Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sunday December 30th, 2012 New Year's Resolutions

 When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, we all know how difficult it can be to get them started, much less keep them going throughout the year. While resolutions are fresh in people’s minds, the library is a resource they can use to kick off the New Year right.

A major resolution that seems to be a by-product of the holiday season is saving money. Buying books and movies gets expensive, and even renting can add up. Take a trip to your TBPL library branch where you'll find all of the latest books and movies available free of charge. Your TBPL card will also allow you to check out e-books, magazines, CDs, audio-books, use library computers and the Internet, access special electronic collections and more.

If you want to make more cost saving changes in other areas of your life from cooking and shopping to vacations, finance and decorating, TBPL offers materials to help you achieve and maintain your goals for happier living.  Here’s just a small sampling of what you’ll find in library or online:

The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less by John Robbins. How do you define the good life? For many, success is measured not by health and happiness but by financial wealth. But such a worldview overlooks the important things in life: personal contentment, family time, spirituality, and the health of the planet and those living on it. A preoccupation with money and possessions is not only unhealthy, it can also drain the true joy from life. Robbins, heir to the Baskin Robbins family, walked away from a fortune only to lose most of his own money in Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme uses his own personal experience, redefining our notions of a successful life and lending credibility to his own claims of enlightenment.

The Thrifty Cook: 200 Best Ever Meals on a Budget by Lucy Doncaster. This inspiring cookbook reveals how to create amazingly low-cost family meals that are still tasty, varied and nutritious. Using great-value ingredients and a little common sense, a delicious two-course meal can cost you less than a shop-bought sandwich, even including the accompaniments. Don’t think it’s doable? Think again, and borrow this book!

The Frugal Senior: Hundreds of Creative Ways to Stretch a Dollar! by Rich Gray. Covers everything from handling rising energy costs to recycling old clothing, simplifying garden maintenance, reducing the costs of gift-giving, and more. All the common expenses of daily living are dealt with here, with solutions to throwaway habits and rising costs focusing on re-use and refinement.

Savvy Chic: The Art of More for Less by Anna Johnson. Anna Johnson is not a tea-bag squeezer, a penny-pincher, or inherently thrifty in any way—but she knows how to enjoy the finer things in life . . . for much, much less! In Savvy Chic, she shares her secrets on how to dress, decorate, entertain, and travel in high style without breaking the piggy bank.

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas Stanley. Creating wealth is sort of like dieting, everybody wants the end result but the discipline to achieve that result is usually lacking.   "You aren't what you drive," Stanley mercilessly says and shows how wealth takes sacrifice, discipline, and hard work, qualities that are positively discouraged by our high-consumption society.

And on one final note, on behalf of all of us at the Thunder Bay Public Library, I wish you all happy holidays and a most prosperous New Year!

Arlene Danyleyko

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Sunday December 23, 2012 The Northern Lights

While we sometimes bemoan the short days and long nights of winter within them there is a blessing.  For those of us who keep an eye to the night sky, we may be given the gift of the aurora borealis or Northern Lights.  Too see them feels utterly magical even if we know the science behind.  At your library you will find books that explain them scientifically and those that feature them in fiction.

My favourites are the fictional works on the Northern Lights.  During the holiday season it is wonderful to be able to share books together and a picture book is the ideal vehicle.  All of us can enjoy the illustrations while the storyteller shares a tale.  Here are a few of tales of the Northern Lights for sharing on a winter evening.

The Fiddler of the Northern Lights by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock is a story of wonder.  It centres around eight year old Henry who is raised on wondrous legends of the great white owl, the loup-garou (part wolf, part man), and the fiddler of the Northern Lights.  Although the rest of the family doubts Grandpa Pepin’s tale of the fiddler whose music makes the lights dance, Henry believes.  The rest is pure magic which I won’t spoil for you.

In Northern Lights:  The Soccer Trails by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak Kataujaq loses her mother to illness.  One day when she’s feeling sad her grandmother tells her a story.  “People die...And, when they die their souls leave their bodies and go up into the heavens, and there they live.  The thousands of people who have passed before us all live up there in the sky.”  As you may have guessed those souls make up the Northern Lights.

Barbara Juster Esbensen combines both poetry and facts in her beautiful The Night Rainbow.  She starts off by sharing the purpose of her book.  It is to:  “conjure up these heart-stopping light displays” for those who have never seen them, to tell ancient legends as poetry, and to speak to those who have.  What follows are beautiful poems allowing us access to the legends associated with the Northern Lights.  The final pieces are information about the legends and notes about the auroras.  This book is a lovely balance of fact and fiction.

