Monday, 30 August 2010

Sunday August 29th, 2010 For the Love of Audiobooks

Just over three years ago, I wrote a library detective column reflecting on my love of audiobooks. In the intervening years my love has not waned, but grown exponentially. I noted then that audiobooks make chores more tolerable, car trips speed by, exercise more entertaining, can soothe the insomniac, and provide additional amusement while engaging in arts and crafts. All this remains true and audiobooks are more portable than ever.

It is this portability that led me to revisit this area of our collection. After coming back from vacation, a coworker commented on how much she had enjoyed using a Playaway while doing house and yard work. Not only did it keep her amused, but it also meant her family let her work in peace! I offer then for your pleasure, our Playaways and Overdrive downloadable audiobooks.

Playaways are a new format of audiobooks. There are no more discs that can be scratched and you don’t have to get the next disc, as the previous one finishes. You don’t even need an MP3 player to access these fabulous books, it’s all in the package. In essence, the Playaway resembles an MP3 player, each one is preloaded with a book and all you need is a AAA battery and headphones (available for a small fee at the Circulation Desk). I have tucked one in my pocket and happily listened while cleaning the house, weeding the garden, and knitting through my lunch hour. The great thing about these devices is it really is as simple as putting in the battery, turning them on, and pressing play. You can pause the story and turn off the device when you’re not using it without losing your place.

Overdrive requires a little more out of the user, but has many titles available from the comfort of your home. All that is required is your library card number and PIN. If a title you desire is not available you can put a hold on it and be notified when it becomes available. Checkout periods of one or two weeks are available, after which time the Digital Rights Management software removes the book from your computer. In order to borrow audiobooks from Overdrive the Overdrive Media Console software must be downloaded on to your computer. This software will allow you to access the books and place them on to your device. You can listen to books through your computer or download them to an MP3 player. More information about downloading from Overdrive can be found on our website under the Virtual Collection.

Both Playaway and Overdrive provide not only adult fiction, but also books for children, young adults, and non-fiction. To get you started on these fabulous audiobook options I’ve prepared a short list of some of the many titles available.

Selected Playaway Titles:

Eight Days to Live by Iris Johansen

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Blue-eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker

Deliver us from Evil by David Baldacci

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman

Meditations to Relieve Stress by Belleruth Naparstek

On Board the Titanic by Shelley Tanaka

Thumbelina and other Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech

Selected Overdrive Titles:

Fortress of Solitude by Jonathon Lethem

Sharpe’s Regiment: Richard Sharpe and the Invasion of France, June to November 1813 by Bernard Cornwell

Fangland by John Marks

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Whale Island by Cathy Lamb

Hearts, Keys, and Puppetry by Neil Gaiman

Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Assault on Reason by Al Gore

Poe’s Heart and the Mountain Climber by Richard Restak

Happy listening!

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas, Adult Services Librarian

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sunday August 22nd, 2010 Advenutre Awaits

Summer months are often spent traveling: camping trips, road trips and trips that may take you to the other side of the world. In winter, snowbirds find their way to warmer climates, needing a break from the seemingly long and cold weather. With a couple weeks left of summer vacation, there is time for more travel. Do you have a destination in mind? If so, the library has hundreds of guidebooks to help you plan your vacation. If not, there are many books that can help you decide what kind of adventure to go on.

Do you have young ones going along on your journey?

For tips, try books such as Travel with Children: Your Complete Resource from the Lonely Planet. This book is divided into 5 parts that include information on preparing for your trip, what type of trip to take and games to play with little preparation. Also take a look at The Rough Guide to Travel with Babies and Young Children by Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco and part of the Rough Guides series. With checklists for travel and brief descriptions of customs and etiquette of countries around the world, this is a helpful resource for the adventure of traveling with children.

Are you looking for excitement on your next trip?

Make your next vacation memorable; try an activity from 500 Adrenaline Adventures by Lois Friedland, Marc Lallanilla, Charlie O’Malley, and Jennifer Swetzoff. HALO jumping, white-water rafting, safaris or the Air Guitar World Championships, there is something for everyone. This new book from Frommer’s will give you ideas that will take you on a wild and exciting ride or send you to do something completely bizarre. If you’re looking for thrills, this book will help you plan the trip of a lifetime.

Do you want to do something different, experience the cultures and traditions of other countries?

Take a look at A Year of Festivals: A Guide to Having the Time of Your Life. This is another book from Lonely Planet that lists monthly festivals around the world, letting you know when and where they take place and what to expect. You’ll find events such as La Tomatina, the tomato throwing festival, in Spain happening on the last Wednesday in August. Were you checking out pirates when the MS Bounty was here? Why not take a trip to the Cayman Islands to see the Pirate Festival in November. This book is full of festival information to help you plan an unforgettable getaway.

Are you traveling within Canada and the United States?

Brodie and Waverley Reference Departments are currently updating their map file which is a collection of road maps and visitor guides. Map file items are not available for loan but can be used while in the library. If you’re looking for something to do on a long weekend, take a look at what the communities in Northern Ontario have to offer. For example, the file for Cochrane, Ontario has information on how you can swim with polar bears. If you enjoy camping, there is information on Ontario’s Provincial Parks and Canada’s National Parks and Historic Sites. You may even discover more things to see and do right here at home! When you plan your next vacation, remember the library as a travel planning tool.

