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You Say Gryphon, I Say Griffin! The Bronze Sculptures of Lillian H. Smith Branch

June 17, 2016 | Sarah | Comments (8)

  Lillian H. Smith library griffinsLillian H. Smith Branch griffins. Photographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

Toronto Public Library has two magical bronze griffin lion sculptures guarding the front doors of the Lillian H. Smith branch. New York Public Library has its lions, but we like ours better! The two creatures gracing the arched brick entrance at Lillian H. Smith branch were designed and constructed by architect Philip H. Carter and sculptor Ludzer Vandermolen. 

The lion is Edgar, after the benefactor of the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, and the eagle is Judith, named for the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy.

I spoke with Ludzer about building these sculptures, a process he says went by "swimmingly."

According to Vandermolen, each griffin weighs 3 tonnes or 3000 kilograms (that's the size of a small elephant!) and they took about 1.5 years to make. Small clay models were approved by the Library Board, then enlarged and cast in fibreglass and wax before being sent to the foundry. Since they are so big, they were cast in different sections - about 12 parts for each statue. The bronze finisher was Vince Graham. The team of sculptors included Ludzer, Kirk Sutherfield, Joanne Sherman, Rebecca Vandermolen, Jim Brewster, Michael Bodor, and others. Ludzer reminded me that Philip Carter was also instrumental in their design and creation.

Last year, which marked the 20th anniversary of the library opening, Ludzer kindly donated copies of his photographs documenting the construction of the statues. Here are a few glimpses into the genesis of these one-of-a-kind sculptures:Griffins with their miniaturesPhotographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

Here is Edgar the lion in clay:Edward the lion head in clayPhotographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

Ludzer working on Judith:

Ludzer working on JudithPhotographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

And a rare photo of Judith and Edgar, standing side by side:

Judith and Edward are side by sidePhotographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

Here, the griffins are being moved into place. I can only imagine how hard it was to move these enormous beasts!

Griffins being moved into placePhotographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

If you look very carefully, you can see that the library is not the only thing the griffins are protecting. Look up close to see a frog:

Frog closeup black and whitePhotographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

 A lizard:

Lizard closeup black and whitePhotographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

A turtle:

Turtle closeup black and white

 Photographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

 A whale, a ram, a bear and more:

Whale closeup black and white
 Photographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

Edward and badger
 Photographer: Ludzer Vandermolen

There are other animal relief sculptures on the outside wall at Lillian H. Smith, including this owl, that came from the old Boys and Girls House library:

Owl relief from Pinterest

Here is where it was originally situated, at the entrance off St. George Street:

Entrance to 1964 Boys and Girls House showing owl scuplture

Other Toronto Public Library branches with feathered and furry guardians include Beaches branch, with Wordsworth the owl, also made by Mr. Vandermolen; and North York Central Library, where the lion from the Golden Lion Hotel is displayed in a glass case on the top floor.

Looking for some fun books on griffins and their relatives? Here are a few for children:

If I had a gryphon book cover

If I had a gryphon, by Vikki Van Sickle

The Griffin and the Dinosaur: How Adrienne Mayor discovered a fascinating link between myth and science, by Marc Aronson

A field guide to griffins, unicorns and other mythical beasts, by Aaron Sautter

The Gargoyle on the Roof, by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Peter Sis

However you spell it, our beautiful, fierce griffins will continue to provide a little oasis of whimsy in the city's downtown, inspiring photographs like this one:

 Griffin photo by Brent Cehan from Flickr

Photographer: Brent Cehan

Send us a photo of your favourite library animal!


Celebrating Massey Hall and Toronto Music: June 14: Snapshots in History

June 14, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, at Massey Hall, Shuter St., s.w. corner Victoria St., Toronto
1911 - Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, at Massey Hall, Shuter St., s.w. corner Victoria St., Toronto


A Toronto musical landmark named Massey Hall celebrated an anniversary today given its debut concert and opening to the public on June 14, 1894. Over the years, many musical performances and concerts have taken place in this popular venue. Some of those performances are reflected in Toronto Public Library’s music collection in Compact Disc (CD) format. Below are some examples for one to consider and celebrate Massey Hall and those who performed there:


Massey Hall Burton Cummings   Live at Massey Hall 1971 Neil Young  


The road to Massey Hall Whitehorse   Stop Us If Youve Heard This One Before Barenaked Ladies  

Live at Massey Hall Pavlo

For additional information about Massey Hall, please visit Remembering Massey Hall: June 14: Snapshots in History on the Local History & Genealogy Blog.


