Sunday, 22 October 2017

Sunday October 22, 2017 Halloween Costumes, Makeup, and Decorations

Borrow one of these books and put together a creative costume this Halloween. You don’t need a lot of money or unique supplies for many of the projects presented.

The Halloween handbook : 447 costumes by Bridie Clark and Ashley Dodd is a wonderful guide to a wide range of costumes. The authors use everyday objects creatively, and cater to those with little time. The costumes in this book are mainly for adults but most can easily be adjusted for children. Party ideas, Halloween lore and seasonal amusements are included.

Homemade halloween: Quick and easy costumes, decorations, and not-so-frightening family fun provides step-by-step instructions on how to create a Halloween that's both chilling and thrilling for the whole family.  This book is divided into three sections:  Dandy Disguises, Ghoulish Gatherings, and a final section of patterns and construction tips for making haunted noisemakers, giant door decorations, and garden tombstones.

Cosplay, from “costume play”,  is a trendy word for dressing up favoured by fans of science fiction and fantasy. The hero's closet : sewing for cosplay and costuming by Gillian Conahan is a great guide for those who want to create their own costumes.  It covers basics for beginners, and also includes 11 original step-by-step patterns—such as jumpsuits, jackets, and pants.

Frightfully fun Halloween handbook by Carole Nicksin is an all-round guide to Halloween. It includes craft, recipe, and costume ideas, as well as suggestions for hosting a spooky theme party.  Instructions are clear, and supplies readily available and affordable.

Add to your costume with face painting! We have many books with face painting ideas and instructions. My favourite is Snazaroo zoo : great faces and easy costumes to bring out the animal in you by Janis Bullis.  The costumes in this book all begin with a basic sweatsuit, and patterns are provided for adding parts to create animals.  This book is great for beginners as it includes general instructions as well as a glossary.

Kick up your Halloween decorations this year with Artful Halloween : 31 frightfully elegant projects by Susan Wasinger. From unique pumpkin decorations to a “blood”-splashed dinner-party centerpiece to a Yard Specter made from two poles, a string of lights, and torn, draped fabric, these creepy but stylish Halloween projects will give your home a spooky, sophisticated look with gothic flair!

Extreme Halloween : the ultimate guide to making Halloween scary again by Tom Nardone is another book packed with fun projects to transform your home, yard, and wardrobe, including a cake that bleeds, an alligator in a leaf pile, and a toilet bowl of candy.

Tom Nardone is also the author of Extreme pumpkins : diabolical do-it-yourself designs to amuse your friends and scare your neighbors. Some of the unique designs include such special effects as pumpkin blood, an inside-pumpkin bonfire, and caramel onions instead of apples.

All of our Library locations have a special section in the Children’s area for seasonal books, music and movies.  Look for the orange Halloween labels, or ask our helpful staff, and discover story books for all ages, movies and music.  We can also help you find scary, or not too scary, stories for adults.

Joanna Aegard

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sunday October 15, 2017 An Apple a Day

Everyone has heard the phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but have you ever thought about what it actually means? We really are what we eat as the components in foods are broken down to become the building blocks that form our bodies and provide energy to keep us going so if we aren’t eating the right foods in the property quantities our bodies start breaking down. Until recently, when someone said the word diet, most people would think of weight loss efforts but a new field of science is re-discovering and refining age-old wisdom about the connection between food and health.  The library is a great source of some of the latest books, e-books and audiobook materials available, whether it’s Dr. Oz or Ancient Chinese medicine that interests you, we are a great place to begin your research to better health.

Obviously, when talking about food the first thing that comes to mind is the digestive system but the rise in the incidents of allergies, sensitivities and intolerances suggests that something about the way we are currently eating is going wrong. While you should always see a doctor if you have any health concerns or are considering making any major changes to the way you eat, being an informed patient can help in decision making. The books listed are just a sample of some of the newest thinking, there are many more which examine a wide variety of other healthy eating options.

 The Clever Gut Diet: How to Revolutionize your Body from the Inside Out by Dr. Michael Mosley is based on the idea that the gut acts like a second brain in the body and looks at how it plays a crucial role in both maintaining your health and your weight. Mosley postulates that the gut which contains millions of neurons that effect your mood, your immune system and your body function has been damaged due to Western societies poor eating habits and the overuse of antibiotics that have killed off the good bacteria which has caused the epidemic of food intolerances. His book focuses on simple ways to ease the damage and distress in your body and restore proper bacterial balance.

Author Dale Pinnock who holds degrees in Human Nutrition and Herbal Medicine and bills himself as the Medicinal Chef is one of the UK’s top proponents of restorative nutrition. Two of his most recent books are Eat Your Way to Happiness: Lift your mood and tackle Anxiety and Depression by Changing the Way you Eat and Eat Your Way to a Healthy Gut: Tackle Digestive Complaints by Changing the Way you Eat, in 50 recipes.  Each book looks at the physiology and anatomy of the digestive system, explaining how the body uses and misuses the food we give it. The first book looks at way our affect and how to eat to improve and regulate thinking and moods. The second volume tackles ways to improve existing digestive problems and prevent other concerns with recipes that promote gut health.

Television favourite and bestselling author, Dr. Mehmet Oz, has recently released Food Can Fix It: The Superfood Switch to Fight Fat, Defy Aging, And Eat Your Way Healthy which features a simple eating plan designed to heal the body, improve your mood and regulate your weight. The research sited in Food Can Fix It is the same source material as the other books but it’s easy to read, friendly and step by step approach makes for an interesting read. The book has received a number of prestigious endorsements and has followed Oz’s other books onto the New York Times bestseller. 

Lori Kauzlarick

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Sunday October 8, 2017 Family History @ Your Library

If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about your family tree, then the Family History Forum is your chance to get some help from the experts. The Thunder Bay Public Library is holding its fourth annual Family History Forum at the Mary J.L. Black Branch Library on Saturday, October 14th from 11-4pm. This year’s theme is Ancestors at War: not just at family reunions.  Local genealogist Dave Nicholson will be the host for the day’s activities. This event is intended to bring together family history enthusiasts at all levels. It is an opportunity to learn about new or different information sources, share stories, and get to know the faces of the genealogical community in Thunder Bay.

The morning session will run from 11am-12pm with an introduction to genealogy basics (such as steps to get started and an overview of standard resources) delivered by the Ontario Genealogical Society – Thunder Bay Branch. This session will be particularly useful to anyone who is brand new to the genealogical process.

