Monday, 26 December 2011

Monday December 26, 2011 Follow all Instructions Carefully!

Most of us have done this: we get a new toy, gadget or whatever, take it out of the box, and play around with it only to realize we don’t know how it works. By this point, we have already thrown out the box with the instructions still inside. With Christmas only yesterday, hopefully you have avoided this disaster and still have the instructions lying around. At the Thunder Bay Public Library, we have tons of instructional manuals, guides and how-to books on just about everything from making slime to building a house. We may not be able to help you get your new gizmo working, but we can help you discover how you can put it to use.

For example; one of the hottest gifts this year was the eReader. With your Library card you can download eBooks and eAudiobooks for free, 24/7! But before you start downloading, check out our instructional videos and guides available on our website. Just go to and click on Overdrive under Quick Links. Overdrive also provides helpful user guides. If you still need assistance, the Library offers classes to show you how to download items onto your eReader device. More information is available on our website.

Did you get a 12” double-bevel sliding compound mitre saw for Christmas? After you read the instructions on how to use the tool properly without losing any fingers, come down to the library and browse our collection of building and construction how-to books. You’ll find books on trim, decks, sheds, roofs, framing, gazebos, cabinets, and much more.

Are you looking for a recipe to try with your new kitchen appliance? The library has a huge selection of recipe books to help you create a delicious masterpiece. Get some new ideas from the Big Book of Home Cooking or Betty Crocker Cooking Basics. Cookbooks for speciality appliances are available too such as recipes for slow cookers, blenders, bread machines, and microwaves.

Need something to watch on your new 64” plasma TV? The Library has DVDs that you can borrow including new feature films and television series such as The Help, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Modern Family. Don’t waste any time; read those instructions and get your home theatre system hooked up correctly so you can sit back and enjoy.

If Santa left you a new car under the tree this year, maintain your new ride by checking out the Library’s collection of automotive manuals. Repair guides and diagrams are also available through our virtual collection. Just go to, click on the Research tab, then the picture of the Sleeping Giant. From the list of databases you will find the Auto Repair Reference Center and the Chilton Auto Repair.

For more information on how you can access these wonderful items and more, call or visit one of your Library branches. Our friendly staff will be more than happy to provide you with instructions on how to get the most from your Library card, search the catalogue, and browse through our Virtual Collection.

Lindsey Long

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sunday December 18th, 2011 Holidays

Holidays are drawing nigh and one of the most precious gifts that comes with them is time spent with family and friends. Trying out new activities for the first time and returning to familiar ones also rank high. The Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) County Park and Brodie branches are keeping their doors open throughout the holidays for you to come in and browse whatever strikes your fancy. Amongst our new titles are books that offer some fun and original holiday ideas. Waverley and Mary J.L. Black branches will be closed for the holiday period. Visit our Web site for a complete list of Holiday hours.

DINNER CHEZ MOI: THE FINE ART OF FEEDING FRIENDS is by Laura Calder, one of Canada’s most charming Food Network hosts. Calder claims that dinner parties should never be stuffy and difficult ordeals rather, as they are in her world, simply cooking for and eating with people you love.

I'M DREAMING OF A GREEN CHRISTMAS: GIFTS, DECORATIONS, AND RECIPES THAT USE LESS AND MEAN MORE, by Anna Getty, an environmental advocate, writer, TV personality, chef, mother, and organic living expert. Getty helps families reduce their carbon footprint with panache and tradition using such ideas as serving organic appetizers and giving gifts of pinecone wreaths.

B: 101 TIPS AND TRICKS TO BECOME AN ORGANIZATION JUNKIE AND LOVE IT! by Laura Wittmann features easy and fun organizing tips that eliminate stress, save time, and let you take control of your home. Getting rooms in order before Christmas may even help when it comes to finding space for new things later on.

A YEAR OF LIVING GENEROUSLY: DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT LINES OF PHILANTHROPY by Lawrence Scanlan is a personal exploration of generosity by one of Canada's well known journalists. Of course volunteering is personally rewarding any time of year however the holidays naturally present a number of opportunities for children and adults to volunteer together.

Sometimes teachers assign homework or projects over the Christmas break. Even if there is no homework per se, there are always science fair projects or presentations to start thinking about. HOW TO TUTOR YOUR OWN CHILD: BOOST GRADES AND INSPIRE A LIFELONG LOVE OF LEARNING WITHOUT PAYING FOR A PROFESSIONAL TUTOR by Marina Koestler Ruben, a tutor herself, shows you how to approach your child's out of school enrichment.

ED PLAY: NO BATTERIES, NO PLUGS, PURE FUN by Bobbi Conner devotes an entire book to games and activities that are fun to play and require nothing but you. Hundreds of battery-free, screen-free, chirp-and-beep-free games that stretch the imagination and create lasting memories.

Read a book together…THE BOOK OF (HOLIDAY) AWESOME by Neil Pasricha could easily become a holiday tradition. He reminds us that not only can holidays be fun-filled in themselves, but there is also more to celebrate than we realize. From Christmas and Hanukkah to Kwanzaa and beyond he shows us why and how holidays can be awesome. Plugging in the Christmas lights from last year and having them all work, having just enough wrapping paper to cover a gift with that tiny scrap leftover from last year and knowing that Kwanzaa is worth more Scrabble points than Hanukkah or Christmas. All good.

And as always you can go to the TBPL website 24/7 for books and more ideas to consider and celebrate. Visit the virtual display for more seasonal selections on Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, decorations, cooking, baking, gift wrapping, music, movies and a section specially designed for children. Now that, to quote Mr. Pasricha, is awesome. Happy Holidays.

