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Rediscovering an Old Flame: Spotlight on Newcomer Blogger Leticia Davolli

December 19, 2013 | Melanie | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Para Minha Mãe

When Leticia Davolli arrived in Canada four years ago, the Toronto Reference Library was one her favourite local neighbourhood haunts. She had heard about the library from friends and colleagues while attending ESL classes in the Yonge and Bloor area. As a recently arrived newcomer, the Toronto Reference Library was Leticia's key to connecting with friends and family back home in Brazil, where she would use the library's computers to email her loved ones.

After a short hiatus from the library, Leticia stumbled upon her local neighbourhood branch and rediscovered her love for Toronto's public libraries. She was so enthralled with this newfound love that she dedicated a post on her blog, Para minha mãe, to extolling the virtues of Toronto's public libraries.

Deer Park Branch

This week we sat down with Leticia to talk to her about why she loves the library so much and why she decided to rekindle this old flame.

Melanie: Hi Leticia. Thanks for taking the time out to chat with me today. So, how long have you been in Canada?

Leticia: I've been in Canada four years. I immigrated from Brazil.

Melanie: How long after your arrival in Canada did you decide to visit a Toronto Public Library branch?

Leticia: Not long after. I was attending ESL classes in the Yonge and Bloor area, and my classmates told me about the Reference library. Everybody knew about it. I would usually go there to check my email.

Melanie: Do your remember your first visit to a Toronto Public Library branch?

Leticia: Yes! I had a good first impression. But I was a little intimidated by the Reference library because it was so big and impersonal! I felt a little lost.

Melanie: What prompted you the first time to visit the library?

Leticia: I was studying English in the area, and I had heard about it from someone else. All my classmates were going there.

Deer Park - Interior

Melanie: In your blog post you mentioned that you had stopped using the library for some time. Why?

Leticia: I started attending UofT and George Brown, and so I would just end up using the university and college campus libraries more often. Other than email, I didn't really think about using the Reference library as a place where I could borrow books. I had this totally wrong notion that the library only had outdated books, so it lost its appeal.

Melanie: Yikes! Well I'm sure you realized by now that there are a lot of really cool things to borrow from the library. What was it that brought you back in to the library? How did you rediscover all the great resources it has to offer?

Leticia: I reconnected with the library through my local neighbourhood branch, Deer Park, after talking to a friend who had mentioned that she stopped buying books and only ever borrowed things she needs from the library. After our conversation I decided to pay a visit to my local neighbourhood branch. When I walked in again, for the first time in years, I was amazed at some of the treasures I found!

Melanie: What is it that you love so much about the library?

Leticia: Wow! Where do I start!? First of all, you have some amazing titles in your collection! On my first visit back I found titles like Change by Design by Tim Brown; Blog Inc. by Joy Cho; and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Also, you have a great holds reservation system and great borrowing privileges. I still can't believe that I'm allowed to borrow up to 50 items on my library card! You also have amazing magazines available for borrowing. And it's all free!

Holds Shelf

Melanie: What is your most memorable visit to the library?

Leticia: I'd have to say my most memorable visit to the library was definitely when I first visited my neighbourhood branch and reconnected with the library. When I first walked in, not only was I amazed at what the library had to offer, but I also felt bad that I had not been enjoying it to its full potential. One thing's for sure - I've rediscovered this marvelous treasure, and I don't plan on letting it go ever again! The library reminds me how lucky I am to live in Toronto!

Melanie: Leticia, thanks again for your time! Before we go, do you have any favourite titles you'd like to recommend, particularly to people who are new to Toronto Public Library?

Leticia: Yes! These are some of my favourite titles:

    Essays in Love     Harry Potter     Cooked     Change by Design

Flow    Moacyr Scliar - Collected Works     Machado de Assis - Selected Stories     Power of Habit

Have you reconnected with the library recently? Do you have any memorable library stories that you'd like to share? Let us know!


Free Multilingual eBooks Available for Download on OverDrive

December 9, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

TPL eBooks Campaign

Have you seen our advertising campaign for free eBooks from the library?
Have you ever used OverDrive to download eBooks or eAudiobooks?

