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May 2015

Be prepared: health information for travellers

May 29, 2015 | Carolyn | Comments (2)

The peak summer travel season will soon be here. If you're thinking of taking a trip this year, make travel health part of your planning. I'm glad I did.

When I recently paid my first ever visit to a travel medicine clinic, here is what I thought would happen: the doctor would warn me about the health risks of travel to far-off destinations and give me lots of shots and prescriptions.

This is what actually happened: the doctor asked about my travel plans and gave me just a few shots and prescriptions. As he points out, "Not every problem is preventable through inoculation or pills. In fact most are not. There are many conditions, however, that are largely avoidable through changes in your personal behaviour. Another term for this is COMMON SENSE!" So he gave me sensible advice about how to deal with the most common travel health issues, such as jet lag, motion sickness, food and water borne illnesses and sun exposure.

What medical information you need before you travel depends on your destination. A good place to start is the CDC Travelers' Health site. Search by destination to find out what vaccines and medications are required and/or recommended for each country, or search the Disease Directory to learn about illnesses.

The Public Health Agency of Canada also has a good Travel Health site. There are fact sheets about general concerns, such as eating and drinking safely while travelling. The Travel Health Notices page lists countries currently experiencing outbreaks or natural disasters and rates the risk of travel to each one.

Well on Your Way: a Canadian's Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad
The government of Canada also publishes an excellent booklet, Well on Your Way: a Canadian's Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad. It has information on:

  • what to look for in travel health insurance
  • travelling with young children, or while pregnant
  • concerns for older travellers, and those with pre-existing medical conditions  or disabilities
  • how to avoid common travel illnesses and accidents
  • what to do in the case of a health emergency                                                   

                                                                                                                      What I learned from my visit to the travel medicine clinic is that, while it's important to assess the risks and prepare for them, the best way to protect yourself from the most common health issues while on vacation is to pack your common sense!


Want to learn more? Here are some books to get you started: 


The International Traveler's Guide to Avoiding Infections Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler Travellers' Health: how to stay healthy abroad
book, eBook book book


  Travel Health Guide: everything you need to know before you leave, while you're away and after you're back Wilderness & Travel Medicine: a comprehensive pocket guide Culture Shock! Travel Safe: a survival guide to medical safety
book book eBook

Wherever your travel adventures take you this summer, I hope you have a safe and happy trip.

Roman Holiday

May 28, 2015 | Aleks | Comments (0)

Arch of Constantine

Excessive and relentless planning - the description of my trip to Rome. Some people may be able to go through planning trips with spontaneity, but I couldn't. I carefully selected my guide book from the shelves of the Society and Recreation department and read it cover to cover. I picked out a few maps from the department's wonderful collection and found one that worked for me. The map had a glossy exterior with both bus and metro maps, restaurant recommendations, a walking tour, and all the major sites. I was ready for an adventure on my own! 


For those who need a little inspiration to travel, well you need to go no further than the library. We have a large collection of travel books from a large variety of countries and cities. Here are a few titles to tickle your travelling bone: 

 This place a stranger - Canadian women travelling alone 100 places every woman should go The best women's travel writing 2009 - true stories from around the world

The longest way home - one man's quest for the courage to settle downBest girlfriends getaways worldwide One Year Off- Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children 

Rome is magnificent! You can see the layers of the many centuries of human life from its foundations up. The city is quite large but everything is walking distance. There are water fountains on every major site making it easy to replenish your water bottle after a long afternoon of wandering. If you didn't get a chance to see everything you wanted to in Rome, no worries! You must toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder, with your back to Trevi Fountain. This will ensure that you will be back to Rome!

What to see: 







Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Free Science Events in Toronto for June 2015

May 26, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (2)

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 June calendar (PDF).

June's highlights include:

  • June 4: Your Brain on Acupuncture - Learn how acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can help someone who is dealing with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, concussions or paralysis.
  • June 7: Spring Babies at the Zoo - Zookeeper Sonya Dittkrist introduces new animal arrivals at the High Park zoo.
  • June 13: Leslieville Tree Festival - A celebration of the urban forest that includes activities for the whole family.

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

At the library, June's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these titles:

The simple guide to five element acupuncture   Nature's babies   Trees   The backyard beekeeper

The Scientific American healthy aging brain   The exoplanet handbook   No more dirty looks   PowerPoint 2013 on demand

Free Jazz Concert At The Library: Tara Davidson Trio

May 22, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (3)

Tara DavidsonSave the date! For the first time ever, a Toronto Jazz Festival concert will take place in a Toronto Public Library Branch! The Tara Davidson Trio will give a jazz festival preview concert at North York Central Library on Tuesday, June 16, at 7 p.m. Saxophonist Tara Davidson has hopped the globe to play at venues such as the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, The International Jazz Festival in Lima, Peru, and prestigious concert halls, including Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D. C. So count your lucky stars, North Yorkers! Don’t despair, those of you who don’t live in North York – North York Central Library is on the subway line. Just hop on the rocket and zoom to this free concert. You can borrow Tara Davidson's latest recording, Duets, from the library. Call (416) 395-5639 to register for this concert.