Caron E. Naysmith

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Sunday December 11th, 2011 Your Library's Online Catalogue

Your Library’s Online Catalogue, found at, or from links on our Web site (, is a versatile tool you can use to find items in the Library’s collection, manage your Library card account and more. The best thing about our Online Catalogue is that it’s available 24/7 from any computer, tablet, smart phone or other device with internet access and a browser.

When you arrive at you will see two drop-down menus beside the search box. The first is for the type of search you want to do. You can search by title, author, subject, keyword, call number, series title and ISBN (International Standard Book Number). The second drop-down menu allows you to limit your search to location, collection or type of item.

Call number searches are handy if you want to browse a collection. For example our fiction books’ call numbers all start with FIC, followed by the first three letters of the author’s last name. So to browse the fiction section online, do a Call number search for “FIC AAA” and choose “Books only” from the second drop-down menu. Scroll down until you see the first Fiction title, click through to its full record, then “Next” to see the title which would be beside it on the shelf if you were at the Library. You can also use “call number” to browse the DVD collection online. Use the call number “DVD AAA” for fiction titles, and “DVD 000” for non-fiction.

Click the button “My Library Card” in the top menu of the Online Catalogue to log in to your Library Card account. Once you are logged in placing holds is simplified, as you don’t have to enter your Library Card number and PIN for each hold. Also when you are logged in you can manage your Library Card account by viewing what you currently have signed out, renewing items, paying your fines, changing your PIN and updating your email address and phone number. Further, you can opt in to “My Reading History”, which keeps track of items you have signed out, and lets you search for items you have not yet borrowed.

“Preferred Searches” is another useful feature of “My Library Card”. When you are logged in and do a search, you will see the “Save as preferred search” button. This is handy if you tend to search for the same author, subject or keyword often. Once you have saved a search, you can re-run it from “My Library Card” by clicking on that search under “Preferred Searches”. Also, you can click in a box next to the search to “Mark for Email”. Then, when the Library adds an item to its collection which matches your search criteria, you will receive an email. This is a great way to keep informed about new title by your favourite author, on a topic you’re interested in, or our new DVDs.

Speaking of new DVDs, another feature of our Online Catalogue is the “New DVDs, books and more...” section. Find it on the bottom right hand side of the home page. Click on the link and you’ll see “Featured Lists” which are updated weekly, and give you access to new and hot items at the Library.

In addition to all these wonderful features, we have an online catalogue just for kids. The Kids’ Catalogue is available from a link on the bottom centre of the home page. The Kids’ Catalogue is great for visual learners of all ages as it’s picture-based. You might just recognize someone in one of the pictures! Our staff worked hard to make the pictures relevant to the children of Thunder Bay, and added many categories of local interest.

If you have any questions about our Online Catalogue, please ask!

Joanna Aegard

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sunday Decmeber 4th, 2011 Cookies

Koekje, keks, biscuits, biscotti, galettas, and wafers, what do all of these words have in common? Whether Dutch, German, English, Italian or Spanish all of these cultures and more have a word to represent the Cookie. Historians suggest that the “cookie” was the result of testing the heat of the oven to see if it was ready for the baking of a cake. Bakers would put a little cake batter on a pan and put it in the oven. The resulting test cake was the ancestor to the modern day cookie. From ancient Persia where the origins of sugar cane are said to be, throughout the Middle Ages and onto the settlement of the Americas the cookie has played an important role not only as a sweet treat but as the travel food of choice for long shipping voyages. The Dutch word koekje is the root of our term for cookie. The Dutch, the English and the Scottish immigrants brought over their tea cakes and shortbread which have resulted to the hundreds of varieties of cookies we have today in Canada.

I can admit that when it comes to self-discipline it is the cookie I find the hardest to resist. Every year I hunt for the best, most interesting cookie recipes. I have my favourites but I cannot resist looking through cookbooks and magazines for a new culinary adventure. The library has more than forty Christmas cook books, many of them filled with cookie recipes.

Very Merry Co
okies is a recently published cookbook put out by Better Homes and Gardens magazine. It is full of cookie recipes organized by flavours such as chocolate, peanut butter or cinnamon. It contains many baking pointers to ensure that your cookies will come out of the oven perfectly. The pictures are plentiful, beautiful and the decorating techniques are easy to follow. If you want to set out a tray that looks just as good as it tastes try this book.

I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas is a great cookbook for the chocolate lover. This book contains many cookie recipes with a holiday twist. Coconut Chocolate Chunk Macaroons, Chocolate Gingerbread Snowflakes and Chocolate Drop Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches are a few of the tasty treats you can discover in this book. It also has recipes other than cookies such as cakes and brulees. This book is authored by Marcel Desaulniers, a famed chocolatier. It has fantastic graphics that will have you drooling before you open a cupboard.

If you like to include your children in your holiday baking plans Bake and Make Amazing Cookies by Elizabeth Macleod is a children’s cookbook with both simple instructions and recipes that children would enjoy. This book is not designed with a Christmas focus but is an excellent resource for children. The thumbprint cookies, the jam filled stars and the reindeer cookies that utilize pretzels for horns would all be enjoyable projects for you and your children. The graphics have a cartoon feel and many of the recipes would look beautiful on a tray of baking.

Canadian Living, Bon Appétit, Family Circle and Chatelaine are some of my favourite magazines for accumulating Christmas baking ideas. They are always filled with new and relevant recipes, not to mention the many presentation and decoration ideas. Not only will you find recipes for cookies in these fantastic periodicals but you will find dinner ideas, house décor ideas as well as holiday style suggestions. Royal icing painted sugar snowflakes, coffee ribbons and a decorated gingerbread house are a few of the ideas I have gathered in magazines that are now annual traditions at our house. Perhaps you too can find new Christmas treats or traditions for your hearth and home through your local branch of the Thunder Bay Public Library.

Cindy Visser-DiCarlo

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Sunday November 27th, 2011 Historic Photographs

When I am not working at the Library I enjoy many activities. One of them in genealogy, and another is researching and writing about the local Slovak community. Ironically, both of these personal passions inevitably take me back to the Library for a busman's holiday. It works like this : I find a few negatives in the basement. I identify them as having been taken by my grandfather Louis Mikita but I don't know when. A few of them depict a parade in Fort William which I recognize because I saw similar photos in the Thunder Bay Museum photo collection when I had done research for a book called Slovaks in Canada.

So it is time to head to the Brodie Library to check their photo collection and look up details about the parade in the old newspapers. What I discovered was that it was a parade in honour of the coronation of King George VI of England in 1937. And if you thought that the world made a big fuss when Prince William married Kate Middleton, well, you would amazed to see the hoopla which accompanied this event. Marching bands come up from Minnesota, local businesses and organizations as diverse as Great Lakes Paper, the Chinese Canadian Association, the Boy Scouts and the Fort William Public Library entered elaborate floats, decorations were in every shop window and thousands of persons of all ages lined the parade route which started at the train station on Syndicate Avenue and travelled down to Victoria Avenue, Simpson Street and finally Leith Street.

Of course I was most keenly interested in the Slovak float which had been produced by the local St.Peter's Church and showed a king and queen on thrones. I had it on good authority that the queen was depicted by well-known Johanna Cole (nee Mucha). I wish I could have found out further details but the Fort William Daily Times-Journal only listed the basics for the non-British floats. In searching the public library's Gateway to Northwestern Ontario photo archives I discovered that they also had photos from this parade but they were listed among the "mystery photos" as they had received no details at all about them when they were donated. Well, my Nancy Drew genes kicked in and soon I was comparing street scenes to current-day scenes, spending hours on the microfilm readers and sending off notes about floats, dates and street names I was able to identify for the Library's photos.

Anyone can view these interesting photographs from Thunder Bay's past (and area too). Perhaps one of you reading this column today will have a look at one of the mystery photos and spot something or someone you recognize and be able to add to the collective wealth of the database. I have decided to donate prints of my grandfather's parade photos to the Library to be added to their local history photos. His candid shots from the perspective of the parade watchers will be a nice complement to the professional photographer's photos which originally graced the newspaper in a special commemorative coronation issue. And because I found the date of the parade I now know the date of the other photos. Are you sitting on knowledge about this parade that you'd like to share with the Library Detectives? Did you realize how helpful the Library could be for tracking down information for your family tree or any aspect of local history? I have only mentioned one little aspect of how I recently benefited from my Library. Visit the Brodie branch and you will be amazed at what (and who) you will find among our wonderful local history and genealogical resources.

Written by Angela Meady

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sunday November 20th, 2011 Library Books for Diabetes Awareness Month

When most people think about diabetes, they immediately think about type 2. It’s no wonder: over the last few decades there has been an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, leaving the media focused on that form of the disease. But as someone living with type 1, a lot of what the media reports doesn’t directly apply to people like me. Luckily the public library has resources that can help.

Unlike type 2, type 1 diabetes isn’t lifestyle related; the pancreas stops working and the body requires insulin injections to live a healthy life. Type 1 was formerly called juvenile diabetes because many cases are diagnosed during childhood, but the disease appears in teenagers and adults, too.

If you are a parent, hearing that your child has diabetes can be devastating. But don’t despair: both you and your child will survive! Laura Hieronymus and Patti Geil’s 101 Tips for Raising Healthy Kids with Diabetes has lots of really good advice for parents of kids with diabetes; this book is great for parents who are just learning about their child’s disease. A similar book is When a Child Has Diabetes by Denis Daneman, Marcia Frank and Kusiel Perlman. This one is written in an engaging way and is more accessible for Canadians but is about 10 years old and a little out of date. Both of these books look at diabetes in children; adults with type 1 will not find them very interesting.

For me, it’s often a struggle to find easy recipes that provide nutritional information. So a few months ago I went on a quest to find something that met these requirements. What I found was Canada's Best Cookbook for Kids with Diabetes by Colleen Baartley. Don't let the name fool you, this has recipes that anyone will enjoy. And unlike many of the cookbooks written for people with type 2 diabetes, this one has all the nutritional information (especially carbohydrates) you will need to accurately measure your insulin.

Most of the books the library currently has on type 1 diabetes are written for parents of children with diabetes. But once children get a little older, they will start dealing with the disease themselves (with family and friend support). For teenagers, the library also has Type 1 Teens: A Guide to Managing Your Life with Diabetes by Korey K. Hood. This book gives strategies to help teenagers stay in control of diabetes management during their high school years. Type 1 Teens assumes you already know how to manage your diabetes; it focuses on helping you navigate social circles and avoid diabetes burnout. While this book has some excellent tips that adults with type 1 will find helpful, it is written primarily for teens.

While researching this column, I discovered that the library didn’t have any books written for adults who have type 1 diabetes; to correct this omission, the library has recently ordered a few new books. So if you’re looking for this information, keep an eye out for Type 1 Diabetes in Children, Adolescents and Young Adults by Ragnar Hagnas, and Type 1 Diabetes in Adults by Barbara Simon. Both should be arriving soon.

While I have highlighted collection material that focuses on type 1 diabetes, the Library also has plenty of material for people with type 2; a keyword search in the library catalogue for “diabetes” yielded over 200 titles. The Canadian Diabetes Association has also generously donated many books. Visit our Virtual Collection to find articles on diabetes in databases such as Health & Wellness Resource Centre and Health Reference Centre Academic. So whether you have type 1 or type 2, the library is a great informational resource for those with diabetes.

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday November 13th, 2011 Warm Hearts and Cold Noses

I’ve always been a believer is synchronicity; so when a library patron came in talking about Kitty Care and a few days later I was asked to foster an abandoned kitten for a few days, I knew a library detective column was born. Anyone who has read my columns knows that I love my cats and find them endlessly fascinating, but in truth I simply love anything furry and four legged. The stacks at the library are full of books about the adventures of every type of animal and our relationship with them.

As the days grow darker and colder, the desire to cuddle under a blanket with a good book, a cup of Earl Grey and the sound of purring becomes more and more inviting. While I would normally choose a cat or dog mystery, a number of animal themed books have crossed the desks lately that are both great reads and food for thought.

If any of these titles stir your soul, the city has a number of organizations that would love your time and support in the care of our furry friends or may have just the right bundle of love that would be a wonderful addition to your family.

Until Tuesda
y: A Wounded Warrior and the Dog Who Saved Him
by Luis Carlos Montalvan and Bret Witter

When US Army Captain Luis Montalvan returns from Iraq with severe post traumatic stress, he is given a golden retriever named Tuesday to help him cope and act as an aid in his recovery. An experienced service dog Tuesday began his life in the “Puppies behind Bars” program and worked with abused teens before coming to Luis. The bond between Montalvan and Tuesday gave him a reason to live and distracted him from the anxiety that haunted his days and nights.

The Soul of a Horse: Life Lessons from the Herd
by Joe Camp

When a surprise birthday present of a horse arrived, Joe Camp and his wife Kathleen were completely clueless on the needs and wants of caring for Cash, their new equine companion. As they endeavored to build a bond with the animal, Joe and Kathleen found that they began to experience changes in their own relationship and how they perceived the roles of animals in the lives of mankind.

Ever by My Side: A Memoir in Eight (Acts) Pets by Nick Trout

Trout, a well-known British author and veterinarian returns with a personal biography that charts his life though the animal companions that shared those memories. From his first childhood pet to the beloved Lab who stole his heart and wrecked his house, Trout tells tales of humour, love, and unconditional trust .

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat
by Gwen Cooper.

During one of the darkest times in Gwen Cooper’s life, a veterinarian offered her the opportunity to adopt a four week old stray blind kitten. Her mind screamed “no” but her heart said “yes”, and Homer became an addition to her family. Homer’s fearlessness and love taught Gwen much about life and acceptance and helped her to become the woman she always wanted to be.

The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them
by Wayne Pacelle

The Humane Society does more than house dogs and cats waiting for homes, it fights for the rights and protection of animals from those who would harm them. Using poignant and vivid tales, Pacelle narrates the political battles that the Humane Society has waged and the individuals who have struggled to save the animals they love.

Lori Kauzlarick

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Sunday November 6th, 2011 Sweet Little Treats

Good things come in small packages. As far as I can tell, nothing embodies this concept better than a book. Within the pages of books there are all manner of surprises, gifts and inspiration. With the fall season upon us and the descent of winter slowly creeping up, why not take a moment to mellow in the sweet little treats that life (and the Library) has to offer.

Over the last couple of years there has been a trend in cookbooks towards smaller sweets and baking such as cookies, cupcakes and mini-cakes. This year’s cookbook trend appears to be mini pies. As a girl who can’t say no to pie any day of the week, this revelation made me all sorts of happy. Two new books on this delectable topic are MINI PIES by Christy Beaver and HANDHELD PIES by Rachel Wharten. Here’s hoping that a change in the way we enjoy a slice of pie will finally lie to rest the debate of pie versus cake (because pie is clearly the superior dessert of choice).

Other areas of the food industry have scaled back in recent years as well. If you live alone or find yourself cooking for one on occasion, take a look at THE PLEASURES OF COOKING FOR ONE by Judith Jones. An editor for the culinary legend that was Julia Child, Jones has adapted many recipes found in MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING to suit the solo chef. She offers practical advice on the key tools to have on hand in the kitchen when cooking for yourself and even gives recipes that will help reinvent your leftovers the next day.

For those interested in “putting up” preserves from this year’s fruit and vegetable harvest, but not interested in spending an entire weekend doing so, try something like WELL PRESERVED: RECIPES AND TECHNIQUES FOR PUTTING UP SMALL BATCHES OF SEASONAL FOODS by Eugenia Bone. This summer I discovered a new favourite recipe for small batch preserves – pluot jam. Found online by a friend, this jam is sweet and savory (with real vanilla, lemon thyme, rosemary, and lots of juicy pluots) and is perfect on pork tenderloin or a grilled cheese sandwich. For those interested in growing your own crops in a small garden or plot of land, the Library carries a wide variety of books on small scale gardening and farming.

Now is also the time to start thinking about Christmas. Whether your aim is to make easy gifts or just plain small gifts, the Library has books on knitting, crochet, toy-making, quilting, jewelry, woodworking and more. The knitters and crochet enthusiasts of Thunder Bay will already know that “small” projects like socks, mittens, and other winter accessories make perfect Christmas presents. What you may not realize is that the Library has enough patterns in its collection to accessorize an army.

For all the little things that make life grand, take some time out of your day to fully enjoy them. Maybe you want to consider sharing them with a friend as well. Remember that the Share the Library campaign is still going on and the draw will take place on December 16 at noon (just another added treat courtesy of your Thunder Bay Public Library).

