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June 2014

Free Science Events in Toronto for July 2014

June 28, 2014 | Emoke | Comments (0)

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the July 2014 Calendar.

July's highlights include:

  • July 3: The Intricate Dance of Star and Planet Formation, part of the University of Toronto AstroTours. The speaker will by Quinn Konopacky, who will discuss what astronomers currently understand about the process of star and planet formation, and what we have learned about the birth of our Solar System from studying the youngest stars in the galaxy.
  • July 6: Shakespeare in the Park, part of the High Park Sunday Walking Tours, High Park Nature Centre. Leader: Julia Bennet. Walks are led by volunteer scientists,
    historians and local naturalists who will help you to understand and explore
    High Park’s many significant features. Walks may go on wooded trails, so please
    wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
  • July 20: Exploring Spring Creek Ravine, part of the High Park Sunday Walking Tours, High Park Nature Centre. Leader: Stephen Smith. Walks are led by volunteer scientists,
    historians and local naturalists who will help you to understand and explore
    High Park’s many significant features. Walks may go on wooded trails, so please
    wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

July's highlights include:

New science and technology books for summer reading

June 27, 2014 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

In summer many of us have more time to read, so I'd like to highlight some recently published books about science and technology available at the North York Central Library.

People often want to read something lighter in summer, so I've selected books that are suitable for a hammock or the beach. Books about science and technology don't have to be heavy going!

All of these books piqued my interest and I've added a few to my own summer reading list. I hope you'll feel the same way and give one - or more - a try. Many are available in a variety of formats for your summer reading convenience.


book and eBook   Book, eBook and eAudiobook

More than a history of the Internet; scholar and technology blogger Naughton also provides an overview of the technology and its social and economic implications.


Examines the mathematical principles that explain everything from sports statistics to lotteries to show how math is relevant to our everyday lives.


book and eAudiobook   book

A look at the science of probability, using anecdotes and real life examples to illustrate how unlikely occurrences are more common than we might think.


  McGill professor Schwarcz separates truth from fiction in the barrage of science and health information published every day.
book, eBook and eAudiobook   Book and eBook

A history of Einstein's general theory of relativity and the debate it has ignited, which continues to the present day.


According to the author, "Our history with alcohol is our history on earth, a history of humans becoming modern, tool-using, technology-making creatures".


Book and eBook   Book and eBook
Falk looks at scientific knowledge in Shakespeare's time and how it is reflected in his work.  

John Brockman of asked leading scientists and thinkers what worried them most. They reveal their concerns in these 150 short essays.


And finally:


The central question of this book is the following: if our civilization were to collapse tomorrow, what crucial knowledge would the survivors need to rebuild a modern, technological society as quickly as possible? The result is "a guide for rebooting the world". This premise provides the framework for a history of techology, focusing on the advances which have been most crucial to human development. Sounds cool!






Happy summer reading.


Ode to the Illustrious Typewriter

June 23, 2014 | Ann | Comments (8)

See more typewriters by Dr. Shordzi on FlickrContinental Typewriter (image courtesy of Dr. Shordzi on a creative commons licence)

June 23rd is National Typewriter Day.  Those who worked in office settings or used them at home prior to the 1990s will remember these machines well.  Whether they are manual (see above), electric, or electronic, typewriters played a major role in processing information.

The main goal of the typewriter was to enable users to fashion ideas, thoughts, and information into type print.  The process began from the tapping of fingertips on typewriter keys in short staccato strokes. The keys attached in a basket arrangement of thin metal arms (typelevers) that ended in lettered hammers (typebars).  These typebars striked against an inked ribbon to stamp marks onto a sheet of paper clipped to a moving carriage.  Each keystroke spurred the carriage merrily along until a bell chimed to indicate the end of that line.  This "ding" sound informed the typist to push the carriage lever to the right which also propelled the paper up to a new line.  

The process is similar for electric and electronic typewriters.  Electric typewriters requires electricity to operate to reduce finger pressure on the type keys.  Electronic typewriters contain a computerized circuit board to enable the machine to perform added functions such as automatic underline, erase, superscript, subscript, and italic lettering. The most notable improvement on the basic typewriter design for the electric/electronic typewriter was the addition of the "Enter" key that we see on today's computer keyboards.  This new key replaced the manual typewriter carriage and push lever system.  

Here is a video to visualize how the manual typewriter operates:


Video courtesy of Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum on a creative commons license.

These machines assisted in the creation of documents, reports, essays, and manuscripts at a quicker pace over handwriting.  Employed typists achieved speeds ranging from 50 to 80 words per minute.  At this pace, it would be difficult to transcribe in longhand while still appearing legible.

Most typewriters shared the same Courier font.  Howard Kettler, as noted in Typedia, developed this font in 1955.  He did not patent his design which was, therefore, quickly shared and adopted by all typewriter makers for its clean and crisp print.

