Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sunday January 25th, 2015 TBPL’s Young Adult Reads of 2014

Thunder Bay’s YA readers loved to read series in 2014. Just as in 2013, the majority of titles with the highest circulation numbers were series installments. Dystopias have slowed in popularity in some circles, but here we continue to be invested in the end of the world. Rick Yancey’s science fiction alien invasion thriller, The Fifth Wave, James Dashner’s The Maze Runner series, and the romantic dystopia series The Selection by Kiera Cass all ranked highly on the yearly stats. 

Media and movies had a huge impact on what was being signed out as well, and many of the books in our top ten have received the big-screen treatment, including Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. Whether the movie was well-done or popular doesn’t seem to be very significant in terms of its popularity – City of Bones, which came out last year, was not well received by either critics or audiences, but Cassandra Clare’s books set in that world continue to be very popular here in Thunder Bay.

As in previous years, John Green’s book The Fault in our Stars was hugely popular, as were his older titles. Paper Towns, another of his novels, is being adapted into a movie in 2015, so I expect his popularity to continue at least through the next year. Personally, I was happy to see The Book Thief by Markus Zusak landing on TBPL’s high circulating list, just as it has every year since I started working here (in 2010). This Young Adult book cannot be oversold – if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading it, you really should. Most of the highest circulating titles were published prior to 2014, but a couple 2014 titles did appear lower down on the list: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Thunder Bay readers didn’t really find a breakout hit this year. No new titles were anywhere near as popular as the top circulating stalwarts, and some 2014 Young Adult titles that received lots of acclaim and attention online were hardly checked out at TBPL. Why not add one of these underrated hidden gems to your reading list?

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is an intense, deeply felt novel. Dealing with themes of love, grief, artistry, and family, this contemporary book features twin siblings and uses multiple viewpoints to explore their relationship and history. This book appeared on several best of 2014 lists, including Booklist and School Library Journal, and shares elements with Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour is a contemporary LGBTQ coming of age story and romance. This thoughtful and emotional read is set in Hollywood and realistically depicts privilege and loss. Recommended for fans of realistic romance, especially readers of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti. 

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is one of those many books about the end of the world, but manages to be quite unique in its execution. Darkly funny with echoes of B-movie horror films, this mature YA novel is best suited to older teenagers and was recognized as one of the best books of 2014 by Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal. For another black humour tinged science fiction book about an unusual end of the world, try Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle.

For even more suggestions and my personal best of year thoughts, including Most Misleading YA Cover, Favourite Series Installment, and Best Tagline, visit the teen blog at

Laura Prinselaar

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sunday January 18th, 2015 TBPL Off the Shelf

Have you ever come into the library looking for a book recommendation from staff?  While we have many options to help you find something new to read, nothing beats a personal book recommendation from someone you know.  Unfortunately, the staff member you rely on for recommendations may be unavailable and other people may be unable to help because they have different reading tastes.  But never fear - our blog, TBPL Off the Shelf, is here to help!

TBPL Off the Shelf was started in 2009 as a place for library staff to write about the books they are reading.  The blog was originally titled Best of the Backlist, with the aim of highlighting our favourite older books in the hopes that other people will discover these hidden gems.  Since that time, 20 staff members have published over 300 book reviews, talking about everything from fiction to graphic novels, poetry, and non-fiction.  In the spirit of highlighting titles, most of the reviews are positive, but there are a few negative ones (notably “Shauna Tears the Lid off Gore Vidal’s Duluth”).

A great feature of TBPL Off the Shelf is that you can search through the blog for a staff member you like, as long as they contribute to the blog.  All you have to do is find their most recent review and click on their hyperlinked name, then all of their book reviews will come up.  Our posts are also tagged and categorized, giving you many options to find a new book. 

April is National Poetry Month, and TBPL Off the Shelf makes sure to join in the celebration as well.  For the last two years, staff have shared their favourite poems on the blog.  Like the book reviews, favourite poems and poets are as varied as our staff, making every April a delightful discovery.  And of course, these favourites remain on the blog to read after the month of April.

TBPL Off the Shelf isn’t just a one-stop place to find reading recommendations.  Last February, we started interviewing authors on the blog as well.  Author interviews run once a month, appearing on the second Wednesday.  But between October and November, we ran weekly interviews leading up to the International Festival of Authors.  The interviews start by asking the authors several questions about their books, and end by asking about what inspired them to write.  There’s also a question about what they’re currently reading, which is always a lot of fun.  Since last February, we’ve interviewed science fiction and fantasy authors, children’s book authors, local authors, poets, podcasters, and screenwriters. 

Our blog also features links to other reading-related sites.  The links are split into two sections.  First is the blogroll, which will direct you to other blogs relating to the library and reading.  These include Girl Discovering Library, which was the blog of one of our summer students, terribleminds, the rantings (and fantastic writing advice) of author Chuck Wendig, TBPL @ Your Library, our blog that collects our Sunday newspaper column, and the blog of Joseph Nassise, the very first author we interviewed.  Under that are links to all things books, including Audible, Book Riot, Goodreads, Galley Cat, Shelfari, and What Should I Read Next?  Together, these links make TBPL Off the Shelf an excellent resource for finding news about the publishing world.

So remember, the next time you want to find a new book to read, peruse some poetry, or find out what’s going on in the publishing world, make TBPL Off the Shelf your first stop.

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sunday January 11th, 2015 The Library Detective Retires: Meet @ Your Library!

After 20 years, Library Detective is getting an update! Introducing @ Your Library, a column that will feature information about what is happening at your Thunder Bay Public Library. Every month, our goal is to focus on each of these topics; our different collections, upcoming programs and events, services that we offer, and replies to your feedback. As the Thunder Bay Public Library continues to evolve, we want to keep you informed and @ Your Library is one more way we can achieve this. But first let’s take a look back at how the Library Detective column started.

The first Library Detective article was featured in the Chronicle Journal on June 11, 1995 and was written by librarian Betty Braaksma. At the time, Betty was Head of the Information Services department for the Thunder Bay Public Library. The first article shared some of the unusual questions the Information Services staff received and answered (and we still answer unusual questions today). For example, how much would it cost to buy an ostrich? Answer: a pair of adult birds would cost $75,000 and one fertilized egg would cost $1,200. Articles were first written in a question and answer style but over time the column evolved as the library continued to grow and change. Since the first article appeared, library staff have written almost 800 Library Detective columns!

@ Your Library will continue to be published in the Chronicle Journal every Sunday and will also be available online here! Older Library Detective articles can also be searched for using the online resource Gateway to Northwestern Ontario History

If you have a suggestion for a @ Your Library column or would like to share your thoughts on one of our articles, you can leave a comment here, or email us at And if you have an unusual question, the trained staff at your Thunder Bay Public Library are still available to help.

Lindsey Long

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sunday January 4th, 2015 New Year's Resolutions

Your Library can help you with your New Year's Resolutions, and we can do it from the comfort of your home. If you want to exercise more, learn a new language, develop an appreciation for classical or jazz music or embark on some home improvements our Virtual Collection can help.

Last Fall we introduced you to hoopla, an online collection of music, audiobooks and videos. Did you know hoopla includes workout videos? Install the hoopla app on your smart phone or tablet, or go to on your computer or smart TV to get started. Choose "Television" and you'll find a Jillian Michaels section and a wide variety of workouts in the "Health and Fitness" category. "Party off the pounds" with Richard Simmons, cardio kick box or "Sit and be Fit" are just a sample of the choices. Learn more about hoopla at

Powerspeak Languages is an interactive, fun online learning course which includes Spanish, French, German, Mandarin and English as a Second Language for Spanish speakers. Go to our Web site:, click on "Research", then click on the Sleeping Giant and log in with your Library Card number and PIN. Click through to Powerspeak from the list, and get started! You can make an account within Powerspeak to track your progress.

If you want to expand your musical horizons, Naxos Music Library is for you. Install the Naxos app on your smart phone or tablet to listen on the go, or access it through My Giant Search on a computer. Go to and choose "Research", then log in to My Giant Search. Naxos includes a huge selection of classic, jazz and world music which you can stream, as well as liner notes, educational videos and more. For details about the Naxos app see

Do you need to do some work around the house? Home Improvement Reference Centre can help. Also found in My Giant Search in the Research section of our Web site, it covers maintenance, remodeling, electrical work, plumbing, wood projects, outdoor improvements and decorating. Diagrams, videos and instructions are provided to help you get the job done.

Make this year your best yet with these useful, handy online resources from your Library.

Joanna Aegard