The afternoon session will begin at 1pm and include presentations from David Ratz (Lakehead University – Department of History) and Janet Roy (Ontario Genealogical Society). There will be a Q&A session to wrap up the afternoon as well as a variety of door prizes for those in attendance. Light refreshments will also be offered through the afternoon (sponsored by Rose N Crantz Roasting Co).

While commercials for ancestry websites can make it seem as simple as a couple of clicks to find your entire family tree, not all the answers can be found online. Basic family history research techniques include talking to relatives about the stories of their ancestors and working back from the present to the past, one generation a time. The Thunder Bay Public Library works closely with the Thunder Bay branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society as well as with local organizations and community groups with a vested interest in preserving and promoting access to local history and genealogical resources.

The Family History Forum is free of charge and takes place from 11-4pm on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Mary J.L. Black Branch Library. No registration is required. Connect with this event on Facebook to get updates leading up to the day. Contact Jesse Roberts at for more information or with questions.

Jesse Roberts

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Sunday October 1st, 2017 Community Hubs: Creating a New Blue Ocean

Public Libraries face unparalleled challenges in this time of rapid digital change. Their traditional user base is shrinking and their competitors are getting bigger and stronger. Their use is in long term decline and some people are starting to question their relevance and viability. Community Hubs are a new model of service delivery which give public libraries the potential to remove themselves from a bloody ‘red ocean’ of rivals fighting over peoples culture and leisure time. The rivals are big corporations like Amazon and Google who not only compete for people’s time, but also offer some of the services which public libraries have provided. It is possible, for example, to order almost every book in print and get it delivered to your door the following day by Amazon. Public libraries cannot compete with the collection size or delivery times of Amazon.

And Google searches have made traditional public library reference inquiries almost redundant. But public libraries still make sense in the digital age because their collections include many items that are not in print and available from Amazon; and Google does not provide the quality control of information that public libraries can provide. We can fact check fake news and point people in the direction of reliable information sources. Municipal authorities still invest in public libraries because they are a freely available community service with few financial or other barriers to access. At the same time there is growing pressure to get a better return on this investment by providing a wider range of services in partnership with other organizations. Public libraries have endured for over 150 years but they are no longer unique. All of the services that public libraries provide are also being offered by a widening range of bigger and better competitors. The red ocean is getting more and more bloody.

The private sector has vast resources at its disposal to produce ever more innovative products and public libraries cannot match this level of investment and innovation. Public libraries are starting to lose their Unique Selling Point but have an opportunity to regain this competitive advantage by transforming themselves into Community Hubs. This is classic Blue Ocean strategy: how to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005).
Community Hubs provide a central access point for a range of needed health and social services, along with cultural, recreational, and green spaces to nourish community life. Whether virtual or located in a physical building, whether located in a high-density urban neighbourhood or an isolated rural community, each Community Hub is as unique as the community it serves and is defined by local needs, services and resources. Community Hubs is not a new term or concept and has been around for some time in Canada and elsewhere.

What is new is the focus on the potential of public libraries to become Community Hubs. In Canada, for example, the Ontario Provincial Government has highlighted public libraries as an ideal location for developing Community Hubs. The physical infrastructure already exists in most communities and there is a natural alignment between the purpose, values and vision of public libraries and the Community Hub concept.  When people think of Community Hubs, they think of places where people come together to get services, meet one another and plan together. Community hubs are gathering places that help communities live, build and grow together. No Community Hub is like another, as each brings together a variety of different services, programs and/or social and cultural activities to reflect local community needs.

By becoming Community Hubs Thunder Bay Public Library can apply the Blue Ocean strategy of creating uncontested market space that is ripe for growth. We can retain existing patrons and attract new and different service users. When public libraries transform into Community Hubs they can become not only the biggest fish in the pond, but the only fish. This strategic shift – termed value innovation – will create powerful leaps in value both for the public library and its patrons, rendering rivals obsolete and unleashing new demand.

John Pateman

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Sunday September 24th, 2017 Sheila Burnford

Chief Librarian John Pateman signing letter of intent with Burnford daughters, from left: Perenelle, Jonquil and Juliette

Sheila Burnford is the author of the classic book The Incredible Journey. This was her first novel and she wrote it while living in Thunder Bay (Port Arthur). It became an international bestseller and has been translated into countless languages as well as becoming the script for another classic – the Disney film based on the book. While many local people know the Burnford family, for an author of Burnford’s stature there is not that much written about her. That is expected to change for the better as there are some interesting developments in the making to share her story.

The first documentary on Sheila Burnford had its premiere at the Vox Popular Media Arts Festival (formerly Bay Street Film Festival) last week. The three adult Burnford sisters, Jonquil, Perenelle and Juliette were in town for this big event and the largest-ever audience witnessed a fascinating story which included incredible vintage film footage from the world premiere of the film, family movies from Europe and Canada  and unique recreations of the story done with local actors (including animals).  The Burnford family was also here to meet with History Professor Ron Harpelle who has been accumulating, documenting and digitizing the Burnford photos, papers and other memorabilia, and the staff and board of the Thunder Bay Public Library. A letter of intent was signed by all parties to indicate that the Sheila Burnford collection of all these materials will be turned over to the public Library for the development of a Sheila Burnford collection. This treasure will be made accessible to local researchers as well as those anywhere in the world and will put Thunder Bay on the map as the Sheila Burnford city – a destination for all lovers of her works.

Of course, The Incredible Journey is her best-known work, but she also wrote other fascinating and very different short stories, novels and non-fiction such as Mr. Noah and the Second Flood which is a prescient environmental children’s book (in the same sense that The Little Prince is a children’s book but of equal interest to adults). Without Reserve relates the stories of her travels north with her friend and collaborator Susan Ross. Sheila piloted a bush plane and they spent years visiting and living with the northern Cree and Ojibway people. While Sheila wrote, Susan sketched and it makes for a very interesting and unique book. The publisher of the book called it “the true account of two not- exactly ordinary housewives.”

Visit your library to read more by Sheila Burnford or to re-watch the original film, and expect to hear more soon about this exciting venture to honour a local author and her artistic friend with a special collection and archive.

Note: If anyone missed seeing A Long Walk Home, there will be another free showing at the Waverley Library auditorium on October 21st at 2:00 p.m.

Angela Meady

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday September 17th, 2017 Seed Saving

This Wednesday, there’s going to be a Seed Saving Workshop at the Brodie Resource Library in partnership with Roots to Harvest. Everyone is invited to learn from local seed saving experts from Superior Seed Savers how to save seeds from some of your garden plants. They will cover the basics of seed saving, and share tips to make your seed harvest a success. But if you’re too excited to wait until Wednesday to learn how to save seeds from your plants, fear not - the Thunder Bay Public Library has some fantastic books that will get you started!