Laura McCormack, Library Technician

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sunday August 15th, 2010 CLE Nolstalgia

Cue Neil Young’s Sugar Mountain –“ It's so noisy at the fair, but all your friends are there, and the candy floss you had, and your mother and your dad…”

Yes, perhaps we’ve all had to leave things too soon – childhood, relationships, limelight or happy idylls, but life still leaves some warm, nostalgic memories along the way. And for me, this week, I’m remembering going to the Ex, the C.L.E. the fair.

I’m thinking about the taste of cotton candy melting in the mouth, watching the carnival ride lights reflecting in the river as you crossed the bridge to get to the Midway, giving up a quarter to the arcade’s animated fortune teller and watching her chest rise and fall as she came to life and scanned the cards in front of her with a fragile gesture, watching my father in military stance shooting out the star in one of the games and all the while keeping the giant milk bottle in the corner of my eye in case I got separated from my family and had to meet them at this landmark.

There is a children’s picture book which the Library has which admirably captures the nighttime experience of going to the fair as a child. It’s titled Night at the Fair and is by Donald Crews. Somehow, he is able to capture the many sensory aspects of that experience. The fair by day is a different fair than the fair by night. For the calmer, sillier experience I could recommend the Canadian picture book Emma at the Fair by Margaret Ruurs. In it, Emma the hen is delighted to have joined the human family for a trip to the fair, until she realizes that she is expected to win a ribbon for something, and she freaks out like Chicken Little.

My nostalgia for the Ex led me to do a little research about fairs, or exhibitions, which I’d like to share.

What is the origin of the ferris wheel?

Originally called pleasure wheels, this ride was first built by George W. Gale Ferris, a mechanical engineer in Illinois, for the World’s Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
Source: World Book Student Encyclopedia 2010, in our Virtual Collection

What is the orgin of the evil, horrible, you’re- never- getting- me-up-in-it-again-Parry ride called the Zipper?

Invented by Joseph Brown of Chance Rides Inc. in Kansas in 1968, this untamed mechanical chaos machine actually has a maximum ride length of 2.5 minutes (seems longer). The unique aspect of the ride is the flip
at the end which comes with a sudden burst of speed, and which can hurl the rider face-forward or toes to the sky backwards.

What is carny talk?

I can almost hear the “bally”, the bombastic, amazing, super-colossal patter of the barker calling to the throngs to visit their tent . Bally, is one of those carny words – part of the special argot used by the carnival workers as shorthand for everyday tasks, and also as a way to possibly mark themselves as “other” than the townies.
Source: e-Book On the Midway by Wayne N. Kesser

Does anyone remember the weird, white, round garbage cans which were supposed to look like satellites?

They were at the Ex for several years with signs which read “send your garbage into orbit”, I believe that their catchy phrase would not sound so ecologically sound any longer. I found a picture of this orbit garbage can at Source:

One of my favourite aspects of the fair was the brash, gaudy painted canvas signs advertising the side shows.
I wish I had taken more photos of them when they still existed. Alive! You Won’t Believe Your Eyes! Weird! Wild! Never Seen Before! They all shouted at you in lurid colours and humoursly distorted twists of perspective.
Source: You can see a variety of photographs and preserved examples at

What are your memories of the CLE? Do you remember the Royal American Shows? The Grandstand? The Ink Spots visiting? Pierre Trudeau at the opening ceremonies? The Lakehead Stock Car Club track races? For me, nothing can top the night the announcer pulled a child’s ticket out of the drum – the last ticket to be called after no one else in the audience was present to accept that evening’s grand attendance draw –
and we Meady kids nudged my disbelieving dad to go up on stage and get our BRAND NEW POWDER BLUE DATSUN!

Written with thanks to the Library for allowing me such easy access to information to feed my nostalgic mood.

Angela Meady
Head of Children’s & Youth Services

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Sunday July 8th, 2010 Wedding Rituals

This morning I received my third wedding invitation for this year. So with weddings now on my mind, I started to do some searching in the library catalogue and found tons of books on weddings. But the books on growing your own bouquets and making your own wedding dress didn’t really interest me. Instead, I enjoyed reading the books about the history of weddings. Here are a few interesting stories behind today’s wedding rituals.

So the guy gets down on one knee, pops the question, the girl says yes, and he slides a rock the size of a golf ball onto her finger. But did you stop to think why the wedding ring goes on the left hand? The Egyptians believed that a vein ran directly from the left ring finger to the heart according to the book Something Old, Something New: What You Didn’t Know about Wedding Ceremonies, Celebrations and Customs. However, Roman women would wear the ring on their thumb and, prior to the seventeenth century English women wore the ring on their right hand.

Now the search begins for the perfect dress, fit for a Queen. Actually it was Queen Victoria who began the tradition of wearing white after she rejected the traditional royal silver wedding dress. In Medieval England, blue was the traditional color of wedding dresses because blue represented purity. If a bride could not afford a new blue dress, she usually included a hint of blue somewhere. You can find this information and more interesting facts in Bride’s Book of Traditions, Trivia & Curiosities, by Rachel Conard and Lisa Wojna.

