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Winterlicious: DIY Style

January 20, 2017 | Maria | Comments (0)

There are two city-sponsored food festivals that are held in Toronto each year: Summerlicious and Winterlicious. 


Winterlicious is coming up starting January 27, 2017 and ending on February 9, 2017. Over 220 restaurants in Toronto are participating by offering three-course meals at set prices. Depending on the restaurant, lunch costs $18, $23, or $28 per person and dinner costs $28, $38, or $48 per person. There are also Winterlicious Culinary Events with tickets ranging from $55 to $105 per person. 

Winterlicious is a foodie (a person with a particular interest in food) favourite and provides a great opportunity to sample delicious cuisine prepared by top chefs. It's a very popular event and many Torontonians participate every year.

The downside of Winterlicious is that even with the discounted restaurant prices, it may not fit in everyone's budget. You might not have money set aside for restaurant dining, have a hard time justifying the expense, or simply not be able to afford it. As a result, you could end up skipping Winterlicious altogether. 

But what if there was a more affordable way to join in the Winterlicious fun? A way to sample delicious cuisine on a budget? I bring you "Winterlicious: DIY (Do It Yourself) Style".


Winterlicious: DIY Style

If Winterlicious does not fit into your budget — or you find DIY fun — why not just do it yourself and host your own Winterlicious-style dinner? You can dine alone, make a meal for the entire family, cook a romantic dinner for two, or even plan a fun Winterlicious-themed party for a group of friends. The only cost to you is the price of groceries, with the result of some very lucky guests who can enjoy a delicious meal without spending a dime. 

All you need to do is to pick out some new recipes that you (or your guests) haven't tried before and there you have it... Winterlicious: DIY style.

Family Dinner

The Food

Let's start with the most important part of Winterlicious: DIY Style... the food. Winterlicious is known for its three-course-meals.  If you look through the Winterlicious Prix Fixe Restaurant List and click on any restaurant, you can see the Winterlicious menu. Menus typically consist of three courses — starters, entrées and desserts — with multiple options to choose from. Many restaurants offer at least some choices that are vegetarian.

Filipino FoodWhen you host your own Winterlicious: DIY Style dinner, you may want to pick one starter, entrée and dessert to serve. Make sure you find out if your guests have any allergies or dietary restrictions beforehand.

Winterlicious provides a great opportunity to sample food from other cultures. If you're new to Canada, you can prepare some recipes from back home. Invite friends who haven't tried your culture's food to your Winterlicious: DIY Style dinner. They can enjoy authentic cuisine from across the world; plus, next time, they might host and you can try some of their favourite recipes. 

If you're cooking for family, or friends from your own culture, this can be a great opportunity to make food from another part of the world. You can borrow a cookbook from the library and try making cuisine from a country of your choice. Try cooking IranianItalian or Mexican, for example, or even give cooking Canadian a shot.  

The new Persian kitchen Mark McEwan's Fabbrica The best Mexican recipes

If you're comfortable in the kitchen and have the time, you can try preparing dishes from one of the Winterlicious menus on the Prix Fixe Restaurant List. You can find recipes for those (or similar) dishes online, or in a cookbook from the library.

You can also try making something completely unique. There's a Pokémon cookbook with Pikachu ramen or mashed Meowth potatoes that are sure to wow your guests!

If you prefer a cookbook in a language other than English, the library also has cookbooks in Chinese, French, Italian, GujaratiGreek, Russian and Spanish (among others).

And if you don't like to fuss in the kitchen, "The Minimalist Entertains" by Mark Bittman has recipes for simple, yet elegant, dinners divided by season. Winter has some wonderful options, from 'A Cocktail Party' on page 194, to 'An Informal Italian Dinner' on Page 214, to a 'A Leisurely Midwinter Dinner' on page 226. 

125 gluten-free vegetarian recipes The minimalist entertains  Pokémon cookbook 


There is so much more to a perfect meal than just food, which is why ambiance is a big part of Winterlicious too.

Dinner table

If you want your Winterlicious: DIY Style dinner to feel special, look great and be 'insta-worthy' (when a picture is good enough to be posted on Instagram), you have to set the right atmosphere.

You can get tons of ideas from books at the library. I looked through a few and here are some basic suggestions. 

Food styling Elegant napkin folding Simple stunning parties at home

Simple Stunning Parties at Home by Karen Bussen has a section on ambiance that talks about how to transform everyday spaces. A centerpiece such as a tray of glowing gold candles, can transform a table. Plus, the author suggests music and decor to go with each themed menu to help transform your Winterlicious: DIY Style and take it to the next level.

If you're looking for some background music for the evening (or afternoon) you can borrow music CDs from the library. If you prefer to listen online, Naxos Music Library has classical, jazz, electronic, and world music; Hoopla has all sorts of music CDs that you can stream in your web browser or enjoy offline on your smartphone or tablet.

I also leafed through the library's copy of "The Elegant Napkin Folding" by Joanne O'Sullivan, and the napkin folds are colourfully illustrated in very easy-to-follow, step-by-step diagrams. You can easily master them in minutes and the library has plenty of other napkin-folding books to help you pick the perfect one.

If you don't have napkins or gold candles lying around the house, improvise with what you've got. You can impress your guests with Super Simple Origami or use Mason Jar Crafts for centerpieces. You can also create items inspired by different countries from around the world, using household items and things you can buy at the dollar store (the book Craft It Up Around the World can help).

Insta Worthy

Some Final Thoughts

Just because you can't make it to a Winterlicious restaurant doesn't mean you have to miss out. You can host your own Winterlicious: DIY Style without breaking your wallet, and enjoy trying new, delicious recipes. When your friends talk about Winterlicious, I can guarantee your Winterlicious: DIY Style will steal the spotlight. 

If you don't have the time to host, give your foodie friends a nudge by sending them this blog. Next thing you know, you'll be getting an invite to their Winterlicious: DIY Style dinner, and everybody wins!

Plan on attending (or hosting) Winterlicious: DIY Style? Have any delicious recipes you can't wait to try? Are you brave (and awesome) enough to give the Pokémon cookbook a shot? Or do you have a unique theme? Comment below! Oh, and don't forget to come back and tell me how it went! 

I'll be hosting my own Winterlicious: DIY Style for a few close friends. Wish me luck?

Kem Cho in Gujarati | ગુજરાતી

December 28, 2016 | Chantel | Comments (0)

Kem Cho everyone!

Gujarati materials

Did you know that according to the 2011 Census 28, 240 people in Toronto speak Gujarati, one of the many languages spoken in India?  Here at the library, we have 12 different branches that house Gujarati materials for those speakers. The collection size and selection varies between the branches but the largest collections are located in Cedarbrae, Malvern and Toronto Reference Library with over 1,500 items. Check out the different locations below for your favourite book, movie, CD or magazine!

Large: 1500 or more items Medium: 750-1500 items Small: Fewer than 750 items



Toronto Reference Library


Amesbury Park





York Woods



Scarborough Civic Centre


Don’t want to go out during the cold winter months?  Or want to switch it up with some Gollywood instead of Bollywood movies? Borrow a couple of DVDs to keep you company.

The Good Road Pappa Padharavo Savdhan
Mane Koi Roko Ma Var Maro Sauthi Saro


For those new to the country or the library, learn about how to get a library card and other services that the library offers. You can also find a settlement worker at the library to help you get started in the new city, including finding a job.



Cosmopolis Toronto: The World in One City

If you want to see just how diverse Toronto is, visit one of the library branches hosting the Cosmopolis Toronto photo exhibits on now until January 8, 2017.  Learn about how people from different parts of the world came to live and love Toronto as their new home. Check out Mayank and Khaoula's stories as they moved from India and Kashmir to Toronto.

Mayank-India Khaoula-Kashmir

Winter in Toronto 2016

December 16, 2016 | Suzanne | Comments (2)

Winter has arrived! Have you been skating this winter? I’m usually drinking hot chocolate on the sidelines, but if someone convinces me enough I’ll lace up a pair of skates. People have enjoyed skating as a winter activity for decades in Toronto.

