Sunday, 31 December 2017

Sunday December 31st, 2017 New Years Resolutions

Your Library can help you with your New Year’s resolutions by supporting you with free, reliable information and services.  Speaking of free, if you resolved to save money, then plan regular visits to your Library.  All four locations have free wifi, computers you can use to access the internet, newspapers and magazines to read, and books, movies, and music to borrow.  We also have space you can use to play with your kids, study quietly, or meet with friends.  Through our website you can access streaming music and movies, eBooks, online language learning, and databases filled with useful information from trusted sources to help with your homework, hobbies and projects.

Library programs are free, and offered for all ages.  Programs range from storytimes, puppet shows, and children’s crafts, to book clubs, crafts, genealogy, informative and entertaining talks, financial advice, writers groups and movie screenings. Our online calendar is where you can find out what programs are happening.  Visit our website,, and follow the link under “Get Involved” to the calendar. If there’s a program you would like to attend, but which we don’t offer, let us know!

If you resolved to become more active in your community, considering joining our Community Action Panel, Indigenous Advisory Group, or Youth Advisory Council. The Friends of the Library is an active group of volunteers which would also be happy to have you join.  Their work includes running two “Book Nook” stores which sell used books, both Library discards and donated material.  They also help deliver books as part of our Home Service program.

Are you planning to learn another language this year? “Transparent Language” is an interactive, fun, online language course you can access with your Library card.  Go to to find out more. Over 95 languages are offered, including Cree and Ojibwe, and English as a second language.  We also have language-learning book and CD sets, and a variety of dictionaries and phrase books you can borrow.

Looking to improve your health in 2018? Visit your Library for cookbooks, exercise videos, and workout advice.  Cook Healthy and Quick is one of the many cookbooks you can borrow.   It includes step-by-step recipes, detailed nutritional information, and easy variations.  Which comes first, cardio or weights? by Alex Hutchinson helps navigate the often contradictory advice about exercising. He uses a science-based approach, and offers the latest in research from around the world. Helpful diagrams and practical tips are included. We have a variety of workout DVDs ranging from yoga and chair aerobics to Dancing with the Stars!  Have some fun and dance your way to a toned body with pro dancers from the popular TV show.

If de-cluttering is on your list of things to accomplish in the coming year, we have lots of books to help you with that.  Marie Kondo’s popular book The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing teaches readers how surrounding yourself with objects that “spark joy” can change your life.  If you can’t bear to part with your stuff, Stanley built-ins and storage by David Schiff is for you. Schiff provides instructions for 17 projects for all areas of the home, from the mudroom to the attic.

Improved money management is a perennial New Year’s resolution. Plan to attend one of the free programs with Kara Polson at your Library in January.  On Tuesday January 16, 6:30 - 8:30 pm, meet with Kara in the Brodie Fireside Reading Room to chat about where to begin to work on your financial goals.  Kara will be at the Waverley Library on Wednesday January 24th, 6:30 - 8:30 pm in the hubHorth area on the ground floor.  She’ll be back in February at both locations (Mon. Feb. 12 at Brodie, Wed. Feb. 28 at Waverley) to focus on RRSPs.  We have a wide range of books about financial planning as well.

In my admittedly biased opinion, the very best thing about any Library is the staff. In 2018 resolve to get to know the folks working at your Library. They are passionate about helping you connect with the information you need, igniting the love of reading in children, and sharing all the Library has to offer.

Joanna Aegard 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Sunday December 24, 2017 The Heart of the Community

In his remarkable autobiographical account of growing up in Westfort, The Closer We are to Dying, Joe Fiorito tells a story about his grandmother and the nearby Fort William First Nation:

‘My grandmother was terrified of them. She awoke one morning to find that someone had come in the night, silent as a shadow. A flitch of bacon was missing from the hook where it hung in the cold cellar. She had a vision of a throat cut in the night, and thanked God whoever it was had been hungry and not thirsty for her blood and the blood of her children.
A few nights later, the thief came again, but this time he did not come to steal. He left a hindquarter of deer, fresh and bloody, hanging from the hook where the bacon had hung. It was a message of some kind.
They are like us, she thought. We do not share colour or culture; we are of the same class.’

