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Free Science Events in Toronto for May 2016

April 28, 2016 | Jeannette | 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 May calendar (PDF).

May's highlights include:

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

At the Library, May's highlights include:

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

The Orchid Whisperer   Make - The Annotated Build-it-yourself Science Laboratory   Running Injury-Free   Small-Space Container Gardens

Atoms Under the Floorboards   The Best Natural Homemade Skin and Hair Care Products   Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living   The Allergy Book


Our Fragile Planet: Magazines to the Rescue

April 15, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (4)

Our Fragile Planet display at North York Central Library

It's Earth Month 2016 and the time has come to take seriously our impact on the planet. Toronto Public Library is happy to present the best of our collections on environmental education, geared to children, teens and adults. Watch for environmental displays in branches across the city and pick up some reading material. At the same time, please join us for Our Fragile Planet, our free environmental programming series. Learn about issues that impact our city, and what you can do to tread lightly on our planet.


Next Friday is Earth Day.

The library has been celebrating all month through the Our Fragile Planet environmental programming series and displays at the branches. The displays feature books, magazines and DVDs on topics such as conservation, recycling, sustainable living, gardening and more.The goal is to get people thinking about the environment and what we can do to make a difference.

While we should be thinking about the environment throughout the year, Earth Day is a great way to remind us of our impact on the natural world. Magazines are a great way to get us thinking about the issues. With thought-provoking articles and stunning images, it’s a good place to start.

Here are some magazines on the environment available at the library:

Canadian Field-Naturalist   Earth   Nature   On Nature

There are also wildlife magazines:

Audubon   BBC wildlife   Birding   Canadian Wildlife

Try growing your own vegetables or planting flowers to attract wildlife. Here are some gardening magazines:

Canadian Gardening   Garden Making   Mother Earth News   Ontario Gardener

Want to read something right now? The library has magazines available online through Zinio that can be read on your computer, tablet or phone: (Don’t know Zinio? Here’s a guide.)

Environment and wildlife magazines available online:

Audubon   Earth   National Geographic   Smithsonian

Gardening magazines online:

Better Homes and Gardens   Canadian Gardening   Garden Making   Mother Earth News

It’s always important to be mindful of how we impact the environment. So let’s take this chance to make a difference.

Listen Up, Poem Fairy!

April 7, 2016 | Maureen | Comments (14)

Last year, in April, someone gave me a poem. It was left on my desk, front and centre, where I'd be sure to see it. No one confessed. It could have been anyone in the building -- North York Central Library has six floors, so my suspect list is long. Will the poem fairy (as I've been calling my anonymous benefactor) strike again this April, which is National Poetry Month? If they read this, will they feel pressured into giving me another poem? Will they feel trapped in an annual poetry giving loop that must continue until one or the other of us dies? Dear poem fairy, don't feel obligated to give me a poem this April. Don't worry, I won't be like Linus, shivering in the pumpkin patch all night, waiting for the Great Pumpkin who never comes.

What if the poem fairy isn't one of my co-workers? What if it's a supernatural being, like the Great Pumpkin, and what if it has the power to grant poetry wishes during National Poetry Month? Oh Great Poem Fairy, grant my wish! GIVE ME POETRY INSTEAD OF MUSIC WHEN I'M ON HOLD! I wish it every time I'm forced to endure a sharp harpoon of ear stabbing music while waiting with the phone to my ear.

Imagine, instead, a voice speaking softly into your ear: I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. Wouldn't you hug the phone close? Wouldn't you hang on every word? If the poem fairy doesn't grant my wish, then I look to you business owners, civil servants, anyone in charge of a phone line -- hear this cry from my soul! Replace hold music with poetry, not just in April, but ALWAYS. It could work something like this:

Press 1 for Beat poetry

Press 2 for Haiku

Press 3 for Free verse

Press 4 for Sonnets

Press 5 for Nonsense verse

Press 6 for Limericks

Press 7 for Canadian poetry

Press 8 for Narrative poetry

Press 9 for Surprise me

You could change it up all kinds of ways. During tax season, Revenue Canada could offer epic poetry (because you could be on hold for a long time). On Valentine's Day you could fire up the love poetry. Entrepreneurs, I offer you this poetry-while-you-wait business idea, free. Take it to the Dragon's Den! Just make the tiny terrible music stop!

If you want to begin exploring poetry, but aren't sure where to start, borrow a poetry anthology and sample a range of poets, genres and periods.