For more information on the history of typewriters, the people who use them, and the cultural influence of these machines, here are some interesting titles to glance over:

The iron whim: a fragmented history of typewriting by Darren S. Wershley-Henry Century of the typewriter by Wilfred Beeching Quirky qwerty by Torbjèorn Lundmark Woman's place is at the typewriter: office work and office workers 1870-1930 by Margery W. Davies
The mindset lists of American history: from typewriters to text messages, what ten generations of Americans think is normal by Tom McBride Gramophone, film, typewriter by Fredrich A. Kittler Smoking typewriters by John Campbell McMillian Technbology, literature and culture by Alex Goody

While electronic typewriters came on the market during the mid-1980s, their popularity quickly evaporated.  Through extensive software development, computers became new and undefeatable rivals. By offering word processing features to enable users to easily type, edit, duplicate and store information in digital form and then transmit this information from one user to another leaving virtually no paper trail, computers pushed aside the typewriters on the market.  Even with this swift change, computers adopted the alphanumeric keyboard from their predecessor.

For more information related to technological and social changes over time, have a look at the following titles:

Technology by Wayne Grady Sex, bombs, and burgers by Peter Nowak The shock of the old: technology and global history since 1900 by David Edgerton From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: disruptive innovation in the age of the Internet  by John Naughton
100 ideas that changed the world: our most important discoveries, selected by our geatest minds   by Jheni Osman The new media invasion: digital technologies and the world they unmake by  John David Ebert The technological imperative in Canada: an intellectual history by R.D. Francis Writing: theory and history of the technology of civilization by Barry B. Powell


Computer Classes, Digital Innovation Hubs, eBooks, eVideos, and eMagazines

The Toronto Public Library offers computers, Internet access and digital services

To keep up with the changing times, the Toronto Public Library offers classes for development of computer and library searching skills.  

Computer Learning CentresThis image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


For those who would like to try their skills and learn how to self publish books or create an object on a 3D printer, the Digital Innovation Hubs offer training and hands on experience.

Digital Innovation Hubs

(3D printing at Fort York Branch, photo Toronto Public Library)


How about learning how to download an eBook, eAudiobook, eMagazine, eVideo, or look up a business or computer textbook online? Classes are available. 

Ebook training


Even with so many technological innovations that have occurred over the past 20 years, the typewriter still bestows an adorable quaintness worth appreciating and celebrating.

North York Central Library: Summer Jazz Trio Concert

June 20, 2014 | Muriel | Comments (0)

Come and join us for a

Summer Jazz Trio Concert!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 12:00 p.m.

North York Central Library Auditorium

Please call 416-395-5639 to register.

Image5   Image5Enjoy this cool concert presented by the University of Toronto's
Faculty of Music
Featuring: Ian Sinclair, Piano;
Landen Vieira, Saxophone; and Connor Walsh, Bass  
Jazz Piano Technique         The Saxophone         Jazz Bass on Top
Be sure to visit NAXOS, the online music library available through Toronto Public Library, and listen to great music spanning medieval to modern - classical, jazz, electronic, world music and more, and find expert educational content.   





Unmasking Superfoods, part deux

June 13, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (0)

I almost named this post Science Literacy, but then thought, better not.  I don't want to get a jump on the library's Science Literacy Week at the end of this September.

Jennifer Sygo's recent talk on Superfoods provided information on the foods were hyped versus those which had true nutritional benefits, as expected.  What I did not expect and thought was perhaps the most valuable part of her presentation was the lesson she gave on science research.  She outlined the different types of research from the lowest level, for example, cells growing in a petri dish up to what she termed 'the gold standard'-- randomized doubleblind human studies.  For example, claims made about some superfoods having anti-cancer properties were based on cell studies, in which the component in the food was sprinkled over cancer cells growing in a petri dish and some cells died.  This is a far cry from a longitudinal study in which people eating the superfood are followed over many years;  the mortality (death rate) and incidence of cancer of the people are measured, while all other factors are controlled for.  For example, any people who had a family history of cancer would not be included in the study. 

Image courtesy of

Randomized doubleblind studies occur when the people participating in the study are randomly put into either the control group or the treatment group; both the participants and researchers do not which group participants are in.  This decreases the chance of confirmation bias in which researchers interpret results to reinforce what they expect.

Systematic reviews or meta-analyses occur when the results of many studies are grouped together to give an overview of the results of a study question. 

So, the next time you are reading about the results of the latest research in the news, take a look at what type of study has been done and decide whether the researcher's conclusions are warranted.


Public Pensions and Our Canadian Economy

June 11, 2014 | Charlene | Comments (0)

For many of us, pensions and retirement are often difficult ideas to grasp let alone plan.   Also troubling, is the fact that retirement security may not be feasible for the generations to come.  Stir in the mix government cutbacks, balanced budgets and public pensions and then you begin to see our retirement benefits slowly disappearing.  And when you throw in buzz words like "OAS" and "CPP" and the "doom and gloom" of our pension system forecasted by political and financial pundits, the water can become murky very quickly.

