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August 2016

Free Science Events in Toronto for September 2016

August 30, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

The Business, 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 September calendar (PDF).

September's highlights include:

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

At the library, September's highlights include:

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

Autism and Everday Executive Function   Programming   100 Questions and Answers About Ovarian Cancer   Tipping Point for Planet Earth

Unleash the Power of the Female Brain   People and the Sky   Planet of the Bugs   Learning Virtual Reality

Microhistories: Big Stories About Very Specific Topics

August 29, 2016 | Carrie | Comments (0)

Microhistory is the study of the past through the examination of a very narrowly defined subject. Although the term originally referred to in-depth historical studies of specific people or events, over the past 20 years a more loosely defined 'popular' microhistory has emerged and produced a number of bestsellers. Popular microhistories often tell the story of a seemingly ordinary object, event or concept that helps to illuminate a broader social or cultural history.

Popular microhistories are fantastic reads for those who love narrative nonfiction. Here are some recommendations to get you started:


Salt Cod Paper

Mark Kurlansky is one of the most popular authors in this genre. Salt: a world history takes the reader on a 5,000-year journey across continents to tell the fascinating story of this common, household item that greatly influenced the development of human history. Likewise, Cod: a biography of the fish that changed the world tells the story of a seemingly insignificant subject that had far-reaching consequences for the world. Paper: paging through history, Kurlansky's most recent publication in this genre, enthusiastically tells the story of this everyday object from antiquity to present.


6 glasses At home Professor and the madman


A history of the world in 6 glasses by Tom Standage examines the history and impact of six beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola from the stone age to present. Bill Bryson's At home is a fascinating examination of the history of domestic and private life. The professor and the madman tells a sordid and exciting tale about the creation of the first Oxford English Dictionary.


  Rain   Ghost map Extra virginity


Rain: a natural and cultural history is a beautifully written 'biography' of rain, weaving together cultural history, geology, natural science, visual arts and poetry. The ghost map by Steven Johnson is a compelling story of Victorian London's worst cholera outbreak and how it impacted the way we view disease, urban sprawl and sanitation. Extra virginity by Tom Mueller is a story of true crime and corruption, examining the history of olive oil from antiquity to present.

Bending Minds: The Architecture of Frank Gehry

August 26, 2016 | Maureen | Comments (4)

Please join us at North York Central Library on Thursday, September 29, for a talk on world renowned architect Frank Gehry. The talk begins at 7:00 p.m. and will be given by Larry Wayne Richards, Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto.

Frank Gehry's roots are in Toronto. He was born here in 1929, and spent his formative years in Toronto's Jewish ghetto, before his family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1947. His grandmother bought fish for the Sabbath meal at Kensington Market. He played in Grange Park, not far from the Art Gallery of Ontario, which he would one day transform. He developed a love of working with his hands helping out in his grandfather's hardware store on Queen Street West, laying a foundation for his future: "That nurtured it: learning to work with pipe, to cut pipe, put the threads on it, to cut glass...I used to love opening those boxes of bolts and looking at them, and making stuff with them." (Frank Gehry: Toronto). The little boy who created cities out of scraps of wood grew up to design bold, unconventional, buildings that got people talking about architecture in a way they hadn't for many years. Gehry was never interested in making more of the ubiquitous concrete boxes that dominate modern city sky lines. This statement by Gehry gets to the heart of his work: "I approach each building as a sculptural object." (Contemporary Architects).

Gehry's audacious architectural designs are characterized by free flowing, sensuous curves, undulating lines, swooping sheets of metal that billow like sails on a boat. In an essay written to celebrate Gehry's winning the prestigous Pritzker Architecture Prize, Ada Louise Huxtable wrote, "Delight breaks through constantly; there are no gloomy Gehry buildings. One cannot think of anything he has done that doesn’t make one smile." 

Take a look at these innovative buildings, designed by Gehry:

Dancing House, Prague

Nationale-Nederlanden building, Prague. (Architects: Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry)

Photo by Dino Quinzani, Wikimedia Commons


Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Frederick Weisman Museum of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Photo by Mulad, Wikimedia Commons

Lou Ruvo Center

  Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Las Vegas

Photo by Cygnusloop99, Wikimedia Commons


Experience Music Project

Experience Music Project, Seattle, Washington

Photo by Cacophony, Wikimedia Common

Gehry's design for the EMP museum (which celebrates pop culture) was inspired by shattered electric guitars. Gehry bought some electric guitars, cut them up, and used the pieces to create an early model of the museum. 

  Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

 Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

Photo by MykReeve, Wikimedia Commons

Renowned architect Philip Johnson traveled to Spain in 1998 at the age of 91 to see the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, just after it was finished. It brought him to tears. He later pronounced it to be "the greatest building of our time." Paul Goldberger, author of Why architecture matters, said the building was "truly a signal moment in the architectural culture." Here's a detail of the Guggenheim Museum:  

Guggenheim Bilbao detail


 Photo by E. Goergen, Wikimedia Commons


Art Gallery of Ontario


Art Gallery of Ontario after Frank Gehry's redesign

Photo: John Joh, Wikimedia Commons

Pick up a MAP pass to see Frank Gehry's stunning redesign of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the inside. With a valid adult Toronto Public Library card, you can get a pass to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario for free from any library branch. The Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass (MAP) lets you and your family explore the best of Toronto's arts and cultural treasures for free. Call your local branch for more details about how to get a pass.

The library has copies of Sketches of Frank Gehry, a documentary about the architect directed by his longtime friend, Sydney Pollock:

Sketches of Frank Gehry


 Here are some books you can borrow on Frank Gehry:

Conversations with Frank Gehry Frank Gehry


Frank Gehry -- the houses Frank Gehry, architect


Frank O. Gehry -- selected works 1969 to today Symphony -- Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall


Building Art -- the life and work of Frank Gehry


A Roof of One's Own

August 19, 2016 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

Tiny Houses, Hatteras, North Carolina
Tiny Houses, Hatteras, North Carolina. Image by Bill Dickinson; shared via Creative Commons license


You can't open a newspaper these days without seeing articles about the Canadian housing market. Pointing out the growing gap between incomes and house prices, predicting the inevitable correction, or perhaps a soft landing, they can make for pretty confusing reading. So wouldn't it be reasonable to think that renting is the better strategy in the current housing market? Well the situation for renters isn't much better; according to a 2015 report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, a shortage of rental housing stock means that "one in five renters pays more than 50 per cent of their income on housing". 

So what are the options if you're looking for alternatives to Toronto's current sky-high rents and record real estate prices? 

You could look into alternate housing models. Here are some examples:

  • shared ownership: In this model you buy and live in a home with friends, sharing the costs of home ownership. Read more about the shared ownership model here.
  • co-operative housing: Housing co-ops are non-profit organizations which provide secure housing to members at lower than average cost. Learn about the co-operative housing movement in Canada here.
  • co-housing: Co-housing is an ownership model in which residents own their homes and also have access to a common space with shared amenities. Pooling and sharing resources can lower costs. Toronto's first co-housing project is in the planning stages. Learn more about the co-housing model here.


You could also investigate these smaller, more affordable housing options:

  • laneway housing: Laneways can provide "small-scale housing options that can help address the affordability gap". Toronto has over 25000 laneways; while some cities are allowing the construction of new laneway housing, Toronto currently considers applications on a case-by-case basis. 
  • garden suites: A garden suite is a self-contained housing unit built on a lot with an existing single-family home, usually occupied by people related to the homeowner. It is especially suited to seniors or people with disabilities, but there is increasing awareness that garden suites can help meet the housing affordability gap. In 2011 the Ontario government changed the Planning Act to make garden suites a more attractive housing option. Learn more about those changes here.
  • shipping containers: Using modular components helps reduce construction costs.  Shipping containers are being re-purposed for everything from pop-up shops to living spaces. Pallet homes reuse wooden shipping pallets as an affordable building material for small living spaces.


Here are some library resources with more information on this subject:


Shipping Container Homes: how to build a shipping container home for cheap and live mortgage-free for life. eBook

Take a Trip to Transylvania Through My Photos

August 15, 2016 | Emoke | Comments (4)

Transylvanian Landscape

As promised, this post is a visual journey of my family vacation to Transylvania, Romania. Here you can find my introductory post along with the recommended library materials. This trip really took me back to my roots. I stayed in my family home in my city, Odorheiu Secuiesc (Szekelyudvarhely in Hungarian, which is the main language spoken here) for nearly three weeks. After this trip, I realized that I really miss aspects of my culture and it was good to get re-educated in it. We saw old friends and family, took day trips to amazing places, which I will show you below, and enjoyed food and drinks that are so indulgent, that you felt like you had to walk the length of the entire city to make up for the extra calories!