Skating at Albert Campbell Square in 1973

Former Mayor Paul Cosgrove enjoys skating with some friends at Albert Campbell Square in 1973. Photo credit: Toronto Star Archives


Skiing is another popular winter activity. Last winter I went skiing after a number of years and had a pretty fun time learning how to ski again. If I could do it, so can you!  

Skiing at Horseshoe Valley


I went skiing at Horseshoe Valley, which is one and a half hours north of Torontobut did you know you can enjoy skiing in the city? There are a few spots to choose from if you want to try skiing in the city. There are also a number of outdoor skating rinks and rinks where you can get skating lessons. Right behind my branch (Scarborough Civic Centre branch), there is a rink in Albert Campbell Square that always has people skating and having a good time!


Skating at Albert Campbell Square 2000s


There are also many great winter festivals and activities happening all over the city during the holiday season. Check out the City of Toronto Events Calendar for lots of fun ideas for families.  

Our Toronto Public Library KidsSpace has a good list of ways to explore the city. Many city attractions have special events during the Christmas break, why not try one of Toronto's Historic Sites for a fun holiday activity? And of course, you can always come in and cozy up with a good book at one of our 100 branches of Toronto Public Library. Just make sure you're aware of our holiday hours

Unlike schools, the library is open throughout the holidays, with many of them hosting fun programs for families to enjoy. Find out about the holiday programs at your local branch.

Finally, we want to remind you stay warmly dressed this winter! Here are some past blog posts on how to stay safe and dress warmly during the winter:

Welcome to Winter! Part 1: How to Fight the Winter Blues

Welcome to Winter! Part 2: How to be Winter Safe

Welcome to Winter! Part 3: Dressing for Winter

Toronto has no shortage of fun winter activities, and now that the cold weather is here to stay, why not enjoy it? 

Skating at Nathan Phillips Square 1992

Second annual Catholic Children's Aid Society skating party at Nathan Phillips Square in 1992. Photo credit: Toronto Star Archives

Vietnamese | Tiếng Việt

November 11, 2016 | Maria | Comments (0)

Do you speak Vietnamese | Tiếng Việt? Today, I'd like to highlight the library's Vietnamese collection. From books, to movies, to eResources and even art exhibits, the library has a lot to offer to Vietnamese Torontonians. 

Vietnamese Collection Locations

Many library branches have collections of books and movies in Vietnamese.


1,500 or more items


750-1,500 items


fewer than 750 items

An up-to-date chart can be found on Toronto Public Library Language Collection Locations page.

Find Material in Your Language


Toronto Public Library offers a Browse by Language option, which can help you find out what books, movies, music and digital content are available at the library in Vietnamese. You can also place holds to request the items you want. Clicking on Vietnamese | Tiếng Việt will take you to the library catalogue.

You can also use the menu on the left-hand side to narrow down your search. 


Mango Languages

Mango languages is a great resource for learning different languages, including English and Vietnamese. The English for Vietnamese speakers (Tiếng Anh Cho Người Việt Nam) section can help native Vietnamese speakers learn English. You can access it for free from Toronto Public Library website's Mango Languages section with your library card.

Mango Languages
English for Vietnamese speakers (Tiếng Anh Cho Người Việt Nam)

Myseum of Toronto Presents Cosmopolis: The World in One City

Cosmopolis Toronto: The World in One City is a photography series by Colin Boyd Shafer that captures the stories of people born in every country of the world but who now call Toronto home. Cosmopolis Toronto, offered in partnership with Myseum of Toronto and Toronto Public Library, will be displayed at select library branches across the city from from November 3, 2016 to January 8, 2017.

Helen Vietnam
Photo credit: Cosmopolis Toronto

Helen from Vietnam, pictured above, is part of the Finding Refuge exhibit located at Bloor/Gladstone branch. You can read Helen's story online.

Questions? Comments?

If you have any questions about the library's Vietnamese collection, or any comments about this blog post, please post them below. 

Finding Books, Movies and More in 40 Languages: Diversity and Multilingual Collections at Your Library

October 31, 2016 | Iana | Comments (0)

Looking for a book in Italian? Hindi DVDs? Picture books in Russian? Korean magazines? Chinese e-books, e-audio books and e-videos? Look no further! Toronto Public Library's multilingual collections offer books, magazines, DVDs, newspapers and digital content in over 40 different languages.

Browse Online by Language

Check out the library's revised Materials in Your Language page. Browse by language or search and place holds for materials directly from the New to Canada portal by selecting a multilingual language collection. The page is mobile-friendly, making it easy to log on to digital content as well as place online holds on books, movies, music in over 40 different languages, and have the materials be sent to a preferred library branch for pickup.

Languages List


Visit a Library Branch

In the same website section New to Canada -- Find Material in Your Language -- you can select language collection locations to find out which library branches have large, medium or small collections of books and movies in different languages.

Find Your Way snapshot


New To Canada Blog

Many of the library's language collections have already been featured in previous blog posts and we are planning to feature more of them on the New to Canada blog:


Children's Multilingual Dial-A-Story

Dial-a-story-215x300Toronto Public Library offers free multilingual storytelling by phone that is available 24/7 to anyone. Call the library Dial-a-Story at 416-395-5400 and listen to stories in 16 languages: English, French, Cantonese, Gujarati, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Tagalog and Urdu. There are stories for younger children (seven and under) and for older children (up to 12) and the stories are changed regularly -- more than 600 stories have been recorded.

Listening to stories is a great skill for children, which enhances their literacy and comprehension. Dial-a-story features wonderful stories recorded by professional storytellers and library staff who speak the language. Adults can listen to those stories too and experience the sound of a new language.

New immigrants have told us they appreciate the English stories for practicing English, as well as the stories in their own language, as they help their children connect with their heritage culture.


Mango Languages -- Free Online Learning

If on the other side, you are looking to improve your languages skills, try the Mango Languages online database offered by Toronto Public Library.

 Click here to go to Mango database.Mango Languages is a fast, easy and effective way to learn to speak a new language and it's fun to use! Mango offers more than 60 languages for English speakers and as well as 18 English as a Second Language learning courses for non-English speakers. Includes Mango Basic and Mango Complete. Also available for mobile devices including Android and iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch -- just download the app for free from your app store! All you need is a valid Toronto Public Library card, free if you live, work, go to school or own property in the City of Toronto.


International Multilingual Newspapers

The Toronto Star Newspaper Centre (pictured below) at Toronto Reference Library offers current issues of many international newspapers from around the globe, published in English, French and many other languages. Anyone is welcome to visit the Newspaper Room and enjoy some reading time in the spacious well-lit space.



Multicultural Toronto Speaks Many Languages

Toronto is one of the most multicultural and diverse cities in the world and Toronto Public Library reflects that. Our library staff speak many languages, and also have access to a Language Line Service and can phone an interpreter in the customer's language if needed.  

Our city is home to virtually all of the world's culture groups and is the city where more than 180 languages and dialects are spoken. According to the 2011 Census, roughly 1.8 million persons reported speaking an immigrant language most often at home in Toronto. Forty-five percent of Toronto residents had a mother tongue other than English or French. Mother tongue is defined as the first language learned at home in childhood and still understood at the time of the census. For more fascinating facts about the mosaic of languages that shape up Toronto, I encourage you to read this excellent city report (in pdf) by the Social Policy Analysis and Research division: 2100 Census Language Backgrounder, City of Toronto, 2012.

Myseum of Toronto Presents Cosmopolis: The World in One City

From November 3, 2016 to January 8, 2017, Toronto Public Library and Myseum of Toronto present Cosmopolis Toronto, a city-wide photography exhibit exploring the journeys of newcomers to Toronto. Canadian documentary photographer Colin Boyd Shafer has spent a year photographing one person from every country in the world who now lives in Toronto. 

Cosmopolis gridPhoto credit: Cosmopolis Toronto

The photos will be on display in 18 branches throughout the city, grouped in themes around the power of family, home, nature, tradition, food, art, faith and more.