The jazz festival, which takes place from June 18 to June 29 this year, began in 1987 and it has grown to be one of the most anticipated music festivals on Toronto’s busy summer music calendar. Over the years, the festival has attracted some of the giants of jazz, including Miles Davis, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Rosemary Clooney, Stan Getz, Etta James, Wynton Marsalis, Cab Calloway, Diana Krall, and Oscar Peterson.

Here’s a selection of CDs you can borrow from the library – all of these artists have played at Toronto’s jazz festival:

Cheek to cheek Wallflower - Diana Krall Miles Davis - Kind of blue Harry Connick Jr.- Every man should know Oscar Peterson - Solo
Sarah Vaughan - After hours Dizzy Gillespie - Havin' a good time in Paris Dave Brubeck - Time out Ray Charles - Blues before sunrise Aretha Franklin - The Queen of soul

You can also stream jazz from Hoopla, accessed through the Toronto Public Library’s website with your library card. Here’s a selection of jazz available from Hoopla:

Miles Davis - The Best of Miles Davis Billie Holiday - Gold Benny Goodman - The Best Of Benny Goodman Nina Simone Her Greatest Hits Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World
John Coltrane - My Favorite Things Duke Ellington - The Jazz The Jazz Effect - Thelonius Monk The Best Of Bill Evans (Remastered) 20th Century Masters -The Millennium Collection - Best Of Ella Fitzgerald

If you'd like to learn about the history of jazz, check out the ten part documentary series Jazz, by director Ken Burns. The series was given a rating of 8.5 out of 10 by IMDb (Internet Movie Database). Borrow individual episodes of the DVD, or stream the series via Hoopla

Your library card gives you access to a huge collection of contemporary and classic jazz. Go to Naxos Music Library (Jazz) to stream music from this comprehensive collection, which includes music from labels such as Blue Note, EMI, Warner Jazz and Fantasy Jazz.

Naxos Music Library - Jazz


Related post:

Never read anything the same way twice: jazz books at TPL

The Pull: Why do we write anyway?

May 16, 2015 | Cherie Dimaline | Comments (0)

The Pull

Why do we write anyway?


I wrote this in my personal blog last year:


It’s like this; there are times when the day splits along a seam and you fall into a place time doesn't know exists. It’s the opposite of anxiety; a freedom boxed in by the term 'happiness' where something animal emerges, the kind of animal that appreciates chai lattes with espresso shots and the Marigny bars of New Orleans. There's no telling when it'll come, and no way to make it last. Just walk. And take in the click and crack of each rib's stretch to allow the possibility of seam-slipping afternoons.”


Then I re-read it yesterday; truth be told, I was on my blog trying to pilfer content for this one. And then something happened. I felt the exact same way I felt when I wrote it. I could feel my feet up on the butcher-block desk, breathing in the bits of fresh air blowing in the old window in that dark office above an abandoned café. And I felt the seams start to split. And I realized, that contrary to my philosophical musings, you can tell when the feeling happens, you can in fact, make it happen.


Of course, the original feeling must come from somewhere, some place dark and mystical and maybe even mundane. Then you take that original sentiment and wrap it up in a bit of art- capture it in the colours of a painting, cage it in the melody of a beautiful song, or write it out onto the bars of a page. And then it’s yours forever. This is what true art is, no matter what the medium. Being an artist being zookeeper to beautiful and ferocious creatures you’ve hunted. Sometimes something gets published, or hung in a gallery or sung on a stage and then you are allowing others to see your menagerie, to experience the terrifying thrill of sharp teeth and boney wings so close to your own soft skin.


And then this must be the pull. Because this is not Paris of 1925 or even 1952, and there is not much glory left in the publicly funded arts world. But somehow we keep hunting and collecting and scrounging up the food to keep the creatures at bay. And once in a while, we are graced with a shifting, curious crowd at the gates, holding their tickets and waiting for the magic to begin.

Seeds and Gardening

May 15, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (4)

My daughter pulling out weeds and getting the soil ready for planting.

When I was little, my grandma always kept our garden in the backyard full of delicious vegetables. Every spring and summer, she would tend to the cucumber, tomato, winter melon and pepper plants. She spent a lot of time in the garden, mostly to guard it against those pesky squirrels. Unfortunately, I haven’t planted anything myself since owning a home.

A few weeks ago, my daughter asked if we could buy some flower bulbs we saw at the store. We bought and planted peonies and ranunculus bulbs, flowers I had in my wedding bouquet.