With a Toronto Public Library card, you can access our OverDrive database to download eBooks for FREE! Visit the website for more information.

If you are downloading eBooks for the first time, we have many resources available for your support:

Getting started with eBooksNeed Technical Help with eBooksEBook Programs


NEW! Do you read in another language?

Recently, Toronto Public Library has expanded their digital collections to include multilingual eBooks in Spanish, French (Canadian), Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. You can now download eBooks in your native language!

*More languages will be added in time. 

Spanish Interface OverDrive
[Screen shot of OverDrive's eBooks in Spanish]

Download a bestseller today! If you require further assistance, see eBook FAQs.


Celebrate Being Canadian During Citizenship Week!

October 25, 2013 | Iana | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Did you know that this week Canada celebrates Citizenship Week!

Citizenship and Immigration Canada offers many Citizenship Week events between October 21 - 27, 2013, in partnership with local organizations across the country, including here in Toronto and Mississauga.


Image: The Centre Block on Parliament  Hill in Ottawa in August 2012 - during the amazing annual Mosaika light  show.

Parliament Building Light Show Ottawa Aug 2012

[photo credit: personal archive]


Today is Friday, October 25 and there are two wonderful Reaffirmation Ceremonies being hosted at  Toronto Public Library branches. Those ceremonies are public events and are open for everyone to attend.

  •  Reaffirmation Citizenship Ceremony at 2pm and LSP Library Settlement Partnership Celebrations 2-5pm, Agincourt Library (Sheppard Ave. East/ Kennedy Rd. location map)    Friday, October 25, 2013, 2pm.


"A reaffirmation ceremony is a formal event where participants repeat the oath of citizenship to express their commitment to Canada. If you are already a Canadian citizen, you can participate in a reaffirmation ceremony."


If you would like to symbolically take part in the Canadian Citizenship "Reaffirmation Ceremony" and celebrate what it is to be Canadian - please enjoy the following resources below:


Please say the words of the  "The Oath of Citizenship": 

"I reaffirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Second Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fullfil my duties as a Canadian citizen."


Please listen to The Canadian Anthem (song and lyrics):



Have a look at the interesting resources that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has put together in honour of Citizeneship Week 2013.

CIC is collecting video and written testimonials on Facebook and Twitter -  share your stories of what makes YOU proud to be Canadian!

You can read some of the submitted experiences of new Canadians on the website of Citizeneship Week: New Citizens Reflect on Being Canadian


Watch this fascinating visual documentary: Canada Shared by Canadians - Keep Exploring:

The Canadian Tourism Commission asked Canadians to pick up their cameras and share some of Canada's best travel experiences. Here is just 2 minutes from 65 hours of video and 7,000 submissions. To see more amazing photos and videos of real inspiring journeys, visit




Take a Quiz! How Canadian are You, eh? 

Test your knowledge of Canadian history with this challenging,  multiple-choice quiz! The quiz is different every time, so you can play more than once! Most of the information you need is found in the Discover Canada study guide.


Previous "NEW TO CANADA" blog posts related to Citizenship:


Borrow some interesting reads about Canada from our library branches.

Only in Canada You Say book      This is My Country What is Yours       Oxford Canadian Dictionary

Watch the acclaimed CBC documentary series Canada: A People's History on the library's website in an e-video format or borrow the DVDs or VHS copies. You just need to login with yoru library card to watch those videos.


101 Canadian Jokes  How to Be a Canadian    Crazy Canadian Trivia 4


Enjoy this free online "The Canadian Encyclopedia " -

Originally published in book form in 1985, The Canadian Encyclopedia has been available free of charge online since 1999. The Encyclopedia is the most authoritative and comprehensive reference of all things Canadian (from Pierre Trudeau and Louis Riel to the Great Depression and the NHL) for students, readers and scholars across Canada and throughout the world. The content of The Canadian Encyclopedia is updated daily, and is available in both official languages. It is home to more than 40,000 articles, 6,000 interactive maps, graphs, photographs and animations.