For more information about Cosmopolis Toronto events at Toronto Public Library, visit and for more information about Cosmopolis Toronto, visit


100 Reasons to Check out the Library

In spring 2015, Toronto Public Library opened its 100th branch, Scarborough Civic Centre. To celebrate, the library ran a city-wide  "100 Reasons to Check Out TPL" campaign to show Torontonians that their library is much more than a place to borrow books. Among the 100 reasons were these two:

Reason # 2 to check out TPL is Dial-A-Story in 16 different languages! Magnifique!

Reason # 63 to check out TPL is Materials in Over 40 Languages! Si! Oui! Tak!


Discover all 100 reasons to love TPL!

Immigrant Business Expo 2016 and Other Resources for your Small Business

October 14, 2016 | Suzanne | Comments (0)

Are you new to Canada? Interested in starting your own business? Attend the Immigrant Business Expo for all your small business needs. This one-day exhibition will include workshops and small business clinics to assist new immigrant and refugee business owners. Organized by staff at the New Canadians website and TV show in collaboration with a number of organizations, including Toronto Public Library, this event aims to assist new immigrants in navigating the sometimes complex requirements of operating a small business in Canada. This free event is happening next Saturday, October 22 at Metro Hall.  

Immigrant Business Expo

There are other ways that the library can assist you with your small business needs:

Small Business Month

Did you know October is Small Business Month? Take part in our free programs and seminars on everything you'll need to run your small business. Ask expert library staff at our branches to help you find what you need. We have books on everything including marketing plans, human resources and more and we also have online databases and e-magazines you can access 24/7 from the library's website. Your library card also gives you free access to the latest and most popular business e-magazines, and to online business databases full of articles, videos, financial reports, competitive analyses and more.

Entrepreneur in Residence 

You can get free small business help from the library’s new Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Sima Gandhi. Sima was raised in an entrepreneurial family and started her career in the family business of manufacturing commercial lighting. She has a varied background in private sector startups, spanning several industries including manufacturing, education and construction. Find out about Sima’s upcoming programs or apply to meet with Sima one-on-one to discuss your business plan or idea. Submission details are on the website. 

Library Collections

The library's collections of business books, databases and more can be found by searching through our catalogue. Here's a recent list of books to help you start and run your small business. There are also great business books in our collection; here are a few examples:

Newcomers Guide to Starting a Business in Ontario    Business Plans for Canadians for Dummies    Your guide to government financial assistance for business in Ontario

You can also email us at if you'd like to be added to our small business enewsletter mailing list.

Visit Toronto Public Library for all your small business needs, and be sure to check out the FREE Immigrant Business Expo next Saturday, October 22 at Metro Hall.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Let's Dance Together! Join us for Library Settlement Partnerships Week 2016!

October 7, 2016 | Patty | Comments (0)

LSP Week Event at Flemingdon Park

Last year’s Library Settlement Partnerships (LSP) Week was a memorable one with over 1,250 people attending 13 special events at Toronto Public Library’s LSP branches. This year’s LSP Week, taking place from October 11th – 22nd, promises to be just as engaging! This year marks the eighth anniversary of LSP and the theme is “Dance from Around the World”, which celebrates newcomers’ contribution to dance in Canada. LSP Week is celebrated annually in October and coincides with Canadian Citizenship Week and Ontario Public Library Week. The library, along with seven local settlement agencies, will celebrate by offering a variety of fun, free programs featuring multicultural dance performances, visits by citizenship judges, open houses, information booths and much more!  We look forward to seeing you there!

LSP Week Event at Toronto Reference Library


Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Toronto Public Library currently has 13 LSP branches where settlement workers offer direct settlement-related help and programs to assist newcomers’ transition in Toronto:






Flemingdon Park

Lillian H. Smith




Parliament Street



Toronto Reference Library

Toronto Public Library partners with seven local settlement agencies:

Catholic Crosscultural Services

Centre for Immigrant & Community Services

CultureLink Settlement & Community Services

Kababayan Multicultural Centre

Rexdale Women's Centre

Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office

YMCA Newcomer Information Centre



For more information about the LSP program, you can visit the Settling in Toronto page and the New to Canada blog.



