Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sunday May 31st, 2015 iHelp

Do you have a smart phone, tablet or eReader that you wish you knew more about?  We can help!  We are pleased to once again partner with TBayTel and Chapters to present two iHelp sessions in early June.  At iHelp you get matched up with a friendly, patient, knowledgeable person who will help you get to know your device.  iHelp sessions are one hour in length, and you can attend with a friend if you like.

Your library offers iHelp programs periodically because we recognize the need for this type of assistance in our community.  When we first offered eBooks we held a lot of group classes to teach people how to access them.  At that time most people who came to the classes had eBook readers.  Over time that shifted and more people had tablets or other devices.  Due to the explosion in the tablet market it became more efficient for us to offer one-on-one help.  Also, when helping people with eBooks they would often ask questions about how their device worked.

Library staff are trained to help with eBooks and other online Library resources, but are not necessarily experts with smart phones or tablets, unless they have their own personal device. This is where our partnerships with TBayTel and Chapters comes in.  TBayTel staff are of course experts with smart phones, and offer the added bonus of being able to explain how their bundles, packages and other unique features work.  Chapters recently added a section to their stores which sells Apple products, and their staff have special training for iPads, iPhone, iPod touches as well as for their full line of Kobo eReaders.

An increasing number of apps are available to access Library resources from smart phones and tablets.  The “online stuff” page on our website includes more information about these apps.  You can find it at  Apps are available for OverDrive and hoopla, which give you access to eBooks, eAudiobooks, movies and music.  There is a Naxos Music Library app with which you can stream classical, jazz, world and pop music.  HistoryPin is an app for history lovers.  Using the location-based technology in your device it shows you historical photos and information about your surroundings.  The Library has added a number of photos from our local history collection to HistoryPin.  HistoryPin includes photos and information from all over the world and is popular with travellers.

In addition to iHelp sessions, hands-on help with devices is available at the library by appointment with our Virtual Services Technician, Margaret.  Margaret can be reached by email at or phone at 345-8275 extension 7251.  She works at all four Library locations and can meet you at your favourite one.  Contact Margaret to register for iHelp as well.

Make new connections with your Library and all the wonderful FREE resources we offer, with your smart phone or tablet.  You can take us with you wherever you go!

Joanna Aegard

Monday, 25 May 2015

Women's Voices in Autobiography: From Chonicle Journal "Women", May 2015

Biographies are popular choices for readers at the Library. We have responded by creating a Biography Area at each branch to highlight them and encourage browsing. What is the strong appeal? As a reader myself, I would say that biographies give one the opportunity to experience another person’s journey- their inner landscape. To borrow a line from the moving poem by Mary T. Lathrap they allow one to “take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins” while reading, and the results are revelatory and enriching. For that reason I have chosen to share several interesting autobiographies in this article, all of which have been written by women. Each one tells a story of challenge, personal growth and ultimately triumph over adversity. It is a diverse list in terms of the ages, cultures and experiences of the writers but at the heart of each story is a female who has demonstrated courage and faced her adversity with wit, grace and an utter lack of self-pity.

Fatty Legs: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton; Liz Amini-Holmes, illustrator, Annick Press.
Margaret Pokiak was born on a small island far north of the Arctic Circle. When she was a child it was her most fervent wish to learn to read and she begged her family to let her attend school. This is her memoir of life in residential school where she faced bullying, cultural disconnect and mistreatment along with her learning but what it also is about is the strong will and indomitable spirit of the young girl who faced down her tormentor. The beautiful paintings of Liz Amini-Holmes enhance the poignant story. It was written for children but is too good to not be shared with all ages.

This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Ester Earl by Ester Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl. Dutton Books
This autobiography is rather unique in that it was created after the untimely death of the author at age sixteen. The story of Ester Earl, a hope-filled, intelligent and engaging girl is told through photographs, journal entries, essays and online posts as well as with commentary from many of the people that she touched in person, or online through her nerdfighter advocacy and her sharing of her courageous struggle with thyroid cancer. It has an introduction by John Green who dedicated his  best-selling young adult book The Fault is in Our Stars to Ester. You will have a deeper appreciation for life after reading it.