Capybaras Seen at Fort York Branch Using Free 3D Printer, Green Screen and Scanners?

May 27, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (5)

There's been an unverified report that the two missing capybaras have been seen at the Fork York Branch in the Digital Innovation Hub using the 3D printers to make masks (possibly to throw off search parties). 

TPL had earlier offered the capybaras sanctuary at the High Park Branch Library.


Image of 3D printer

3D Design & Printing

Learn how to design and print a 3D object starting from an existing design, or create your own.




They may also have used the Recording Studio for the video filming and green screen technology to create and upload a YouTube video (maybe a cover Drake's Hotline Bling).

Recording Studio

Use our cameras, green screen, studio mics, and other audio, video, and photography equipment and software.


The capybaras asked about The Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) as they wanted to visit long lost relatives at the ROM. Staff explained all branches have passes for certain cultural institutions like Colborne Lodge in High Park but only 50 selected branches had ROM tickets and they were given a referral to Parkdale Branch. 


Ye Olde Howard's Homestead at High Park, Toronto.

Ye Olde Howard's Homestead at High Park, Toronto, by F.W. Jopling


At Parkdale Branch the capybaras showed a lot of interest in borrowing a musical instrument from the Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library. They promised if they came across a gently used instrument in their travels they would consider donating it to the program

Instrument types

Classical and Acoustic Guitars

  • Left and right-handed ½, ¾, and full-size guitars
  • Soprano ukuleles
  • Acoustic bass guitars
  • Banjo
  • Mandolin


  • Xylophone
  • Cajon Box drum
  • Doumbek
  • Djembe African drum
  • Bongo drum
  • Dholak (South Asian hand drum)
  • Tabla (Indian drum)


¼, ½, ¾, and full-size violins


  • 61-note keyboard
  • 88-note keyboard


The capybaras were last seen walking down Queen Street West back towards Grenadier Pond in High Park. Staff at Parkdale did warn them that the pond froze over in the winter but the capybaras seemed dubious and unwilling to give credence to the vintage photos they were shown from the TPL Digital Archive.

High Park, Grenadier Pond.

High Park, Grenadier Pond circa 1908

High Park, Grenadier Pond, with John Ellis' house


Meanwhile back at High Park Zoo the single male capybara is patiently waiting for the next act in this drama to unfold.  As you can see from the photo on John Tory's twitter account - "this is one lonely capybara"

Photo from John Tory's twitter account showing him and Councillor Sarah Doucette and a worker at High Park Zoo



High Park Branch Offers Sanctuary to Capybaras

May 26, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (6)

Who among us hasn't wanted to flee from a blind date gone bad?

Toronto Public Library wants to offer the two capybaras High Park branch as a refuge from their trials, in a spirit of fellowship and creating a warm welcoming environment. 

While my grandmother spoke highly of her own arranged marriage, I'm not sure how she would have felt about the slightly sordid affair at High Park Zoo when a single male capybara was brought to meet (read mate!) two female capybaras. Faced with this situation, what choice did they have but to leave with their dignity intact a la Thelma and Louise (and who really can blame them)? The Zoo is trying to recapture them as of now. 

My friend Mabel has also just informed me that in fact the escaped pair is a male and female pair so their burst for freedom is more Bonnie and Clyde and my puffery prose above is a bit misleading.

There was also an unconfirmed report that the capybaras had been seen at using the Digital Innovation Hub at Fort York Library.

Capybara swimming by Charlesjsharp - own work from Sharp Photography sharpphotography via wiki creative commons

By Charlesjsharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0,

High Park is a lovely branch celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. In addition to an English language collection, it offers a small adult and children's collection in French and a large collection of items in Polish. There is free wifi, Internet workstations (like all branches) and they also loan out pedometers. 

High Park branch is a Carnegie-funded library building and one of three iconic and identical branches spearheaded by Chief Librarian George H. Locke that are celebrating a major milestone this year -- Beaches and Wychwood are the other two branches. They were built in a pastiche of English medieval Tudor school style (big central hall open space) with wood beams/trusses and lots of white plaster.