For more “Dance from Around the World”, check out these materials from Toronto Public Library:

Passion to Dance Asian Dance
The Magic of Latin Dancing Street Dance


Polish Books, Chopin and Pierogi at Your Library / Po Polsku w Bibiotece

October 3, 2016 | Iana | Comments (3)

When composer and virtuoso pianist Frederic Chopin died in 1849 his body was buried in Paris, but his heart was taken to Warsaw, Poland's capital and interred in a pillar at the Holy Cross Church. That was the composer's wish on his deathbed. And that is how much he loved his fatherland Poland, which he never got a chance to see again during his years in exile.
Polish communities around the world cherish deeply their history and cultural heritage. Did you know that according to the 2011 Census by Statistics Canada, there were 1,010,705 Canadians of at least partial Polish heritage? It is one of the largest and oldest immigrant communities in Canada richly contributing to its art and cultural landscape.
Our Polish collections enable you to access the country's best contemporary literature and arts as well. Toronto Public Library has Polish collections of books for adults and children, DVDs, magazines in twelve of its 100 branches. Large collections can be found in the West End - at High Park, Long Branch, Mimico Centennial, New Toronto, Runnymede branches and at Cedrabrae branch and Toronto Reference Library. In addition, medium collections are located at Brentwood, Jane/Dundas, Richview branches. Two small collections can be found at Eatonville and Parkdale branches. You can visit any of those libraries to borrow Polish materials or you can browse the library's online catalogue and place holds on materials that you choose to request. A free library card is required to use borrow materials and access the library's online resources. If you are not yet a member, but you live, study, work or own property in Toronto - find out how to get your free library card.

 Polish Vigil at City Hall in support of SOlidarnosc 1981 Torstar archivesPolish history is long and tumultuous. As a start check out Prof. Norman Davies' classic study of the history of Poland titled God's Playground: A history of Poland in two volumes, revised edition 2005.

Polish Language

Mango Language LearningPolish language is a West Slavic language, nuanced and expressive and considered quite difficult to learn, in part due to the challenging pronunciation, seven cases and verbs that conjugate for gender, person, mood and time!! If you would like to learn some Polish language beyond "Tak" (= Yes), "Dzień dobry" (= Hello), "Lubię piwo" (= I like beer), "Dziękuję bardzo" (=Thank you very much) - try the library's online language service Mango Languages. You can create an account to track your progress.

Polish Music

Polish music is more than just Chopin. Borrow CDs from Toronto Public Library or listen to e-music for free with your library card in the streaming service Naxos Music Library. There is great Polish classical, folk, jazz and rock music to enjoy. Polish Christmas songs (kolędy) are one of the most beautiful to listen.

Image above: "Polish Vigil: Dick Przygova salutes as fellow demonstrators sing at Nathan Philips Square last night. More than 2500 turned out to protest martial law in Poland". 1981 copyright  Toronto Star Digital Archives at Toronto Public Library.



 Polish Festival folk dancers 2016

Polish folk dancers on stage during the 2016 annual Roncesvalles Polish Festival in Toronto. Photo credit: Ania K.


Pierogi and other delicacies

If you'd like to try and make pierogi at home - we have this Pierogi Love book for you. Even better - get together with your Polish friend's grandma (babcia) - I am almost certain that she will show you how to make pierogi from scratch and they will be better than in any restaurant or store. Take a stroll along Roncesvalles Avenue in the heart of "Polish Toronto" and sit in for dinner at Cafe Polonez and shop at the local grocery store Benna's Bakery & Deli. A little further in the Bloor West Village there is Amber restaurant and Kingsway Meat Deli  - a really good grocer too. For any other and all of your Polish food cravings - visit the epic supermarket Starsky in Mississauga, which Eastern Europeans from all of GTA and many local shoppers visit for the delicious, fresh products and the excellent variety and service. Starsky's deli and cheese section is easily bigger than my living room.


Pierogi Love book     In a Polish Country House Kitchen book     The food and cooking of Poland


Image below: Karol Cardinal Wojtyla: Archbishop of Cracow, Poland and the future Pope John Paul II, takes time out for cup of coffee with host Father Michael Smith; right; in Port Credit, while visiting Polish communities in Canada. 1969 Copyright Toronto Star Digital Archives at Toronto Public Library.