No One to Tell: Breaking My Silence on Life in the RCMP by Janet Merlo. Breakwater Books.
Janet joined the RCMP hoping to make a difference in people’s lives but left after enduring 20 years of sexual harassment, stress and disillusionment. It is a brave account and she is clear-minded about the abuse of power. She has written this for her own healing and understanding and for others who might face a similar situation.

Projection: Encounters With My Runaway Mother by Priscila Uppal. Dundurn Press
With a poet’s insight and ability to evoke emotion the author describes her unforgettable story of reuniting with her mother twenty years after that mother had abandoned her two young children and a husband who had become paraplegic. During ten turbulent and surreal days together in South America she found more surprises than answers and even though it ends with a second abandonment the story is ultimately redemptive.

I discovered each of these books on the library shelves and they are all available to borrow for free at your Thunder Bay Public Library. I hope that you might enjoy one of them or perhaps discover something equally intriguing in the Biography collection. A Library is filled with thousands of stories – thousands of women’s lives described, thousands of women’s and girls’ voices waiting to be heard.

Angela Meady

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Sunday May 24, 2015 makerspace

There’s been a lot of talk about makerspaces around the Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL). And now, thanks to our partnership with Ohm Base, we have one located in the Waverley Resource Library. The makerspace is still under development as we investigate getting new tools to enable creators of all ages to make their projects. But there is already a lot to see if you come for a visit.

“The makerspace is not just about technology,” says Stephen Hurrell, Head of Automation at TBPL. “It’s also about art. That’s why we want to get tools like sewing machines, green screens, music equipment and a vinyl cutter; we want to encourage both technical users and artists to use the space and collaborate on projects.”

Collaboration is the key behind the makerspace. While the staff at TBPL are a very diverse group, not everyone has the time or the skills to be helping and collaborating with people in the makerspace. That’s why partnering with Ohm Base is the perfect fit; Ohm Base wants to lower the barrier for creators by providing them with tools, space, and a community. Having lost their previous location in the old Hillcrest High School, they’ve now found a place here at TBPL. And TBPL wants to partner with other organizations in the future to increase the collaborative opportunities available for everyone.

“We’re looking at forming partnerships with local businesses,” says Hurrell. “We’re going to develop small business zones as well as the makerspace. We’re hoping that the two will have a back and forth synergy along with the children’s department. Children are naturally curious and have a built-in desire to learn first-hand.”

While that is the future hope, at present you can stop in on most weekday afternoons until closing to visit the Ohm Base volunteers and the makerspace. Tear Down Tuesdays are every Tuesday from 5:30pm until close; you can grab a screwdriver and take something apart to see how it works. This is open to people of all ages. The Ohm Base volunteers have also set up some demos, including some hydrophobic (water-repellent) materials and the 3D printer.

“Everyone loves when we demo the 3D printer,” says Chris Riley, Board Chair of Ohm Base. “It’s going almost constantly when we’re in there.”

The Ohm Base volunteers have internal projects on the go as well. They’re reproducing the enigma encoder, allowing them to encipher and decipher secret messages. When the lights and windows are installed, they’re going to install a circuit that will make the lights blink out a pattern you tap on the window. Riley is working on a simple electric motor that anyone 6+ will be able to build. And if they get the laser cutter, they’ll cut kits out of plywood for people to assemble.

Ohm Base has also started running some programming in the makerspace. Their first program, Encryption 101, was run on April 28 by Jeffrey Cliff, an Ohm Base volunteer. They had a good turnout, with a lot of back and forth between Cliff and the participants. Cliff admits that he went a little too deep into the theory of encryption during the first part of the program. But he tried to always bring it back to a practical level. “The discussion tended to focus around looking at things in terms of security,” he said. “Everyone wants to keep themselves safe online.”

Their next program will be July 17’s “Making Slime and Goo,” which is open to ages 8+. There are only 15 spots available, so be sure to register at the beginning of July if you’re interested.

