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