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15 New Books by Women Artists

November 25, 2015 | Brent | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

The Arts Department on the 5th floor of Toronto Reference Library has just had its fall books delivered. We've been lucky to be able to get books on a wide range of topics.

We've been especially lucky to have great selection of books by women artists (as well as an anthology by a rather important curator).

Here are 15 of them:


            Agnes Martin       Chantal Portbriand      Suite Sophie Calle

                       Alyson Shotz       Almond Garden Gabriela Maj

        From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires Grete Stern     In the Shadow of a Shadow     Florence henri

               Helen Schjerfbeck     Rebecca Horn     Yoko Ono One Woman Show 

              Christina Ramberg      Akiko Takizawa    Sturtevant Double Reversal  

                                          Tomma Abts mainly Drawing.

Canadian Painter Tom Thomson Reconsidered with the AGO's Andrew Hunter

November 17, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Andrew Hunter, the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), will be giving a free talk from 1-2 p.m. on Monday, November 23rd 2015, about two exemplary examples of Tom Thomson's work and the centre of a current exhibition at the AGO.

Tom Thomson-The West Wind
The West Wind by Tom Thomson 1917. Oil on canvas. 120.7 cm × 137.2 cm (47.5 in × 54.0 in) Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

Tom Thomson's two paintings, The West Wind and The Jack Pine, are among the most iconic images in Canadian art.  Thomson, while not a formal member of the Group of Seven, was closely associated with them and his painting style and subject matter reflects the group's interests (or vice versa?).

Tom Thomson -The Jack Pine
The Jack Pine, Tom Thomson 1916-1917, 127.9 x 139.8 cm, oil on canvas.  Purchased 1918, National Gallery of Canada (no. 1519)

The talk will be held on Monday November 23rd, 2015 at 1 pm in the Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium at the Toronto Reference Library.  All are welcome to this free program.

Andrew Hunter is a well known art curator and prolific author on Canadian art and most recently associated with the AGO's Alex Colville exhibit

If you're interested in knowing more about Tom Thomson you may enjoy the following:


DVD West Wind the Vision of Tom Thomson g


The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson by David Silcox


Tom Thomson edited by Dennis Reid


The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson  an introduction by Anne Newlands

Vinyl 101 at the Toronto Reference Library

October 28, 2015 | Beau | Comments (5) Facebook Twitter More...

A while back I was in a thrift store digging for records, and a young boy accompanied by his mother picked up an album that had fallen out of its sleeve. "Mama, what's this?" he asked. "They have music on them," she replied. Then he furrowed his brow and held the record up to the light as if he was trying to see where the notes were hidden. Music you can touch; in an age where pretty much any album you're looking for can be found online and downloaded in seconds, good old-fashioned vinyl records still appeal to music fans of all ages who crave a physical alternative to the ephemeral nature of MP3s and streaming sites. 

The Vinyl 101 program happening at 6:30 p.m on November 12th at the Toronto Reference Library is a great chance for both vinyl veterans and newcomers to learn more about every aspect of record collecting. But if you'd like to brush up on your knowledge in the meantime the library also has several crates' worth of books about records and the dedicated collectors who love them.


Dust and Grooves

A big part of the appeal of collecting is organizing, displaying and showing off your collection, and vinyl fans are no exception. Dust & grooves: adventures in record collecting, by Eilon Paz, takes you on an intimate tour of the record rooms of some of the most famous DJs, musicians and producers in the world (including Gilles Peterson and Questlove). The gorgeous photos are accompanied by interviews with diggers around the world - from big names to everyday enthusiasts - who discuss their favourite finds, what motivates them to keep looking and how and why they got into records in the first place.

Record Collecting For Girls

Record collecting used to be thought of as exclusively a boy's club, but that viewpoint (reinforced by the popular book and movie High Fidelity) is almost as dated as the wax cylinders records replaced decades ago. Record collecting for girls: unleashing your inner music nerd, one album at a time, by Courtney E. Smith, gives readers a full double LP's worth of the female perspective on record collecting and music fandom in general.


The Record

Records are more than just the music they contain within their grooves; visual artists have been using them as both medium and inspiration for as long as they've existed. The record: contemporary art and vinyl, by Trevor Schoonmaker, is a catalog of the first exhibition to explore the culture of vinyl records in contemporary art and includes works by 33 artists who utilized records in sculpture, performance, painting, photography and more.