For more information, or if you’d like to join the TBPL Makerspace Google+ community, head to

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sunday May 17, 2015 Pursuing Your Passions at the Library

One of the best parts about a library is the variety of materials and topics available to browse; to be informed and inspired.  While I spend much of my time reading and reviewing fiction, I have always found exploring the nonfiction areas of the library a great way to discover new interests.  Over the last few years, I have pursued a number of hobbies and areas of activity with varying degrees of success, mostly from books that I’ve checked out from the library.  It’s easy to click on the internet to find the quick answer to a question, like what shrubs are Zone 3a or what temperature is best for baking a pie but it’s much harder to use the internet to develop a in-depth knowledge base.  What are your areas of passion?  We probably have a wide variety of materials and information that will meet those needs; and the best part is you can borrow them for free, whilst deciding if your latest notion really is you.

I must admit that I’m more of a fantasy gardener than an actual one.  I spend hours planning huge garden projects which end up getting scaled down massively due to space, time and financial restrictions.  Our most recent and fun books on gardening include two great titles: Cultivating Garden Style: Inspired Ideas and Practical Advice to Unleash Your Garden Personality by Rochelle Greayor, and Plantiful: Start Small, Grow Big, with 150 Plants that Spread, Self-sow, and Overwinter by Kristin Green.   The first title helps you to plan your gardening projects based on the amount of time, money, work and space you want to devote to your growing so that you can make informed decisions rather than biting off more than you can chew and giving up.  The latter book is a great lazy man’s gardening title. It works for big or small spaces to ensure you get the maximum pleasure with the minimum amount of work.

Are you a knitter or other type of crafter? We have a plethora of books to instruct and excite your creativity.  Colorwork Knitting: 25 Spectacular Sweaters, Hats, and Accessories by Sarah E. White or First Frost: Cozy Folk Knitting by Lucinda Guy are the juicy type of books that knitters love with a variety of patterns for numerous skill levels.  Artists and painters will love The Painting Workbook: How to Get Started & Stay Inspired by Alena Hennessy.

Foodies and aspiring chefs will love the breadth of the collection at the library. Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen:  Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and over 100 Delicious Recipes by Dana Cowin, or Extra Virgin: Recipes & Love from our Tuscan Kitchen by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar are a couple of new titles that will have any cook salivating.  If you are a baker or simply have a sweet tooth, the book Ovenly: Sweet & Salty Recipes from New York’s Most Creative Bakery by Agatha Kulaga, is a sweet dream come true.

If this is your year to improve your outer self through physical fitness or your inner self, there are shelves full of just the right item to get you on the correct path.  A great new fitness title is Women’s Health Lift to get Lean:  A Beginner’s Guide to Fitness & Strength training in 3 Simple Steps by Holly Perkins.  It will encourage anyone to take control of their health, while Do Your Om Thing: Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit Your Modern Life by Rebecca Pacheco, blends fitness with spirituality to create a healthier and happier you.  So whatever interests you, we’re here to help.

Lori Kauzlarick

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Sunday May 10th, 2015 World Languages

English is a popular world language and yet a language which sometimes fails to provide just the right word for certain things. For instance, there is no one English word that describes the action of binge-eating as a result of having suffered an emotional blow. In German, this is covered by the word “kummerspeck” (grief-bacon). How about when you only think of the exact right response just after the moment to say it has passed? The French might say that is” l’esprit de l’escalier”, or literally, stairway wit.  One of the great benefits of learning a second or third language is the pleasure of discovering these sorts of unique words and phrases which give you insight into another culture.

Your public Library is well-equipped to assist you in your journey to learn another language, including English if it is not your first language.  One of the best methods is to be able to hear the sound of the words along with reading another language, and for that reason using a computer for interactive language-learning is a great tool.  With your library card you can access the Powerspeak Languages database which provides interactive instruction in Spanish, French, German, Mandarin and English-as-a-second-language.  To access it from your home computer or tablet, go to TBPL’s website and select the Research tab. Click on the image of the Sleeping Giant and follow the instructions to type in your library card and PIN number.  Then, scroll down the list of databases to Powerspeak. The learning starts there with introducing you to some key words and key points about the language (such as having a formal and an informal version of “you” in German). Audio clips are on each page to allow you to hear the words spoken by a native speaker.  Before you know it, you will be able to participate in a simple conversation.  Learning a new language can also improve your overall brain functioning.  There
are many studies which promote this benefit to persons who learn a new language.