After months of planning, the big day has finally arrived. But according to the author of Happy is the Bride the Sun Shines On: Wedding Beliefs, Customs, and Traditions, there are many wedding day superstitions. For example, it is actually considered good luck to cut your toenails on the day of the wedding, but bad luck to cut your fingernails. And if you receive salt and pepper shakers or wine glasses as a wedding gift, they are considered good luck too.

“You may now kiss the bride” has always been considered an important part of the ceremony, especially when it was believed that the kiss meant the exchange of spirits between the bride and groom. Look for more wedding ideas in Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette: Cherished Traditions and Contemporary Ideas for the Joyous Celebration.

As you are leaving the church, most couples are welcomed by a face full of confetti. If you thought that was bad, The London Ritz Book of Weddings, by Jennie Reekie writes that Roman brides and grooms had wheat thrown at them while in Ancient Greece the couple was showered with fruit and nuts.

Finally the honeymoon comes, but did you know why it is called a honeymoon? According to early accounts from the book Timeless Tradition: A Couple’s Guide to Wedding Customs around the World, grooms would hide out with his bride for the time of one ‘moon’ or month in order to avoid vengeance of the bride’s family. During this time of seclusion, the couple would drink a brew made from fermented honey.

But for all the brides-to-be looking for ideas on wedding crafts, cakes, dresses, photography, etc., the library also has tons of books that can help you out. Enjoy! And congratulations!

Lindsey Long, Reference Librarian

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sunday August 1, 2010 Beyond Stieg Larsson

Unless you have spent the last few months living on the moon, you’ve probably at least heard of if not read “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or another of the Millennium Trilogy of mystery novels by the late Swedish writer, Stieg Larsson. The thrillers begin with the introduction of Mikael Blomkvist, a discredited journalist who teams with a genius computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander to find a long missing heiress. The bestselling novels are very dark, delving into the seedy underbelly that sometimes hides behind a respectable front.

The novels have spawned two films so far in their native Sweden and Hollywood is in a frantic bidding war to buy and cast an American version of the films. The first of the films, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, in Swedish with English subtitles, as well as all three novels are available at the library. While there is a rumour of a fourth or possibly fifth book living on Larsson’s laptop, which is the most valued possession in the court case over the ownership of the author’s estate, any future novels are in the distant future. So if you like a dark mystery set in a northern clime, here are a few suggestions to keep you turning pages.

Faceless Killers” by Henning Mankell introduced fictional Swedish police detective, Kurt Wallander. Wallander is a melancholy man, whose personal life is in disarray and who is both being held together and slowly destroyed by his job. The first novel begins with the seemingly random double murder at an isolated farm, the last words of one of the victims identifying the killers as “foreign”. Once this news is leaked to the press, Kurt struggles to solve the mystery quickly, to prevent further anti-racial violence. Mankell’s books wrap social issues in suspense thrillers and the Wallander character will remain with you long after the last page is turned

Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo has created a throwback character to the Noir detectives of the American 1940’s. Harry Hole, the anti-hero of nine novels, is a tough, angry man with a serious drinking problem; fortunately for him and for the Oslo police force, he is also a brilliant detective. In the novel, “Redbreast”, Harry must track neo-Nazi activity prior to a visit of the US president to Norway and along the way he uncovers a crime from the last days of World War II that both the East and the West want buried.

Karin Fossum is considered Norway’s Queen of Crime and she has created a dark and deeply psychological series of thrillers featuring Inspector Konrad Sejer. “Don’t Look Back” begins with the disappearance of a small child followed by the discovery of the body of a teenage girl. Was it suicide or murder? Are these crimes connected and what secrets hide behind the walls of a seemingly quiet Norwegian village? Sejer is a tough but fair detective with the gift of seeing beneath the surface and the strength to solve any puzzle no matter how twisted.

Ice Princess” by Camilla Lackberg is the first of her seven European bestselling novels to be translated into English. Erica Falck, a thirty something writer struggling with her latest book returns to her half-deserted hometown on the Swedish coast, only to find her family in turmoil and her childhood best friend, Alex, dead. Circumstances in Alex's death suggest suicide but while delving into Alex’s past, Erica finds herself on a dark spiral of ever more horrifying lies and secrets and a killer who has marked Erica as their next victim.

Arnaldur Indridason is considered Iceland’s answer to Stieg Larsson and has become an award winning author throughout the world. In “Tainted Blood” a man’s murdered body is found in his Reykjavik flat, along with a cryptic note and the photograph of a young girl’s grave. This death leads Detective Erlendur to a forty year old crime and a chase to prevent more murders linked to the cutting edge of genetic research. Indrioason skillfully weaves in the atmosphere and the landscape of Iceland into his mysteries, giving even the simplest description a chilling undercurrent.

The public library also carries a number of other Scandinavian mystery authors as well, so if you are looking for cold chills during the hottest days of summer just head into any branch. Happy Reading.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant