Sunday, 29 May 2011

Sunday May 29th, 2011 Find Yourself in Thunder Bay

Summer in the reference department of the Thunder Bay Public Library tends to welcome scads of new and seasoned genealogy and local history enthusiasts. Hopefully this summer will be no different! Over the years we have had visiting researchers from across Canada and several from other countries. Questions usually range from trying to find the next piece in a family tree to tracking the story of an individual or event for an upcoming publication. Often people are only in town for a brief period and take on some pretty hardcore research during their stay, which always gives our collection a healthy workout.

However it is the local researcher who can benefit most regularly from the local history and genealogy collections available throughout Thunder Bay. The Thunder Bay Public Library provides free public access to a variety of resources in print and electronic formats. At the Brodie Resource Library, Special Collections houses our rare local history collection of books and photographs. The Local History News and Genealogy Indexes can help direct you to obituaries and news items from 1933 to 1975. The Port Arthur Social News Index lists all types of social events from 1915 to 1942. There are hundreds of maps available as well, with a handy index available for review on the TBPL website. We also have many books and guides that will help new genealogists get their research going. Highlights of our online resources are the Gateway to Northwestern Ontario History (which includes thousands of photographs, maps, and news items from across Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario) and the genealogy database (available at all four library branches). Check out the local history and genealogy pages of our website to find out more information.

Other organizations around town that should make your research to-do list this summer include the Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay Archives, Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, and the Family History Center, just to name a few.

The archives website provides a great summary of their collection: that it holds a wide range of materials about the social, political, economic, natural, and built history of Thunder Bay. The archives is open to the public (hours available online) and displays fascinating exhibits on site and online that portray our city’s rich history.

With its regular exhibit gallery, special and online exhibits, the museum is the perfect spot to start engaging in the rich history of Thunder Bay. In addition to special events and programs (check out the events calendar on their website), the museum is home to the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society archives. This collection ranges from business and labour records to personal papers and military records (among other interesting items).

For any sports buff who hasn’t been to the sports hall of fame, I have two words for you - go now! Their collections tell the story of sports and athletics in our region and I was floored the first time I saw it all. In addition to the museum and archives, they hold educational programs, outreach and community events.

The Family History Centre is one of many branches of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The centre is aimed at helping people track down ancestors and family members through a collection of print, computer and microfilm/fiche resources. More information can be found online at

Genealogy research is often referred to as detective work and I think anyone who has spent time sifting through paper records, microfilm, fiche and online databases can attest to that fact. You never know what you’ll find!

Jesse Roberts, Head of Reference Services

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Sunday May 22, 2011 Rediscover Poetry

It’s hard for me to believe that we are already celebrating Victoria Day weekend. I’m quite certain that the last time I looked at the calendar it was March and here we are in the third week of May. This of course means that I completely missed poetry month, maybe you did too? This situation however can be remedied with a quick visit to your Library. Not only do we have many books of poetry for all ages, we also are fortunate to have poets visit us. Most recently Charles Mountford read at Brodie on May 9th and we have Owen Neill reading at Waverley on June 7th at 7:00pm. With Mr. Neill’s visit upcoming I thought I would focus on his works for this column.

Owen Neill is best known as “Canada’s Poet of the Wolf” so not surprisingly one of his volumes is entitled “Eye of the Wolf.” The poems found within do not only tell of wolves, but of the geography, flora, and fauna of our region. Perhaps I was so drawn to this particular book because it is so rooted in Thunder Bay even though the author now resides in Sault Ste. Marie. The opening verse from Up Wolseley Street, leaves no doubt that the location is Thunder Bay:

Not much, it seems, has changed to the eye.
New life comes with updated furniture
but the street’s the same as it climbs its shelf
from Cumberland to Court then steepens to Algoma
lifting a little to Ruttan and leveling at Farrand.
Beyond lie the Flats we children used to own
but now of course housing sets the modern tone.

Anyone at all familiar with the city’s north side geography is immediately pulled in to the place. Your feet hit the sidewalk and you too climb the shelf from Cumberland to Court and enter the poem. In other poems you visit the Flats, the marina, the grain elevators, and the back lanes. This slim volume offers a chance to fall in love with our city all over again.

Other works to be found on the shelf include: “Gone to Gossamer”, “Under Moonleaves”, “What I Meant to Say”, “She Said, He Said: A Creative Dialogue,” and “Six Windows of the Giant” among others.