If you're on Pinterest, you can view the many historical photos we have posted on a Carnegie Library board. Below are a few High Park branch photos, circa 1920s-40s.


Toronto High Park Library Branch circa 1921-1922 by Muriel Page (later Ffoulkes) was a children's librarian at High Park Branch, Toronto Public Library from 1917 to 1922

High Park branch circa 1921-1922 by Muriel Page (later Ffoulkes) who was a children's librarian at High Park, Toronto Public Library from 1917 to 1922.


High Park Library Christmas 1940. Marjorie Bullard

 Toronto Public Library staff member Marjorie Bullard reads in the adult section, ensconced in the inglenook of the High Park branch's fireplace. This photograph was taken by her brother, Maurice, at Christmas-time in 1940. Marjorie worked in several branches in her 45 years of service, and retired from the Locke branch in 1973.


 Wychwood Branch main floor adult area circa 1916

Wychwood Branch opened on April 15, 1916. It was the first of, and model for, of three identical libraries (High Park & Beaches were the others) that TPL built with a $50,000 grant from Carnegie. Eden Smith's design, an adaptation of Tudor Gothic style, was "an almost entire departure from the traditional library building…the Reading room & Library, 70 ft long by 30 ft wide…is really a large hall with an open timbered roof, the walls above 19 ft high to the springing of the roof..the ceiling 29 ft at its apex." 


 If you're interested in capybaras, you might like these two children's books:

  Children's book Capybaras by Megan Borgert-Spaniol   Capyboppy by Bill Peet - The author describes the spring and summer his family adopts a large South American rodent for a pet.

The Picture Collection at the Arts Department of the Toronto Reference Library even has a file on capybaras - one of 32,000 files with a million images (and you can borrow from the Picture Collection). 


Of course, we hope the two cabybaras are found safe but in the meantime, we also hope they're having a good time now with their freedom.



Queen Victoria Day May 24: Toronto in vintage pictures

May 20, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (2)

We celebrate Victoria Day on May 24 to honour the birth of Queen Victoria in 1819. She reigned for much of the 19th century over Great Britain and the British Empire, including Canada. Her long reign and the strong connection to the monarchy ensured Victoria Day was a major event in Toronto as can be seen by the vintage photographs and items below (all from the Library's Digital Archive). 


1859 Queen's Birthday paper ticket for one free loaf of bread Toronto Ontario

Queen's Birthday 1859 paper ticket "Good For One Loaf" Toronto. This small 4.7 cm x 5.8 cm rare paper ephemera (raffle ticket size) will be on display Thursday the 26th of May from 3-3:30 PM in the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Centre (5th floor, Toronto Reference Library), part of a free talk "Toronto Celebrates Victoria Day" offered by the Special Collections Department. 


Queen Victoria bisque bust on display Toronto Reference Library Arts Department 5th floor.


Government House & grounds Toronto CW on the Queen's Birthday 1854

1854 lithograph of Government House & Grounds Toronto C.W. (Canada West) on the Queen's Birthday.


Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901. Her 50th anniversary in 1887 and her 60th anniversary in 1897 were major events across Canada and the British Empire.

Jubilee Service 1887 Metropolitan Methodist (United) Church Queen Street EastJubilee Service 1887 Metropolitan Methodist (United) Church Queen Street East


Decorations For Diamond Jubilee Queen Victoria, 1897, Toronto, King St. West looking east from west of Jordan St.

Decorations For Diamond Jubilee Queen Victoria, 1897, Toronto, King St. West looking east from west of Jordan St.


Toronto 1897 Queen Victoria  Decorations For Diamond Jubilee, King St. East  looking east from Yonge St.

Toronto 1897 Queen Victoria  Decorations For Diamond Jubilee, King St. East looking east from Yonge Street.


Statue of Queen Victoria in Queen's Park Toronto, 1913, decorated on Empire Day

Queen Victoria statue, east of entrance to Parliament Buildings, Queen's Park Toronto, decorated in 1913 for Empire Day.


1910 postcard Queen Victoria Monument, Queen's Park, Toronto.

