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Remembering Winnie-the-Pooh: October 14: Snapshots in History

October 15, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)

On October 14 and beyond, take a moment to remember Winnie-the-Pooh (or Pooh Bear). Many of us remember growing up with the books written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard. The journey of Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures (with his animal friends Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga and her son Roo and with the human boy, Christopher Robin) began in a big way on October 14, 1926 with the publication of Winnie-the-Pooh. Readers got a sneak peak at the human-like teddy bear in another Milne-Shepard collaboration with a poem “Teddy Bear” and an accompanying illustration of the then-named “Mr. Edward Bear” in the children’s verse book When We Were Very Young, published in 1924. It was followed in 1927 by another book of children’s verses, Now We Are Six, in which 11 of the 35 poems by A.A. Milne are accompanied by illustrations of Winnie-the-Pooh by E.H. Shepard. The next year saw a return to storytelling with the publication of The House at Pooh Corner in which the character Tigger is introduced.

In addition to the books, Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends have entertained children and adults alike over the years, as the characters came alive in animated films and television programs produced by the Walt Disney Company. Other versions of the character have also emerged such as Vinny-Pukh (Винни-Пух) in Russian.

Canadians have a connection to Winnie-the-Pooh as the character was inspired by a real black bear named Winnipeg (or “Winnie”), who was adopted by Canadian soldier and veterinarian Harry Colebourn during World War One in White River, Ontario.  

The estate trustees of A.A. Milne authorized writer David Benedictus and illustrator Mark Burgess to publish a vetted sequel of short stories entitled Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in 2009, in which a new character named Lottie the Otter is introduced.

As we celebrate Winnie-the-Pooh, consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:



The real Winnie a one-of-a-kind bear   Winnie the true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh   Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in which Winnie-the-Pooh enjoys further adventures with Christopher Robin and his friends   Winnie-the-Pooh 1st American ed 80th anniversary ed   The complete tales & poems of Winnie-the-Pooh rev ed   The complete tales of Winnie-the-Pooh 


Winnie-the-Pooh Audiobook   Winnie-the-Pooh Audiobook 2003   Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in which Winnie-the-Pooh enjoys further adventures with Christopher Robin and his friends Audiobook 

 Winnie-the-Pooh 1st American ed 80th anniversary ed   Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in which Winnie-the-Pooh enjoys further adventures with Christopher Robin and his friends 

 Winnie-the-Pooh Audiobook   The collected stories of Winnie-the-Pooh unabridged eAudiobook 


 Winnie the pooh movie   The many adventures of Winnie the Pooh  25th anniversary edition

   Karlson on the Roof Winnie the Pooh

10,000+ DVDs to Borrow (free!) at the Toronto Reference Library

October 14, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (8)

Did you know there are 10000+ DVDs (that's over 180 shelves!) you can borrow from the Toronto Reference Library's Arts Department on the 5th floor? The collection is focused on documentaries, how to, practical and performance (including many PBS).

As of October 2016 there are about 13000 DVDs in total at the Toronto Reference Library (divided between the HUGE documentary and TV show collection upstairs on the 5th floor and the main floor Browsery movies/feature collection behind the TVs)

Movies (2,342)
TV Shows (632)
Other DVDs (10,085)

And what do 10000+ DVDs and 1100 VHS look like?

Well, we have moving compact shelving, opening up vast riches in a dramatic, yet safe way.

DVD compact shelving of 3 bays seen closed on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library

DVD compact shelving partially opened as seen on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library

DVD compact shelving shown fully open as seen on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library


Faced with this much choice I asked staff to recommend some of their favorites:

20 Feet from Stardom DVD

20 Feet from Stardom was last year's Academy Award winner for best feature documentary. It's an inspiring and uplifting look at the unsung (no pun intended) heroes of pop music: the nameless back-up singers behind all the great popular music artists. They're mostly women, and women of colour, who grew up singing harmony in gospel choirs and it's great to see them finally get their due. Watch for the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and a wonderful rendition of Samuel Barber's "Sure on that Shining Night".


To Be Takei DVD

To Be Takei: The actor most famous as Mr Sulu in Star Trek developed an unexpected new career as a gay rights advocate and a Facebook phenomenon.The movie follows his story from boyhood in an Asian internment camps in Arkansas  during World War II to his current life with his husband Brad (they wed in 2008). An inspiring story which somehow makes room for lots of bad puns. The film presents unprecedented access to the daily life of 77-year-old George Takei. And speaking of puns you may also want to take a whiff of his cologne offering "Eau My".