The Canadian Enclyclopedia staff also run a weekly TCE blog that promotes the history, culture, and traditions of Canada and its people, both past and present.

* * *


Happy Citizenship Week!

A Walking Tour of Haunted Toronto

October 24, 2013 | Alyson | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Back in July this blog posted information about summer NEAT tours (Newcomers Explore and Appreciate Toronto).

Neat Tours are back, this time with a free tour especially for newcomers of haunted Toronto and just in time for Halloween. Walkers will learn about the history and hauntings of famous Toronto buildings:

It all takes place on Saturday October 26th at 1:30 p.m. The tour group is meeting in front of Union Station, on the southeast corner of Front Street and York Street.  The tour ends at Nathan Phillips Square (City Hall) at 3 p.m. Stick around and you can see the annual Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade.  Of course, you'll want to bring a camera. And why not wear your own costume and be part of the spectacle?

Sign up for NEAT walking tours through or call CultureLink at 416-588-6288 extension 231.

NEAT has some tips to follow if you are joining one of their walking tours:

  • All walks are free and everyone is welcome!
  • Be on time or earlier so that the walk willl begin on time
  • Be prepared for the weather - walks take place rain or shine
  • Bring a water bottle and snack
  • Bring a camera
  • Have fun!

Read up on other haunted places in Toronto:

                      Haunted toronto                  Ghosts of the CNE 
                         Haunted Toronto                        Ghosts of the CNE

Toronto Public Library has many books on making your own Halloween costumes, too.  Here are a couple:

                     Halloween Handbook            Halloween a grown-up's guide

                       Halloween Handbook             Halloween: a grown-up's guide...

                                        Get into the spirit of it. It'll be a scream!


                                         Jack o lantern


Multicultural Films at The Toronto Public Library

October 2, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Did you miss the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year? TIFF was the highlight of the city from September 4-14, 2013 and you can read what our blogger, Alyson, had to say in her Toronto International Film Festival post. Last year our blogger, Melanie, wrote a great post about TIFF and Exploring the World in Movies.


There are many great films featured each year and with a Toronto Public Library card, you can borrow some of these great films and watch them in the comfort of your own home! Take a look at some of our highlights:

  A Monster in Paris Flower Drum Song Inescapable Lore Princess Kaiulani

For more staff suggestions, Download the Film Watcher's Guide to Multicultural Films at the Library!

Last year's list can be found here: Download the MULTICULTURAL FILMS LIST

If you see a title you like, search for it through our library catalogue at and place a hold on it with your library card! If you have any questions, please call our answerline at: 416-393-7131


Do you have a library card?

Toronto Public Library CardHave you just arrived in Canada? Visit a library near you to obtain your free library card so you can start borrowing free ESL books, CDs and so much more, right away. Just remember to bring an ID and proof of address in Toronto (such as a bill or rental lease). If you don't have a document yet with your new Toronto address - library staff can mail to you a library postcard that you can bring back, confirming your address.

The Toronto International Film Festival

September 11, 2013 | Alyson | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


"We have a mission statement: to transform the way people see the world through film."

- Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, TIFF

Films from 70 countries are being screened at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

You can see the world and stay in town.


The TIFF website has a full list of all the films playing, but here is just a small sample of what is being screened:

The Past by Asghar Farhadi (Iran/France)

Cold Eyes by Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo (South Korea) 

Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland) 

The Lunchbox by Ritesh Batra (India) 

Rags and Tatters by Ahmad Abdalla (Egypt)

Border by Alessio Cremonini (Syria)

Half a Yellow Sun by Biyi Bandele (Nigeria)

The Major by Yuri Bykov (Russia) 

The Dinner by Menno Meyjes (The Netherlands)

Trap Street by Vivian Qu (China) 

Of Good Report by Jahmil X. T. Qubeka (South Africa) 

For Those Who Can Tell No Tales by Jasmila Zbanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)



As big as the festival is, it is still possible to get tickets to many films.  If you have the time and don't mind standing in line,  you can even purchase last-minute  "rush" tickets.  Rush tickets are sold just before the film starts based on the number of empty seats.  The rush line is a natural meeting place for people who might share your taste in films, and it's a great place to get tips and suggestions.  Once, a long time ago while standing in a rush line, someone told me about a film called The Jar. I decided to go see it.   That charming little film about a school teacher in a small village sparked my interest in Iranian films. 