1910 postcard of Queen Victoria Monument, Queen's Park, Toronto. According to the Yale Center for British Art this statue by Mario Raggi was installed September 1902 and unveiled May 27, 1903.  It was commissioned in 1870, paid for and installed after the queen’s death.


Toronto, Queen Victoria Day parade, 1923, looking east across University Ave from north of Elm Street (beside McCaul School).

Toronto, Queen Victoria Day parade, 1923, looking east across University Ave from north of Elm Street (beside McCaul School).


The original military and imperialist colonial aspect of Victoria's reign was still an element even after her death in 1901.


Toronto Quen Victoria  Birthday Parade  1923, military parade, looking north on University Ave. from Queen St. West

Soldiers of Toronto Regiments Marching Down University Avenue, 1923 to celebrate Queen Victoria Day

Queen Victoria statue, east of entrance to Parliament Buildings (1893), Queen's Park, Toronto hand coloured photograph.

Queen Victoria statue, east of entrance to Parliament Buildings Queen's Park, Toronto, looking east. Photograph circa 1910 hand coloured.


So we still celebrate Victoria Day - although the royal roots  are getting lost in time as we get further away from the Victorian era. And our connection to her weakens as our country and population shifts away from its British roots. Our biggest current memory is now most likely fireworks on a large scale.


1987  Fireworks light up the sky above Ontario Place, Toronto,  last night in one of several spectacular Victoria Day shows in and around Metro

 Fireworks light up the sky above Ontario Place, Toronto, 1987 in one of several spectacular Victoria Day shows in and around Metro. Toronto Star Archives.


And fireworks on a local more intimate scale.

1972 Holiday fireworks. The traditional Victoria day fireworks drew an estimated 6;000 persons to Alloa Public School in Bramalea last night where the show was staged by the Chinguacousy volunteer firemen.

1972 Holiday fireworks. The traditional Victoria day fireworks drew an estimated 6;000 persons to Alloa Public School in Bramalea last night where the show was staged by the Chinguacousy volunteer firemen. Money was raised by a door-to-door collection. Toronto Star Archives.


Making Space for Your Creativity

May 18, 2016 | Muriel | Comments (4)

"In creating, the only hard thing's to begin..."

                                                    - James Russell Lowell

Creativity Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention         Wired to Create         Let the Elephants Run

The Creative Fight    The Creativity Challenge    Big Magic

I enjoy making things, and I have always been interested in the
creative process. I find it fascinating how people nurture and make space for creativity in their lives: philosophically; time-wise; and by finding a location where they can create.

Toronto Public Library provides creative space for you with their Digital Innovation Hubs, which are workspaces with free access to technology and training, 3D design and printing, classes and more. At the Toronto Reference Library, the Asquith Press is a book printing service that lets you design and print perfect bound bookstore quality paperback books at a low price. There are also Pop-Up Learning Labs, which travel to different branches to bring new and emerging technology to your community through staff-led programs and classes.

More creative space is provided at many library branches for hobbies, crafts and games programs. If you like to create independently, all you need is your Toronto Public Library card to access for video tutorial courses on computer skills, graphic design, multimedia, photography and more.


It is very motivating for me to look at outstanding examples of art and craft. With the Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass, you and your family can explore, for free, the best of Toronto's arts and cultural treasures, including the Royal Ontario Museum.  On June 25, 2016, a special exhibition will be opening at the museum by one of the world's foremost glass artists, Dale Chihuly.

Workshops You Can Build    My Cool Shed    A Woman's Shed    

Maker Spaces        Inside the Artist's Studio        Open Studios With Lotta Jansdotter   

A Beautiful Mess       Creative Children's Spaces       Fine Woodworking Best Workshops

A dedicated space for your creative pursuits is ideal. This space might be a separate building, a studio or a corner of a room. I think it is energizing just to imagine all of the creative people working in these beautiful spaces!

David Bowie is the Subject  Zaha Hadid  David Hockney  Design is One

I am always interested in learning about creative people. While each one differs in their creative process, the unifying thread between them is their curiosity, a driving force for creativity.
3D Technology in Fine Art and Craft    The Artist in the Office    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
The Artist's Way    Crafting Calm    The Artful Parent  

These inspiring and instructive titles encourage your creativity,
and show you ways to express it: on your own; at work; or with your family.