Fade To Black       Coast to Coast       The Art of the LP

                Hipgnosis Archives             Punk 45

It should go without saying that record covers and sleeves are works of art unto themselves. Here are a few of the many collections of album art available at the library that will send even the most jaded diggers back to the crates for another expedition in the hopes of unearthing some of the eye (and ear) candy on display in these gorgeous coffee table books.


Record Store Days

Like pretty much everything else you can buy them online now, but back in the day if you wanted to buy a record you had to trek over to an actual brick-and-mortar store. Record store days: from vinyl to digital and back again, by Gary Calamar, is an affectionate look back at the retail goldmines which often doubled as clubhouses, art galleries and launching pads for bands and record labels alike. A few years ago many people were writing record stores off as a doomed relic of the pre-digital age, but since then they've made a comeback alongside records themselves. If you're reading this in Toronto you're lucky enough to be in one of the world's best cities for record stores, so get out there and get digging!

For the Federal Election Toronto Public Library endorses......

October 16, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

A knowledgeable electorate that votes. And how better to help accomplish that than a short alphabetical list by subject of the four major national political leaders. 

Did you know one of Toronto Public Library's eight values is: "Intellectual Freedom: Guaranteeing and facilitating the free exchange of information and ideas in a democratic society"?

Looking for more information on voting? 


Stephen Harper by John Ibbitson


Who We Are Reflections on My Life and Canada by Elizabeth May


  Strength of Conviction by Tom Mulcair


Common Ground by Justin Trudeau


If you're looking for more detailed information about the leaders try John P's blog series:

Suzy Lake in Conversation with Bill Clarke: Performing an Archive

October 13, 2015 | Brent | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

On Monday October 26th ground-breaking artist, performer and photographer Suzy Lake will discuss her five-decade long career as well as her new book "Performing an Archive" with Canadian art writer and critic Bill Clarke. The program begins at 7 PM and takes place at the Hinton Learning Theatre on the third floor of Toronto Reference Library.

               Artist Files

In 2014, the Art Gallery of Ontario mounted a major retrospective of her work, Introducing Suzy Lake which occupied the fourth floor of the galley from November to March the next year. Extraordinarily prolific, the exhibition and the accompanying book featured some of her best known work: "Are You Talking to Me?" a set of distorted self portraits of the artist reciting Travis Bickle's speech from Taxi Driver; and Imitations of Myself in which she eliminates her face with white greasepaint and literally draws it back on with makeup.

There are decades of self-portraits trying on various personas available through mass media: as a young woman mimicking the unnatural poses of fashion magazines in her street clothes, as rock goddess Suzy Spice and as an regally imposing fashionista.

         Suzy Lake Performing an Archive        Introducing Suzy Lake 

Most of Lake's photography doubles as a documentation of a performance. The depicted subject is active not passive. Moreover the woman who is in front of the camera is also the one who is (literally) calling the shots. This leads to all sorts of conceptual twists.

Take for example her Extended Breathing series.

Two of the photographs depict the artist in front of iconic art images from her hometown: on the steps of the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Industry fresco cycle by Diego Rivera.

The photographs' ultra-long exposures typically leave her lower body in focus but the rest of her is a ghostly blur. At first glance the photographs seem like a self-deprecating meditation on the artist’s own legacy and mortality. There are similar photographs set on city streets around the world and in her own backyard.

And yet as the title of the series indicates it’s the act of extended breathing—of consciously positioning herself—that’s making her visible to the camera’s eye. Ironically what's making her a ghost in the photograph is the fact that she's alive.

Here's a clip from Annette Mangaard's documentary Suzy Lake: Playing with Time.


Lake received renewed exposure in the United States as a featured artist in the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution. One of her former students, Cindy Sherman, has always generously acknowledged her as an influence.

         Wack! Art and the feminist revolution       Pictures

Come see the artist talk about her new work "Performing an Archive" which draws on civic history and her own family story, to bear witness to the development ..and decline...of her hometown Detroit.