We are of the same class. This is a profound statement which suggests that class is not only more significant than race, but that it can bring different races together via a shared set of values.
Thomas Dunk reaches a similar conclusion in It’s a Working Man’s Town: male working class culture when he says that multiculturalism in Canada ‘does not recognize the structural basis of social inequality rooted in class relations.’ In his exploration of the nature of contemporary working class culture, Dunk examines the ordinary weekend pursuits of a group of young working class men (The Boys) in Thunder Bay. He shows that the function and meaning of gender, ethnicity, popular leisure activities, and common sense knowledge are intimately linked with the way an individual’s experience is structured by class.

Dunk discovers that The Boys do not have a developed theory of white superiority. Their prejudices are not the product of formalized justifications for white dominance over Indigenous people. They do not perceive themselves as dominant over anyone, but rather as the victims of a system which has mis-identified the true sources of social inequality. Their racism is rooted in the immediate experience of their everyday lives and in the prejudices and practices which are widely present in the culture of the Anglo Saxon world. They hold their views about Indigenous people because of a conflict over access to the resources of the state, because of a long tradition in which Indigenous people are employed as a symbol of otherness, and because, by holding such views, they demarcate themselves from the dominant social group.

For the Boys, what one thinks about Indigenous people is a sign of what side one is on in the struggle to assert one’s own moral and intellectual worth. In the Boy’s ideas about Indigenous people the dominant social group and ethnicity are important symbols because they relate to forms of knowledge and representation which are cultural expressions of class experience. 

The vision of Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) is to ‘become the heart of the community – a welcoming and inclusive centre of social innovation and change.’ For this to happen TBPL must be relevant to the needs of everyone who lives, works or studies in Thunder Bay. The demographics of the city – both in terms of class and ethnicity – demand that TBPL becomes a community led and needs based Community Hub where relationships can be developed, values can be shared, and common needs can be understood.   

John Pateman

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Sunday December 10th, 2017 Movie Nights @ Your Library

Are you looking for a fun night or afternoon out? Then come to the Thunder Bay Public Library for our movie screenings! We’ve got nine really fun movies lined up for your viewing enjoyment over the next five months at either the Brodie Resource Library or the Waverley Resource Library. We’re even going to have a double feature during the holidays!

First up: on Thursday, December 21st you’re invited to watch The Polar Express. This is the magical train adventure that a young boy takes to the North Pole, based off of Chris Van Allsberg’s children’s book. That’ll be in the Waverley Auditorium at 6pm.

On Wednesday, December 27th, everyone is invited to our double feature of Home Alone and Home Alone 2! Home Alone is the story of an eight year old boy who is accidentally left behind when his family goes on a Christmas vacation. Home Alone 2 takes place a year later when that same boy gets lost in New York City. They’ll both be in the Brodie Story Hour Room. Home Alone is playing at 3pm, Home Alone 2 at 6:30pm. And don’t worry if you can’t make it to both - you are very welcome to sit in for whichever one you can.

On Saturday, January 20th we’ve got Mr. Peabody and Sherman. This animated film features the two classic characters from Rocky and Bullwinkle in an adventure to fix a time rift they accidentally created. Mr. Peabody and Sherman will be playing in the Waverley Auditorium at 2:30pm.

On Friday, January 26th, teens are invited to Brodie for The Princess Bride. A former farm girl is chosen to be the bride of a prince; she is kidnapped to start a war with a neighbouring country. This is the classic movie full of “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” The Princess Bride will be playing in the Brodie Story Hour Room at 2:30pm.

On Saturday, February 10th everyone is invited to come and watch The Boss Baby. In this cute animated film based off the picture book by Marla Frazee, a suit-wearing baby has to team up with his older brother to stop the CEO of Puppy Co. That’ll be playing in the Waverley Auditorium at 12:30pm.

On Friday, March 16th, teens are invited to Brodie for Raiders of the Lost Ark, the very first Indiana Jones movie. The archeologist and adventurer has to find the Ark of the Covenant before his rival, who is working for the Nazis. That’ll be in the Brodie Story Hour Room at 2:00pm.

On Friday, April 27th, teens are invited to come to Brodie for Grease, the classic movie about lovers from different social circles who try to make their romance work. Sandy is a good girl and Danny is a greaser; they fell in love over the summer and thought the romance was over until they find themselves in the same high school. That’ll be playing in the Brodie Story Hour Room at 2:30pm.