Craft a Creative Business     Starting Your Career as an Artist     I Just Like to Make Things

Beginning is indeed hard, but it is essential to creativity, and it may even take you on the way to presenting your creations to the outside world! There are even spaces to meet and work at your local library branch, to start or grow your small business.


Always Wear Clean Underwear, Love Mom: Vintage Mother's Day Photographs

May 4, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (4)

For Mother's Day this year I want to share some iconic images from the Library's collection and my own personal vintage photo collection. It may be a cliche, but a picture is worth a thousand words. 

This is my mom, Elpida. I wish it was me in the photobooth with her but it's actually my older brother. I love how beautiful, glamorous and happy my mom looks here. She has a lovely pure singing voice, is as smart as a whip, could do anything from paint a house, to sew and bake and was very handy with our family's finances. She speaks and reads several languages. And she learned to drive when it wasn't too common for Macedonian women to do so. I love my mom.

Bill's Mom and brother vintage photo booth circa 1950s


The photo below is from the Library's digital archive and shows Mrs. Owen Staples holding her daughter Isabella circa 1908. They're at Thomas Heys' house (Hogarth Avenue at the north west corner of Bowden Street) in Riverdale near the Danforth. This picture says love to me through the laughter and joy in the mother's expression and gesture and her desire to share the beauty of the cherry blossoms with the child. It's also aesthetically pleasing with the spray of white blossoms echoing her white dress. 

As an aside if you're interested in cherry blossoms in Toronto you will want to see the High Park cherry blossom report which says the season may be a flop in 2016 due to cool weather. BlogTO has done a great blog post on other cherry blossom sites in Toronto aside from High Park.  And if you want to see what you're missing my friend Iana did a fine blog post for the Library way back in 2012 which has some lovely photos and images from High Park.

Mrs. Owen Staples holding her daughter Isabella circa 1908 near cherry blossoms.


This is a vintage cabinet card I just bought in upstate New York for $1.00 at an antique store. I've seen a lot of cabinet card portraits but rarely one this striking - the unusual pose of the mom in profile and the young boy looking out. The photographer is J.H. Kent, 20 State Street, Rochester, N.Y. and it's circa 1880-1890s. 

Vintage cabinet card circa 1880s boy and Mom touch heads (2)


This last photo has the least information. It's the front of a postcard -- what's known as a real photo postcard or RPPC. It was printed on Velox paper and can be dated to circa 1901-1914 due to the four squares in the Velox stamp mark. This photo was taken out of doors -- you see a bicycle and the front of a house in the background. This is not an idealized version of motherhood like the cabinet card above. This woman looks older and tired and the child looks much more real and slightly indifferent to his mom.  


And lastly there is this vintage postcard from the Toronto Reference Library postcard collection. Although there are thousands of different postcards there is only one for Mother's Day. This may represent the relatively newness of this holiday as it more formally came about in 1908. The story and tragedy of Anna Jarvis' holiday and the corruption and commercialization of it is a bit heartbreaking. This Mother's Day type postcard shows foil paper, with forget-me-not flowers. It was published by Stanley E. Mullen and Co. of Melbourne Australia circa 1910 and was printed in Germany (it hasn't been posted).

To My Mother vintage postcard circa 1910

If you're interested in reading about Mother's Day enjoy these Book Buzz blog posts:





Our Fragile Planet: DVDs to the Rescue

May 2, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (0)

It's Earth Month 2016 and the time has come to take seriously our impact on the planet. Toronto Public Library is happy to present the best of our collections on environmental education, geared to children, teens and adults. Watch for environmental displays in branches across the city and pick up some reading material. At the same time, please join us for Our Fragile Planet, our free environmental programming series. Learn about issues that impact our city, and what you can do to tread lightly on our planet.

Hot Docs is in town and it's got me thinking about environmental DVDs you can borrow from the Library.

Did you know there are over 8000 documentary, performance and "how to" DVDs on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library and that you can borrow them?

During the month of April, the Library has been celebrating the Our Fragile Planet. Library branch displays are featuring books, magazines and DVDs on topics such as conservation, recycling, sustainable living, gardening and more. The goal is to get people thinking about the environment and what we can do to make a difference. 

We've blogged about the environmental magazines available at the Library, as well as eco and sustainable fashion. There is also a recommended reading list.