Global poetry anthology 2015 Please excuse this poem Poem-a-day The Oxford book of comic verse
Global poetry anthology
Please excuse this poem
365 poems for every
The Oxford book of
comic verse
Poems that make grown men cry Poems that makes grown women cry The Penguin anthology of 20th century American poetry The best Canadian poetry in English 2015
Poems that make grown
men cry
Poems that make
grown women cry
The Penguin anthology
of 20th century
American poetry
The best Canadian
poetry 2015

The Griffin Poetry Prize, founded in 2000 by Canadian philanthropist Scott Griffin, is one of the most generous poetry prizes in the world -- the winners receive $65,000. There is an international prize, awarded to a living poet from any country in the world, and a Canadian prize, for a poet living in Canada. Here are the last eight years of Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize winners:

Koerner Hall
a first edition single collection of poetry
a first edition single collection of poetry
for a first edition single collection of poetry written in English ­ - See more at: founded by business man and philanthropist Scott Griffin in 2000. The first Griffin Poetry Prize was given to Anne Carson in 2001, for her collection Men in off hours. Have a look at these Griffin Prize winners for Canadian poetry from previous years:
Blue sonoma Red doc What's the score Methodist hatchet
2015 Blue Sonoma 2014 Red doc> 2013 What's the score? 2012 Methodist hatchet
Ossuaries Pigeon The sentinel The holy forest
2011 Ossuaries 2010 Pigeon : poems 2009 The sentinel : poems 2008 The holy forest

Winners for 2016 will be announced on June 2. To sample the work of the 2016 contenders, reserve the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology, which the library has on order.

Did you know you can get poetry in eBook format from the Toronto Public Library website? Go to OverDrive and use the Advanced Search function to narrow your search to poetry. Here's a small sample of what's available:

Handwriting The essential Rumi The essential Ginsberg Sylvia Plath Collected Poems
Handwriting The Essential Rumi
The Essential Ginsberg
Sylvia Plath Collected Poems
Seamus Heaney 100 selected poems Love poems The waste land
Seamus Heaney
100 selected poems
Love poems The waste land

April 21 is poem in your pocket day. The League of Canadian Poets and the Academy of American Poets invite you to celebrate poetry on April 21 by carrying a poem with you throughout the day, and sharing it with others. Toronto Public Library is getting in on the fun! We've created a list of poetry eBooks you can borrow to put on your mobile device. Don't forget to share! Recite a poem to your co-workers during your coffee break, or, if you dare, to the sleepy eyed commuters riding the rocket.

Here's a short poem I'd like to share with everyone. I found it very moving. Turn up the volume on your device -- Ayo Akinfenwa, who recites the poem, speaks very softly at first. She's reciting at the Poetry In Voice contest, a recitation contest for Canadian high school students. (If I ever wondered whether poetry had kicked the bucket, this event showed me it's alive and kicking.)


Fear of snakes can be found in Canadian poet Lorna Crozier's Angels of flesh, Angels of silence: poems.

Biggs the Fig Pig

April 4, 2016 | Jane | Comments (0)

Mr. Stephen Biggs is a self-described fig pig.Stephen Biggs He seems to have been born to the role, suited as his name is to his vocation (at least if you like rhymes). But what is it that draws a man to a fruit tree with such passion and commitment? 

He isn't alone, as it turns out, and the thing that holds the rest of us back is our impression that a fig will not grow in our Toronto climate. Biggs will set us straight on this score when he’s here at North York Central Library to give a talk about all kinds of fig trees  – how to propagate them, how to prune them, how to keep them alive over Toronto winters.


North York Central Library (5120 Yonge Street)
Room 2/3
Tues April 12, 7-8 pm


While fresh figs taste wonderful with just a bit of honey over them, or maybe with a dollop of ice cream, you may have more elaborate plans for yours, once you have them in backyard abundance.  

 Grow Figs Sweet Middle East Roast Figs Sugar Snow  A Platter of Figs

Some more tips for growing fruit trees:

Growing Fruit Trees Holistic Orcharding Home Orchard Handbook Growing Organic Orchard Fruits

Sonia Faruqi's Personal Journey Investigating Animal Farms

March 29, 2016 | Carrie | Comments (0)


This image is in the public domain


After losing her job as an investment banker on Wall street, Sonia Faruqi decided that she could use some rest and relaxation and thought an idyllic farm setting would be the perfect place to recharge her batteries.

She made arrangements to stay at an organic dairy farm for two weeks and what she witnessed completely shocked her and led her on a personal journey around the world to expose animal cruelty and find solutions that would benefit animals, the environment and human health.