Listen Up: Alan Davis' Music Picks

October 9, 2015 | D!ana | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Last year while we were in the works of putting together Listen Up, I reached out to Alan Davis, the Executive Director of Small World Music on what some of his favourite albums are: 

Alan Davis on the Golden Horn

1. Autorickshaw - The Humours of Autorickshaw (2013)



"One of Toronto's best world music bands. It's been seven years since the last Autorickshaw release - they still combine Indian and western, but this is a mature, powerful offering with a heavier sound and a strong, at time political voice. Plus they're part of our 12th Annual Asian Music Series!"



2. Eccodek - Singing in Tongues (2014)


"Guelph-based Eccodek have been creating their self-styled 'global groove' music for over a decade now. Deep, dubby and hypnotic, Andrew McPherson's project brings African, South Asian and other styles into a modern, electronic melting pot."



3. David Bowie - The Next Day (2013)

David Bowie - The Next Day
"Although it's been over a year since its release, this record continues to resonate with me. After a decade's absence, one of the giants of rock music surprised everyone, dropping a new disc with no prior notice. He returned fully energized, touching all the Bowie bases to make this something special." 



4. Souljazz Orchestra - Inner Fire (2014)

Souljazz Orchestra Inner Fire


"You wouldn't think Ottawa would produce one of Canada's funkiest bands, but as their name suggests, Souljazz brings together all the elements you need for a party. Big bottomed rhythms under horn-driven melodies and a socially-conscious message make for a full dance floor."



5. Habib Koité - Soô (2014)

Habib Koité Soo


"Released to coincide with his recent North American tour (we presented him at the Mod Club on Valentine's Day in 2014) the latest CD from Habib Koitéone of Africa's major stars, focuses on his homeland of Mali and the ongoing troubles that plague one of the key centres of global music. As usual, it's compelling stuff."


Thank you Alan!

Small World Music is a Toronto-based organization that celebrates cultural diversity through music. They are the ones behind events like the Asian Music Series and the Small World Music Festival, which recently took place in Toronto and is known for launching new artists.

The Small World Music Festival celebrated their 14th anniversary in "capturing the world in a ten-day festival" with music from EthiopiaKoreaPalestineEstonia and more! 


The Toronto Public Library's music collection has albums from several artists that performed in this year's Small World Music Festival. These artists include: 

Buena Vista Social Club
(Cuban-Jazz Hip-Hop)

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque
(Afro-Cuban Jazz)

Krar Collective
(African, Ethiopian Folk)

Vieux Farka Toure
(Malian Folk, Blues)

You can also search by genre. Here are just some of the world music genres we carry:


Irish & West African fusion

Islamic music

Mali folk music

Nigerian electronic music

Romanies (or Roma) music

Tibetan music

What is your favourite kind of world music? Do you have a favourite artist or band that plays world music? 

Free Lunchtime Cello Concert: Kodály's Sonata for Solo Cello 100th Anniversary Celebration

October 8, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Join us for a free concert by Hannah Addario-Berry to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hungarian composer and musicologist Zoltán Kodály's Sonata for Solo Cello.

On Tuesday October 13th at 1:00 pm at the Toronto Reference Library cellist Addario-Berry will perform works by young composers commissioned in celebration of the 100th anniversary. 

This performance is part of a longer five-month tour of Canada and the United States called Scordatura. All are welcome to this 45 minute long performance.


Hannah Addario-Berry Cellist


Written in 1915, Sonata in B Minor for Solo Cello, Op. 8 has entered the standard repertoire for cello, rivalling the Bach solo cello pieces, and is now part of the Pablo Casals International Cello Competition.

Did you know the Arts Department on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library has over 29,000 music scores that you can borrow or use here?  They cover Broadway, popular, jazz and classical for voice, piano and many instruments. We have 59 pieces of sheet music that showcase Kodály's work.


Kodaly Sonata for Solo Cello; Adagio; Sonatina; Epigrams by Natalie Clein et al


There are also many CDs in the Library system that you can borrow if you want to listen to his work.  And, if you're a bit more traditional (or retro), the Arts Department at the Toronto Reference Library has 56 LPs of Kodaly's work that you can listen to here on one of our two record players. If you're e-services oriented we also have 332 e-music Kodály titles you can access with your library card.




Did you also know we have a free online music services you can access with your library card? Naxos is a streaming service with strength in classical and jazz. You can listen to various artists perform Kodály's Sonata for Solo Cello and many other works. We also have Hoopla where you can download music (they're both free but you do need a library card ready to login):

Naxos            Hoopla

Audition material for Plays, Shows and Musical Theatre at the Toronto Reference Library, 5th Floor

October 6, 2015 | Wendy | Comments (10) Facebook Twitter More...