My favourite book for beginner seed savers is Seedswap: the Gardener’s Guide to Saving and Swapping Seeds by Josie Jeffrey. Jeffrey covers the basics of how seeds reproduce, then shares different techniques for drying out seeds, and raising seedlings. She also talks about the benefits of seed swaps and libraries, and describes how to create one yourself. Finally, she has included a directory that explains how to save seeds from some common plants; most of the plants she covers are herbs and vegetables, but she includes a few flowers as well.

If you just want to save seeds from vegetables, you need to check out Seed Saving: A Beginner’s Guide to Heirloom Harvesting by Caleb Warnock. Warnock owns the heirloom seed company, which specializes in non-hybrid seeds. He jokes at the beginning of the book that if you follow his tips, you will know how to put him out of business. But in his experience, most people think it’s really hard to save seeds (plus we have the convenience of being able to buy seeds from grocery stores every spring). So he wrote his book to preserve this knowledge (and ideally to help bring it back to people). Seedsaving is a fantastic reference book, going into detail on the five seed types, seed genetics, and how to prevent wild seeds. What I really liked was his list of vegetable species that can cross pollinate with each other (so if you’re going to save seeds from these species, make sure you keep the plants away from one another). He ends the book with an in depth look at forty common vegetables and how to save seeds from them. Overall, Seedsaving is a fantastic reference for anyone interested in vegetable seeds.

The most comprehensive reference book on seed saving that we have is The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough. Starting with some information on harvesting/cleaning seeds, seed storage, and germination, the book then has 200 pages dedicated to saving the seeds from vegetables, herbs, flowers, and even trees.

If you’re interested in starting your own seed swap or library, check out Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People by Cindy Conner. Conner believes thatWhoever owns the seeds controls the food supply” (17), so it’s her aim to get seeds back into the hands of the people. She details the history of big seed business, and goes through the many benefits of seed swaps and libraries (which includes preserving the genetic diversity of plants, cultural heritage, and saving money for gardeners). Then she shares her many tips and resources for starting your own seed swap or library. The one thing this book assumes is that you already know how to save seeds; so if you need help with that, you’ll need to check out one of the other books first.

All of these and more can be found at your local library. And don’t forget to go to Brodie on Wednesday, September 20th for the Seed Saving Workshop - it starts at 6:30pm in the Fireside Reading Room.

Shauna Kosoris 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sunday September 10th, 2017 Linked to Learning

It is back to school time and we all know what that means – homework, research, and learning! Maybe that is music to your ears and maybe it isn’t but it certainly can’t be ignored. The challenge of determining real information from false has never been more difficult or more important. Students are faced with the daunting task of sifting through millions of websites, databases, books, articles, and other sources in search of facts. Parents and teachers are faced with the task of guiding young people (and sometimes themselves) through it all while providing them with the tools necessary to succeed. One of the tools available is your public library. In addition to credible information through books and databases, we also offer a variety of free sessions that can be delivered by library staff directly in your classroom. Designed to help students make the most of all that is available to them; these sessions can be customized to grade level and subject based upon your needs and the availability of library staff.

Below are some of the standard sessions that staff from the Thunder Bay Public Library can work with you to deliver:

Intro to the Library - Introduce your students to the wide range of services for children or teens, including homework help, online resources and more.

Great Reads - Encourage recreational reading with your students - we’ll use a combination of print and online materials to cover a topic of your choice. Popular topics include graphic novels, young adult authors, and Canadian classics. A perfect workshop for classes with independent studies or an upcoming holiday break.

Research Wizards - Enhance the research skills of your students with a live interactive session using online and print academic resources. Useful for preparing students to write essays, do projects & independent studies and cite works properly.

C.R.A.A.P. - Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose. Fake news...alternative facts. Digital and media literacy are critical for students to learn. This workshop is ideal for grades 5-8 or 9-12 and will provide practical guidance in evaluating information and determining source credibility.

These sessions are also a great opportunity for students to get a library card or learn more about one of the most diverse resources available in their community. To schedule one of the above sessions with a skilled library staff member, email us at More information and tips can be found online through the library’s website at As always, class visits to your nearest library location are also available and can include stories, puppet shows, and more.

Jesse Roberts

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sunday September 3, 2017 Audio on the Go

The summer is just too short and as August winds up it’s time for taking that last car trip before the kids head back to school or perhaps, the long car trip is to pack a child off to university or college with a car,truck or van full of their most valuable possessions.  Personally, I like driving in the autumn; the roads are clear and the turning of the leaves make the miles take on a surreal beauty .  Another of the joys of long periods in the car is popping in an audiobook and being entertained as the odometer clicks forward.

The library has a large number of audiobooks, in both physical and downloadable formats. Whether it’s cdbooks, mp3s, downloading to a flashdrive or plugging in your favourite device, finding the right audiobook for any trip is easy.  Whether it’s mystery, intrigue or romance, or even a classic novel that you’ve always meant to read, anytime is a good time to enjoy the audio version.  For anyone looking for inspiration, I’ve included a list of some of the best and newest we have on our shelves, and of course, we have them in print as well.

Blame by Jeff Abbott-This story follows Jane Norton who survived a car crash two years ago. The wreck left her friend David dead and Jane with amnesia.  Everyone is sympathic till they found a note in Jane’s writing; “I wish we were dead together”.

Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott – It’s 1950, and Ingrid Bergman is a major star until she has baby out of wedlock.  Jessica Malloy and worships Bergman is shaken to the core as is her family, including her ambitious mother and her PR father who made Ingrid a star at Selznick Studios.

The Child by Fiona Barton- The author of the bestselling “The Widow” is back with another spinetingling thriller.  When an old house is demolished in London, a tiny skeleton is found and journalist Kate Waters begins an obsessive quest to identify the baby, but some ancient secrets can still be deadly.

Seeing Red by Sandra Brown – Kerra Bailey is a journalist with a mission to score an interview with a very relunctant hero, the legendary Major Trapper. In order to do so she wrangles an introduction to his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper, but her meddling has now put the three of them in danger.

The Late Show by Michael Connelly – In a breakaway from his bestselling Harry Bosch novels, Connelly brings us Renee Ballard, a young detective trying to prove herself in the LAPD.  One night she catches two cases, a murder and a beating both of which she feels will go on the backburner unless she solves them.

Little French Bistro by Nina George – Our story finds Marianne stuck in a loveless marriage until one night in Paris she decides to run away and reinvent herself on the coast of Brittany. Here she meets a mengerie of locals and learns that she must love herself before she can love another.

Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank- Returning ot her beloved Lowcountry of South Carolina setting, Benton Frank tells the tell of two couple who begin a friendship that will last over twenty-five years and transform their lives.

Of course, if you’re not heading out anywhere, audiobooks are fabulous at the gym, while out for a run, cleaning up the garden or doing the dishes. Just slip in your headphones and enjoy.

Lori Kauzlarick

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sunday August 27, 2017 Stress-free Lunch Making

At this time of year the thought of packing lunches can cause a lot of stress. Your library can help!  Visit us for these excellent books packed carefully with ideas, recipes, and inspiration for tasty lunches the little people in your life will actually eat!

This book is perfect for busy parents with picky eaters. The author outlines how to plan dinners with lunch-worthy leftovers, and includes recipes for deceptively healthy baking.

Yum-yum bento all year round : box lunches for every season by Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa. The term “bento” might be familiar if you like oriental food. Basically it is a single-serving meal that is served in tidy, compartmentalized containers -- perfect for those who don’t like their food to touch! This book is heavy on the cute, and you might find yourself enjoying the pictures more than the ideas.

Weelicious lunches : think outside the lunch box with more than160 happier meals  by Catherine McCord. This book started as a blog (, and includes menu planning ideas, tips, tricks, and reusable product suggestions to make lunch fun and advice on dealing with food allergies.

Best lunch box ever : ideas and recipes for school lunches kidswill love by Katie Sullivan Morford. The author of this book is a registered dietitian and mother of three.  She offers quick and simple solutions for wholesome, balanced meal. The 65 recipes are easy, delicious, and packed with nutrients for well-rounded lunches and snacks, including Deconstructed Caprese Skewers, Easy Cheesy Thermos Beans, Pesto Pita Pizza, Cinnamon Wonton Crisps, Parmesan Kale Chips, Crispy Applewiches, and more.

Kids' lunches : eat in, take out by Jean Paré. Jean Paré is the well-known author of the well-loved Company’s Coming cookbooks. This book is written for kids, and includes lots of handy tips and hints. Get your kids involved in making their own lunches to teach them life-skills, and to save you time.

The brown bag lunch cookbook by Miriam Jacobs. This book is great for anyone who takes their lunch. If you need to break out of your ham sandwich rut, check out this book and make your brown bag the envy of your colleagues! Great for adults and kids.

The vegetarian lunchbasket : over 225 easy, lowfat, nutritious,recipes for the quality-conscious family on the go by Linda Haynes. Even if you’re not strictly vegetarian you might want to check out this book, and change up your lunch menu. Adventurous eaters can try new ways of packing lunches, using leftovers, and combining foods, while learning to use alternatives to meats, eggs, mayonnaise, margarine, and oils - lowering fats and cholesterol yet maintaining taste and variety.

The natural lunchbox : vegetarian meals for school, work &home by Judy A. Brown. Another vegetarian take on lunch, this cookbook includes recipes for kashi salad, lime yogurt guacamole, baked pita chips, vegetable kabobs, marinated baked tofu nuggets, and minestrone soup.

Check out these cookbooks and get ready for stress-free lunch making!

Joanna Aegard 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Sunday August 20, 2017 Good to Great

Thunder Bay Public Library is undergoing a transformation into a Community Hub and you may have noticed some of these changes, including self check outs at all branches, hub:north at Waverley, and Northern Nature Trading at Mary J. L. Black Library. This transformation has required changes to the strategy, structures, systems and organizational culture at TBPL. The model we have followed in making these changes is based on a series of books by Jim Collins.

Built to Last:  Successful Habits of Visionary Companies(1994) identified the successful habits of visionary organizations.  Drawing upon a six year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Collins took eighteen truly exceptional and long lasting organizations and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. He examined the organizations from their very beginnings to the present day and asked ‘What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?’

The lesson we learned from Built to Last is that TBPL needs a clear ideology, which we call the Community Led Library. We need to make sure that everything we do at TBPL is consistent with this approach. We also need some of what Collins callsBig Hairy Audacious Goals’ which are a commitment to challenging and often risky goals and projects which will stimulate progress at the library. If you use Waverley library you will have noticed that we have been experimenting with the space on the lower level to boost performance.
Good to Great: why some companies make the leap and others don’t (2001) was based on the premise that ‘Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great governments, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good – and that is their main problem.’

If we extend this argument to libraries we can say that we don’t have great libraries, principally because we have good libraries. TBPL is a very good library with over 3.3 million interactions with the community every year. But we also have to ‘Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)’, as Collins puts it. The brutal facts are that only 29% of residents are library members, yet we never lose faith that we can increase this to 40%, 50%, 60% and beyond.  
Great By Choice: uncertainty, chaos and luck – why some thrive despite them all (2011) recognized that ‘Uncertainty is permanent, chaotic times are normal, change is accelerating, and instability will likely characterise the rest of our lives’. Organisations which continue to be great (10x better than their competitors), even during turbulent times, display three core behaviours: fanatic discipline; empirical creativity; productive paranoia. Some of Collins’s findings were counter intuitive. For example, the best leaders are not more risk taking, more visionary or more creative than their competitors; they are more disciplined, more empirical and more paranoid. Innovation by itself is not the trump card in a chaotic and uncertain world; more important is the ability to scale innovation, to blend creativity with discipline. Following the belief that leading in a ‘fast world’ always requires ‘fast decisions’ and ‘fast action’ is a good way to get killed. The great organisations change less in reaction to a radically changing world than their competitors.
TBPL is certainly facing many political, economic, social and technological challenges as it continues on its journey towards becoming a Community Hub. But our path from good to great is being guided by solid research and best practice, including the inspiring work being carried out by Edmonton Public Library.       
John Pateman

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Sunday August 6, 2017 Boating

We’re about halfway through the summer right now. But don’t be sad - we’ve still got a lot of nice weather left. And if the weather continues to be as hot as it has been these last few weeks, this is the perfect time to be out on a boat. If you need some help brushing up on your boating skills, or learning how to maintain a pleasure craft, be sure to stop at the Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL). We have many resources to help you out!

If you’ve never captained a boat before, we’ve got lots of books to help you out. Both Boating and Sailing by Frank Sargeant and Cruising Under Sail and Power by Tony Meisel are great general overviews of how to boat with either your typical fiberglass boat or a sailboat. Another excellent option is Powerboat Handling Illustrated: How to Make Your Boat Do Exactly What You Want To Do by Robert Sweet. Sweet’s book has tons of illustrations and photos, making it really easy to understand - you’ll be handling your boat like a pro in no time with Sweet’s help!