In addition to online learning, you could choose to borrow a language learning CD and booklet as there are a variety of those available for loan. Modern Mandarin Chinese for Beginners, Learn Italian in your car, Learning Ojibwe or Speak Portuguese with Confidence to cite a few of the titles on the shelves.

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to already know more than one language. Then you might want to pick out a magazine or read a novel in a different language and you can do that for selected languages at the Library. For instance you can read the Harry Potter series in French or in Finnish or a cook book in Italian. There are also many foreign films in the Library collection that you could borrow with English sub-titles and the original language soundtrack. So if you want your Bollywood film in Hindi or your Cannes film winner in the original Tamil or Tagalog you might be in luck.

Why you can even find a board book for a baby in Spanish or a CD to help you improve your English accent here, so why not visit your Library soon to see what else you can discover.  We are waiting to help you with your next steps in lifelong learning.

Angela Meady

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Sunday May 3rd, 2015 May the Fourth Be With You

Tomorrow is an exciting day for Star Wars fans. Sorry, it’s not the release date of the new Star Wars movie Episode VII: The Force Awakens. That won’t be in theatres until December. Tomorrow is May the 4th, also known as Star Wars Day!  Celebrate by heading down to your Thunder Bay Public Library and picking up a copy of the Star Wars movies or one of the many Star Wars books.

If you haven’t seen the Star Wars movies, TBPL has Episodes I to VI for you to borrow. But if you’re wondering which movie to watch first; Episode IV: A New Hope which was the first movie of the original Star Wars trilogy, or Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the first movie of the prequels, that question is still being debated.

The Thunder Bay Public Library also has large selection of Star Wars books for all ages. Along with the numerous fictional series, you will also find Star Wars visual guides, character encyclopaedias, craft books and cook books. Find inspiration for your Star Wars themed parties in The Star Wars Cook book by Davis Robin and The Star Wars Craft book by Bonnie Burton. Learn more about the movies with the Star Wars Character Encyclopedia by Simon Beecroft or Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle.

The Star Wars adventures have continued though novels, comics, TV shows and videogames in what is known as the Expanded Universe (EU). As the Expanded Universe became more extensive, and Disney/Lucasfilm announced new Star Wars material, it was decided by the Lucasfilm Story Group that all EU works would be called Star Wars Legends. New Star Wars material created by Disney/Lucasfilm will be part of the Star Wars canon, which includes the original six Star Wars movies and the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, that will be consistent with the true Star Wars history.

The Library has several novels and series from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Though once again people new to reading these stories are faced with the question, which one do I start with. You could begin by reading the stories as they take place chronologically. Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void by Tim Lebbon takes place 25,793 years before the Battle of Yavin and tells the story of the origin of the Jedi Order in the world of Tython. Star Wars: Crucible by Troy Denning takes place 45 years after the Battle of Yavin when Han, Leia, Luke and Lando must reunite for another adventure. There are many websites that will provide a chronological list of all Star Wars stories to help you, but if you would rather just start reading without the research,  choose one of the many series such as Star Wars: Rebel Force or Star Wars: Jedi Quest.

Another option would be to select stories based on your favourite Star Wars character. Fans of all ages who want to join Luke Skywalker on more adventures can read Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover and The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight by Tony DiTerlizzi. Fans of Darth Vader will find him in novels including Star Wars: Dark Lord, the rise of Darth Vader and the graphic novel Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin.

So whatever side of the force you choose, spend May the 4th cooking Han-burgers and Wookie cookies, watching your favourite Star Wars movie, reading a new Star Wars book, or building your own droid.

Lindsey Long