The Transylvanian landscape is really rich in mountains and vast, deep, evergreen forests, where bears definitely lurk. We were always curious to see if we would catch any brown bears jumping out at us on the winding roads we took amongst the forests to get to our many sight-seeing destinations.

The people of Transylvania are quite warm and friendly and when you visit their home, you better not refuse the hospitality that comes your way! You will no doubt be offered a healthy shot of palinka, and various other drinks, no doubt some wine too. In terms of food, the dishes that really stood out to me were: csorba, basically a vegetable soup with a special sour herb plant called lovage; goulash (gulyás), which everyone knows as a soup or stew with meat and vegetables and seasoned with paprika, cumin, etc.; and chicken paprikash (csirke parikas), which at least the way I make it, is a chicken, paprika, sour cream sauce concoction, served with noodles.

Enough about main dishes, let's get to desserts! Kürtőskalács, or in English I think they call them chimney stacks or chimney cakes, are sold just about everywhere. They are made from a sweet dough and wrapped around a cone shape, rolled in sugar, roasted over charcoal and basted with butter, until the surface turns golden brown and the sugar crystalizes. It can then be topped with additional goodies, such as shaved coconut, cinnamon, or my favourite, ground walnuts. See the photo of the roasting process below.


 Let's get into my photo diary:

  Praid Salt Mine

This is the Salt Mine in Praid. Breathing the air for several hours at time inside here (salt therapy) is said to be therapeutic for respiratory conditions.

  Gyilkos-tó (Red Lake)

Gyilkos-to or Red Lake is the largest barrier lake in the Eastern Carpathians chain in Harghita County, Romania. Click on this link to read about the legend associated with this lake.


This place is called the Szejke, and showcases the Szekely gates at the grave of Orban Balazs, a Hungarian writer, historian and  politician.

  Bran Castle

Bran Castle in Brasov, Romania is a national monument and landmark, but in other terms is known as the 'Dracula' castle. It is the castle in Transylvania which fits Bram Stoker's description of Dracula's castle, but there is no evidence that he knew anything more about this castle. It is now a museum open to tourists and houses the art and furniture collected by Queen Marie


Korond is a village in Harghita County, Romania, famous for its pottery and ceramics. I definitely picked up a few pieces to take home from here, including hand-embroidered Transylvanian shirts.

  Madaras Harghita

This is the location of one the most popular ski resorts, called the Madaras Harghita. The views of the Harghita Mountains are absolutely incredible, and the food in the various chalets here is some of the best I had in Transylvania.


There are mineral water springs here in this Homorod resort and spa (Lobogo), which offers summer and winter sports, and a fantastic restaurant in the Lobogo Panzio that my family and I ate at least twice at on this trip. The locals (and I) come to collect the sparkling mineral water from the ground. There are many medicinal mineral water springs in Transylvania due to volcanic movements that the locals use for spa water and for drinking water.


This gulyas was from a restaurant called the Árcsó fogadó and was one of the best bowls of gulyas I have ever had.

  Chicken Paprikas

 I can't believe I had the soup (from above) and this chicken (Csirke) paprikas in one sitting! It was that good.

Duck Liver
This is goose or duck liver served over a bed of glazed veggies. I had to include this for the foodies out there.

  Kürtőskalács in the making

And last, but not least, kürtőskalács in the making!

As you can tell, this trip was truly something special, a great cultural experience. I can't wait to go back!

Fun pics:


Fun House

Beautiful landscape shot

Dracula Castle effect

  Colourful food pic

  Odorheiu Secuiesc


Fall 2016 The eh List Author Series at North York Central Library

August 12, 2016 | Muriel | Comments (0)

Come to North York Central Library this fall and meet the writers everyone's reading!

The eh List Author Series presents a great lineup of Canadian writers at North York Central Library this fall: Cordelia Strube on Tuesday, October 4; Ami McKay on Tuesday November 1; Teva Harrison on Tuesday, November 15; Tim Falconer on Tuesday, November 29 and Maureen Jennings on Tuesday, December 13! Q & A to follow, and book signings at the U of T Bookstore table.  All events will be held in the North York Central Library auditorium at 7:00 pm. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for these free programs.

Toronto Public Library gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and The eh List’s media sponsor, the Toronto Star. For the full listing, check out Follow the conversation online using the hashtag: #ehList.