"What I Meant to Say” took me by surprise as the poems lack titles, instead they are identified by Roman numerals. I was particularly enchanted by XXIII:

Mention lucky stars
eternity’s comfort zone
when God is a concept
past understanding
and we need to define
our presence now
through a mist
the mirage
that never clears
quite enough
for perfection.

It is entirely different from the poems in “Eye of the Wolf” and equally enchanting. Each volume offers something different, a unique window in to the poet’s soul. Surveying our poetry collection we have something for everyone, from the serious to the absurd there’s something for everyone.

I know for many poetry was a less than loved subject in school, it is only when reading it for pure pleasure that poetry can be truly appreciated. As children many of us loved Dennis Lee’s “Alligator Pie” and Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” only to lose that love of poetry as we had to learn about the structure of poems. Fall back in love with poetry at Your Library.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas, Adult Services Librarian

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sunday May 15, 2011 May Long Fishing

The May long weekend, better known as “May Long”, is coming fast and marks the beginning of walleye season. I’ve been excited for spring all winter. Here are some items that I’ve found at the Thunder Bay Public Library that will undoubtedly awaken my inner outdoorsman.

The first is by Dan Burgoyne, a small but strong book titled Walleye and Northern Pike. Burgoyne provides an overview of differences in lure types to use whether in clear or in stained water and contrasts the use of flashiness versus vibrational qualities within such conditions. He even shows how to make and improvise your own spinners. The book also includes helpful pictures and diagrams.

Two more books to help you prepare for May Long and the rest of summer, especially if you like to fish for walleye, are Walleye Patterns and Presentations, and Catch More Walleyes. Patterns and Presentations has excellent diagrams regarding depth to fish at, how to work a reef by drifting, and how to select good walleye waters using analysis of the structure of the underwater landscape.

Catch More Walleyes has information on boat control and maintenance. The first chapter says that walleyes are predators, which means they’re always on the move. The chapter on weather, too, is interesting. Romanack gives a lot of ideas for fishing under different winds and temperatures.

Soon to be available here on DVD is season one of River Monsters hosted by Jeremy Wade, biologist and extreme angler. He travels the world looking for enormous, and possibly man-killing, fresh water fish. The fish he’s looking for can sometimes weigh well over 100 lbs. Place a hold now to be the first to get it and see what this guy actually does for a living! Remember you’ll need your library card barcode number and PIN.

For all the little ones who enjoy fishing too, the Library has fully-rigged fishing rods and reels along with basic tackle that can be borrowed from the library for up to three weeks.

As you venture out into the wild on your fishing excursion, it is important to be safe. You might need to hone your survival skills with John Wiseman’s the SAS Survival Handbook. Wiseman served in the British Special Air Service for 26 years, part of which he spent as a survival instructor. Here, he distills that knowledge in an illustrated guide for the general reader. He offers chapters discussing survival strategies in automobile and air accidents, coping with different climates and terrain, hunting and collecting food, camp craft, direction finding and weather signs, traveling on land and water, health and first aid, survival at sea, seeking rescue, and natural and terrorist disasters.

Don’t forget to check out books on water and boat safety too. You can find an up-to-date copy of the Safe Boating Guide published by the Government of Canada at one of your library branches. This guide covers everything you need to know about properly operating watercraft.

So depending on how rugged you want to get with your fishing, the library can customize your interests from local to international, mainstream to extreme. All summer long.

Chris Waite, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Sunday May 8th, 2011 The Dark Knight Reads

If you’re a Batman fan like me, it’s been a lean couple of years. The Dark Knight came out in 2008 and the video game Arkham Asylum came out in 2009. While sequels are in the works for both of these (The Dark Knight Rises is due out in 2012, and Arkham City is due out this fall), it's been quite a wait for anything new. Luckily, there are some fantastic Batman graphic novels available at the public libraries which have helped to tide me over while I wait for these sequels.

Batman: Secrets is a shorter read featuring the Joker. Batman and Joker get into a fight which is photographed by a couple. One of the pictures, taken while Batman was wrestling a gun out of the Joker’s hands, looks like the Dark Knight was actually threatening the Joker with the firearm. This picture gets released to the media, painting Batman as one of the bad guys. This was an enjoyable quick read by Sam Keith which includes some excellent artwork of the Joker.