While we should be thinking about the environment throughout the year, Earth Day in April is a symbolic and timely way to remind us of our impact on the natural world. So, if you can tear yourself away from the improving weather outdoors, how about looking at some of these environmental DVDs?


Inconvenient Truth The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming DVD by Al Gore

Al Gore's pivotal work is titled An Inconvenient Truth a Global Warning. The Library also owns Not Evil Just Wrong The True Cost of Global Warning which is a critique of Gore and global warming calling it a "false doctrine". You may also like Greedy Lying Bastards.


The blue planet seas of life DVD narrated by David Attenborough

David Attenborough's Blue Planet Seas of Life series raises some important issues about our oceans.


The Cove - Oscar winner 2010 for best documentary.  Secret dophin hunting in Japan by director Louie Psihoyos.

The Cove is an excellent documentary on the secretive dolphin hunting industry in Japan.


The Last Mountain a West Virginia Appalachian documentary on local community versus giant coal company in a tussle over a local mountain.

The Last Mountain tells the story of a West Virginia Appalachian community versus a giant coal company in a fight over a local mountain.


Sand Wars The Incredible Investigation into one of the most Consumed Natural Resources on the Planet

Sand Wars is a surprising investigation into one of the most consumed natural resources on the planet. The planet's sand reserves are being threatened. One doesn't normally think of sand as a commodity. Alas, water is a resource that is most definitely a commodity and the documentary Tapped explores the bottled water industry. 


The sustainability secret  rethinking our diet to transform the world

Filled with anecdotes, statistics, research, interviews with the filmmakers and contributors, and unabridged transcripts from the film, Cowspiracy, this companion book supplements and expands upon the documentary in every way. With all this and more, The Sustainability Secret reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population.  And the classic Food, Inc. is not to be missed.

  Cowspiracy the sustainability secret -  "Feature-length environmental documentary, following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today and investigates why the world's leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about itDVD    Food Inc.



Open Sesame The Story of Seeds DVD

Open Sesame: the Story of Seeds: "one of the world's most precious resources is at risk. This timely and emotionally moving film illuminates what is at stake and what can be done to protect the source of nearly all of our food: seeds. Seeds provide the basis for everything from fabric, to food to fuels. Seeds are as essential to life as the air we breathe or water we drink, but given far less attention. It's not too late, yet." You may also be interested in Growing Cities on community gardening, bee-keeping, urban farmers and other food activists and how they are changing our perception of food.


GMO OMG: "Director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice? And perhaps the ultimate question, which Seifert tests himself: is it even possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we can't gain back? These and other questions take Seifert on a journey from his family's table to Haiti, Paris, Norway and the lobby of agri-giant Monsanto, from which he is unceremoniously ejected. Along the way, we gain insight into a question that is of growing concern to citizens the world over: what's on your plate? -- Film's website" 


Salt of the Earth  - Photographer Sebastiao Salgado embarks on the discovery of pristine territories and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge photographic project which is a tribute to the planet's beauty.

The Salt of the Earth = le sel de la terre: for the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history: international conflicts, starvation and exodus. You may also like the cinematography of Encounters at the end of the world Rencontres au bout du mond where filmmaker Werner Herzog examines life in Antarctica, focusing especially on the stories of the "professional dreamers" who reside there (mostly filmed from a helicopter).


Petropolis Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands

Petropolis aerial perspectives on the Alberta tar sands = Petropolis: perspectives aériennes sur les sables bitumineux d'Alberta:

"The Athabasca tar sands in Alberta are an oil reserve the size of England. Extracting crude oil that lies beneath the unspoiled wilderness requires a massive industrialized effort, effecting catastrophic damages on land, air, water, and climate. Peter Mettler shows us this extraordinary view from above, filming primarily from a helicopter to capture this breathtaking, unparalleled view of the world's largest industrial, capital and energy project. In a hypnotic flight of image and sound, Mettler explores the clash between industry and earth, and beholds the barren wasteland that is left behind". 