On Saturday, April 28th, everyone is welcome to come and watch Coraline. In this 3D stop-motion film based off the children’s novel by Neil Gaiman, Coraline discovers an idealized parallel world with dark secrets and has to escape. That’ll be playing in the Waverley Auditorium at 2:30pm.

So that’s our current lineup of movies between now and the end of April. I hope you’ll come and join us!

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Sunday December 3, 2017 December Fun @ Your Library

December can easily be one of the most expensive months of the year; but it doesn’t have to be when you take advantage of all the free activities, programs, and events happening at your library.

Crafting programs for all ages will be offered through the month. Little ones and their caregivers will have a great time at the Mary J. L. Black branch on December 4 10:30am in an effort to make space in the crafting closet. We’ll pull out all the supplies and see what we can make! Crochet, knitting, cross stitch, and other needlecraft enthusiasts are invited to the Country Park branch on December 6 2:30pm to share knowledge with others and get together with fellow needlers (light refreshments to be served and some supplies available). Tweens (ages 8-12) - did you know that you could make a Christmas tree out of an old book? Learn how to create different Christmas crafts using recycled books by registering for this upcycling program to be held at the County Park branch on December 9 2:30pm. Save money, help recycle, and bring an awesome craft home for the holidays.

Rodney Brown will be at the Mary J. L. Black branch on December 16 2:30pm. Generations of Thunder Bay children have grown up listening to the songs of Rodney Brown. Rodney's Christmas Concert features songs from his CD Merry Christmas to You. Children's holiday favorites and Rodney's own songs about Christmas Stars and the joys of Christmas giving will entertain and enlighten. All ages welcome and no registration is required.

A long standing star of TBPL will be celebrating her last hurrah on December 21 starting at 3:00pm. Carolyn Laatu has spent 33 years sharing stories, crafts, puppet shows, laughs, and more with our community. Drop-in for refreshments and best wishes as she heads into retirement. All ages are welcome, especially if you have a family where multiple generations were introduced to the library by Carolyn!

Movie screenings have arrived at TBPL and we are kicking off our new public performance subscription with some holiday themed films for the whole family. The Polar Express will be on at the Waverley branch on December 21 starting at 6:00pm and the Brodie branch will hold a double feature with Home Alone and Home Alone 2 on December 27 starting at 3:00pm. Show up, bring your family and friends, maybe some snacks, and kick back to enjoy some holiday spirit.

With all of these extras planned, don’t forget about the amazing recurring programs such as Youth Move, Build & Play @ Mary J, Lego Drop-In, Baby Time, Northern Nature Trading, Read Sing Play, Storytelling Circle, and more. With all of this activity you are sure to have plenty of reasons to feel jolly in the coming weeks. For full details and more information, check out the TBPL online calendar of events through our website ( or call your nearest branch with any questions.

Looking ahead, have you considered getting a jump on your 2018 goals? Join one of our book clubs, get together with new friends to push the boundaries of your comfort zone and get inspired by the discussion and casual atmosphere. Book clubs are hosted at each branch by experienced library staff and will get your new year started on the right page. You could also create your own book club and take advantage of the TBPL Book Club in a Bag program to save a few (or several) dollars. Bags include ten copies of the book along with a discussion guide. There are currently over 150 titles available for Book Clubs in a Bag and it only takes a few steps to begin, starting at

Jesse Roberts  – If you have a comment about today's column, we would love to hear from you. Check out the blog at

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Sunday November 26, 2017 Giving Yourself a Gift for Christmas

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us and in-between all the things you need to do and buy, it’s important to carve out some time for yourself.  Whether you choose to spend a quiet evening with a book, go for a walk or some other form of exercise, watch a good movie or just sit by a fire and let your mind drift, taking regular breaks is important to both mind and body.  For some folks their time of calm is when they are engaging in a craft, be it big or small.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the Creative EngAging Arts Fair that was sponsored by the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and was stunned at the variety of skills and talents that reside within the city. I’ve never been a true crafter, though faithfully each couple of years, I buy all the supplies necessary to create something, and in relatively short order it ends up in one of the many UFO (unfinished objects bins) in my cold room.