Pope John Paul II visting Toronto Toronto Star archivesFor a more intimate Polish immersion explore the many Polish sites in Roncesvalles Village, including St. Casimir's Church and the statue of Pope John II, the "Polish Pope" in front of the credit union. There are always candles and fresh flowers at the Pope's statue.

Down near the lake you will find the Copernicus retirement home and the Katyn Monument. The inscription reads: "In remembrance of fifteen thousand Polish prisoners of war who vanished in 1940 from the camps in USSR at Kozelsk, Ostashkov, Starobelsk. Of these over four thousand were later discovered in mass graves at Katyn, near Smolensk, murdered by the Soviet state security police."

Polish cinema

Andrzej Wajda's film “Katyn” (2007) about the mass execution of Polish military officers by the Soviet Union during World War II, which was carefully concealed by the Polish communist authorities after the war,  is a harrowing work. There are also the other great Polish masters - Kieszlowski, Polanski, Zanussi and a lot of great contemporary cinema. Check out some classic  Polish cinema in the Criterion streaming film service (free with a library card) or borrow a good Polish film on DVD, there are close to 300 Polish DVD titles at the library, a lot of excellent contemporary works too.


Other great Poles

Poland gave to the world great minds: Copernicus, Marie Curie-Sklodowska and Pope John Paul II, Jan Sobieski and Casimir III the Great, Kosciuszko and Pilsudski, Sienkiewicz, Mickiewicz and Chopin, Janusz Korczak, Lech Walesa and Solidarnosc, Szymborska, Agnieszka Holland, Czesław Miłosz and Gombrowicz, Brzezinski and Kapuscinski. And many others.


In the heart of the Roncesvalles village there is the charming High Park Library Branch (pictured below) - a Carnegie building and celebrating in fact this month 100 years of service in the community! Polish seniors gather there often to discuss politics and read the local Polish newspaper "Gazeta". Happy Centennial anniversary, High Park Branch! 


High park branchPolish literature is a treasure among the European cultures and there is a lot available in translation in English. 11 Great Polish Books You Have to Read (, 2016) is a good list for starters. Many Polish authors in translation and in Polish can be found at Toronto Public Library.

Polish Book Club at Runnymede Library. The book club was founded in 2007 by three Polish librarians at TPL. Discuss a great Polish book(s) each month. Contact the library for a list of upcoming titles. This program is conducted in Polish.

Polish Family Storytime/Spotkanie z Bajka at Long Branch Library - for years a staff member from the Long Branch Library has been offering a very popular Polish storytime for ages 3-6 with Polish stories, finger plays, songs and traditions.

In addition - kids can listen to Polish stories by computer or phone: Hear nine children's stories (bajki) in Polish on the library's KidsSpace website. Or dial-a-story in Polish by calling the library's Dial-a-Story number 416-395-5400.


How do Polish Canadian writers in Toronto identify and create? Here are four authors that are worth discovering:

Eva Stachniak became a best-selling writer of historic fiction in her adopted English language with "Winter Palace";

Andrew Borkowski wrote "Copernicus Avenue" - a wonderful collection of short stories from Roncesvalles Village (a.k.a "Little Poland") and his experience growing up with one foot in the Polish community and one foot out;

Aga Maksimowska's "Giant" speaks with the angst of the teenage experience of immigration From Poland to Canada. Delicious descriptions too of Babcia's kitchen in Poland.

Jowita Bydlowska writes in a powerful, honest, raw way in "Drunk Mom". Bydlowska shared for the National Post in 2014 the essay "On having another “immigrant story”. It offers a fresh and honest perspective of a young Polish Canadian writer about writing, staying away from immigrant stereotypes and living in two languages and two literary traditions.


Winter Palace   Copernicus Avenue   Giant   Drunk Mom A Memoir


As a final treat - I would like to end with the beautiful music of Chopin as performed by the outstanding Polish Canadian pianist and a Chopin interpreter Janina Fialkowska.