The Queen of Versailles DVD

The Queen of Versailles is a character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. The film follows two unique characters, whose rags-to-riches-to-rags success stories reveal the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream.  Deeply moving and a tiny bit bizarre.


Men at Lunch DVD

Men at Lunch: In New York City, 1932, a photograph, "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper," is taken during the construction of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. In it, 11 construction workers are taking their lunch break while casually perched along a steel girder. For 80 years, the identity of the 11 construction workers and the photographer that immortalized them remained a mystery: their stories, lost in time, subsumed by the fame of the image itself. Then, at the start of the 21st century, the photograph finally began to give up some of its secrets.


The Invisible Frame and Cycling the Frame DVD

Cycling the frame (60 min.): In 1988, director Cynthia Beatt and the young Tilda Swinton embarked on a journey along the Berlin Wall into little-known territory. Over 20years later, Beatt and Swinton reteamed to retrace the entire 160 km line of the Wall that once isolated Berlin. The Invisible frame (28 min.) depicts a poetic passage through varied landscapes, this time on both sides of the former Wall.

The Buddha The Story of Siddhartha DVD

The Buddha the story of Siddhartha (PBS) recounts the life of the Buddha and presents the tenets of Buddhism. Produced in conjunction with the exhibition, Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, organized by Asia Society Museum, New York. 

Not for Ourselves Alone The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony  DVD

Not for ourselves alone the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony: The staff who recommended this DVD said "I cried the first time I watched it". Presents the history of women's suffrage in the United States through the dramatic, often turbulent friendship of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony. Part 1 covers the years from their youth up to the establishment of the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1868. Part 2 spans the period from 1868 to the passage in 1919 of the 19th amendment to the Constitution which gave women the vote.

Bruce Weber, the film collection DVD

Bruce Weber, the film collection: includes four films by Weber -- Broken Noses (1987), Let's Get Lost (1988), Chop Suey (2000) and A Letter to True 2003. I saw the Chet Baker film Let's Get Lost at the old Carleton Cinema on College Street and was struck by the black & white filming, the cigarette smoke, the sound and the beauty of the characters.  I recently discovered this compilation of his films and was moved by the music and life of cabaret singer Frances Faye as seen in Chop Suey.

China heavyweight Qian chui bai lian DVD

China heavyweight Qian chui bai lian: profiles the ever-changing Chinese economic landscape through the view of the sport of boxing. Filmmaker Yung Chang follows boxing coach Qi Moxiang as he travels across China's Sichuan province recruiting young fighting talent from impoverished farms and villages. Selected boys and girls are taken to national training centres in hopes of becoming Olympic heroes, but can they leave their families behind to become boxing's finest?

  Herb and Dorothy
Herb & Dorothy: tells the story of a postal clerk and a librarian who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history with very modest means.

Pima DVD

Pina: Director Wim Wenders takes viewers on a sensual, visually stunning journey of discovery into a new dimension: straight onto the stage with the legendary Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch ensemble. He follows the dancers out of the theatre and into the city and the surrounding areas of Wuppertal, the place which for 35 years was the home and center of Pina Bausch's creativity. 

Your favourite band...probably played Toronto

October 5, 2016 | Beau | Comments (0)

You know how many great bands have played Toronto over the years? ALL OF THEM. Well, maybe not all of them, but a lot. And the Toronto Star Photographic Archive, located in the Baldwin Collection of Canadiana on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library, includes a huge collection of vintage photos of classic groups. The TPL has been adding a lot of these images to our Digital Archive, which makes the library a great place to learn more about the look as well as the sound of your favourite bands (and there are plenty of books and DVDs, too!).


Cypress Hill

Cypress Hill, 1993 


Blondie, 1982


   Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick, 1980

 Jackie Mittoo

Jackie Mittoo, 1976


Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell, 1970

Kiss, 1983

  Siouxsie Sioux

Siouxsie Sioux, 1988


Rush, 1978

 The Spinners

The Spinners, 1981

Toronto Public Library Endorses a Woman for President . . .