One of the most surprising thing about the Arts fair were that many of the craft ideas could be completed in a single session and you would still receive an attractive result. The stonework, weaving and printmaking participants, in particular, took home lovely pieces and built skills that they could use on larger projects. I was inspired enough to search the stacks at the library for simple, one session crafts and found crafts for every taste and skill level. Many of the books I found use found objects, that are already in the house and with the importance of reusing and recycling objects for the environment being able to find new uses for things is a must. An added bonus at this time of year, is handmade gifts are the nicest to receive. They are also a great way to spend time as a family or friends, so if you are looking for something to do with your grandchildren, or something different to do with a group of relative strangers, simple crafts make a good choice.

As a cat person, “Cattastic crafts: DIY projects for cats and cat people” by Mariko Isikawa, features a number of simple, and easy crafts for the cat or cat lover in your life and “Crafting for Cat Ladies: 35 Purr-fect Feline Projects by Kat Roberts immediately caught my eye.

Seasonal crafting books like, “Making Winter: A Hygee-Inspired Guide to Surviving theWinter Months” by Emma Mitchell, “100 Little Christmas Gifts to Make” by the authors of Search Press and the “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: ChristmasCrafts, Recipes and Activities” by Shay Brandy, all contain a wide variety of fun, easy and beautiful craft ideas.

Another popular theme is upcycling, which is reusing and recycling found materials rather than buying new and a number of new books on this theme that are available at the library including; “Upcycling: 20 Creative Projects Made from reclaimed materials” by Max McMurdo, “Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds,Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love” by Blair Stocker and “DIYMason Jars: Thirty-five Creative Crafts and Projects for the Classic Container” by Melissa Avenrions.

Dad’sBook of Awesome Projects: From Stilts and Super-Hero Capes to Tinker Boards andSeesaws, 25+ Fun do-it-yourself projects for families” by Mike Adamick and “DIY,Dammit!: A Practical Guide to Curse-Free Crafting” by Joselyn Hughes and “TheStar Trek Craft Book” by Angie Pederson, are great titles about having fun in process and not worrying about the end results. Of course if there isn’t time before the holidays, winters in Northwestern Ontario are long so perhaps the crafting bug will bite you next year.

Lori Kauzlarick

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Sunday November 19, 2017 ‘Tis The Season of Preparation

The appearance of festive decorations in stores, which seems to happen earlier and earlier each year,  reminds us that Christmas is approaching. With a little planning, you can save time and money, and gift yourself a stress-free holiday season.  And your Library can help!
If your budget is tight, or you just don’t want to give someone more *stuff*, give them the gift of your time. Your Library offers a wide variety of free programs for children and adults. Make a gift certificate with a promise to take a child to see a puppet show, story time or concert. Many people would welcome an invitation from a friend to attend a colouring night or book club meeting together. The Library’s next newsletter, with listings of upcoming programs will be delivered to all homes in the City the first week of January. The Library’s Web site ( has a calendar of events under “Get Involved”. You could also create a gift certificate to bring someone to the Library a few times a month, and help them find books, movies or music they enjoy.
We have a lot of books to help you make gifts. The Christmas Lover’s Handbook by Lasley F. Gober includes a very helpful chapter called “Making Merry: Handcrafting a Merry Christmas.” As Gober notes: “You don’t have to be an artist, a highly-skilled craftsman, or even a graduate of a six-week night course to know how to create something yourself, something you might even be proud of.” This book includes step-by-step instructions for sculptures, candle-making, papier-mache and much more.
Gifts in jars : homemade cookie mixes, soup mixes, candles, lotions, teas, and more! by Natalie Wise in jam-packed with fun ideas which are easy to make.  Make a “plant bomb” jar with your favorite flower seeds or an adorable terrarium featuring easy-to-grow air plants. Pamper your friends with a manicure kit or mint mojito lip scrub. Glass jars are easy to come by, cute, and incredibly versatile. Fill them with customized treasures to delight anyone on your list.  This book includes instructions to make a Light-Up Fairy Jar, Hot Fudge Topping, Bird Feeder and more!
We also have books to help you wrap: The art of gift wrapping : 50 innovative ideas using organic, unique, and uncommon materials by Wanda Wen ca help!  From organic and eco-friendly wraps to lush and romantic presentations, the more than 50 projects and ideas contained in this book will remind you that it is as much fun to wrap as it is to receive.  
Looking for your favourite holiday movie?  We likely have it on DVD or available through the streaming service hoopla.  My personal favourite, A Christmas Story, tells the tale of nine year old Ralphie, whose heart’s desire is a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model Air Rifle. This movie is a heartwarming glimpse in to family life in the 1940s. Save money by borrowing videos from the Library instead of renting them – at Christmas and throughout the year.
During this season of preparation the Library is accepting donations of non-perishable food items. All donations will be directed to Christmas Cheer and the Salvation Army Food Bank.  Please bring non-perishable food items to any library branch by December 30.  As an added incentive, $1 in Library fines will be waived for each food item donated! Help yourself -- and help the community too!
Joanna Aegard 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Sunday November 12, 2016 Seven Fallen Feathers