Cordelia Strube         Cordelia Strube On the Shores of Darkness There is Light
Cordelia Strube / On the Shores of Darkness, There is Light, Tuesday, October 4 at 7:00 pm in the North York Central Library auditorium

Cordelia Strube, author of the acclaimed novel Lemon, on her funny and heartbreaking book On the Shores of Darkness, There is Light, a story of love and revelation.  Q & A and book signing to follow. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

Ami McKay         Ami McKay The Witches of New York
Ami McKay / The Witches of New York
Tuesday, November 1 at 7:00 p.m.
in the North York Central Library auditorium

Ami McKay, the beloved, bestselling author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure, on her new, beguiling novel, The Witches of New York; a tale of three remarkable young women navigating the glitz and grotesqueries of Gilded-Age New York by any means possible, including witchcraft.  Q & A and book signing to follow. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

Teva Harrison         Teva Harrison In Between Days
Teva Harrison  / In-Between Days Tuesday, November 15 at 7:00 pm in the North York Central Library auditorium

Teva Harrison is one of The Globe and Mail'“Sixteen Torontonians to Watch in 2016.”  Artist, writer and cartoonist, she will be discussing her critically acclaimed graphic memoir, In-Between Days, which documents her personal journey of living with breast cancer, through comic illustration and short personal essays. Q & A and book signing to follow. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

 Tim Falconer         Tim Falconer Bad Singer
Tim Falconer / Bad Singer, Tuesday, November 29 at 7:00 pm in the North York Central Library auditorium

Author, journalist and self-confessed “bad singer” Tim Falconer, will be discussing his journey in trying to understand the brain science behind tone-deafness, why we love music, and working with a vocal coach to achieve his personal goal of singing in public. Q & A and book signing to follow. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.


Maureen Jennings         Maureen Jennings Dead Ground In Between
Maureen Jennings / Dead Ground In Between, Tuesday, December 13 at 7:00 pm in the North York Central Library auditorium

Maureen Jennings, acclaimed author of the “Murdoch Mysteries” series, on her latest novel, Dead Ground In Between, the haunting fourth novel in the DI Tom Tyler series. Q & A and book signing to follow. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

Augmented Reality

August 5, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

Daughter with Pidgey Pokémon
My daughter petting a pidgey Pokémon at the doctor's office

The Oxford English Dictionary defines augmented reality as the use of technology which allows the perception of the physical world to be enhanced or modified by computer-generated stimuli. By adding graphics, sounds and other sensory elements to the reality we see, it blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated. Unlike virtual reality where you’re immersed in a virtual world, augmented reality adds to and enhances our real world environment. So picture being able to see information about traffic, weather, restaurants and other things superimposed to your environment as you're walking down the street. Or like Iron Man.

Thanks to the craze of the Pokémon Go game, it has taken augmented reality into the mainstream. With 100 million downloads, it has introduced and popularized this technology to the general public. Players catch Pokémons that are digitally superimposed into our real world environments. The novelty of seeing Pokémons in real life and the obsession of collecting them, has contributed to the game’s success. You can even catch Pokémons, stock up on supplies or battle your Pokémon at the library. Check out the list of library branches with Pokémons, Poké Stops and gym locations.

If catching Pokémons isn’t your thing, technology blog Gizmodo provides a list of alternative augmented reality mobile apps. How cool is it to be able to see if a piece of furniture goes with the décor in your room before buying it with the Ikea app? The possibilities of augmented reality seem endless. In addition to gaming, it can be used in education, health care, engineering and much more.

To learn more able augmented reality and virtual reality, check out some of these e-books:

Augmented Reality - An Emerging Technologies Guide to AR   Augmented Reality - Principles and Practice   Cardboard VR Projects for Android   Developing AR Games for iOS and Android

Learning Virtual Reality   Oculus Rift in Action   Understanding Augmented Reality   Unity Virtual Reality Projects

Prefer to read from a physical book? Here are some books on the topics:

Augmented Reality   Learning Virtual Reality   Pro iOS 5 Augmented Reality   Prototyping Augmented Reality

To stay updated on the latest technology, here are some e-magazines that can be accessed on your computer, mobile device or tablet:

Maximum PC   Net   PC Magazine   Wired

Don't forget to check out one of our Digital Innovation Hubs for access to the latest technology like 3D printers. At the North York Central Library, we'll be getting our own Digital Innovation Hub and creation space after the renovation. In the meantime, signup for one of our digital design classes to learn about 3D design, computer graphics, audio editing and more.

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.