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Lillian H. Smith

Farley Mowat, 1921-2014

May 7, 2014 | Sarah | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Beloved Canadian author and activist Farley Mowat has died at the age of 92. From Sandra Martin's obituary in the Globe and Mail today:

"Mr. Mowat was a trickster, a ferocious imp with a silver pen, an ardent environmentalist who opened up the idea of the North to curious southerners, a public clown who hid his shyness behind flamboyant rum-swigging and kilt-flipping, and a passionate polemicist who blurred the lines between fiction and facts to dramatize his cause. Above all, he was a bestselling and prolific writer who kept generations of children (and their parents) spellbound by tales of adventures with wolves that were friendlier than people, whales in need of rescue, dogs who refused to cower, owls roosting in the rafters and boats that wouldn’t float."

Here are links to some of his most popular books in the Toronto Public Library catalogue:

Never Cry Wolf

Owls in the Family

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be

Lost in the Barrens

Bay of Spirits: A Love Story

A Whale for the Killing

There are so many more books by and about Mr. Mowat - far too many to list here! I will end with an image from the 1981 NFB documentary Ten Million Books: An Introduction to Farley Mowat.



Fun projects for mini makers

March 21, 2014 | Sarah | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

The spirit of Maker Culture has permeated our collective consciousness. Call it what you will: Making, DIY, constructivism... it seems to be everywhere these days! And the library is no exception - witness our new Digital Innovation Hubs at the Toronto Reference Library and the soon-to-be-opened Fort York branch.

Now that this formerly hidden subculture has made its way into the mainstream, there are lots of opportunities for children to get involved. When my kids and I were bored over March Break, we discovered Sylvia's Super Awesome Maker Show. Sylvia Todd, now 12 years old, has put together some very creative instructional videos on how to make everything from sidewalk chalk to simple circuits, lava lamps and robots. We made periscopes! Here's the how-to video:



Now, how about some books to spark your inner-innovator? This one has a fancy periscope that lights up with LEDs:


Explore the library's collection of science project books. A hot air balloon to go with your periscope?


And this list wouldn't be complete without the latest book on everyone's favourite building blocks:



Maker events for kids coming up at the library include Book Bash on April 26, 2014 at Northern District branch, and Building Buildings on May 24 at Fort York branch. I'd also like to check out the MakerKids space, near Dundas and Bloor in Toronto. They offer a lot of hands-on programs and special events.

Critics of the whole Maker movement for kids may complain that it's just a new way to say "crafts." I beg to differ. Yes, the end result may be a crafted product, but the value lies in the process. True Making for kids is child-led and discovery-based. We are tapping into their fascination with new technologies, but doing it in a communal setting. In a world where children are tempted by so much solo screen time, any trend that encourages social, inquisitive, human interaction is fine by me!


The King in Yellow : Book at the dark heart of True Detective

March 4, 2014 | Sarah | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Have you been watching True Detective? I have been obsessing over it a bit lately, and not only for the gripping performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The show quickly moves from a plain old cop drama into a fascinating study in detective-noir, Southern gothic, horror, and possibly things supernatural.


Rust Cohle and Martin Hart are two polar-opposite homicide detectives investigating a string of ritualized murders in Louisiana in 1995. Supposedly, they catch their guy, but the story jumps ahead to the present day when more bodies have been found, and brilliant, obessive, loner Cohle is a suspect. The diary of one of the victims contains complete passages from Robert W. Chambers' 1895 book of short stories The King in Yellow.


photo credit: Devin Faraci 

The stories in the book repeatedly mention a fictional play called The King in Yellow, the second act of which drives readers insane, as well as talk of a mysterious "yellow sign" and a frightening entity known as The King in Yellow. Chambers writes creepy very well, and his work influenced other writers of the weird, like H.P. Lovecraft and horror icon Stephen King.

But what does all of this have to do with True Detective? Well, apparently, the show is rife with not just literary references to Chambers' book, but with symbolism from the stories too. This io9 post by Michael M. Hughes goes pretty deeply into it. 

If you want to read the stories for yourself, you can come in to the Merril collection and have a look at their original copy of The King in Yellow. Otherwise, you can find electronic copies for free through Overdrive (although there are holds!) and the always-available Project Gutenberg.  

When you are done, and dying for some more spine-chilling reads, check out this excellent "True Detective" Reading List, put together by Lincoln Michel of BuzzFeed. It includes the novel Galveston, written by Nic Pizzolatto, writer for True Detective. Wow, I'd better get my name on the holds list for that as well!  

Women and Small Business Workshop: Tools to Plan Your New Future

November 5, 2013 | Cat | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

CL84017Are you a woman dreaming of starting
your own business?

Or are you thinking of leaving the corporate
world to venture off on your own?

Join us at the Lillian H Smith branch on Tuesday, November 12
from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
as we learn from 2 boomer-age women
who have successfully made the leap from the corporate world to running their own small businesses. Banasha Shah is an actuary
with over 25 years in the financial services industry and Jayne Huhtanen is a certified business coach with over 25 years of corporate training experience.

This interactive workshop will deliver:

  • Steps to develop a business vision consistent with your values and goals
  • Steps to create a financial blueprint to support your vision
  • An understanding of the special financial risks women face and how to overcome them
  • Practical tips to maximize business success

Will Your Small Business Idea Fly?

