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