You may also be interested in Crude sacrifice you can't reclaim humanity, which "looks at how the northern community of Fort Chipewyan is affected by the exploitation of Canada's Tar Sands and how the federal and provincial governments are dealing with local concerns. Leading scientists and Aboriginal residents discuss the environmental and health issues surrounding the world's largest construction project; although this town sits near the earth's second largest fresh-water delta, people can no longer drink the water there or eat the fish and game that have sustained them for thousands of years. An important look at the state of our democracy."


Drying for Freedom

For something a bit quirkier, why not try Drying for Freedom on the use of electric dryers and their environmental impact? And for something more serious, why not sample what we have on fracking?

  FrackNation DVD Journalist Phelim McAleer faces gun threats, mailcious 911 calls and bogus lawsuits when questinging green extremists for the truth about hydraulic fracturing. Made in response to the anti-fracking film Gasland.  Gasland DVD Can you Light your Water on Fire

Nominated for a best documentary Academy Award in 2012, If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front tells the story of the radical environmental group the FBI calls America's "number one domestic terrorist threat".

If A Tree Falls A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front

And lastly, consider this older title that takes a different (broader?) look at the world's environmental and economic interrelationships with an examination of fish coming from Africa to Europe and weapons going back to Africa in Darwin's Nightmare.

    Darwin’s Nightmare Documentary film that exposes the poverty and misery of the people living on the shores on Lake Victoria in Tanzania who are dependent upon fishing the Nile perch from the lake for their meager earnings. The fish are exported by air to Europe to be sold cheaply and the planes that arrive to transport the fish at first seem to arrive empty, but turn out to carry weapons to Africa and fish away. 

Lawren Harris: The Idea of North with Andrew Hunter

April 28, 2016 | Brent | Comments (0)

Andrew Hunter, the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, will discuss the upcoming exhibition of iconic Canadian painter Lawren Harris. The event will take place on Thursday June 2, from 1-2 PM in the Hinton Learning Theatre of the Toronto Reference Library.
The exhibition "The Idea of North" will open at the Art Gallery of Ontario on July 1. Harris is one of the country's best loved artists, creator of stark iconic images of the Canadian Arctic. 

The show has garnered a lot of additional interest because of the involvement of Steve Martin, film star and well known art lover. He became a passionate advocate of Harris' work when he first saw it in an auction catalogue and thought "That’s the greatest Rockwell Kent I’ve ever seen!"

That's an easy mistake to make because until recently Harris was little known in the United States. "The Idea of North" has
introduced the famous Canadian's work to American audiences at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. There's a great interview about the show in Border Crossings.
                The Idea of North   Journey  
         Contrasts      AtmaBuddhiManas
                    PaintersProgress   The Beginning of Vision

As an author, critic and curator,  Andrew Hunter is the author of over thirty one titles. Some of his earliest work contrasted the history of Canadian landscape painting with the growth of Canadian industry or the multiple fictions associated with "cottage country." He has curated shows at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the University of Waterloo and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. More recently he’s presented Into the Woods with Tom Thomson and a major Alex Colville retrospective, both at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

                Colville   Schaefer

       Thomson   Dialogue 


Lawren Harris: The Idea of North with Andrew Hunter
1 PM Thursday, June 2 2016
Hinton Learning Theatre
Toronto Reference Library








Prince Dies Unexpectedly - RIP

April 21, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (2)

The news came out today that Prince, musician, singer and performer extraordinaire, has unexpectedly died at the age of 57.    

Below is a sample of material Toronto Public Library can offer at this time.

Prince by Matt Thorne


I would die 4 you Why Prince became an icon by Toure      Prince  inside the music and the masks by Ronin Ro

This is one of Prince's newest albums. If you saw him recently on Saturday Night Live, you would recognize the glasses. We have a wide range of his music and albums available on CD and also as e-music through Hoopla!


3121 (CD) by Prince  Musicology (CD) by Prince

There are several sheet music collections featuring the music of Prince. 

Ultimate (Sheet Music) by Prince    The very best of Prince (sheet music)

There are even some of his performances live on DVD:    

Prince live at Las Vegas (DVD)   Prince Purple Rain (DVD)

And then there is 21 Nights by Prince with photographer Randee St Nicholas. This multimedia volume explores one tour through photography, lyrics, poetry and text.

21 Nights Prince - book and CD photography poetry music and lyrics






The library's blog devoted to the discovery of diverse artistic, music and cultural works in the library and Toronto.