Bonus track: Basia Bulat Live at Massey Hall, July 20, 2014 - a live performance of the young and very talented Basia Bulat, a Canadian folk singer and songwriter.


Find Poland at your Library! Dziękuję bardzo!


Read a previous post about Polish Storytimes & Children's Collections at Toronto Public Library.

Read our previous blog post and a great story about Ukrainian at Your Library.



International Literacy Day

September 8, 2016 | Rachelle | Comments (3)

Today marks the 50th International Literacy Day! How will you be celebrating? Perhaps it is more of a plan than a celebration for you. Whether you are an avid reader or someone who reads on a "need to know" basis, now is a good time to make some resolutions. Today can be the January 1st of literacy! A time to make some changes or set some goals. Lately my son and I have been reading a few pages of The BFG each night. No doubt he became intrigued after the movie was released last July. Normally I do all of the reading but I thought that it would be a nice change for us to take turns reading. Maybe you can try out some new reading tips or perhaps you can attend a new event at the library. From family storytimes to movie nights to book clubs, the library has something for everyone. 

  8 and a half 400-Blows Lifeasadog

If a cozy night in is more to your liking, you can stream a classic film or documentary through our Criterion Collection. As for me? Well I have marked my calendar to attend The BFG puppet show at Runnymede branch on Oct 15. My son and I should be finished the book by then!

If you know someone who would like help improving their reading, writing or math skills, the library offers one-on-one tutoring for adults 16 or older.


Learning at Any Age

August 26, 2016 | Chantel | Comments (0)

I remember the first day of school like it happened yesterday. My mom waving and smiling as I walked through the doors. Me with my hands clenching the lunch box tightly, while thinking how afraid I was of this strange place. I didn't know anyone and I couldn't understand what they were saying to me. So many thoughts were going through my mind -- will the teacher be nice, will I meet new friends?  

Fortunately, there are resources to help you and your child prepare for a new school to make the transition easier.

First Day of School

First Day of School

By: Nora Gaydos

A parenting book with a helpful advice section to assist parents in getting their child ready for school on the first day. 




Sumi's first day of school ever Sumi's First Day of School Ever

By: Soyung Pak

A heartfelt story of a Korean-American student starting school in a new country that touches on the possible bad experiences and good experiences of a child's first day. 



Don't forget to check out these "Get Ready for Back to School" and "Your child's first day of school" blogs for more resources and book recommendations!

Splat the Cat Mouse's First Day of School The School

Bear's Big Day Tom and Sofia start school-Chinese Sam's First Day - Tamil

Children are not the only ones who need to prepare for school; adults returning to school might need to as well. If you are an adult thinking about going back to school -- it's never too late! Whether you want to improve your English, brush up on a subject or write an entrance exam, the library has the resources to help you. 

All library branches have an English as a Second Language (ESL) collection which consists of books, CDs and videos that can help newcomers learn the English language. You can also find materials on writing the TOEFL, TOEIC or IELTS exams. If you would like to learn English with other people, several branches offer ESL classes or English Conversation Circle as a way for people to practice speaking. 

For those looking to brush up on a subject or write an exam to get into a program, you can try some of our online resources available to you at home.

Learning Express LibraryThis resource is great for those wanting to go back to school. There are practice tests and exercises on various subjects such as grammar, math and more for high school students as well as for college prep. There are also practice tests for standardized exams such as LSAT, GED, MCAT, TOEFL, iBT and TOEIC. 


Tense BusterAnother great tool to use for improving your English grammar. You can go through practice exercises and tests on different aspects of grammar such as modal verbs, past continuous and prepositions for ESL learners to the more advanced levels. 


If you're like me and like to learn anything and everything, don't forget to check out Toronto District School Board for adult high school classes and community programs held at different locations across Toronto. Of course, another alternative is to attend one of our library programs on topics such as starting a small business or learning basic computer skills and gain knowledge for free!

Now, who says learning is only for the young?





Welcome! This blog is written by librarians and provides information and resources available from the library and around Toronto to new residents of Canada. For more information see the Library's Help for Newcomers website