October 14, 2013 | Cat | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

123-ymcakeynoteAre you thinking of starting our own business? Do you have a groundbreaking idea?

Join Carla Langhorst, author of "Will It Fly? The Idea Tester" on Monday October 21 at Lillian H Smith from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. and put your idea to the test. This presentation will help you find out if your small business idea is marketable, profitable and does it make sense for you.

Carla Langhorst is a small business coach and works for Small Business Solver, Inc. and sees thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their businesses from simple ideas as well as taking an existing business and getting it to the next level.

According to Carla, this revolutionary process will thoroughly evaluate your dream’s feasibility. The Idea Tester will help you to determine if your dream will fly and it will give you the confidence to move forward. From engineers to hairdressers, from graphic designers to programmers - no matter your occupation, the Idea Tester will help you along the path to independent success.

Halloween Crafts

October 8, 2013 | Cat | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Fall has arrived and Halloween is just around the corner! Once the leaves start changing
colour I know it's time for pumpkin patches and apple picking... even if that
just equates to pumpkin spice lattes and baking apple pies. Every year towards
the end of September and early October I start to think about costumes and Halloween
home decor. Check out these new titles TPL has to offer on Halloween activities
and crafts for children, teens and adults.

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Check out the crafts from the Mother of all Crafters Martha Stewart's Halloween craft ideas.  From pumpkin cravings and costumes to home decor and family activities you'll find something the whole family can enjoy. 

If you're a Martha Setwart fan you can also log onto Zinio with your library card from the TPL webpage to download the Martha Stewart Living Halloween Special.



Quick & Easy Meals for Busy College Students

September 30, 2013 | Cat | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Dorm_room_diet_216pxSeptember is coming to a close and for the student, you’re probably just getting used to deadlines all in the same week and marathon back-to-back classes. You might not even remember the last solid meal you had! 

As a student you might find it a challenge to cook when the deadlines are looming or even find healthy food on campus (campuses can be total food deserts sometimes).  I can tell you from years of experience; it can become pretty stressful to eat well as a student when dealing with tight budgets and ridiculously busy schedules. 

That's when I turned to TPL to find books on quick and easy recipes to keep me from starving.

So check out these titles for new ideas on eating well and start thinking about healthy choices… you have the rest of the year to pull through!


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Branded by the Pink Triangle

September 18, 2013 | Cat | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

PinkTriangle_coverBW3Join us on  

Wednesday September 25th

as author Ken Setterington talks about his new book "Branded by the Pink Triangle": a history of the persecution of gay men by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust.

7:00 p.m. - 8:00.p.m.

Lillian H. Smith Library


Between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men--identified by the pink triangle-- were sent to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, many to die there. After the war, this bitter history was for decades ignored. Author Ken Setterington talks about his work on this book and why he wrote it for young adults.

Enter the Roald Dahl Short Story Contest!

September 13, 2013 | Cat | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

ThIf you woke up on a school day morning with Matilda's magical powers, 
what would you do? 


Small Print Toronto 
invites writers 6-12 years old
to take part in the 
4th annual Toronto 
Roald Dahl Day
Short Story Contest,
celebrating the 25th anniversary 
of Dahl's novel Matilda!


Craft a short tale (1500 words MAX) about what you, a middle grade student in Toronto, would do if you woke up on a school day and realized you had incredible telekinetic powers just like Matilda.

Send your story to by 
Sept. 27, 2013.

And on Saturday October 19th at 2:00 pm, an all-star panel of judges will award cool prizes to the top stories!

So come in and celebrate contest participants and winners!



Street Smart: Safe Cycling Workshop this weekend!

July 3, 2013 | Cat | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Toronto-cycling-reuters_cropThis weekend we are featuring a Street Smart: Safe Cycling Workshop in partnership with Library Settlement Partnership, CultureLink, Citizen and Immigration Canada, and Cycle Toronto.

Saturday July 6th from 2 to 4 pm

All participants will receive a copy of the Toronto Cyclists Handbook and a Toronto Bike Map. 


 You'll gain knowledge on:

  • The benefits of cycling
  • Rules of the road: The Ontario Highway Traffic Act and City of Toronto's Cycling By-Laws
  • Techniques for safe cycling
  • Route selection
  • Basic bike maintenance and how to fix a flat tire (hands-on training with a mechanic!)
  • Community and legal resources

The workshop is FREE but we do ask you register in advance by calling us at 416-393-7746 or stop by in person to the 2nd floor reference desk.

We do receive quite a few questions about the Toronto Cycling Map every year and you can pick up your own copy here in branch.  Just visit us on the 2nd floor reference desk.

The Toronto Cycling website has a ton more information - including updates on bike by-laws, trails under construction, bike riding courses and more.

From Cycle Toronto, The Toronto Cyclists Handbook is available in 17 languages. To download the language edition you want, click the image below.


Lillian H. Smith library, in the heart of the Discovery District, Chinatown and Kensington Market, is a district branch of Toronto Public Library. Learn more about your local library & community, and while you're at it, drop us a comment. If you are visiting us in person, look for the bronze gryphons guarding our door.