Under the Night Sky by Amy Lundebrek starts with what feels like an emergency but turns in to an encounter with the Northern Lights.  The children in the story think their mothers have gone crazy pulling them out of their beds, but they soon discover it’s not madness.  The splendour of the lights unites all those viewing beautifully.

Finally let’s go Beyond the Northern Lights.  Lynn Blaikie’s heroine asks the raven to carry her on his wings.  The Northern Lights are but one stop for this child as she also seeks the icy deep and the fire by which the elders sit.  The images in the book are the author’s own striking batiks.

There are, of course, many more books to share over the holiday season.   I invite you to come in and explore for yourself.  Best wishes and happy reading to all.

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Sunday December 16, 2012 Christmas Novels

In last week’s column, we focused on eBook readers: helping you with a question we get a lot at the library – “what eBook reader should I buy”? With Christmas just around the corner, my guess is that eBook readers are or soon will be flying off the retail shelves.Once you have chosen your reader, or opened that gift containing one, your next stop should be the library. Not only can we provide you with assistance in navigating that new device, but we also have thousands of eBooks available for loan from our collection. eBooks are just another format.  They are compact and portable, and you can download them from the library website 24/7.  If you want a more tactile experience, chose paper but you will need to visit the library during our holiday hours.  Either way, go green and borrow your titles from the library. Here are some Christmas reads that you can load onto your device OR borrow from the library in the traditional paper format – you choose your preference:

An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller. “Meg Hobart has everything: a happy marriage to a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and three wonderful children. But it all comes crashing down around her the day she learns that her husband, James, has been living a lie--and has brought the family to financial ruin. A frightening twist of fate forces the Hobarts to take refuge with a kind Amish family in Pennsylvania, where they find themselves in a home with no computers, no cell phones, nothing the children consider fashionable or fun. Celebrating life's simplest but most essential values, packed with laughter and tears, this is a story of forgiveness and the power of love.”

Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb. “It's 1964 and ten-year-old Felix is sure of a few things: the birds and the bees are puzzling, television is magical, and this is one Christmas he'll never forget. LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade. Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial. From the Funicello family's bus-station lunch counter to the elementary school playground (with an uproarious stop at the Pillsbury Bake-Off), Wishin' and Hopin' is a vivid slice of 1960s life, a wise and witty holiday tale that celebrates where we've been and how far we've come.”

Anne Perry Christmas: Two Holiday Novels. A Christmas Journey: “In the Berkshire countryside, family and guests have gathered for a delicious weekend fĂȘte surrounded by roaring fires and candlelight. It's scarcely the setting for misfortune, and no one-not even that clever budding sleuth Lady Vespasia Cumming-Gould-anticipates the tragedy that is to darken this holiday house party.  A Christmas Visitor: “At the Dreghorn family reunion, the tranquility of a snowbound English estate is shattered by what is an apparently accidental death. The victim's distraught wife summons her godfather, the distinguished mathematician and inventor Henry Rathbone, to the scene. And questions about the tragic event soon turn into whispers of murder.”

Other Christmas titles available in both formats: 1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber, Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs, and Winter House by Carol O’Connell.   Happy Reading!

Barbara Philp 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sunday December 9th, 2012 What kind of eBook reader should I buy?

This question comes up a lot at the Library, especially at this time of year. eBook readers make lovely gifts, and like with the best gifts, you need to know something about the recipient to find the best fit.

Over the past few years eBook readers have evolved from simple reading devices to complex tablet computers which in addition to reading, allow the user to surf the Web, check email and use a multitude of apps, games and other diversions. 

Some eBook readers also have the capacity to play eAudiobooks.  If you just want to listen to eAudiobooks, which are electronic recordings of someone reading a book, similar to CD Books or Cassette Books, then an MP3 player or iPod Touch would be more appropriate for you.

Not all eBook readers (or eAudiobook devices) are compatible with our Library eBooks.  This is due to a complex tangle of proprietary file formats, copyright issues and publishers’ policies.  Notably the Kindle from Amazon is not compatible with our Library eBooks at this time. 

Thunder Bay Public Library is part of a group of public libraries in Ontario which jointly subscribes to OverDrive, an eBook platform.  While most of the books on OverDrive are shared, we have been buying eBooks for our patrons only.  For this reason it’s important to log in before you start searching in OverDrive, to ensure you are seeing all items available to you.