September 21, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (6)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus just won her fifth consecutive Emmy Sunday night for outstanding lead actress in a comedy playing Vice President Selina Meyer in Veep. Coincidentally I had just finished watching season 4 of Veep at the cottage this summer. The cliff hanger finale has Meyer and her male rival in a statistical tie for President in the electoral college vote (please don't tell me what happens in season 5). Veep also just won its second Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Veep Season 1 complete DVD

I will admit that I am a tiny bit obsessed with the current US presidential election. The confabulation of Emmy wins for Veep, DVD watching and the American political situation created a frenzy in my head that only a combination of Swedish berries and wine gum jujubes could soothe and assuage.

Veep Season 2 complete DVD


So, if you haven't had a chance to watch award winning Dreyfus in Veep, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride". It's quite a ribald, but on point, political satire with great acting and snappy dialogue. Prescient as well. Enjoy. You're welcome.

  Veep Season 3 complete DVD  Veep Season 4 complete DVD



If you like more serious political drama you may enjoy Kevin Spacey in House of Cards:

House of Cards DVD Seasons 1 to 4


And, if you like your political drama and intrigue a bit more historical, you may also enjoy The Borgias:

The Borgias DVD


Even though Dreyfus has won the Emmy for Veep several times, her acceptance speech on Sunday was especially moving as she paid homage to her father who had died just a few days earlier, while still making sharply appropriate, politically humorous comments.



James Bond: From England with Love

September 9, 2016 | Muriel | Comments (10)


Just for fun, recently I have been watching, in order, all of the James Bond films. I have been a fan of the debonair yet deadly English spy ever since I was a child, and played with my brother's model gold Aston Martin DB5 car with its ejector seat, based on the silver car Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger. As luck would have it, when I went to London last year, I found myself walking in front of the former house of James Bond's literary creator, Ian Fleming. His house at 22 Ebury Street was brought to my attention by one of English Heritage's famous blue plaques, and I just had to take a picture of it!

James Bond is such a big part of popular culture, it is estimated that half of the world's population has watched at least one James Bond film. Even former American president, the late John F. Kennedy endorsed the books, and the film Dr. No, thus boosting their popularity even more.  What I enjoy most about James Bond, and what I find makes the novels and films so entertaining are:

Ian Fleming

The author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming, really based his famous character on himself. Fleming worked for Britain's naval intelligence division during World War II, set up an intelligence-gathering commando unit, and got to know the world of espionage firsthand. Thankfully, Fleming did not name his spy character with his first choice for a name -- Peregrine Maltravers! Instead, when he was writing the first of his novels, Casino Royale, at Goldeneye, his bungalow in Jamaica, he noticed a copy of Birds of the West Indies on his desk, written by noted ornithologist James Bond!  Ian Fleming thought this name was perfect, and a fictitious spy was born.

    Ian Fleming The Man Behind James Bond     A Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies      For Your Eyes Only Ian Fleming and James Bond    

James Bond Actors

Everyone has a favourite actor who has played James Bond, whether it is Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig. Of all the actors so far, Sean Connery has been my absolute favourite, especially in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, from 1962. Fleming had considered his friend David Niven for the role, but he did not possess the rugged looks, suaveness and ruthlessness necessary to make a believable James Bond. With each passing decade since the first film, the actors, fashions and locations have changed with the times, and James Bond is still fighting crime on an international scale, thus making the films enduringly popular. People keep guessing who will play James Bond in the next film? I think Idris Elba or Clive Owen would make a perfect James Bond, but only time will tell who will star in the next film.

DVD Dr. No    DVD On Her Majesty's Secret Service     DVD Live and Let Die

DVD The Living Daylights     DVD GoldenEye     DVD Casino Royale

Strong Bond Women

Handsome, independent (his Scottish father and Swiss mother died in a climbing accident when James Bond was 11), speeding around the world in many types of vehicles or vessels to fight crime, "licensed to kill" Agent 007 is irresistible to women.  
On top of that, this international spy's family motto is, "The World is Not Enough," he always looks stylish, often in a well-tailored suit, and he is an expert on any required subject (James Bond even makes a quiche in A View to a Kill!). I have been impressed by some of the strong female characters in the James Bond films. I was fascinated to find out that James Bond was married (albeit briefly) in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, to a crime boss's free-spirited daughter Teresa di Vicenzo (Tracy), played by the inimitable Diana Rigg. In Die Another Day, Halle Berry played Giacinta "Jinx" Johnson, James Bond's counterpart at the National Security Agency, and Dame Judi Dench played the formidable M, the administrative head of MI6, seven times, from GoldenEye to Skyfall.