Jesse Roberts

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sunday October 30th, 2011 Don’t turn out the lights: Horror at the Library

Tomorrow is Halloween, the perfect night for a horror story. Visit one of your Thunder Bay Public Library branches and pick up some terrifying reads. If you are not sure what to start with try one of these scary, scream out loud suggestions.

Let’s start with one of the most chilling stories, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, published in 1971. No one can explain 11 year old Regan’s strange illness. When the little girl begins to psychologically change and develop frightening physical features, two Jesuit priests are called upon to save Regan’s life from what they believe is a demonic possession. If the book doesn’t scare you enough, try watching the movie which was produced shortly after the book was released. Both are available at the Library.

If the possessed little girl in Blatty’s novel didn’t frighten you then meet Damien, a little boy believed to be the Antichrist. The Omen by David Seltzer is the horrifying story of Robert and Katherine Thorn, their son Damien and the mysterious, deadly events that seem to follow them. This novel will definitely scare you but the suspense will make you want read on and find out what happens to Damien and his parents.

Why not spend the evening with Thomas Harris’ haunting character Dr. Hannibal Lecter; a psychiatrist, a killer and a cannibal. Harris introduces Dr. Lecter in his first book Red Dragon (1981) and continues the story in the Silence of the Lambs (1988), Hannibal (1999), and the prequel, Hannibal Rising (2006). The Hannibal Lecter series were made into films, which are also available at the library along with the novels.

Imagine being secluded in a haunted hotel that has the power to control both the living and the dead. This is the setting of Stephen King’s The Shining. When the Torrance family, Jack, Wendy and their special son Danny, decide to spend the winter as caretakers for the Overlook Hotel, their lives are put in danger when the hotel’s evil forces start to take over. Read more spine-chilling stories by Stephen King such as Carrie, It, and Pet Sematary.

Another frightening setting is the possessed house in The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. The book is based on the Lutz family’s short time living in an old house in Amityville where paranormal activity terrorizes the family, causing them to flee. Even though there has been controversy over whether the events that took place are true, the book will still give you the creeps.

If you’re a fan of zombies and have not seen the new tv series Walking Dead (the complete first season is available at the Library), then start by reading the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman. Walking Dead is the story of one survivor trying to find his family in a world taken over by human-eating zombies.

A similar story is Richard Matheson’s novel I am Legend written in 1954. The sole survivor, Robert Neville is caught in a world where disease has turned people into vampires. You may be more familiar with the recent movie starring Will Smith where he plays a lone survivor of an incurable virus that has turned humanity into mutants. Outnumbered by the living dead, will any of these characters survive?

So get a little scared this Halloween by reading, or watching, a horror story. You may be so frightened that you will want to sleep with the lights on.

Lindsey Long

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sunday October 23rd, 2011 Witches and Families

Why do we celebrate Halloween? One reason is that it’s a Celtic pagan holdover of celebrating the change in seasons. Raymond Buckland (The Witch Book: the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca and Neo-Paganism, 2002) writes, “ the name for the Witchcraft Greater Sabbat that falls on November Eve. It is popularly known by non-Witches as Hallowe’en.” According to Buckland this is “the start of the winter season when, long ago, humankind had to go back to hunting animals for food.”

More importantly, and the reason why we associate ghosts and goblins with Halloween is because “Samhain is a time when Witches believe that the veil between the worlds is thin.” That is, our world and the spirit world drew closer.

To strengthen this connection witchcraft in 17th century Europe involved imps; better known as familiars. The familiar was a link between the witch and the devil after a pact was made. It was a devil in disguise. It could appear in the form of mice, dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, snakes, rats, toads, pole-cats or as composite monsters “ a black rat with a swine’s face and a boar’s a mouse with a man’s face and a long beard.” (Witches and Witch-hunts: a History of Persecution by Milton Meltzer, 1999; The Bewitching of Anne Gunter by James Sharpe, 2000).

The suggestion of the mere presence of such an animal could have been enough to start a witch-hunt, and that would likely end badly for the accused witch. Indeed unfair social practices precipitated the need for the belief in a process such as witchcraft to level the playing field.

James Sharpe writes that witchcraft accusations would erupt between feuding people or families, whether over money or unrequited love. As he puts it, “Witchcraft involved power, and one way of understanding it at the level of the local community is to see it as a way in which the relatively powerless were thought to be able to gain access to power.” In other words, instead of revenge or justice through physical violence or litigation, witchcraft could be used to harm others, protect self, or kill crops and livestock.

But is witchcraft even real? Can humans consort with impish familiars to kill livestock and bewitch neighbours to madness or death? Or is belief in magic simply delusional thinking? Such questions were being asked in the mid-1600s, likely even earlier. (Sometimes answers were even given in medical rather than supernatural terms).

Belief in witchcraft has caused its mention in written law since the time of Hammurabi around 3000 B.C. Thousands of years later, in 1604, England passed laws forbidding the use of witchcraft. And even in the modern Canadian Criminal Code, section 365 has provisions against anyone who “fraudulently pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration”. The key word is fraudulently.

But what if witchcraft is real? When you consider that Sir Isaac Newton, one of the fathers of modern science was himself an alchemist, a practice in which conjuration was not un-common, perhaps there is something to it (Isaac Newton: the Last Sorcerer by Michael White, 1997).

Likewise, modern quantum scientists like Amit Goswami (God is Not Dead, 2008) and Dean Radin (Entangled Minds, 2006) talk extensively about the observer effect and quantum interference devices both of which hint at the possibility of mind over matter. Truly there is something worth investigating.

The question then becomes, are there imps, and how can they make my magic stronger?

Chris Waite

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sunday October 16th, 2011 Clutter

I hate clutter – it’s chaotic and it makes me feel claustrophobic and downright irritable. Trouble is, I’m also not too keen on cleaning it up. And no, it is not because I am lazy. It’s just that cleaning and tidying is the original never-ending story: you clean, it gets messy; you clean, it gets messy, you clean, it ... well, you get the idea. I shudder when I think of the amount of precious time that I have wasted cleaning out closets filled with useless paraphernalia and shoulder-padded suits that could resurrect the ‘80’s. But, whether I like it or not, Fall is here and it’s time to organize for the winter.

Of course, if you’re anything like my husband, your solution is A GARAGE SALE! Unfortunately, this has been his remedy for the last five autumns and although it solves the problem in the short term (and generates a bit of cash) the rest of the year that he spends accumulating treasures from other garage, yard and rummage sales seems to defeat the original purpose. A point which I have endeavoured to explain many times using simple, one-syllable words in the nicest possible manner.

Judging from the number of books, articles and television programs devoted to sorting and organizing one’s house, I am not alone in my quest for the definitive clutter cure. And, since I work at the Thunder Bay Public Library, it occurs to me that I have easy access to many of the best ideas. Come to think of it, so do you!


There’s hope. You CAN win the chore wars and calm the chaos! Wittmann offers 101 quick and easy projects to conquer clutter and organize your home once and for all. Orderly bliss is within reach. And afterwards you can take time to enjoy your life.


We all suffer from an accumulation of clutter in our homes but it is how we manage to control it that is important. Hoarding too many old possessions imprisons us in the past and preventsus from moving on. This ULTIMATE GUIDE will help you disc ard what you don’t need in your home to create a positive environment that will inspire your confidence, creativity and health!

CLUTTER JUNKIE NO MORE by Barb Rogers. c2007

If you are tired of being surrounded by so much stuff that you don’t know what you have and you sincerely want to change how you are living, then this is the twelve-step approach for you. It is not another how-to-get-organized book. Instead, it seriously addresses the clutter addiction and offers ways to change our emotional and psychological motivations for cluttering.


Peter Walsh believes that your home, your head, your heart and your hips are intimately connected. Here, he explores the relationship between weight in your home and the weight on your hips. His philosophy on clearing clutter (household fat) is to focus on living the life you deserve in the body you want and, to this end, he offers tips on how to cleanup and clear out the spaces where you cook, eat and live.

So... now you are organized and clutter-free. Sit back, put your feet up, grab a cup of something and survey your domain with self-satisfaction and pride. Savour the orderliness, the calm. Think about what you will do with all your spare time. Think about the places you will go, the shopping you will do and the library books you will read. DO NOT, under any circumstances, think about what your husband will drag home from the neighbour’s next yard sale.

Jill Otto

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sunday October 9th, 2011 For the Children

When I discovered that I would be writing an article for October I decided to do my research and find out what is pertinent to the autumnal month. I discovered that October third is Child Health Day, October eighth is National Children’s Day and October second to the eighth is national School Lunch Week. October tenth is Thanksgiving and the ever popular children’s holiday All Hallows Eve is on the thirty-first. After all of this information gathering I decided what better a topic for the month of October than children.

The Thunder Bay Public Library has an amazing children’s collection. It contains everything necessary to develop a lifelong love of literacy. For the babies, toddlers and preschoolers there are a variety of programs designed specifically for your child’s developmental stage. Baby Bumblebees and Beginning with Books are two presentations offered that one can attend without prior registration. Preschool Storytime and Tales for Twos are ongoing programs that parents can sign their children up for in advance. All of the presentations entail stories, songs and activities.

We also have an amazing collection of picture books in board book, hard cover and paperback. Here a few of my personal favourites: FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES, PINKALICIOUS, SKIPPYJON JONES; STELLA and CAN’T YOU SLEEP LITTLE BEAR?

For your beginner readers the library offers the Readers are Leaders program in which a volunteer reads with your child and helps develop reading skills. Our collection has many EZRead books which are specifically designed to encourage recognition of high frequency words. AMELIA BEDELIA and her classic faux pas are entertaining to read. The variety of Spider-man and Batman are popular with the boys. MINNIE AND MOO and their many hilarious adventures are my favourite EZReads.

The collection also contains magazines and graphic novels. The Archie comics, BONE and ARTEMIS FOWL are great graphic novels for the intermediate reader. CANADAIN GEOGRAPHIC FOR KIDS and OWL are popular with the non-fiction readers. Our non-fiction collection covers subject matter ranging from mythology to astronomy, paleontology to chemistry, ancient civilizations to art and geography. Everything your child could possibly need when researching for a project for school or perhaps they just have a natural curiosity about the world around them.

The collection contains many series books. These books allow children to read about the many adventures of the same characters. These books are great for developing comprehension skills as the setting and characters are familiar and the story lines are similar. The MAGIC TREE HOUSE, THE FAIRIES, GERONIMO STILTON, THE AMAZING DAYS OF ABBY HAYES, and of course the classic NANCY DREW and HARDY BOYS are available for your child’s entertainment.

If your children like to listen to stories instead of reading them, audiobooks are available as well. These come in cd, mp3 or playaway format and are great for the many of you who spend a lot of time in your car. We have music cds, cd-rom programs for your computer and movies in both vhs and dvd format.

Now, for my favourite part of the children’s collection, the novels. Fiction novels and paperbacks come in a variety of levels. I encourage any of you to explore Rowling’s incredibly detailed world of HARRY POTTER, Oppel’s AIRBORN adventures, Colfer’s AIRMAN, Wilder’s LITTLE HOUSE tales, Dahl’s quirky characters and their many misadventures, Levine’s ELLA ENCHANTED, Pullman’s brilliantly written THE DARK MATERIALS , C. S. Lewis’ mysterious realms and Montgomery’s ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, definitely a kindred spirit. These and so many more have I shared my time with. I could go on and on about how great these books are but might I suggest you come on down and take a look for yourself?

Cindy Visser-DiCarlo

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Sunday October 2nd, 2011 International Festival of Authors

Hopefully you have heard about an exciting event coming up October 16th here in Thunder Bay. The International Festival of Authors Thunder Bay is presented in partnership with Authors at the Harbourfront Centre, International Festival of Authors Ontario, Sleeping Giant Writers Festival, Northern Woman’s Bookstore, Lakehead University, and the Thunder Bay Public Library. We are beyond excited to welcome James Bartleman, Johanna Skibsrud, and Jane Urquhart to read at the Prince Arthur Hotel on the evening of the 16th. In today’s Library Detective I’d like to share with you my first awareness of these authors.

My first encounter with any of these authors was on my high school summer reading list. Jane Urquhart’s Away was one of the selections (the only one I can remember now) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That summer, I borrowed Changing Heaven and The Whirlpool from the Toronto Public Library; all the while eagerly anticipating the release of her next novel, The Underpainter. Of all the summer reading required over the years that first reading of Away had the greatest impact. I suspect I chose it on the basis of the cover art and never looked back.

Prior to his becoming Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario I had never heard of James Bartleman. My knowledge of him remained limited, although I applauded the Lieutenant-Governor’s Book Program that he established. One would think this program would have tipped me off to his literary leanings, but alas it did not. His memoirs flew under my radar and it wasn’t until the publication of As Long As the Rivers Flow that James Bartleman, the Lieutenant-Governor, became James Bartleman the author for me. There was a period of me questioning myself “I know that name from somewhere, how do I know his name?” Finally, the pieces fell in place and now I am looking forward to hearing him read.

I admit it took the Giller nominations for me to become aware of Johanna Skibsrud. I had recently made the transition from working in Children’s and Youth Services to Adult Services, and so was caught up in learning new routines. When The Sentimentalists was nominated I spent a lot of time working on the proper spelling of Skibsrud. The Sentimentalists is currently on my eReader for my evening reading and I have a hold on This Will Be Difficult to Explain and Other Stories. The title of this work has delighted me from the moment I read the first review and I am thrilled that she will be reading from it on October 16th.

I know all of you will have your own memories of your first encounters with these authors and hope that many of you can make it to the readings on October 16th. Tickets are available at the Waverley Resource Library, The Northern Woman’s Bookstore, and online at The readings will be followed by a Q & A period and book signings. Books will also be available for purchase at the event thanks to the Northern Woman’s Bookstore.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sunday September 25th, 2011 Databases for Young Researchers

Crisp sunny Fall mornings are upon us, school has started and children everywhere are settling into new grades at school, renewing last year’s friendships and making new ones. Projects and missions of discovery on engaging and intriguing subjects are a big part of the new school year. Why not take a trip to the library and sign your children up for library cards, assuming they don’t already have them. Then with card in hand, in a matter of minutes you can sit down at the computer together and discover the wonderful world of Kids’ databases available through the Thunder Bay Public Library. Complementing the technology are knowledgeable library staff always willing to offer guidance with any questions you may have.

To access the databases described below, visit our Web site, click on "Research" and log in to My Giant Search. You will need your Library Card number and PIN.

Kids InfoBits is a multi-source database designed for elementary school students. It provides research support for students in Kindergarten through Grade 5. Jam-packed with eye popping graphs, charts, maps and more than 3,000 searchable images, InfoBits features a visual graphic interface, a subject-based topic tree search and full-text, age-appropriate, magazine and reference content.

But don’t stop there. TBPL has many other kid-friendly databases worth exploring. Do you have a favourite song you like to sing with your children but some of the words escape you? The Children’s Song Index lists sources for recordings of children’s songs from the TBPL music collection. Searching is made easy by entering album, artist, track title or genre.

Discovering Collection provides homework help for core school curriculum areas of literature, history, science and social studies. This is geared primarily towards Intermediate students.

NoveList K-8 appeals to all levels of readers but is designed especially for elementary school students. You can look up your favourite title, author or subject, and find a list of books you’ll like. It also includes useful resources for both parents and teachers such as reading lists, tips for reading with children and discussion guides.

Grzimek’s Animal Life is an image-rich, dynamic online resource that creates a true educational experience with detailed information on over 4,000 species, including some wonderful pictures.

Perfect for French Immersion students and parents, Powerspeak Languages lets you learn French online and for free. You can also tackle Spanish, German, Mandarin, or ESL (for Spanish speakers). Powerspeak uses a variety of interactive activities which make it fun to learn a new language. You can even log in to a personal account and track your progress.

PebbleGo is an animal database designed specifically for children from Kindergarten through to Grade 3. It features more than 200 animal articles correlated to life science standards, animal audio and video, educational games, and innovative read-aloud capabilities. It features easy-to-use searching tools, and introduces early learners to database and research.

TumbleBooks contains animated talking picture books that teach kids the joy of reading in a format they love. TumbleBooks are created by taking well loved picture books and adding animation, sound, music and narration. They are also available in French and Spanish, and there are choices to make between story books, read alongs, tumble tv, puzzles, games, language learning and non-fiction books.

World Book provides a bright and colourful interface and features a constantly changing video and colourful pictures and buttons. Rather than lifting a heavy volume off the shelf you can simply click on any category you wish – animals, pictures, maps, dictionaries and famous people to name a few. As Francis Yeats-Brown journalist and author of the best-selling book Bengal Lancer once said, “To me the charm of an encyclopedia is that it knows—and I needn't.” So pull up a chair and create some excitement with home assignments this fall.