To operate a pleasure craft in Canada, you need a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. To help you study for the test, which you can take online through an accredited course provider such as BOATsmart, we’ve got the BOATsmart! Pleasure Craft Operator Card Study Guide. If you were planning on using another program, or otherwise need to brush up on boating safety, we have many other books to help you out, such as The Safe Boater Manual: the Canadian Coast Guard Accredited Manual for Pleasure Craft Operators by Andrew Stevenson, or Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide.

If you need some help with boat maintenance, you should try the Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat’s Essential Systems by Nigel Calder. Calder’s book is a maintenance bible, going into a lot of depth on a wide variety of boat systems. While we also have a couple of older editions of the book, be sure to check out the 2015 edition, which has been heavily updated from older versions. Another option is Boat Mechanical Systems Handbook: How to Design, Install, and Recognize Proper Systems in Boats by Dave Gerr. Gerr will teach you everything you need to know about designing, installing mechanical systems, or retrofitting an existing boat. His book is geared more towards owners of larger craft, but you’ll still find this book valuable if you’re using a smaller craft.

If you need to repair your boat’s engine, you should also check out the Small Engine Repair Reference Center, which is a database available on My Giant Search. This database has detailed instructions on how to repair a wide variety of small engines; it includes all terrain vehicles, generators and other outdoor power equipment along with personal watercraft and boat motors. You can access it with your library card and PIN from home, or come into one of our branches for some help.

Once your boat is on the water, if you’d like to go fishing, TBPL can help you out with that as well. We are a TackleShare Loaner Site for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, which means that children and youth ages 16 and under can sign out a rod, reel, and tackle from the Brodie or Waverley Resource Libraries. TackleShare loans go out for a week and are of course free!

So whether you’re learning about boating, needing to fix your boat, or wanting to take your kids out fishing, the Thunder Bay Public Library can help get you out on the lake!

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sunday July 30th, 2017 Art at your Library

When you think about where to find interesting works of art in Thunder Bay, the options might include the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Definitely Superior, and many local galleries and shops. But do you ever think of visiting a branch of the Thunder Bay Public Library for browsable art collections? If not, you should. The Library’s collections are not limited to books that you can borrow, use, or download but also include photos, paintings, and one of a kind pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.

The largest work of art is actually the architectural masterpiece that is the Brodie Resource Library. It is one of only 111 Carnegie libraries built in Ontario. Construction began in 1910 and the doors opened to the public in 1912 under the direction of Miss Mary J. L. Black (rumoured to have been a friend to members of the Group of Seven). Located at 216 Brodie Street South, the Brodie Resource Library maintains many of its original features, most notably the interior columns and the stained glass fanlights with portraits of prominent authors and poets. During the Library’s early years it offered a variety of art prints and paintings available for borrowing so that patrons could enjoy works of art without having to make the financial investment. A full length feature about the Brodie Resource Library was published in June 2017 in the Walleye and is definitely worth a look.

The Story-Teller by John Ferris is in tribute to the late Dr. Richard Lyons, an Ojibway elder whose “life and directly related to the role of our public libraries, places where knowledge, culture and tradition are passed on.” According to Ferris, through the eagle and eagle feathers, the painting is meant to represent “the strength and vitality of creation and tradition expressed in ritual storytelling, which soars above us all in the life and language we share.” This painting was presented to the Thunder Bay Public Library on October 15, 2007. It now hangs above the fireplace on the main floor of the Brodie Resource Library.

Dozens of photos, prints, and other works of art are on display around the building. A self guided art tour brochure can be picked up from staff to provide further information.

Another notable piece can be found at the Mary J. L. Black Branch Library - a mosaic mural by Fort William artist, Ruby Owen. It depicts a man transforming into a Thunderbird and it based upon an earlier painting by Norval Morriseau. Owen created this mural between 1964-1965 and it reportedly contains 27,000 individual tiles. Installed in the lobby on November 18, 1965, the mural hung there for 45 years until 2010 when it was carefully removed for restoration, cleaning, and moving to its new location at 901 Edward Street South. When the new Mary J. L. Black Branch library opened in 2011, the mural once again greeted everyone coming into the building. Works by Norval Morriseau, Roy Thomas, and  other local/regional artists also adorn the walls around the branch.

For further resources and ways to access art at your library, check out the local history section of our website or attend an upcoming program for children, youth, or adults (such as Afternoon Artist in September). There is a full slate of programming scheduled for the 2017 Fall season that is guaranteed to have something for everyone. And as always, if you have an idea or have skills to share we want to hear from you!

Jesse Roberts

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Sunday July 23, 2017 What to read in-between episodes of Game of Thrones

After nearly a year, the new season of Game of Thrones has finally started and for many the intrigue and machinations that occur on screen are only matched by the arguments and theorizing of the fans who follow each scene or word of dialogue looking for clues on what is going to happen next.  Will Jon or Dany ascend the Iron Throne?  Will the remaining Starks ever be re-united? Will the Night King and his army of the dead destroy all of Westeros?

The days between episodes are a great time to discover more about the world of the “Song of Ice and Fire”.  For those who haven’t read the series by George R.R. Martin, reading the novels behind the television series fleshes out the characters and their actions, and lets the reader delve into the history behind the events that are unfolding this season. These novels are a work of true high fantasy, and Martin is a master at world building, so that the characters and the settings are rich and complex. The novels are long so starting now should ensure you are caught up by the beginning of the final season rumoured to start in 2019.

Martin has written a companion book, “The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game of Thrones”, which is heavily illustrated and full of family trees, maps and drawings which are included in this historical compendium written by a “maester” and expands upon several side stories and characters that are featured in the main book.  There is also an exploration of the physical geography of the world beyond Westeros and Essos into realms that are both fascinating and terrifying.

The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is also by Martin and concerns the adventures of Dunk and Egg, also known as Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, Prince Aegon, who is hiding his ancestry. The book is a set of three novellas and is lighter in tone and scope.  The events in this book take place about a hundred years prior the beginning of the deeds of the first tv season. This makes a great starting point for someone who is not quite ready to take on an epic read.

Considering the horrific nature of much of the action in the series, it is a surprise to know that Martin, who is a history fan, based a lot of Game of Thrones on the period known as the War of the Roses, which saw the struggle for the throne of England waged between two rival houses, the Yorks and the Lancasters. If you are interested in this period, there are a number fictional and factual historic accounts of what happened during the decades long conflict. A few of the most recent include historical novelist Phillipa Gregory focus on the women behind the kings and the kingmakers during the period in her series of Plantagenet and Tudor novels. The first book in the series is “The Lady of the Rivers”. Author Conn Iggulden has recreated court life with its dark secrets and darker deeds beginning in 1437 with the accession of frail and sickly king, Henry IV. “Stormbird” is the first in the Iggulden’s War of the Roses series.