Anyone who has read Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga cannot fail to be moved by this hard hitting story of ‘racism, death, and hard truths in a northern city.’ Tanya is an excellent investigative journalist who, in simple lucid prose, gets beyond the headlines regarding the death of seven Indigenous youth in Thunder Bay.

Tanya was in town recently and presented a signed copy of her book to the permanent collection of Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL). At this event she talked about the need for a final chapter to her book – a chapter of hope and healing for the future. And I told Tanya that TBPL will be taking a lead role in helping to write that story.

The TBPL board has approved a strategy and action plan on ‘Relationship Building and Reconciliation’ with the Indigenous community. This is an ambitious five year plan to look at everything we do at TBPL – from strategy and structure to systems and culture – to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the Indigenous community. In doing so, we will make TBPL a more inclusive service, which will benefit everyone who uses it.

According to Statistics Canada, Thunder Bay has the highest proportion of Indigenous people of any major Canadian community at 12.7 per cent. That is 15,445 Indigenous people out of a total population of 121,621. And this community is also the fastest growing in Canada, with a 42.5 per cent increase since 2006.

Traditional use of libraries – via personal visits and physical circulation of books – is in decline across Canada. This has been more than made up for by the explosion in virtual use. For example, at TBPL, the total number of uses of the library has increased from 2.7 million to 3.2 million over the past ten years. But, during the same time period, personal visits to the library have fallen by 32.1%, and physical circulation has decreased by 30.7%. At the same time, virtual use of the library has gone up by 187.7% and database searches have increased by 358.6%.

We need to engage more fully with the Indigenous community if we are to increase personal visits and physical circulation. We need more people coming into our libraries and taking out books and other materials. Currently 29 per cent of Thunder Bay residents have a library card and have used it in the last 12 months. We need this figure to increase to 40, 50 and 60 percent.

Our strategy for achieving this is two-fold. First, we are transforming our libraries into Community Hubs, which will offer a wide range of educational, cultural, recreational and social services. These will include maker spaces, business incubators, nature trading stations, youth projects and social workers in residence.

And second, we are responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and the local Inquest into the ‘Seven Fallen Feathers’, through relationship building and reconciliation. W are taking decolonisation seriously and not as a metaphor. Like other institutions in the city, most notably the Chronicle Journal, we have a responsibility to take community leadership in combating racism and challenging the negative stereotypes, myths, inaccuracies and distortions that are associated with the Indigenous community.

We have a bold vision that TBPL ‘will become the heart of the community – a welcoming and inclusive centre of social innovation and change.’ It is now time to put that vision into action, and to walk the talk.     

John Pateman   

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Sunday November 5, 2017 Seven Fallen Feathers

On October 31, the Thunder Bay Public Library welcomed Tanya Talaga, author of the book Seven Fallen Feathers : Racism, Death and HardTruths in a Northern City. She was in the city to host an important event at the Dennis Cromarty High School, but had been invited to meet with librarians, directors, Board members, the Indigenous liasions for the City and the Library and interested members of the public about her powerful book, and she signed a copy for the Library’s permanent collection.