Diana Rigg     Halle Berry      Behind the Scenes


The theme for the James Bond films, with its distinctive guitar riffs, was composed by Monty Norman. Of all the composers who have contributed towards the James Bond films, John Barry is considered "the" composer. His score for Goldfinger, with Shirley Bassey singing the title song, is widely considered to be the perfect trademark Bond sound. Other popular singers who have recorded a Bond song include: Tom Jones with "Thunderball;" Paul McCartney and Wings with "Live and Let Die;" Carly Simon with "Nobody Does it Better" for The Spy Who Loved Me; Rita Coolidge with "All Time High" for Octopussy; Tina Turner with "GoldenEye;" and the Bond song I remember best, "Skyfall" by Adele, who won an Academy Award for best original song.

The Music of James Bond James Bond The Ultimate Music Collection Adele

Cars and Gadgets

From the ridiculous (the Venetian gondola hovercraft in Moonraker, for instance) to the sublime (the Aston Martin cars) to the necessary tools of his trade (the weapons), James Bond gets to try them all out, thanks to the ingenuity of Q, head of the research and development division for the British Secret Service.

  Bond Cars & Vehicles      The Science of James Bond      James Bond Gadgets


With 24 James Bond films and six actors playing James Bond so far, a huge supporting cast, numerous fast-paced plots and far-flung locations, there is a lot of trivia associated with the world's longest-running film series.  One of the more amusing bits of trivia I have read about concerns actor Richard Keil. When Keil played Jaws in Moonraker, he had to bite through a steel cable with his trademark steel teeth.  He did so with relative ease, since the cable was actually made of licorice!

  James Bond FAQ     James Bond by Michael Paterson     James Bond The Secret World of 007


It is a tribute to the popularity of the James Bond film series, and its longevity, that there have been several spoofs of it over the years. Canada's very own Mike Myers played Austin Powers in his trilogy, modelled on James Bond films of the Sean Connery era. You can see Mike Myers in person at Toronto Reference Library on October 21 at 7:30 pm.  Johnny English, played by Rowan Atkinson, is a minor member of the British Secret Service M17, who gets his big break when all the other agents are assassinated at a funeral. In Kingsman: The Secret Service, an unrefined but promising street kid, Gary "Eggsy" Unwin, played by Taron Egerton, is recruited into a super-secret spy organization.

Austin Powers International Man of Mystery Johnny English     Kingsman The Secret Service

You may have noticed at your local library that we are promoting popular culture and highlighting these subjects.  Click on the links for great suggestions for books to read and DVDs to watch:








TPL Friends' Book Sales x 2: Lowest Prices Ever on Books, CDs and DVDs

September 7, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (1)

Books, Books, Books . . .  Cheap, Cheap, Cheap . . . Redux


I'm not saying that the Friends of Toronto Public Library North Chapter and the Friends of Toronto Public Library South Chapter are exactly in a competition to see who can clear out the most stuff and make the most money - but it certainly has the feel of sibling rivalry. 

We can all thank them though for having their clearance sales on different weeks so we don't have to choose. This is a great opportunity to buy a lot of interesting books, CDs and DVDs at some really affordable prices (half price at North York Central and all items 10 - 50 cents at Toronto Reference Library).

Did you know the Friends have raised over $2 million in support of Toronto Public Library programs?  In 2015 the Friends donated $165,000 to Toronto Public Library, their largest combined donation in their 22 year history.  Faithfull supporters of children's literacy the Friends allocate their donation to Leading to Reading, Elementary School Outreach, Storytime Outreach, Young Voices and Family Literacy Day.


Book Ends Giant Half Price Sale – North York Central Library

Super low prices on books, CDs and DVDs. Huge selection. All proceeds from the sale go toward funding literacy programs at Toronto Public Library.

Thursday, September 8, 10 am to 4 pm

Friday, September 9, 10 am to 4 pm

Saturday, September 10, 10 am to 4 pm




Book Ends Clearance Sale – Toronto Reference Library

Super low prices on books, CDs and DVDs. Huge selection. All proceeds from the sale go toward funding literacy programs at Toronto Public Library.