For a solid factual account of the period Tom Penn, has written the “Winter King: Henry VII and the dawn of Tudor England” and Phillipa Gregory displays all research she has done in the book “The Women of the Cousin’s War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother.”

Lori Kauzlarick

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sunday July 16, 2017 Book Bundles

Our resourceful staff have been putting together something fun for you:  Book Bundles!  Book Bundles are groups of three or four books (or maybe even DVDs or CDs) on a similar theme.  Book Bundles can save you time, and help you discover a new author or artist.  Some of my favorites are described below.

Books, books, books

This bundle includes Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore by Robin Sloan, The little Paris bookshop by Nina George, and The bookseller by Mark Pryor. Interestingly all three books involve mysteries.

In Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore, the bookstore itself is integral in the mystery. Selected bookstore patrons are invited to join in an elaborate quest to solve a puzzle. A new bookstore clerk finds himself pulled into the drama.

The little Paris bookshop tells the story of Monsieur Perdu, a bookseller with a gift of providing the just the right books to meet the needs of his customers. Monsieur Perdu’s shop is on a barge floating on the River Sein. He calls himself a “literary apothecary” as he prescribes books like medicine. Sadly, however, he is unable to heal his own broken heart with books. One day, accompanied by lovelorn chef, and best-selling author with writer’s block, he pulls up anchor and embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

The bookseller begins with the abduction on an elderly bookstall owner, Max.  One of the “bouquinistes” who sets up shop next to the River Sein, Max is lucky to have as a friend the head of security at the US Embassy. His friend launches an investigation and discovers Max is a Holocaust survivor, and Nazi hunter. Could his history be related to his disappearance?

Seniors behaving badly

This is a fun bundle, and reminds readers of all ages to have fun and follow their hearts. It includes The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson , The little old lady strikes again by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg and Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper.

The 100 year old man climbs out the window of his retirement home because he doesn’t really want to go to his 100th birthday party. He goes on a bit of a Forrest Gump type journey, where dumb luck serves him well. His disappearance is reported to the local police, who demonstrate ageism and ignorance as they fumble along three steps behind him.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James tells the story of a woman fulfilling her lifelong dream of seeing the ocean. This quirky book focuses on Etta, a retired Saskatchewan school teacher.  She leaves a note for her husband Otto asking him not to follow her, and sets off on foot one morning.  As with many literary journeys, hers is both physical and spiritual.  Etta reflects on her life as she walks, revealing how she happened into a job at a dusty one room school house, fell in love with a boy who was sent off to war, and ended up marrying another.

The little old lady in Ingelman-Sundberg’s book leads a jolly group of friends on a trip to Vegas. They use their age to their advantage as they plot a money-making scheme. Like Robin Hood, they live by the motto “take from the rich and give to the poor”, and in this story outsmart a group of young criminals in the process.

The 27 club

This CD bundle highlights some artists who died young -- at age 27.  It includes Kurt Cobain’s Montage of heck, the soundtrack from the documentary about his life. Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black was her second and last album. Janis Joplin’s Greatest hits rounds out this bundle. This CD features live versions of Down On Me and Ball and Chain.

You will find Book Bundles at all four Library Branches. Children’s book bundles are also available, and are especially handy for busy families.

Joanna Aegard

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sunday July 9th, 2017 Decolonisation

Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) was an active participant in the Confederation of Canadian Library Associations (CFLA) Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC). John Pateman, the TBPL Chief Librarian, was one of the Team Leaders on this Committee, which was made up of representatives from all types of libraries and library organisations across Canada.

The TRC produced a report, which was adopted by CFLA and TBPL, which put forward ten recommendations in response to the 94 Calls for Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. TBPL is now going to put these ideas into action via a number of short term initiatives and, in the medium and long term, through its next Strategic Plan 2018-23; in doing so we will be working with a wide range of stakeholders, and particularly the Indigenous community in Thunder Bay. So, what does this all mean in practice?

TBPL will ensure that collections and programming will be fully accessible to all Canadians.   We will ‘decolonize Access and Classification by addressing the structural biases in existing schemes of knowledge organization and information retrieval arising from colonialism by committing to integrate Indigenous epistemologies into cataloguing practice and knowledge management’.  In other words we will review our use of subject heading and the Dewey Decimal Scheme and move towards a more user-friendly, inclusive and intuitive approach to how we arrange and present our collections.
TBPL will also  ‘decolonise Libraries and Space by recognizing and supporting Indigenous cultures, languages and knowledges through culturally appropriate space planning, interior design, signage, art installations, territorial acknowledgements of geographic-specific traditional territories and public programming in collaboration with local Indigenous stakeholders’.  We will work with our Aboriginal Liaison staff member and the Aboriginal Advisory Group to make these changes. Our ambition is to create Indigenous Knowledge Centres in our branch libraries.

In addition, TBPL will be responding to the recommendations from the Seven Youth Inquest into the deaths of seven Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay. Thirty-one of these recommendations were directed at the City of Thunder Bay and its partners. We particularly want to work with the City at putting in place programs that improve the physical, social and cultural infrastructure. We want everyone who uses TBPL to feel included, engaged, safe and have opportunities to succeed. We will work with  Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School and Matawa Learning Centre and other community organisations to achieve these objectives.

TBPL is a free information, cultural and recreation resource which is open to everyone who lives, works and studies in Thunder Bay. We have over three million interactions with the community every year. We are in the process of transforming our libraries into Community Hubs which can deliver a range of local and provincial services in partnership with a number of organisations. In the fall of 2017 we will be starting a program of Community Conversations to get as many people engaged in this process as possible. Libraries will be hosting Open Houses where you can Meet the Team and join a local Community Action Panel. TBPL is your library service and we need to hear your voice.

John Pateman

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Sunday July 2, 2017 Vinyl Records

The vinyl record made a comeback about ten years ago and continues to grow in popularity. New artists often prefer to release their newest work in this format and there is a thriving scene in reissuing classic titles. Now, your public lirary is launching the reintroduction of vinyl into our library collections with a celebration of the music of 1967, the year of the breakthrough Beatles album Sgt. Pepper and the year that rock albums truly came of age. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of this watershed year we have gathered fifty albums of 1967 and installed a listening station with two turntables at the Waverley Library. This allows one to deep dive into the music of that intensivly creative era and to enjoy the unique pleasures of the vinyl experience.