Sonia Faruqi will read from her book Project Animal Farm and discuss her personal experiences investigating animal farms around the world.


What: My Personal Journey Investigating Animal Farms

When: Wed Apr 6, 2016 from 7:00 - 8:00 pm

Where: North York Central Library, Auditorium

To Register: Call the Society and Recreation Department at 416-395-5660



Project Animal farm  Book








If you would like to read more about animal ethics:


 Farm Sanctuary   Cafo   Animals and ethics




Free Science Events in Toronto for April 2016

March 29, 2016 | Jeannette | 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 April calendar (PDF).

April's highlights include:

  • April 3: Ontario's Badgers - Learn about these endangered mammals and the steps being taken to understand badger ecology.
  • April 14: Women's Health & Gynecologic Cancers - An evening discussion about gynecologic cancers by leading Sunnybrook experts.
  • April 21: Posture: Does it Matter? - Does the way you stand and sit affect your health? A discussion about posture and if it matters.

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

At the library, April's highlights include:

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

Badger   Women's cancers   The posture workbook   Safe passages

Positive options for colorectal cancer   Grow figs where you think you can't   Wear this, toss that   Blue hope


Why Did the Deer Cross the Road? Road and Ecology in Cities

March 18, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

Deer crossing road
Photo by Chinmayisk [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever driven past road kill and wondered “why did it risk its life crossing the road?” Well, the answer is usually quite simple. The animal probably needed to survive.

From an animal’s perspective, Toronto is a patchwork of green spaces linked by river valleys but often separated by dangerous roads. Due to roadway design which often fragment natural habitats, species are confined to small areas and denied access to resources such as shelter, food and mates and eventually die out. The consequences are severe.

Come and join us for a talk on how road networks relate to ecological processes in cities and how transportation planning can affect urban biodiversity.

Namrata Shrestha, a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment, will discuss how her work and research as a landscape ecologist can reduce the impact of infrastructure networks on wildlife.


What: Road & Ecology in Cities: The Effect of Transportation Planning on Wildlife

When: Saturday, April 2 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM

Where: North York Central Library, in the Auditorium

For more information: Call the Science & Technology Department at (416) 395-5649


For more information about road ecology, here are some books:

Creating green roadways   Road ecology   Roads and ecological infrastructure   Safe passages

This video by the Ontario Road Ecology Group explains what road ecology is and what we can do to help:


Time, Why Do You Punish Me?

March 11, 2016 | Ann | Comments (6)

Titles on Time at NYCL
Courtesy of endlesswatts on pixabay. CC0 Public Domain Free for commercial use.

At 2 am on Sunday, March 13th, clocks inch ahead by one hour. Except for the province of Saskatchewan, many of us will experience a mild form of jetlag as we lose an hour of sleep to start our day. People living in Europe will not experience this time change until March 27th, a week after the first day of Spring. The clocks will return to Eastern Standard Time on November 6th at 2 am. 

This blog title was inspired by the song, Time by Hootie & the Blowfish from the 1995 album, Cracked Rear View. For many of us, myself included, the arrival of Daylight Saving Time (DST) evokes a sense of mental anguish similar to the hypnotic lyrics crooned by Darius Rucker.

For those who are already sleep deprived, losing an hour of sleep could lead to dangerous traffic accidents and other negative health effects. WebMD offers useful suggestions on Coping with the Effects of Daylight Saving Time. Also, have a look at two more blog posts on DST.

The good news is that the days will grow longer, the weather will improve, and the mornings will begin to fill with warmth and sunlight. The first day of Spring will arrive on March 20th. Getting up early will feel less harrowing as time goes by.

Listed below are various themes for contemplating this new time shift. In fact, looking at time from these perspectives may give weight to and develop an appreciation for different events winding through time.

Creative Times

Time can be wibbly-wobbly, distorted, fractured, paradoxical, pressing or mysterious.  These fascinating titles may hold you timebound.

Fractured times: culture and society in the twentieth century Pressed for time: the acceleration of life in digital capitalism Time traveller's handbook: a guide to the past A time of paradox. America from the Cold War to the third millennium, 1945-present
Lost to time: unforgettable stories that history forgot The mystery of time:  humanity's quest for order and measure Surveillance in the time of insecurity Eyewitness to history from ancient times to the modern era

Mad Times

Times can be difficult in today's fast-paced world with issues of violence, terrorism, bullying, and various forms of abuse. The end of the world may draw near through Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Any time is a good time to read up on these furious times.

