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