To understand more about public pensions, why don't you consider attending one of our programs at North York Central Library? The Business Department has an upcoming free program in the Boomers and Beyond series entitled Are Pensions a Thing of the Past?  York University Professor Emeritus, Robert J. Drummond will speak about public pensions such as OAS and CPP and the means to enhance productivity and Canada's economic well-being.  Professor Drummond has written extensively on Canadian public policy and some of his research has included pensions and retirement. 

If you can't make this program or you would like to read about planning for your retirement, here are a few books to help you get started. 

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Program:  Are Pensions a Thing of the Past?

When:      Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Time:       6:30 - 8:00 pm

Where:     North York Central Library - Auditorium

For more information, call the Business Dept. at 416-395-5613.

You can now register for this program online by clicking on the link below:


A Defining Moment for Gay and Lesbian Activism: Toronto in the 1970's

June 9, 2014 | Margaret W. | Comments (0)

Rainbow FlagA fascinating period in gay and lesbian activism in Toronto will be highlighted at North York Central Library on June 10th, 2014.

Mathieu Brule and Tom Hooper, historians from York University, will present the talk "A Defining Moment for Gay and Lesbian Activism: Toronto in the 1970's".

Legal rights, workers' rights, parenting rights and privacy rights were  the primary areas of activism during this period. Liberationists campaigned on these issues while pushing cultural boundaries to shift popular opinions on sexuality. Our speakers will look at how these campaigns have shaped the community today.

The talk takes place in the North York Central Library Auditorium, 5140 Yonge Street, from 7pm-8pm.

It's free! Please register at 416-395-5660.

Photo: Wikipedia 


World Pride Week Celebrations at North York Central Library

June 6, 2014 | Muriel | Comments (0)

World Pride Week Celebrations at North York Central Library

Stilettos on the Move, a Fashion Show
Monday, June 16 at 7:00 p.m.
North York Central Library Concourse
Free tickets available at
or call 416-395-5639

Have you ever wondered what makes drag queens tick? Join us for an evening of fashion,
fun, and flamboyance.  Drag performers will strut their stuff and reveal the mystery
behind their dazzling personas.

Warhol's QueensKinky Boots Priscilla

A Night with Sky
Wednesday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m.
North York Central Library Auditorium
Please call 416-395-5639 to register.

Enjoy an evening of poetry with author, Associate Professor, University of Guelph and drag
queen extraordinaire, Sky Gilbert.  In addition, learn about where Sky's drag originated and
the political ideas behind it.

  Plush      Guilty              D‏igressions of a Naked Party Girl

Nutrition and Brain Health

June 5, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (1)


Living longer is important, but equally important is quality of life.  So while some researchers are trying to discover the fountain of youth, others are looking at how to maintain or possibly improve things as we get older.  One such researcher is Dr. Carol Greenwood.  At the Baycrest Centre for Geriatrics, Dr. Greenwood's research investigates the relationship between diet and brain function--specifically:

  • healthy seniors and the impact of lifelong dietary patterns on risk of cognitive decline with aging
  • seniors suffering from Alzheimer Disease and how the disease influences eating behaviour and whether eating behaviours change at different stages of disease progression. 

Dr. Greenwood has used the information garnered from research on the connection between brain health and nutrition and co-written a cookbook, MINDfullThe recipes are paired with a wealth of practical information.  Dr. Greenwood debunks myths and tells us what to eat to promote optimal brain health and healthy aging – her advice can be easily adapted by the busy home cook.


Join us for an informative talk, as Dr. Greenwood shares her knowledge with the latest information on the relationship between nutrition and brain health at North York Central Library on Thursday June 12 at 7 pm. Copies of MINDfull will be available for purchase and signing.  Proceeds go to the Baycrest Foundation.

Seniors Discovery Fair at North York Central Library

June 2, 2014 | Kelli | Comments (0)

North York Central Library is pleased to host a Seniors Discovery Fair on Wednesday, June 11th, 2 - 4 p.m. Whether you are a senior yourself or are caring for aging family members, the Fair is a great chance to learn more about services and opportunities that are available for older adults and seniors.  

At this free event you can talk to representatives from organizations such as the Toronto Public Health, Alzheimer Society of Toronto, Volunteer Toronto, Meals on Wheels and More, and the Community Care Access Centre, just to name a few. 

Make sure you stop by the Toronto Public Library's tables to see find out more about library programs and services.   There will be staff from Home Library Services and volunteering opportunities available to answer questions.  We'll be demonstrating our eServices.  This includes eBooks, eMagazines and the new eMovies and eMusic  service available through Hoopla


Couple with laptopSeniors Discovery Fair
North York Central Library
5120 Yonge Street
2 -  4 p.m.




As an added bonus, Books Ends will also be having a big book sale that day in the Atrium. 


Photo from clip art


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Our extensive digital and print collections, programs and services are yours to use, borrow and explore. Expert staff are always on hand to help. Meet us in person or join us online.