A history of the world since 9/11: disaster, deception, and destruction in the war on terror Family violence from a global perspective: a strengths-based approach Bullies in the workplace: seeing and stopping adults who abuse their co-workers and employees Cult and ritual abuse: narratives, evidence, and healing approaches
The many worlds of Hugh Everett III: multiple universes, mutual assured destruction, and the meltdown of a nuclear family Germs gone wild: how the unchecked development of domestic biodefense threatens America @WAR: the rise of the military-Internet complex Police unbound: corruption, abuse, and heroism by the boys in blue

Sad Times

Through history, madness may lead to sadness for victims experiencing abuse, neglect, torture, or annihilation. Learning from the mistakes made and working towards strategies for change are important in amending the actions of these times for a better future.

Invisible scars: how to stop, change, or end psychological abuse The little book of restorative justice for sexual abuse: hope through trauma Poverty in Canada: implications for health and quality of life Abuse and neglect of older Canadians: strategies for change
Ordeal by hunger: the story of the Donner Party I was a child of Holocaust survivors The Story of the Titanic, as told by its survivors A thousand lives: the untold story of hope, deception, and survival at Jonestown

Glad Times

Finally, there are good times to be had. Welcoming a new year, dancing away your troubles, and celebrating every waking moment through fiestas and music are the best ways to enjoy the moments while we are alive.

Chinese festivals, updated edition The dance of time: the origins of the calendar: a miscellany of history and myth, religion and astronomy, festivals and feast days Choreographing identities: folk dance, ethnicity and festival in the United States and Canada Celebrate: a year of British festivities for families and friends
The folklore of world holidays, 2nd ed. Burning Man: art on fire Sacred places of a lifetime: 500 of the world's most peaceful and powerful destinations Cuban fiestas

Music Time

Nothing is better than to tune in and move with the music. Here are more contemporary songs (in no particular order) that come to mind:

If you are contemplating the limited preciousness of time, this video, You Are Here (Pale Blue Dot) which was inspired by the works of Carl Sagan will provide a global perspective on our time here.

Time need not be a punishing ordeal to endure if you can measure it accurately and see it for what it is--an opportunity to change, build, and develop in your own way.  Time stands still for no one so get ahead of it and do your best with what time you have left.  

Ripple Effects

March 4, 2016 | Carolyn | Comments (0)


Image courtesy of University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy


Last month scientists from the LIGO Scientific Collaboration announced that on September 14 gravitational waves were detected for the first time. Two LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) detectors "measured ripples in the fabric of spacetime – gravitational waves – arriving at the Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe."

Here's the "chirp" that alerted researchers to the presence of the waves.            

The existence of gravitational waves was predicted 100 years ago in Einstein's general theory of relativity. Here Neil Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute, discusses what this discovery means for the future of theoretical physics:



This story made headlines for exactly one day before quietly fading away. Science breakthroughs seldom hold our attention for very long, perhaps because it can be hard to see how they relate to our daily lives. With that it mind I decided to look into how mankind might someday benefit from this discovery.

I learned that there have already been spin-offs from the search for gravitational waves, such as advances in optical engineering and new seismic isolation techniques that improve scientific instruments. But what about practical applications of the waves themselves? Even scientists concede that they are many decades away. Astrophysicist Martin Hendry's view, expressed in a recent article, is typical:

Could we ever harness gravitational waves for practical applications here on Earth? Could new insights about the dark universe help us, perhaps in the far future, not just to measure gravitational fields but to manipulate them, as imagined in the space colonies and wormholes of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar? That is much harder to predict, but the lesson of history is that new phenomena we discover and explore frequently lead to disruptive technologies that come to underpin our everyday lives. It might take a few centuries, but I am confident the same will be true with gravitational waves.

It doesn't always take centuries for scientific discoveries to result in practical applications. NASA has an interesting list of spin-offs from the space program that benefit our daily lives - everything from LEDs to memory foam and, of course, freeze dried foods.


If you're interested in learning more about theoretical astrophysics or cosmology, here are some books to get you started:


    also: eBook, eAudiobook

also: eBook, audiobook

  also: eBook, eAudiobook
also: eBook also: eBook  

Free Science Events in Toronto for March 2016

March 1, 2016 | Jeannette | 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 March calendar (PDF). 

March's highlights include:

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

At the library, March's highlights include:

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

How we'll live on Mars   Atmosphere   Outsmart diabetes 1-2-3   A doctor's guide to alternative medicine

Our daily poison   GIMP for absolute beginners   Bicycle repair manual   A visual guide to sushi-making at home

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.