If you can't make it to TIFF this year, Toronto Public Library has thousands of DVDs for borrowing.  Many of our titles were screened at past festivals.

Here's a scene from The Jar, the film that made me fall in love with Iranian films.  Take a chance and see a film from a country you might know very little about.  It could start a love affair.

Newcomer Artist Award Opportunity

August 16, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Have you recently moved to Canada?

Are you a professional artist?

Are you a resident of the City of Toronto?

If you’re a recent new immigrant and a professional artist, you can apply for $10,000 in funding being offered by the Neighbourhood Arts Network and TELUS.

TELUS Newcomer Artist Award

Administered by the Neighbourhood Arts Network and Toronto Arts Foundation, this prize is specifically geared for an individual artist who is a newcomer to Canada, a resident of the City of Toronto and making a positive impact in their community through their artistic practice.

Deadline is Sept. 10, 2013

You are eligible if you are:

  • An individual artist
  • A newcomer to Canada (having moved to Canada within 1 to 7 years)
  • Over the age of 18
  • A current resident of the City of Toronto (Must have lived in Toronto for a minimum of 1 year)
  • A Neighbourhood Arts Network member (You can sign up for our free membership prior to applying at


For more information on the Art selection process or contact. Please visit the Neighbourhood Arts Network website.




NEAT Walking Tours of Toronto

July 10, 2013 | Alyson | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Guess what? It might not rain this weekend! And even if it does, why not explore the city by taking a free walking tour of some of Toronto's oldest and prettiest neighbourhoods.

NEAT (Newcomers Explore and Appreciate Toronto) walking tours are a fun and free way to explore Toronto, learn about local cultures and neighbourhoods,  meet new people and develop new networks while enjoying the sights.

Corktown sign

Sign up for NEAT walking tours through or call CultureLink at 416-588-6288 extension 231. Walking tours take place rain or shine.

On Saturday July 13th at 1:00 p.m. you can join NEAT on a walk to discover the St. Lawrence Market area. Walkers are meeting at the south end of St. James Park (near King and Jarvis Streets).  Look for people wearing green. On Sunday July 14th  you can tour historic Cabbagetown and Corktown. Walkers are meeting at the entrance to Riverdale Farm at 201 Winchester Street at 10:30 a.m.

NEAT has some tips to follow if you are joining one of their walking tours:

  • Be on time or earlier so that the walk willl begin on time
  • Be prepared for the weather
  • Bring a water bottle and snack
  • Bring a camera
  • Have fun!

Heritage Toronto also offers walking tours of Toronto neighbourhoods. Heritage Toronto is a charitable agency and encourages tour participants to pay what they can to cover their costs.

You might also be interested in some of these books on walking and sight-seeing in the city:

Guidebook to contemporary architecture    Cabbagetown by Coopersmith     Toronto urban strolls      Cabbagetown in pictures


2013 Portugal Day Parade in Toronto

July 5, 2013 | Debby | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Last month, the Toronto Public Library participated in the annual Portugal Day Parade. The event took place on Sunday June 9, 2013 with an inclusion of the Library Bookmobile! A new addition to the parade this year! 

  Toronto Public Library Book MobileToronto Public Library Book Mobile
[Photo Credit: Library staff members]

Portugal Day takes place in the first week of June each year with singing, dancing, and fun events within the Portuguese community. This year, the Alliance of Portuguese Clubs & Associations of Ontario celebrated Portugal Day with a week of events starting with a parade on Sunday June 9th and then a weekend celebration at Downsview Park on Friday June 14th - Sunday June 16th. 

Portuguese Parade 2013Portuguese Parade 2013
Portuguese Parade 2013Portuguese Parade
[Photo Credit: Library staff members]

Have a look at a short clip of the parade!


For more photos of the 2013 Portugal Parade, have a look at Ossington Village News or the Alliance of Portuguese Clubs & Associations of Ontario.