OverDrive maintains a list of compatible and incompatible devices in its online “Device Resource Centre”.  You can find a link to this list from our Web site:  go to, click on “OverDrive” in the QUICK LINKSThis page on our Web site has a link to the OverDrive site, as well as tip sheets for the most common eBook readers we have seen at the Library. Reading over these tip sheets will give you an idea of the different ways eBook readers work.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about OverDrive is on our Web site.  You’ll see the link in the left-hand menu when you navigate to QUICK LINKS / OverDrive.

There are two basic ways to get eBooks from OverDrive onto an eBook reader, and the method depends on what type of eBook reader you have.  One involves installing some free software called on to your computer.  The software for eBooks is called Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), and for eAudiobooks it is called OverDrive Media Console (OMC).  eBooks get downloaded to ADE (and eAudiobooks to OMC) and then from there transferred to your eBook reader. The other involves using an App directly on your eBook reader. This method works with the more complex eBook readers which are more like tablets.  Using the App to download books requires a Wifi connection – which is another consideration if you are giving an eBook reader as a gift.

Some eBook readers come with a stylus with which you can take notes and highlight passages.    If a person is considering purchasing an iPad or other tablet computer in the near future, it can also be used as an eBook reader – but the iPad does have a shiny glass screen so if the user has any eye sight problems, this could be an issue when reading. 

As you can see, this is not an easy question to answer!  There are a lot of things to consider.  As mentioned, there is a lot of information available on our Web site to help you with eBooks, as well the OverDrive site itself has a very good “Help” section.  Our Virtual Services Department is happy to provide hands-on, email and phone support for people using Library eBooks.  Contact us at 684-6819 or

Joanna Aegard

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Sunday December 2, 2012 The Human Library

Walk into any branch of the Thunder Bay Public Library any day of the week and you can be sure it will be filled with activity. The library excels at promoting and teaching new technologies to meet demands. This could explain why TBPL like other Canadian libraries is thriving in both patrons and lending stats. The library continues to do innovative things that meet changing needs. Some of these include genealogy classes, one-on-one Internet training sessions, Facebook coaching, iHelp with iPads, iPod Touches or any new gadget, and the Human Library.

A Human Library? What is that you might ask. It began in 1993, in Copenhagen, Denmark, when five young people created a movement called Stop the Violence. They came together when one of their friends was injured in a stabbing. The outcome of this incident was twofold. Most importantly their friend survived. Second, these friends decided to do something about racial violence. By communicating and raising awareness, the group soon had an organization comprising 30,000 members from all over Denmark.

In 2000 this organization was asked to arrange activities for the Roskilde Festival, a music festival held annually in Denmark. The vision was to encourage unbiased dialogue amongst the festival visitors through one-on-one conversations. From this emerged the Human Library. And then it grew.

The Human Library concept has now spread around the world. Events have been held in Norway, Hungary, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, England, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Belgium, Austria, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Netherlands, Scotland, United States, New Zealand, Romania, Lithuania and Canada. Human Books may now be checked out at public libraries.

A Human Library is simply a way for people to connect with individuals they may not typically talk to. Library visitors have the opportunity during a planned event to borrow Human Books and engage in conversation. These Human Libraries celebrate differences and promote tolerance. The Human Books themselves are volunteers, willing to share their stories with others in a safe environment.

The first Human Library in Thunder Bay was held at the Waverley Resource Library on Saturday October 27, 2012. The Library partnered with CBC Radio 88.3 to bring this event to life. Fifty-three people came to "read" ten Human Books. The choices for Human Books are wide and varied. This event included a police officer, a muslim woman, a tattoo apprentice, a litigation lawyer, a transgender person, a recovering drug addict, a young aboriginal from a Northern community, a person living with a mental illness, an Ojibway elder and a person living with a disability.

Guidelines are relatively simple. The Reader must be respectful. The Human Book can leave the conversation if he or she feels the Reader is treating him or her in an inappropriate manner. The loan period is 20 minutes. The Reader cannot record or take pictures of the Human Book. And the Reader is not allowed to ask the Human Book for personal contact information. Questions might sound like this. Could you tell me about yourself? What is a typical day like for you? What is a good thing happening in your life right now? What makes it good? How do you deal with adversity? Do you have any advice for someone going through a situation similar to yours?

What is that saying … you can never really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes? How about taking your shoes off and having a 20 minute conversation. Chances are you’ll learn something. There will be another Human Library event on Saturday January 26th, at the Mary J.L. Black Library. Check the Library's Web site as well as CBC Radio's Web site for more details. And feel free to walk in.

Caron E. Naysmith