Caron E. Naysmith

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sunday September 18th, 2011 Sharing the Library

This fall, the Thunder Bay Public Library wants you to share the Library with your friends and family. Every time you bring someone in to apply for a library card or renew their expired card, you will each receive a ballot to win a new Kobo Touch ebook reader (draw to be held Dec. 16). Not only is this a great way to spread the word about our Library, it’s also a great way to get talking about books, what you’re reading, what your friends are reading, and trying something new.

If you’ve never chatted with staff at our circulation desks or your friends/family about what to read next, you really should try it. Who better to make prime suggestions than the people who know our books or the people who know you? One of the greatest perks of working at TBPL is never being stuck for a good book to read or craving something different. Over the last few years my colleagues have helped guide me to exciting new authors (new to me at least) and several fantastic series.

My favourites have included the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde and the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. Though I haven’t made it all the way through either series, they are so compelling and entertaining that I can’t help but flip flop between them in order to read it all at once. Fforde’s first title in the series, THE EYRE AFFAIR (2001), begins the saga of lead character, Thursday Next, as she traverses a different “1985, somewhere in the could-have-been, where the Crimean war still rages, dodos are regenerated in home-cloning kits and everyone is deeply disappointed by the ending of 'Jane Eyre'.” At first I wondered if the storyline would be too farfetched and sci-fi for my taste, but it is so well written that before I knew it I was feeling empathy for the plight of the dodo. Books that are on my to-read list, and recommended by friends, include THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson and STILL LIFE by Louise Penny.

If I were asked what I would recommend, without knowing anything about the reader’s interests, here are three of my standbys: SHELF MONKEY by Corey Redekop, the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and BLINDNESS by Jose Saramago. SHELF MONKEY features a small group of employees at a large chain bookstore who are bent on the destruction of the most popular talk show host led book club. Riddled with dry wit and a shocking outcome, Redekop’s book gives volume to that little voice inside every book lover’s head that demands we make our own decisions about what makes a good book. A good friend got me hooked on the Sookie Stackhouse series and I’ve been recommending it ever since. With nine books in the series so far, Sookie Stackhouse goes from being an everyday waitress (who just happens to be able to read people’s innermost thoughts) to being entangled in a world of vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, and extremely complex love triangles. For a higher level of intellectual intrigue I suggest BLINDNESS. J. W. Eagan once said to “never judge a book by its movie”; an idea in which I firmly believe, especially when it comes to this book. A small piece of advice if you’ve never read any of Saramago’s work before is be prepared for a lack of punctuation and paragraph separation. His style takes some getting used to but it’s completely worth it.

Try browsing the Best of the Backlist Blog, or better yet try browsing the shelves in your favorite subject area (fiction or non-fiction). We also have two online databases, called NoveList and What Do I Read Next?, that can help make the search more fruitful. Log in to "My Giant Search" and find these databases in the List of Resources.

Jesse Roberts

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Sunday September 11th, 2011 Honouring September 11th

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the first terrorist attack targeting the United States. While we all remember where we were during that historic day, only a few experienced it firsthand. The rest of us watched from a distance, keeping vigil by our televisions; we empathized with the families and the victims, but it is difficult for us to really imagine what it was like for those directly affected. But over the last ten years some fantastic authors have given the rest of the world a glimpse into the disaster’s wake.

Don DeLillo's Falling Man is the story of Keith, a man who walked out of the towers. Escaping just before they collapsed, he decided to head home to his estranged wife. Falling Man is about Keith’s family coming back together and then slowly drifting apart again as time moved on after the event. Falling Man makes you feel as though you are in the collapsing towers along with Keith, which makes this a valuable book for empathizing with those who survived.

A Widow's Walk is Marian Fontana's memoir of her life in the year after 9/11. Her husband Dave was a firefighter who died trying to rescue people from the Towers. September 11 was Marian and Dave’s 8th wedding anniversary. But before they could meet as planned at a coffee shop, Dave was called to the Towers. Dave died a hero trying to save others from the collapsing Towers. Marian documents everything during that first year without Dave: from the terrible grief, endless funerals and the newfound struggle of single parenthood, to the kindness of strangers and her desire to help the remaining firefighters of her husband’s squad. A Widow’s Walk is a beautiful book that offers a glimpse into both the despair and the hope that was the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the story of Oskar Schell, whose father was killed in the Twin Towers. While snooping in his dad's room afterwards, Oskar discovers a strange key hidden in a vase. He decides he will find what the key opens, even if he has to try every lock in New York City! Interspersed throughout Oskar's story are chapters written from both of his grandparents' perspectives. These narratives are just as interesting as the main story; they serve to parallel the Dresden bombings with the terrorist attack on September 11. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. So if you enjoyed that book, definitely consider giving Foer’s book a try!

Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a story within a story. The main character, Changez, narrates the entire book. He tells an American visitor to Pakistan his prior history as a student in America, about his love for a woman named Erica, and the circumstances that brought him back to Pakistan. The narration is rather unusual, as the American never directly speaks; in his narration, Changez simply replies to what the man says. This alone makes for a really interesting read. Changez himself is an intriguing fellow: sophisticated in speech, but never snobbish. And while his is an uncommon narrative in North America, tending to be a bit anti-American near the end, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an important read because it gives this alternative viewpoint. The September 11 events had implications for the entire world, not just for America; it is important that we do not forget this.

So in honour of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, why not read one of the many stories available at your Public Library?

Shauna Kosoris