There are many benefits of gardening for children. They learn to be responsible by caring for the plants. They also learn to appreciate nature. Most importantly, they learn to be patient. My daughter has been asking me every day whether or not our flowers have grown. Each time I take her outside to see and tell her that just like her, the flowers are growing but very slowly.

Want to learn more about seeds and gardening? Learn how to save seeds in the city with the Toronto Seed Library at the North York Central Library. In this all-ages information session, we’ll be reviewing the basics of seed libraries and seed saving plus have free seeds on hand for everyone. There will also be a children’s planting workshop. Bring any gardening questions you may have and staff from the Toronto Seed Library will be more than happy to answer them.


What: Seeds & Gardening

Where: North York Central Library, in the Auditorium

When: Saturday, May 30 from 2 – 4 PM

Registration: Call (416) 395-5649 (Science & Technology department) or (416) 395-5630 (Children’s department)


In the meantime, here are some books on seed saving:

Saving vegetable seeds   Seed sowing and saving   Seedswap   Seed to seed

The library also has e-books you can access on an e-reader, mobile device, tablet or desktop on seed saving:

The complete guide to saving seeds   The complete idiot's guide to seed saving and starting   The manual of seed saving   Seed libraries

There are also books about gardening:

Beginner's illustrated guide to gardening   Canadian gardener's guide   How to buy the right plants, tools and garden supplies   Small space garden ideas

E-books on gardening:

Derek Fell's grow this   The New York Times garden book   Rodale's basic organic gardening   Urban gardening for dummies

Get gardening ideas from e-magazines that you can access on your mobile device, tablet or desktop:

Canadian gardening   Country gardens   Garden making container gardening  Homes and gardens

Want books about gardening for kids? The library has books for that, too:

The book of gardening projects for kids   Gardening lab for kids   I can grow things   Square foot gardening with kids


May Days Are For Parties, Weddings, and Travel

May 11, 2015 | Ann | Comments (2)

Spring arrives with bright floral colours and the sun's warm glow across the land. Temperatures rise as the days grow longer. To celebrate the upcoming summery weather enjoy this time outdoors. What better way to shake off the winter blues than to throw an outdoor party for family and friends. Here are some colourful suggestions:

Fairy parties:  recipes, crafts, and games for enchanting celebrations by Colleen Mullaney Sleepover party!:  games and giggles for a fun night by Jamie Kyle McGillian Kids parties by Lisa Atwood The party book by Jane Bull
Let's party! by Alison Bell The kids' pick-a-party book: 50 fun themes for happy birthdays and other parties by Penny Warner Sleeping over by Melinda Beth Radabaugh Costume parties: planning a party that makes your friends say "wow!" by Jen Jones

Not only is this season a grand way for children to enjoy outdoor festivities, this season is also a way to celebrate a new life of love and happiness. Weddings need not be expensive to be glamourous, unique, and special. Have a look at the following title suggestions to see how to design a wedding of a lifetime. 

Style me pretty weddings: inspiration & ideas for an unforgettable celebration by Abby Larson Weddings by Hilary Sterne The Knot complete guide to weddings: the ultimate source of ideas, advice & relief for the bride & groom & those who love them by Carley Roney Wedding style:   hundreds of tips and secrets from the professionals for styling your own big day
Plan the perfect wedding on a small budget by Elizabeth Lluch The broke-ass bride's wedding guide by Dana LaRue Wedding expert: 400 things you need to know to plan your big day by Bettie Bradley 1000 best wedding bargains by Sharon Naylor

For those who want to travel beyond their workplace to see the flourishing flora and fauna in a cool northern terrain, why not head off into the Canadian wilderness. Experience the natural quietude that many artists and writers derive their artistic inspiration from. Here are some titles that will take you far and wide across our home and native land: 

Dazed but not confused: tales of a wilderness wanderer by Kevin Callan Trails and tribulations: confessions of a wilderness pathfinder by Hap Wilson Chasing Clayoquot: a wilderness almanac by David Pitt-Brooke Paddlenorth: adventure, resilience, and renewal in the Arctic wild by Jennifer Kingsley
The great Central Canada bucket list: one-of-a-kind travel experiences by Robin Esrock Canada's road: a journey on the Trans-Canada Highway from St. John's to Victoria by Mark Richardson Dutch gentlemen adventurers in Canada, 1811-1893 by Herman Ganzevoort and J. Th. J. Krijff More trails, more tales: exploring Canada's travel heritage by Bob Henderson

Enjoy the blossoming of warmer days ahead by taking the time to celebrate life, love, and landscapes at their finest.  