The music of 1967 displayed a tremendous variety as bands eager to test new ideas, dramatically altered the form of popular music and drew on wide influences of blues, folk, eastern music, jazz, classical and the avante-garde to expand the musical vocabulary. The experimentation showed towards music was paralleled in the stories of social and cultural movements around the world and also in the blossoming of creativity in album cover art. These facts adds even more resonance to the experience of listening to this music whether it is to relive an idealistic time which you have gone through before, or whether you are discovering this music for the first time.

Seemingly all at once, many important figures in the field were creating landmark albums every month, and defining how music would develop over the coming years. There was an overwhelming number of major artists who were releasing their classic works, or debuting their music for the first time in 1967. Heavyweights such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Cream, the Kinks, Aretha Franklin and the Who were in their prime but also appearing for the first time were such artists as Leonard Cohen, the Doors, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Procol Harem, the Velvet Underground, Traffic, Van Morrison, the Moody Blues and many others. Just seeing that short list of names should tell you why it was such a defining year for music.

We want everyone to enjoy to enjoy this opportunity to have a hands-on relationshp with this music. Starting this upcoming week, you can find some of the records to try out at the listening station (bring your own earphones or buy one at the desk) and staff will be happy to help those who are unfamiliar with  the technology. The collection of fifty abums allows us to provide a wide range of music from the big names and classic titles to lesser-known albums, and some interesting oddities.

Some albums are in new remastered heavy vinyl and some are actually fifty year old originals. The whole installation involves quite a bit of experimentation as we endeavour to find out what works best for library users. We hope that you will try out the listening stations and share what you think about this new aural experience @ Your Library.

Angela Meady

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sunday June 25, 2017 Summer Fun at Your Library!

Summer conjures up images of lazy days reading on the beach, in a hammock, or on the back deck. You might also be up for an adventure!  If you need some inspiration for what to read, or for a new adventure, come to your Library.  

The Adult Summer Reading Game is a unique way you can celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.  All you have to do is pick up a bingo card at any Library location, and choose your challenges.  To complete one row on the bingo card, for example, you’ll be required to borrow and read a work by a Canadian Indigenous author, borrow an audiobook, read or listen to a Stuart McLean title, and bring a friend to the Library.  After completing a row, drop off your card at any Library location to be entered in a draw.  You could win a prize from one of our generous sponsors:  Towneplace Suites Marriott, The Community Auditorium or Magnus Theatre.  There are four different bingo cards, and you can play as often as you like!  The game is on all summer -- be sure to have your cards in by August 30th.

For the children, the ever-popular TD Summer Reading Club is back again.  Sign up for weekly reading incentives, and a wrap-up celebration.  At the beginning of the summer children get a booklet to track their progress, then visit the library once a week to tell us about what they’ve been reading, and collect a sticker and prize. The TD Summer Reading Club runs at 2,000 public libraries across Canada, and is a unique way to keep kids reading throughout the summer.  The program is led by Toronto Public Library in partnership with Libraries and Archives Canada, with sponsorship by TD Bank.  Visit the website at for all sorts of fun activities and useful resources, including jokes, reading suggestions for all levels, reviews, colouring sheets and more. You can submit your own review or joke as well.

The Big Boreal Adventure is a fun way to explore our area, for both children and adults.  It’s a free, nature-based scavenger hunt, designed to get people outside, exploring the City.  Pick up a guidebook from one of our Library locations to get started.  The Adventure involves finding posts with  Guidebooks include a map indicating where all the posts are.  You may have seen these posts in City parks.  The guidebook includes interesting information about each location you’ll visit, and a space to do a rubbing from the stainless steel plate on each post.  Go to for more information.

We also have nature kits available to be signed out, to enhance your adventures!  Each kit includes a story book with a nature theme, a non-fiction nature book such as a bird identification guide, a magnifying glass, binoculars, a compass, a booklist of recommended titles, and a nature activity sheets for you to do.  Kits can be signed out for three weeks using your Library card. Ask at the staff desk for whichever Nature Kit is available for borrowing that day or place a hold from the catalogue -- look up “Big Boreal Adventure Kit”.

If you’re into history, The Big Boreal Adventure Goes Historical is for you!  Similar to the main adventure, there’s a guide book you can pick up at any Library location.  It includes maps for tours of five different areas of the City, with fascinating information about historical buildings and events.  Discover the story of the bell at Hillcrest Park, Connaught Square, and the Pagoda and many more!

Summer hours start today at your Library, and will be in effect until Labour Day.  We’ll be closed on Sundays, Mary Black and Waverley will be closed Saturdays, and all locations will close at 8 pm when usually open until 9 pm.  Visit our website for full hours:

See you at your Library soon!

Joanna Aegard

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sunday June 18, 2017 Pride Month

Books let us explore new worlds and experiences, and are one the best ways to develop empathy and understanding. Every reader deserves both mirrors and windows: literature that reflects their life and literature that offers insight into the lives of others. TBPL is committed to making those mirrors and windows available to Thunder Bay’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning) community.

Over the last several years, the number of available books featuring LGBTQ experiences has grown, especially in fiction for young adult readers. As the collection specialist for Young Adult materials since 2011, it has been very gratifying and exciting to watch this evolution. It wasn’t that long ago the most well-known LGBTQ books for youth could be counted off on one hand: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman for young children; Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky for YA. Today, a wide breadth of experiences, orientations, and identities can be found in all sorts of different books. Of course, there are still many gaps in representation, but we are moving in the right direction.

If you are interested in finding some mirrors or windows in books featuring LGBTQ experiences, a great place to start is by checking out award winners and nominees like the Rainbow Book List of recommended books with “significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content” for youth from birth to 18: Another resource is the Stonewall Book Awards, presented to adult and young adult books on the basis of “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience”: The Stonewall Awards cover adult and youth picks. Finally, there are the Lambda Literary Awards, which “identify and celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year and affirm that LGBTQ stories are part of the literature of the world”:

For more personalized suggestions, visit the Browse section of our website for reading lists tailored to the materials available at TBPL. For young readers, try Worm Loves Worm by J J Austrian, a sweetly funny picture book about gender identity. Worm loves worm and they want to get married – but their friends have lots of questions. Which worm is the bride? Which is the groom? And does it matter? What makes a family is explored in Stella Brings the Family by Miriam Schiffer, a picture book about a child with two dads navigating the Mother’s Day holiday.