We have audition material for upcoming plays and shows that you can use at the Arts Department, 5th floor of Toronto Reference Library (the list is updated regularly).  


** Attention Auditioners! Current audition listings have been moved to a new blog where you can sign up to receive instant email notification of new postings. The listings below are no longer being updated. Please check out the new Audition Listings blog.**



New Auditions:




Know of an upcoming audition

Tell us in person, call the 5th floor Arts Desk at 416-393-7157, or email us at Want to leave your script here so you can refer actors to us?  We do that too.                


Toronto Reference Library has an extensive collection of monologues for all your audition needs! Come to the Arts Department on the 5th floor to sample some...

Monologues for Women

Monologues for Men

Canadian Monologues

Multicultural and LGBT gay/lesbian monologues


Audition items are for use in the library only and on first come first served basis.  There are sometimes copies at other branches that you can borrow or reserve.  We do have photocopying - but you'll need a copy card or blue or white library card - remember to add money at the Main 1st floor information desk. We are on the 5th floor - Arts Department desk - Toronto Reference Library -  thank you and knock'm dead.

Listen Up: Dufflet Rosenberg's Music Picks

September 10, 2015 | D!ana | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

Our previous Listen Up posts featured talented music personalities Jully Black and Jeanne Lamon. In this post, we interviewed the talented baker Dufflet Rosenberg, CEO of the popular Dufflet Pastries, about her music picks because well, haven't you ever wondered what the 'Queen of Cake' listens to when she's making that yummy key lime pie? 

Dufflet Rosenberg

Considered as 'the best baker in Toronto,' Ms. Rosenberg established the Dufflet brand in 1975 and eventually opened the first Dufflet store on Queen Street West serving some of the city's tastiest pastries and delectable desserts. 


Here's what her favourite albums are: 

1.Kind of Blue, Miles Davis (1997, originally released in 1959legacy edition 2009)

Miles Davis Kind of Blue Album Cover

Dufflet says: "Reminds me of being a teenager sitting in smoky basements with my friends. I was lucky to have seen him in perform in Toronto a few times, his live concerts were wonderful."



2. Blue, Joni Mitchell (1986, originally released in 1971)

  Joni Mitchell Blue Album Cover

Dufflet says: "Brilliant songwriter and a Canadian woman holding her own with international folk stars. 'A Case of You' was an anthem for love-struck girls in the 70's."



3. Girl Talk, Holly Cole Trio (1990)

Holly Cole Trio Girl Talk Album Cover


Dufflet says: "Another fantastic Canadian voice, this album really feels like 'Toronto' to me as it was her first full-length album recorded with her trio when she moved here from Halifax."



4. Hymns of the 49th Parallel, KD Lang (2004)

  K D Lang Hymns Of The 49th Parallel Album Cover

Dufflet says: "An amazing voice and an amazing selection of cover songs including Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' and Jane Siberry's 'Love is Everything'. So much Canadian goodness in one place!"



5. The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years, Elvis Costello (2007)

The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years Album Cover

Dufflet says: "Some compilations are guilty of being topped up with filler songs, but this one is brilliant - all of my fav songs in one place! 'What's So Funny' and 'High Fidelity' are songs that I sing along to in the car - when I'm sure nobody's looking."




6. All day, Girl Talk (2010)

All Day Album Cover


Dufflet says: "Crazy DJ mash-up energy music, you get a little bit of everything here, samples galore!"

[Editor's note: TPL does not carry this album because the album was released as a free download! You can download it from Girl Talk's record label Illegal Art. We do have an earlier album by Girl Talk called Night Ripper (2006).]


7. Begin to Hope, Regina Spektor (2006)

Regina Spektor Begin to Hope Album Cover

Dufflet says: "A unique style and a great look. I think of her as a musical entrepreneur and her sound makes me think of cool supper clubs in Manhattan."




8. Abbey Road, Beatles (2009, originally released in 1969)

Beatles Abbey Road Album Cover

Dufflet says: "Although it's hard to pick just one, I'd have to say this is my favourite album of all time - melodic, funny, bittersweet."