Asian Heritage Month Concert: The Music of China

May 8, 2015 | Muriel | Comments (2)


Asian Heritage Month

The Music of China, Brilliant and Accessible

音乐   辉煌亲民

Thursday, May 28, 2015  7:00 p.m.

North York Central Library Auditorium

 Enjoy an inspiring evening with Pingxin Xu, dulcimer player extraordinaire accompanied by Xiaoyun Miao, educator and pipa virtuoso.  They will demonstrate traditional music as well as a variety of styles from China’s varied regions.  The contemporary Asian pieces and western music will demonstrate the versatility of their instruments.  This program will be conducted in
English英文and Chinese中文. 

All ages are welcome.

Please call 416 395 5639 to register for this FREE program.

Chinese Music          Chinese Music          Lives in Chinese Music


China    The Very Best of Chinese Music    Chinese Taoist Music

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. 

The Best Writing Class in the World!

May 7, 2015 | Cherie Dimaline | Comments (0)

Reading Like a Writer


The Best Writing Class in the World!


I am aware that there are many worthy writing classes out there, not the least of which are the MFA programs at esteemed universities around the globe. I can think of several programs in Canada that are outstanding right here in Canada, like the Banff Centre for the Arts (Writing in the mountains? Yes, please.) And yes, structured classes and deadlined work definitely have merit. But there is a school of writing I’ve stumbled upon that is self-paced, rigorous, comprehensive and- with a library card (shameless plug) absolutely free.


Of course, I am talking about reading. But, to be clear, you’re not going to get off easy. This isn’t casual, bystander kind of reading, or reading for entertainment, or reading to fall asleep or even to pass time in a line. This is active, engaged reading. This is reading like a writer.


The great Francine Prose, in a book with the revealing name “Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them,” lays out the basics. By all means, READ THIS BOOK! It would be the best thing you could do to prepare for a self-directed reading course. Think of it as the manifesto, the mandate, and the mission statement for the course.  


From the first chapter:


“Like most- maybe all- writers, I learned to write by writing and, by example, by reading books.

Long before the idea of a writer’s conference was a glimmer in anyone’s eye, writers learned by reading the work of their predecessors. They studied meter with Ovid, plot construction with Homer, comedy with Aristophanes; they honed their prose style by absorbing the lucid sentences of Montaigne and Samuel Jackson.”


Not that you have to stick to those examples. I would instead suggest Walt Whitman for meter, plot construction with Margaret Atwood, comedy with David Sedaris and prose through Lydia Davis. But, it’s all relative.


The point here is to study the works and words that sing to you. Or as Prose says:


 “I read for pleasure, first, but also more analytically, conscious of style, of diction, of how sentences were formed and information was being conveyed, how the writer was structuring a plot, creating characters, employing detail and dialogue. And as I wrote, I discovered that writing, like reading, was done one word at a time, one punctuation mark at a time. It required what a friend calls “putting every word on trial for its life”: changing an adjective, cutting a phrase, removing a comma, and putting a comma back in.”



Turns out, you don’t need to wait for Stanford. All you need the will, a careful eye and a library card. Class is in session.

Free Information Session For Entrepreneurs!

May 7, 2015 | Kathryn | Comments (0)

Jane GertnerOne of the most challenging aspects of being an entrepreneur is the feeling of isolation that comes with having to make decisions alone.  Many small business owners yearn for the opportunity to bounce their ideas and predicaments off like-minded entrepreneurs.  

Through our Small Business Network, the library strives to bring small business people (and aspiring business people) together, not only with each other, but with experts who can provide guidance and practical advice. The Small Business Network is an ongoing monthly event available at five Toronto libraries--North York Central, Toronto Reference Library, Fairview, Bloor/Gladstone and Agincourt

On Wednesday June 17, Jane Gertner, an executive-in-residence at ventureLab, will speak at the North York Central library as part of the Small Business Network series. Through its BUILD program, ventureLAB supports new business owners as they plan, launch and expand their enterprises. The company offers workshops taught by experts with extensive entrepreneurial, corporate or professional expertise.

Using her extensive hands-on business experience, Jane Gertner will sit down with a ventureLAB client to discuss the challenges of starting a business, the advantages and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur and the day-to-day demands of running a business. There will be a question and answer session at the end.

If you need information on raising capital, ramping up your sales or how to control business expantion, you won't want to miss this workshop. Best of all, you don't have to dip into your petty cash to participate. Register online for the event.

In the meantime, check out the extensive selection of books on entrepreneurship offered (either on-shelf or online) at the North York Central Library:

  Crowdfunding Business Start Up In The Digital Age  Economy Of You All In A Startup
The Entrepreneurial Engineer The Reciprocity Advantage Invent Reinvent Thrive Launch An Internet Millionaires Secret

Welcome to North York Central Library. We're one of the City's most welcoming spaces, open to all for study, research, relaxation and fun.

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.