Tim Federle’s Nate Series for ages 9-12 foregrounds a young boy who is passionate about Broadway, musicals, and making his acting dreams come true. He is also gay. This middle grade chapter book is one of the very few titles for this age featuring a gay, lesbian, or bisexual protagonist. George by Alex Gino is one of several middle grade novels foregrounding transgender characters, and is the winner of a Stonewall Award. Graphic novel fans will enjoy Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill, an adorable romp that subverts the typical princess conventions and ends with the girls finding their happily ever after together.  

Readers can find more representation in Rick Riordan’s two new series for youth. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard has a gender-fluid transgender character appear in book two, and has won a Stonewall Book Award. His other series, The Trials of Apollo, features the god Apollo as a present-day bisexual teenager. There are too many great Young Adult books to suggest here, so please visit our website’s Browse section to peruse the complete book lists!

Finally, our collection of non-fiction is also growing. We have resources like Transgender Children and Youth: Cultivating Pride and Joy With Families in Transition by Elijah Nealy and Queers Were Here: Heroes and Icons of Gay Canada, edited by Robin Ganev and RJ Gilmour. This June, why not celebrate Pride Month by picking up one of the many recommended reads and expanding your perspective by reading through some windows.

Laura Prinselaar

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sunday June 11th, 2017 Wonder Women

The release of Wonder Woman, the latest film adaptation based on the DC comic books, was a major step forward for female character driven films. Not only was it a critical darling, it was a box office success for a female centered film. Surprisingly, the character of Wonder Woman, introduced in 1941, has never achieved the level of fame as other DC characters, such as Superman or Batman. This new entry presents Wonder Woman, not as a romantic or comic foil, but as a bold and determined fighter trying to bring about an end to World War I. Strong female characters like Wonder Woman serve also to remind us of other beloved female literary and cinematic icons.

One of the most memorable female heroines in recent years is Lisbeth Salander, the mysterious computer hacker who fights to protect woman from violence in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005). What makes Salander such a brilliant creation is the writer’s refusal to create her into a clichéd avenging angel. Instead, the reader is treated to a nuanced depiction of a fully realized character that uses her intelligence and skill to seek and defend the truth. The progression of Salander’s story continues onto the The Girl Who Played With Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (2007). The series continued most recently with the addition of The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015).  

Clarice Starling, the main character in The Silence of the Lambs is a similar example of a woman who completely commits herself to a professional calling in order to rescue a missing woman. Published in 1988 and accompanied by a film version in 1991, FBI agent Starling’s pursuit for justice was complicated by her gender in a male-dominated environment. One of the underlying themes in both the novel and film is the latent sexism and harassment that Starling endures while trying to competently determine the location of a missing woman at the hands of a sadistic serial killer.

The ongoing Alien franchise is another example of female led action films that have shown that when it comes to battling blood thirsty extraterrestrials, woman have proven to be the stronger sex. Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien introduced audiences to Ellen Ripley, a space officer aboard the Nostromo, who fights to protect her crew from an alien life form that threatens to kill everyone on board. Ripley’s story continues into the sequel Aliens (1986) and Alien 3 (1992), all of which have left an indelible impact in the plethora of science fiction films. Most recently, the display of awesome feminine strength continues with Elizabeth Shaw, a scientist hoping to discover the origins of human life in Prometheus (2012), a prequel to Alien.

Strong female characters, however, do not have to be good or virtuous in order to demonstrate their strengths. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (2012) is a powerful example of how a female character challenges sexist thought and observation about women by employing a sinister deception to demonstrate her point. On the surface level, Gone Girl may seem like well-crafted pulp fiction about murder and deception, but a closer observation reveals a complex feminist commentary on gender roles. The discussion of gender roles can also be found in television, most notably in House of Cards. The anti-hero Claire Underwood in the hit show depicts a woman in power who resorts to questionable actions in order to prove her worth among her colleagues in order to obtain one of the highest positions in the world: the American presidency.`

Petar Vidjen

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Sunday June 4th, 2017 Video Game Novels

Years ago, I remember laughing at the thought of a novelization of my then-favourite video game, Starcraft. The book was Jeff Grubb’s Liberty’s Crusade, which novelized the first third of Starcraft.  I’ve played the game many times, and know the story like the back of my hand.  Why would I want to read about it, too?  Flash forward a few years and I ended up reading Liberty’s Crusade as part of a collection of the first three Starcraft novels.  Thanks to Grubb’s excellent writing, Liberty’s Crusade was actually a fantastic read!  I no longer snub my nose at video game novels (although I know they can be hit or miss, much like any other genre of book - it depends on whether or not you like the author’s writing style).  This is just as well, since nowadays video games are often part of vast transmedia empires, with many books and movies to enjoy along with the games.  And while we may not have Liberty’s Crusade, many others are available here at the Thunder Bay Public Library.

One book that I particularly enjoyed was Fable: the Balverine Order by Peter David.  The premise of the book is that two guys go on a quest to find the rare balverine.  I thought this was hilarious because within the Fable games, balverines are not remotely rare. But David is an excellent writer; he turns this premise into a fantastic read about proving to the world (and yourself) that the impossible truly is possible.

If you’re a fan of the Halo franchise, we have many books and graphic novels available both in our libraries and online on Hoopla. I thought Eric S. Nylund’s Halo: the Fall of Reach was interesting; it tells the story of how the Master Chief became a Spartan.  It has a bit of overlap with the game Halo: Reach, but the story differs; the book details more of the space battles rather than the ground ones that contributed to the planet’s fall.  I love how the books in the Halo franchise take place during different time periods. Books like Greg Bear’s Halo: Cryptum take place in the distant past before humanity existed; others, like Karen Traviss’s Kilo-Five books (Glasslands and The Thursday War) take place after the original Halo trilogy.

While I’m talking about Halo, I should also mention that Red vs. Blue is available to stream on Hoopla.  Red vs. Blue is a comedy series created using the Halo video games and has very little to do with the Halo story.  I find it quite hilarious and very much recommend it.

While many television series based off of video games have been popular, the movies have a long history of being rather bad.  But last year, Warcraft, the highest grossing video game adaptation to date, was released.  The movie is based off of the first game (made in 1994); you may be familiar with the franchise thanks to the very popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft.  The movie follows both the horde of invading orcs and the humans who are fighting against them.

I’ve mentioned a lot of books and movies for adults; we of course have things for kids, too.  We’ve got plenty of Pokemon books, graphic novels and movies, including the latest games adapted as graphic novels (Pokemon XY, and Pokemon Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire - there are no adaptations of Pokemon Sun and Moon yet).  We’ve also got lots of Minecraft and Angry Birds books, which are also quite popular.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the books or movies I have mentioned here (and many more!) be sure to head to your local library!

Shauna Kosoris