For Portugal Day information from previous years:
Portugal Day 2011
Portugal Day 2012

Do you have a library card?

Toronto Public Library CardHave you just arrived in Canada? Visit a library near you to obtain your free library card so you can start borrowing free ESL books, CDs and so much more, right away. Just remember to bring an ID and proof of address in Toronto (such as a bill or rental lease). If you don't have a document yet with your new Toronto address - library staff can mail to you a library postcard that you can bring back, confirming your address.

Sweet Summer Strawberries in Ontario

June 28, 2013 | Iana | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

June is Strawberry Month, goes the saying!

As I walk by the local corner grocery store, I see baskets of fresh local strawberries. My mouth waters and I know it is summer! The cooler weather this Spring may have delayed the strawberry season a little bit, but fresh fragrant sweet local Ontario strawberries are already abundant in stores and at the numerous farmers' markets in Toronto - their peak season is June and July so hurry up and enjoy them!


Strawberry plant in a pot balconyThis is the young strawberry plant that I planted in a pot on my balcony. I bought it from the Dufferin Grove Farmers' Market (open Thursdays, 3-7pm, close Dufferin subway). At home we enjoy observing how the plants grow and make our balcony a living green space. It is easy and inexpensive to grow vegetables and herbs in pots on your balcony. I find it relaxing, children are eager to help plant and water and later pick up herbs - our personal green connection in the busy concrete city.

Click here for a selection of books to help you get started with "container gardening" that you can borrow from the library such as "The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible" and many others.


If you are interested - you can easily find a farmers' market that is open somewhere in our city on any given day of the week.

  • And just in time during the upcoming Canada Day long weekend - you can drive up north of Toronto and join the festivities at the Stoufville Strawberry Festival.


Have you tried picking your own strawberries? It is a wonderful family activity and a cheaper way to get these wonderful aromatic fruits, that we have a limited time to eat locally only at the beginning of summer. Children will learn about farming, harvesting and will experience the joy and hard work of picking fresh berries. this is a site that helps you find a pick-your-own farm in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario. Other websites that you can search for local farms in the GTA are: The Ontario Berry Growers Association and Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association.


Tips for picking strawberries (from

  • Select plump, firm, fully red berries, unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
  • Freeze the strawberries that you can not use right away - simply wash the strawberries, drain them well from water, cut the green leaves off, and put them into a ziplock bag. One of the simplest ways to preserve fresh fruit to use later.


Not sure what to do with all these strawberries that you have just picked?

 Learn how to make fresh strawberry foods, pies, jams, cakes! Here are some books on that (remember to get your free library card if you live, study or live in Toronto):

Luscious Berry Desserts     Cooking Pies and Crisps      Handheld Pies

Luscious Berry Desserts      Cooking Pies and Crisps      Handheld Pies


Canning and preserving books:

  Canadian Living Complete Preserving Book         Put Them Up         250 Home Preserving Favourites

  • Put 'em up! : a comprehensive home preserving guide for the creative cook, from drying and freezing to canning and pickling, 2010.


Some easy strawberry recipes:

I find strawberries delicious in any recipe - sprinkle them with sugar, add them to yogurt, make a strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream, strawberry tarts, strawberry smoothie, strawberry "anything"!


I recently made this easy and quick Strawberry Summer Cake (link to full recipe) from one of my favourite home cooking blogs "Smitten Kitchen". The ingredients are easy to get, and it was delicious!

Strawberry Summer Cake - list of ingredients:

Strawberry Summer Cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen Blog

6 tablespoons unsalted butter;
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour;
 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder;
 1/2 teaspoon table salt;
 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar;
 1 large egg;
 1/2 cup milk;
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract;
 1 pound strawberries.

[Photo by: Smitten Kitchen.]


 Childen's Books:

The first strawberries a Cherokee story      The little mouse, the red ripe strawberry, and the big hungry bear     Strawberry Shortcake book

Grow Yoir own strawberries   Saving Strawberry Farm   The cat of strawberry hill

  Do you have a favourite strawberry treat? Happy Summer!

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

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