love set against the North Shore at the turn of the twentieth century.

Well there you have it. Now grab a book and head out to your favourite coffee shop. I hope you enjoy your visit a latte. And by the way – Happy New Year!

Karen Craib is a Library Technician at the Brodie Library.