This is a book that everyone should read. Talaga, who is an investigative reporter and author, tells the story of the seven Indigenous high school students who died in Thunder Bay between 2000 to 2011. It is a difficult read, and a profound story which even the author still cries over when she rereads certain portions. Beyond the shocking news, beyond the statistics and the rumours and the investigations, this is a story of seven young people who travelled to Thunder Bay with all the hope of their families going with them because there is no adequate upper schooling for them at home. One by one, you learn the individual’s stories of their last day and the reactions of the families, friends, other students, searchers, communities and other persons and agencies who interact after the tragedies. With a meticulous eye for detail and a sensitive and nuanced understanding which comes from the author’s own roots being in Fort William First Nation and having spent her summer here, Talaga describes a city and culture impaired by the legacy of years of racism, poverty, neglect and violence. This is a book which will grip you, make you think and help you understand better what has led up to the horrific experiences of young people cut down too soon. It connects the local experience to the larger experience of Canada and is a cry for justice, human rights and respect. The cover of the book features a poignant painting by Christian Morriseau depicting the seven fallen feathers. One of those feathers, is Kyle, the artist’s own son. Like the author’s words, this painting is a requiem for the fallen. Each one lived in hope, was a unique and beloved soul, and each one is remembered by those left behind. Through this book, which is nominated for the 2017 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for non-fiction, you can meet the seven, and be inspired and encouraged by the sharing of their stories to work for justice, harmony and a better future for everyone. The book is available at your library for borrowing and also will soon be available as a book club in a bag with ten copies for sharing.  

Angela Meady

Author Tanya Tagala, front center, at TBPL, with Library staff and Board members, and City of Thunder Bay staff.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sunday October 29th, 2017 International Festival of Authors

The International Festival of Authors (IFOA)’s Lit On Tour is once again coming to Thunder Bay! This year, Lakehead University, the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW), the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, CBC Radio and the Thunder Bay Public Library have all partnered with the IFOA, bringing four authors to our region on October 30th to read from their latest works at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. We’re bringing in a great line up of Canadian authors this year: Gary Barwin, the author of Yiddish for Pirates; Terry Fallis, the author of The Best Laid Plans; Grace O’Connell, the author of Magnified World; and Thunder Bay’s Jean E. Pendziwol, author of Once Upon a Northern Night. Here’s a little more about each of these authors (courtesy of the Lit On Tour site,

Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, multimedia artist and the author of twenty-one books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His recent books include Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General’s Award shortlisted Yiddish for Pirates and the poetry collection Moon Baboon Canoe. Barwin teaches creative writing in the Mohawk College Continuing Education program and will be the writer-in-residence at McMaster University and the Hamilton Public Library for 2017–2018. Born in Northern Ireland to South African parents of Ashkenazi descent, Barwin moved to Canada as a child. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Terry Fallis earned an engineering degree from McMaster University. Drawn to politics, he worked for cabinet ministers at Queen’s Park and Ottawa. His first novel, The Best Laid Plans, began as a podcast, then was self-published, won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, was re-published by McClelland & Stewart to great reviews, was crowned the 2011 winner of CBC’s Canada Reads as “the essential Canadian novel of the decade,” and became a CBC Television series. His next two novels, The High Road and Up and Down were finalists for the Leacock Medal, and in 2015, he won the prize a second time for his fourth book, No Relation. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons. He will be presenting One Brother Shy.

Grace O’Connell is the author of The Globe and Mail Best Book Magnified World and 2014 winner of the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award. She holds an MFA in creative writing, and her work has appeared in various publications including The Walrus, Taddle Creek, The Globe and Mail, National Post and Elle Canada. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto and works as a freelance writer and editor. She will be presenting Be Ready For The Lightning.

Jean E. Pendziwol was born in Thunder Bay and spent much of her childhood aboard her family’s sailboat. After working as a freelance writer and photographer, she spent several years raising her three children before publishing her first book for young people. She is now the author of eight children’s books. She was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for Once Upon a Northern Night, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. She lives in Ontario with her husband, two of her three adult children, a lovable mutt and three temperamental chickens, who sometimes lay eggs. She will be presenting The Lightkeeper’s Daughters.

For more information on this event, please visit the IFOA’s Lit on Tour site at You can also visit the Thunder Bay Public Library’s blog, TBPL Off the Shelf (, to read interviews with each of these authors

I hope we’ll see you at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery tomorrow evening to hear these authors read from their new work. The event starts at 7pm.

Shauna Kosoris 

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 ParĂ©. Jean ParĂ© 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