9. After the Gold Rush, Neil Young (1987, originally released in 1970)

Neil Young After The Gold Rush Album Cover

Dufflet says: "One of my all-time fav song-writers. Crosby, Still, Nash & Young were such a big part of my musical tastes, and when each of them recorded a solo album after Deja Vu, I thought that I would like this one the least, but for me it's stood the test of time. I think it's genius."



Thank you Dufflet! 


In the spirit of food and music, here's a great CD that allows the listener to sample different European music from the Late Middle Ages to Renaissance period. 

Food Wine Song Album Cover

In addition to a music CD, the Food, Wine & Song album by The Orlando Consort also includes a cookbook containing 19 medieval recipes! You can really set the mood while you're feasting or cooking with this excellent pairing of festive music and decadent dishes from different countries in Europe! 

Although you can't place an order on this album, there are two ways you can still enjoy this album:

  1. Visit the Arts Department on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library where there are listening stations available and more sound recordings to discover! 
  2. Listen to this online from the Naxos Music Library (sorry, the recipe book isn't available with this option). 

If you prefer getting your music from an online source, there's also:

Want more food and music inspiration? Check out's list of classical music inspired by breads, cakes and biscuits!

What kind of music do you listen to when you're cooking or baking?

Do Leather Bindings Get You Excited? A Sneak Peek into the Treasures and Good Book Sale Sept 17-19 2015 at Toronto Reference Library

September 9, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Do unclipped dust jackets on first edition hardcovers make your toes curl?

If so, then you'll really enjoy the Treasures and Good Book Sale Sept 17-19th 2015, sponsored by The Friends of the Toronto Public Library, South Chapter. They've sorted, sifted and priced thousands of donated books in many categories like art and photography, first editions, author signed copies, rare and out of print books.  There are also unusual sets and a wide selection of beautiful Folio Press titles. I've seen many reasonably priced "reading copies" of books as well.

For more details about the sale see this poster.

Below are a selection of titles for sale to give you a taste of what will be available:

This four-volume hardcover "Life of Napoleon Bonaparte" (The Century Co. © 1896) is priced at $100.00 and would look beautiful on a book shelf and has a lovely heft to it.

Napoleon Bonaparte a History (four volumes with nice binding)


"Marvel: The Characters and Their Universe" © 2002 is a great newer coffee table sized book with beautiful illustrations. $10


"History of The Department of Munitions and Supply; Canada in the Second World War" © 1950 is a two-volume hardcover with dust jacket and an interesting inscription and autograph from C. D. Howe. $50

History of the Department of Munitions and Supplies (Canadian 2 volumes and signed by C. D. Howe)


For pottery and porcelain collectors there is a large and varied selection of books including this visually stunning, heavily illustrated in color book on Meissen porcelain "Meißener Porzellan des 18. Jahrhunderts: Die Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloß Lustheim" © 2004. $25


"The Silmarillion" © 1977 by J.R.R. Tolkein seems to be an first British edition hardcover with dust jacket. $300

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein - first British edition hardcover with dust jacket

The esoteric and occult are always big sellers so I imagine "Freemasonry Its Hidden Meaning" © 1948, 1976 will prove popular. $5

Freemasonry Its Hidden Meaning by George H. Steinmetz

The following are what I would call affordable "reading" copies of books - mostly hardcover with good bindings, nice easy to read print and sometimes illustrated.

Routledge Prize Library "Uncle Tom's Cabin" illustrated circa late 1800s. $6

"Native Son" hardcover with dust jacket, a reprint of the original 1940 edition. $8

Uncle Tom's Cabin (illustrated older edition hardcover) front cover   Native Son by Richard Wright

I recall reading a Penguin paperback edition of "Bleak House" in university - it was a difficult LONG read. How much more enjoyable would have been this reprint of an original Nonesuch Dickens Press. $8  

Bleak House by Charles Dickens reprint of Nonesuch Press Edition.


Treasures and Good Books Sale

Thursday, September 17,  9:30 a.m - 8 p.m ($2 admission first day only)

Friday, September 18, 9 a.m - 7 p.m

Saturday, September 19, 9 a.m - 4 p.m

Beeton Auditorium, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street


Prices will range from $1 up to $300 but most material is between $2 and $15. Sorry for those who like to bargain, the prices are firm. Good news though, we accept cash, debit or credit card.

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