Thursday, September 15, 9:30 am to 7 pm

Friday, September 16, 9:00 am to 6 pm

Saturday, September 17, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm


Hollywood North: Film In Canada

September 6, 2016 | Beau | Comments (0)

The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off its 41st anniversary beginning on September 8th, and while it has become one of the premier showcases for movies from around the world since its founding in 1976, we shouldn't let the international flavour of the festival obscure the fact that Canada has had a thriving film industry for well over a century now, with its own home-grown crop of critically-renowned directors, actors and films. If you're interested in learning more about "Hollywood North," the Toronto Public Library has an appropriately vast collection of books and DVDs with historical and critical appraisals of the rich history of film in this country.

Canadian Cinema Since The 1980s
               100 Years Of Canadian Cinema               Weird Sex And Snowshoes   


The Young The Restless And The Dead


          Toronto On Film World Film Locations Toronto


          Hollywood North  Hollywood North The Feature Film Industry In British Columbia  Dreaming In The Rain


Film And The City


Reel Asian


Film In Canada Canadian National Cinema


          Quebec National Cinema    The Radio Eye      Essays On Quebec Cinema

Disco as Pop Culture: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life From a Broken Heart

August 20, 2016 | Bill V. | Comments (0)

If disco wasn't part of your life growing up you missed something fantastic. It's not too late though to add it into your dance and clothing repertoire. The platform and stiletto shoe, the gold and silver lamé (for men and women), the glittery glass disco ball, the polyester shirt, Soul Train, the Solid Gold Dancers all evoke that vibrant late 70s early 80s era.

 Disco spinning the story econtent DVD streaming via hoopla  Secret disco revolution the party that changed the world DVD

My pop culture is not your pop culture.  And that diversity is a great thing because we can sample each other's and create a very tasty melange of experience.  So, if you grew up wishing you could dance, look and act like they did in Saturday Night Fever then this should be a Proustian madeleine moment.  And, if you find this very retro and a bit hip, I urge you to try and dance in platform shoes and see what all the fun was about.

   Tony Manero DVD Raúl Peralta, a middle-aged criminal in 1970's Chile, is obsessed with the idea of impersonating Tony Manero, John Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever. Every Saturday evening, he unleashes his passion for the film's music by imitating his idol and leading a small group of dancers as they perform at a bar in the outskirts of the city. His dream of being recognized as a successful showbiz star is about to become a reality when a Tony Manero impersonating contest is announced on national television. However, his obsession to reproduce his idol's likeness and perfect his act drives him to commit a series of violent crimes and thefts, leading to shocking violence and murder.  Saturday night fever DVD Tony is an undereducated Brooklyn teenager who is bored with his daytime job. The highlight of his week is going to the local disco, where he is the king of the dance floor. Tony meets Stephanie at the disco and they agree to dance together in a competition. Stephanie resists Tony's attempts to romance her, as she aspires to greater things. Gradually, Tony also becomes disillusioned with the life he is leading and he and Stephanie decide to help one another to start afresh.


And in case those disco moves beckon you and are not natural (or remembered).



And who knew fashion could be so dangerous?

1974 photo Big-Brimmed hat is hazardous for the driver because it blocks side vision. Another fashion hazard is platform shoes which reduces sensitivity of the foot on the pedals.  Toronto Star Archives

"Big-Brimmed hat is hazardous for the driver because it blocks side vision. Another fashion hazard is platform shoes which reduces sensitivity of the foot on the pedals".  1974 copyright Toronto Star Archives.


Fashionable clothing from the Sears catalogs late '70s

Fashionable Clothing from the Sears Catalog



  Disco by Johnny Morgan. This is the ultimate compendium for the dancing queens and the hustle-happy who put on their boogie shoes, shook their groove thing, and felt the night fever! From its beginnings in Paris, disco quickly spread around the world, taking hold of a small club on L.A.'s Sunset Strip and ultimately becoming a lifestyle that influenced everything from music and dancing to movies to fashion. Disco captures this incredible phenomenon with great storytelling and lavish photos and memorabilia from the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.  Hot stuff  a brief history of disco. Examines the musical and cultural influences that transformed an era, the fashions and style of the period, disco's leading performers, and its long-term effects on American popular music and culture.

  Turn the Beat Around The History of Disco: A long-overdue paean to the predominant musical form of the 70s and a thoughtful exploration of the culture that spawned it Disco may be the most universally derided musical form to come about in the past forty years. Yet, like its pop cultural peers punk and hip hop, it was born of a period of profound social and economic upheaval. InTurn the Beat Around, critic and journalist Peter Shapiro traces the history of disco music and culture. From the outset, disco was essentially a shotgun marriage between a newly out and proud gay sexuality and the first generation of post-civil rights African Americans, all to the serenade of the recently developed synthesizer. Shapiro maps out these converging influences, as well as disco's cultural antecedents in Europe, looks at the history of DJing, explores the mainstream disco craze at it's apex, and details the long shadow cast by disco's performers and devotees on today's musical landscape. One part cultural study, one part urban history, and one part glitter-pop confection,Turn the Beat Aroundis the most comprehensive study of the Me Generation to date.   First ladies of disco  32 stars discuss the era and their singing careers: "The female vocalists who pioneered the disco genre in the '70s and early '80s were an extraordinarily talented group who dazzled the world with an exciting blend of elegance, soulful passion and gutsy fire. In this book of original interviews, 32 of these women tell their stories. Behind the scenes -- Dancing in heaven -- The first ladies of disco -- The Andrea True connection -- Claudja Barry -- Pattie Brooks -- Miquel Brown -- Linda Clifford -- Carol Douglas -- Yvonne Elliman -- Rochelle Fleming -- Gloria Gaynor -- Debbie Jacobs-Rock -- Madleen Kane -- Evelyn "Champagne" King -- Audrey Landers -- Suzi Lane -- Cynthia Manley -- Kelly Marie -- Maxine Nightingale -- Scherrie Payne -- Wardell Piper -- The Ritchie family, 1975-1978 -- The Ritchie family, 1978-1982 -- Barbara Roy/ecstasy, passion & pain -- Pamala Stanley -- Evelyn Thomas -- Jeanie Tracy -- Anita Ward -- Martha Wash -- Carol Williams -- Jessica Williams -- Norma Jean Wright.




Disco sandals in glitzy copper 1979 photo from the Toronto Star Archive

1979 Disco sandals in glitzy copper: New styles from Davids. Copyright Toronto Star Archives.


To disco, with love the records that defined an era. "With over 250 full color photographs of Disco's greatest album covers, paging through To Disco, with Love is like catching Saturday Night Fever all over again. From Diana Ross and Donna Summer gazing fiercely from their chart topping albums to the Village People's trademark costumes and the Bee Gee's blinding white jumpsuits, To Disco celebrates the days when the dance floor ruled the world"


And I will freely admit I learned to dance and dress watching Soul Train in the 70s. Soul surely has to be the foundation of Disco in style and sound.

The hippest trip in America Soul Train and the evolution of culture and style. "When it debuted in October 1971, seven years after the Civil Rights Act, Soul Train boldly went where no variety show had gone before, showcasing the cultural preferences of young African-Americans and the sounds that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel music. The brainchild of radio announcer Don Cornelius, the show's producer and host, Soul Train featured a diverse range of stars, from James Brown and David Bowie to Christine Aguilera and R. Kelly; Marvin Gaye and Elton John to the New Kids on the Block and Stevie Wonder. The Hippest Trip in America tells the full story of this pop culture phenomenon that appealed not only to blacks, but to a wide crossover audience as well. Famous dancers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, performers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, and Cornelius himself share their memories, offering insights into the show and its time--a period of extraordinary social and political change. Colorful and pulsating, The Hippest Trip In America is a fascinating portrait of a revered cultural institution that has left an indelible mark on our national consciousness"--Publisher's web site.

The best of soul train DVD

The Best of Soul Train DVD




There is even sheet music you can borrow for those of you musically inclined.

Disco lives!  piano, vocal, guitar sheet music for vocal piano and guitar  The Disco Era Get Down and Boogie with 60 Far Out Hits Piano Vocal Guitar Songbook Score


      Disco Box Rhino Records CD boxed set only at the Toronto Reference Library Arts Dept on the 5th floor.

You may notice at your local library branch we're doing a promotion on popular culture where we're highlighting these subjects and if you click on the links you'll see some great suggestions for books to read and dvds to watch:






A Taste of Honey by Boogie Oogie Oogie




Super Freak by Rick James



Le Freak by Chic



The Hustle by Van McCoy



Fly Robin Fly by Silver Convention



Make Me Believe in You by Patti Jo





Remembering The Beatles’ Concerts in Toronto on August 17: Snapshots in History

August 18, 2016 | John P. | Comments (0)







On August 17 and beyond, take a moment to celebrate the penultimate and the final concert pairings of The Beatles in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens on August 17, 1965 (18,000 attendance at both concerts) and August 17, 1966 (4pm: 15,000 attendance; 8pm: 17,000 attendance) respectively. The Beatles had initially visited Toronto to deliver two concerts on September 7, 1964, selling a total of 35,522 tickets.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has offered his remembrances of attending one of The Beatles’ concerts. The Market Gallery, one of the City of Toronto’s Historic Museums, is hosting an exhibition When The Beatles Rocked Toronto from June 18, 2016 to November 12, 2016 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles’ last visit to Toronto.

Torontonians wishing to celebrate The Beatles may also wish to consider borrowing materials from Toronto Public Library collections:


Music CDs:


Yellow submarine digital remaster   Help!



Our Hearts Went Boom the Beatles invasion of Canada


The Beatles in ... Canada the origins of Beatlemania!   All the songs the story behind every Beatles release   The Beatles are here! 50 years after the band arrived in America, writers and other fans remember   Allen Klein the man who bailed out the Beatles, made the Stones, and transformed rock & roll  



All the songs the story behind every Beatles release   The Beatles are here! 50 years after the band arrived in America, writers and other fans remember   Allen Klein the man who bailed out the Beatles, made the Stones, and transformed rock & roll  




The Beatles in their own write    The ultimate review the Beatles   The unseen Beatles  

Remembering the Art and the Mystery of Tom Thomson: August 5: Snapshots in History

August 5, 2016 | John P. | Comments (1)


Algonquin Park – Tom Thomson



April in Algonquin Park, 1917 – Tom Thomson

On August 5 and beyond, take a moment to remember Canadian painter Thomas John “Tom” Thomson (Born: August 5, 1877 in Claremont, Ontario; Died: July 8?, 1917 in Algonquin Park, Ontario), often cited as an artistic influence upon the Group of Seven before they formally established themselves as a group. A self-taught graphic designer with Toronto firm Grip Ltd., he developed his drafting skills but only began to paint seriously in 1912. Some of Thomson’s works began from sketches before being expanded into oil paintings. Thomson worked out of an old shack on the property of the now national historic site Studio Building at 25 Severn Street, an enclave for artists in Rosedale financed by Dr. James MacCallum and Lawren Harris (a Group of Seven member and heir to the Massey-Harris farm machinery business). Dr. MacCallum also served as Tom Thomson’s patron which helped to drive Thomson’s creative zenith as a painter during the 1914-1917 period. Unfortunately, like some artists, he sold few works during his lifetime. However, posthumous exhibitions drew increased attention to his work. For admirers of Thomson’s work, there are various places to view his paintings, including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario and the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound, Ontario.

In addition to Thomson’s work, his mysterious death at Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, on/around July 8, 1917, has fascinated Canadians for decades. Accident? Murder? Suicide? Those interested in interpreting the clues surrounding Thomson’s death for themselves have resources to fall back on, including the website Death on a Painted Lake: The Tom Thomson Tragedy. Whether you are interested in the artwork of Tom Thomson, his untimely demise, or both, please also consider the following items for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:



The many deaths of Tom Thomson separating fact from fiction  The mysterious death of Tom Thomson  a wordless narrative told in one hundred and nine woodblock engravings  The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson  Painting Canada Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven  Tom Thomson artist of the North  A treasury of Tom Thomson  Northern light the enduring mystery of Tom Thomson and the woman who loved him   Tom Thomson design for a Canadian hero 



The many deaths of Tom Thomson separating fact from fiction  Tom Thomson artist of the North  Northern light the enduring mystery of Tom Thomson and the woman who loved him   Tom Thomson design for a Canadian hero



Summer Shore, Georgian Bay - Tom Thomson



The West Wind - Tom Thomson



Autumn Foliage, 1915 - Tom Thomson

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