Batman Vampire, written by Doug Moench, is something special. It is a story told in three parts. First, Batman is the only one who can stop Dracula, who has come to Gotham City. But at the end of this first tale, although victorious, the Dark Knight is now a vampire himself. The rest of the story deals with Batman trying to control his vampiric urges; the Dark Knight strives to continue protecting the weak, but what happens if he does succumb and drink blood? Batman: Vampire is part of an alternate history in the Batman universe, telling the terrifying tale of what happens when the Dark Knight becomes a monster himself.

One of my favourite Batman writers is Jeph Loeb. The library has a couple of graphic novels by him, such as Superman: Emperor Joker, and various Superman/Batman titles (I’m a fan of this series. It’s a lot of fun to see how Batman and Superman think. And believe me, it’s very different!) But one of the best Jeph Loeb stories that the library has is Batman: Hush. Hush is a story told in two parts. Hush himself is a hidden menace, drawing Batman and many of the villains into his game. Batman: Hush is also a love story between Catwoman and Batman, but as the game continues with more and more villains part of it, Batman is left wondering whether he can trust her. Or is she just another piece of the game?

While Jeph Loeb is my favourite Batman author, Batman Knightfall by Doug Moench is my favourite Batman graphic novel. While all three parts were pretty good, Part 1: Broken Bat was the best. In Broken Bat, Bane releases the inmates from Arkham Assylum, using them to wear out Batman’s strength. Batman was already in rough shape from the previous few weeks, so tracking down the escaped villains drains his already depleted strength. He has no time to rest, even though his body desperately needs it. Yet he always managed to find the strength to continue because there was no one else to take his place. And finally, when Batman was at his weakest, Bane struck! Broken Bat was an amazing story about the limits that even the Dark Knight himself has.

So if you’re like me and in need of a Batman fix, come and check out these and the many other Batman stories available at the Thunder Bay Public Library.

Shauna Kosoris, Supply Staff

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sunday May 1st, 2011 Endings and Beginnings

April 29th saw the final day of Mary J L Black Library in its Brock Street location and I must admit that I felt a little sad to see the old girl close. Having started with the library at Mary J almost 21 years ago, the shuttering of the doors made me think of endings as well as new beginnings. A number of recent books on the shelves as well as a few on order, deal with endings and the transformation that can come about when a chance is given to the new.

Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance by Lloyd Jones

This is a dual novel chronicling two love stories, the first set in New Zealand during the final days of the Second World War. Argentinean Paul Schmidt is rescued by a young woman named Louise from a gang of thugs who are planning to kill him because of his German sounding name. During their time together, Paul teaches Louise to Tango and the two fall in love. Though Paul ends up returning to Buenos Aires and both move on with their separate lives. Lionel, a university student working for Paul, falls for Rosa, Paul’s older and married granddaughter. The parallels in their relationship grow when Rosa teaches Lionel the Tango. The novel is a beautiful interplay of images and emotions.

Wit’s End by Karen Joy Fowler

Fowler creates a story within a story when Rima Lanisell visits her estranged godmother, Addison Early. Addison is a wildly successful but completely private mystery author, who has written about Rima and her recently deceased father, Bim by turning them into characters in her crime novels. Weeding through correspondence from fans both online and in letters, Rima discovers information about her family and her past that Addison has woven throughout her books.

een Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End: The Story of a Crime by Leif G. Persson

The first novel in a trilogy for fans of dark, Nordic crime novels popularized by Steig Larsson and Henning Mankell begins with the suicide of a young American student in Sweden and winds its way into a conspiracy about the unsolved assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. This novel is an intense ride, part thriller, part police procedural and part a probe of the psychology of the dark soul.

The E
nd of Everything: A Novel by Megan Abbott

Lizzie Hood and Evie Verver were as inseparable as only thirteen-year old girls can be, swapping clothes, sharing secrets and having sleepovers. A long summer stretches before them and life could not be more wonderful. Then one afternoon Evie disappears, the only clue being the maroon sedan that Lizzie had spotted following the girls earlier that day. As time passes, and panic spreads through town, everyone turns to Lizzie for answers. Haunted by dreams, Lizzie begins to pursue the truth on her own only to find a world of secrets and lies.

The Queen of New Beginnings by Erica James

Alice is an expert in personal reinvention, so when she meets Clayton she immediately understands why he wants to shrug off his past. As their unlikely friendship develops into more, Alice believes that she is finally ready to settle down, until she discovers that Clayton is not all he seems. The novel uses both wit and pathos to delve into the emotional lives of her characters in a believable way.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant