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Introduction to Baroque Music with Violinist Patricia Ahern

February 27, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Patricia AhernPlease join us at North York Central Library on Friday March 27 for an introduction to Baroque music. Patricia Ahern, a violinist with award winning Baroque orchestra Tafelmusik, will perform selections of Baroque music to illustrate her talk. Tafelmusik has been called one of the world’s top Baroque orchestras by Gramophone Magazine.

Baroque music is a style of European music that roughly spans the years 1600 to 1750. The love of theatricality during this time period led to the invention of a genre which is still flourishing today -- opera. Some well known composers of the period include George Frideric Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Pachelbel, Antonio Vivaldi, Henry Purcell, and Claudio Monteverdi.

If you’d like to learn more about Baroque music before you come to the event, use your library card to log into Naxos Music Library on the Toronto Public Library Website. Here, you can listen to works by composers of the Baroque period. Or you can listen to The history of classical music, an audio book by Richard Fawkes, a hidden gem for your ears and mind. At the beginning, you will hear the soulful sound of Gregorian chant, then British actor Robert Powell infusing the first line of the book with life in his mellifluous, unhurried tones: "The sound of Gregorian chant -- the oldest music we have in the western world".

His voice is so well modulated and pleasing that even when he tells you about the walls of Jericho being brought down by trumpets, and the Christians being fed to lions to the sound of organ music, you will be lulled into a state of both relaxation and alert curiosity -- the perfect mood in which to time travel with Powell into music history. It's a great way to learn. You are treated to samples of music which really help you appreciate what Powell is saying in his delicious British accent. If you want, skip right to the section on the Baroque period. (The same title is available in Hoopla, Toronto Public Library's streaming music and video service.)

Patricia will begin her talk at 7:00 p.m. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

Here are just a few titles from the thousands available to you in Naxos Music Library:

Richard Fawkes The History of Classical Music
"Recommended to anyone new to classical music or to informed listeners looking to plug any gaps in their knowledge." Gramophone Magazine. Narrated by award winning actor Robert Powell. (Most well known for his role as Jesus in Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth.)

Baroque Masterpieces


Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Concerti Virtuosi



Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra House of Dreams


Free Science Events in Toronto for March 2015

February 26, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

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:

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

March's highlights include:

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

Garments of paradise   Real food all year   Climate change   The essential guide to home herbal remedies   Healthy meals for less   Arduino for beginners   Teach yourself visually Microsoft Excel 2010   The complete visual guide to building a house

The Beautiful Brain: How Do We See the World?

February 20, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

I recently had surgery to correct my vision. I've needed glasses since sixth grade so it's been quite a different experience not having to wear glasses or contacts. Being able to wake up and see things clearly has been simply wonderful.

Working together, the eyes and brain allow us to perceive the world around us. As light hits the retina of the eye (which allows us to see), signals are sent to the visual cortex of the brain. There, visual information is processed.

So whether you are looking at a work of art or engaging in a daily routine such as driving, our visual sense and powerful brain let us react with adequate behaviours.

Join Dr. Georg Zoidl from York University, for a talk on the brain and visual perception on Wednesday, March 4 from 7 – 8 PM at North York Central Library in the Auditorium. He will explain what our perception of the physical world mean for us as individuals and as social beings.

Presented in collaboration with York University’s Faculties of Science and Health, this talk is part of the Neuroscience: How Your Brain Lives, Works… And Dies lecture series.

For more information about the brain, take a look at these books:

Brain structure and its origins  The human brain book  A very short tour of the mind  We are our brains

Here are some DVDs about the brain:

How does the brain work  The intelligent brain  The nervous system  Your best brain

There are also books about visual perception:

Basic vision  An introduction to the visual system  A tour of the senses  Vision and brain

Tutankhamun's Uncommon Encounters

February 13, 2015 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


National Gegoraphic featured video:  King Tut's Tomb
Photograph of King Tut's Mask courtesy of v.williams46 (flickr) under the Creative Commons licence 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This year Ontario celebrates Family Day on Monday February 16.  It is a great day for people to share time with family and friends.  For those who like to spend their time immersed in ancient history, February 16 celebrates the 92nd anniversary of the discovery of King Tut (aka King Tutankhamen).  This day in 1923, Howard Carter discovered the inner burial chamber and gave rise to a social phenomenon rich in scientific research and folklore. 

Tutankhamun endured some (mis)adventures in life and in the thereafter.  These include physical injuries that hastened his untimely death, possible spontaneous combustion of his mummified remains during entombment, and the recent unfortunate breaking and hasty reattachment of the beard on his death mask.  

Other intriguing issues related to King Tut can be shelved under folklore.  These include the ever popular "mummy's curse" upon the opening of King Tut's sarcophagus and the successful plot to murder the young king.  In the late 1960s, scientists examined King Tut's remains using X-ray photography.  The initial images showed a crack in the lower back area of the mummy's skull.  This evidence suggested that King Tut may have been bludgeoned to death.  Ay(e), a  middle-aged close relative and counselor to the king, was the prime suspect in the young king's demise.  Ay(e) had a great deal to gain in murdering the child king and marrying the equally young queen, Ankhesenamun.  

Further scientific analysis debunks this initial theory.  Recent CT scans discount Ay(e) as the Tutankhamen's murderer.  The crack in the skull most likely occurred in the mummification process.   King Tut may have died due to an infection resulting from a serious fracture to his left leg.  The scientists did report two unusual occurrences while they performed a CT scan on Tut's remains.  They jokingly suggested that the sudden shutdown of power to the CT scanner and illness to one of the scientists may be caused by the mummy's curse for performing this "penetrating" procedure.  


The library has a good assortment of titles that would interest readers fascinated with topics on Tutankhamen and the history of Ancient Egypt: 

Discovering Tutankhamun: from Howard Carter to DNA.  By Zahi Hawass Tutankhamun's funeral.  By Winlock, Herbert Eustis, 1884-1950 Amarna sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian counter-reformation.  By Dodson, Aidan, 1962- In the valley of the kings:  Howard Carter and the mystery of King Tutankhamun's tomb.  By Meyerson, Daniel
The golden king:  the world of Tutankhamun. By Hawass, Zahi A. The treasures of Tutankhamun and the Egyptian Museum of Cairo.  By Amenta, Alessia Tutankhamun's armies: battle and conquest during ancient Egypt's late eighteenth dynasty.  By Darnell, John Coleman A passion for Egypt: Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun, and the "curse of the pharaohs."  By  Hankey, Julie


For those readers who would like to find out more on the possible murder plot on the young king, here are some gripping suggestions: 

The murder of Tutankhamen: a true story.  By Brier, Bob The shadow king:  the bizarre afterlife of king Tut's mummy.  By Marchant, Josephine The murder of King Tut: the plot to kill the child king: a nonfiction thriller.  By Patterson, James, 1947- Secrets of the dead. Ultimate Tut (DVD)


As new innovations in scientific research develop, the analysis of King Tut's artifacts and remains will continue to reveal a better understanding of how people in Ancient Egypt perceived life and death.  Perhaps not everything about King Tut will be answered--speculation and folklore will attempt to fill in those gaps.

Whether it be murder, archaeology, science, or Egyptology, you will find something intriguing in the titles and the online articles suggested here.  Come visit the Society and Recreation Department at the North York Central Library to browse our Ancient Egypt collection.  And please visit the Toronto Public Library Pinterest site for more amazing images on all things Tutankhamen. 

Everybody Eats

February 11, 2015 | Jane | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

...whether intricately prepared or straight from the freezer, whether from the backyard garden or shiny supermarket. The dudes at my dog park talk pork recipes, my sister has inordinate pride in her pie crusts. Tomorrow (Feb. 12), is the last day of Winterlicious, the Toronto festival that allows us all to try something, or someplace new.  

We eat for pleasure, have memories wrapped up in the recipes we cook, and of course food sustains us.

If only we could, like Jennifer Bain, “Eat for a Living”. You can at least come to hear her talk about what it's like though. Jennifer Bain is the food editor for the Toronto Star and will provide a “free – ranging” (no cooped up chat here) talk about how she came to be a food writer, how Toronto’s food landscape is changing, and about the process of writing a cookbook.

A little context: Bain’s Toronto Star Cookbook won the 2014 Taste Canada award for best English regional/cultural cookbook, and has hometown foodies feeling very proud. 

                     Toronto Star cookbook: more than 150 diverse and delicious recipes

 The talk is at North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge St., in the Auditorium, on Wednesday, February 18 from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.  

Meantime, read, explore...try out a new recipe. 

Bitter: a taste of the world's most dangerous flavor, with recipes   Cooking with Les Dames d'Escoffier: at home with the women who shape the way we eat and drink  Note by Note Cooking  Cuisine and culture: a history of food and people
Cooking for Geeks   Plenty More   Vegan Pressure Cooking  The Cookbook Library

Is sugar the new fat?

February 6, 2015 | Carolyn | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Sugar Cubes   Photo by Uwe Hermann. Creative Commons licence.

From the Paleo diet to buttered coffee, fat is making a comeback after decades in the dietary wilderness.

For years the conventional wisdom was that dietary fat was responsible for many chronic health problems. Studies starting in the 1960s appeared to show a strong relationship between saturated fats and heart disease, and low-fat diets and food products enjoyed decades of popularity as a result. As David Katz, Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, noted in a 2012 blog post, "The food industry saw opportunity in the low-fat message, and reinvented the interpretation of the message to suit its profit-driven motives. The era of highly-processed, starchy, sugary, salty, low-fat foods was born."

Recent research has discredited the earlier studies, leading to declarations that the war on fat is over. 

So what has replaced fat as the new dietary culprit? How about sugar. Increasing sugar consumption is being linked to rising rates of obesity and diabetes, and recent research suggests that it is at least as responsible for other poor health outcomes, including heart disease, as fat. The pendulum has swung so far that some even suggest sugar may be toxic.

To read more about sugars and fats in our diet, and their health effects, have a look at these books, available in a variety of formats:

Fat Chance: beating the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity, and disease Why We Get Fat: and what to do about ir Sweet Poison: why sugar makes us fat
available as a book, an eBook and an eAudiobook available as a book, an eBook, an audiobook and an eAudiobook
The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat and cheese belong in a healthy diet Year of No Sugar: a memoir Salt, Sugar, Fat: how the food giants hooked us
available as a book, an eBook, an audiobook, an eAudiobook and a Talking Book available as a book and an eBook available as a book, an eBook, an audiobook and an eAudiobook


Free Science Events in Toronto for February 2015

January 27, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

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 February calendar (PDF).

February's highlights include:

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

February's highlights include:

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

Wonders of the winter landscape  Biological clocks  Red Rover  Crazy about chocolate

Teach yourself visually Word 2013  Black holes  Immunology  Neuroscience

International Year of Light

January 23, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The United Nations (UN) proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. It is a global initiative to illustrate the importance of light and optical technologies. The opening ceremony occurred this week in Paris.

Light plays an important role in our daily lives. Through photosynthesis, light is necessary to the existence of life itself. While light-based technologies, such as optical fibres, have revolutionized society through medicine, communications, entertainment and culture. And most importantly, these technologies support sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. The importance of light reaches far beyond life on Earth. Light has helped us to see and better understand the universe.

It’s easy to overlook the significance of light. We are so used to having light in our daily lives. We’re also often not aware of how light-based technologies affect almost everything we do. It is in consumer electronics (barcode scanners, DVD players, remote TV control), telecommunications (Internet), health (eye surgery, medical instruments), manufacturing industry (laser cutting and machining), defense and security (infrared camera, remote sensing), entertainment (holography, laser shows) and much more.

To learn more about light, take a look at these books:

Let there be light  The speed of light  Light years  Patterns of light

To learn more about photosynthesis, the process of how plants and organisms convert light energy into chemical energy, take a look at these books:

Eating the sun  Photosynthesis 3rd edition  Photosynthesis 6th edition  Photosynthesis and respiration

Energy from our sun that reaches Earth can be converted into heat and electricity. This is one of the major initiatives by scientists and governments to develop affordable and clean solar energy technologies. To learn more about sustainable energy, take a look at these books:

Lights on!  Project sunshine  Renewable  The solar revolution

The Internet changed the way we communicate. Through social media, low cost telephone calls and video conferencing we are able to stay connected with friends and family. This technology is possible because of light. These e-books look at optical communication, a light-based technology:

Fiber optic reference guide  Fundamentals of optical fiber sensors  Handbook of fiber optic data communication  Optical networks

From sunsets to rainbows, the natural world contains a wonderful range of light and colours. Take a look at these books to see light in nature:

Aurora  Color and light in nature  The optics of life  Why the sky is blue

Unfortunately, the importance of light is often unknown. We take for granted the light in our homes, the Internet we use daily to stay connected with loved ones, the vegetables we eat and much, much more. It is so great that the UN decided to declare 2015 as the Year of Light to bring awareness to the world the vital role light and light-based technologies plays in our lives. This is a great opportunity to learn and to join in on the events that are happening throughout Canada. The Canadian Association of Physicists are also hosting numerous events, including lectures.


Free Science Events in Toronto for January 2015

December 23, 2014 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

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 January calendar (PDF).

January's highlights include:

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

January's highlights include:

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

The green smoothie prescription  The science of Shakespeare  Maltreatment of patients in nursing homes  No more dirty looks

Understanding Alzheimer's disease and other dementias  The human brain  The driving dilemma  Boosting your immunity

Season's Greetings, Glacial Readings

December 22, 2014 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Biography of Roald Amundsen on
Photograph of Amundsen's successful voyage to Antarctica in 1911.  (This image has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.)

Winter Arrives

Last night at 6:03 pm, the Winter Solstice swept across Toronto to officially jumpstart the winter season. The dwindling daylight endured these past three months will return stronger and stay longer.

This week ramps up with several festive celebrations manifesting in spectacular events across the city.  Even with the gladdening news of fun-filled activities and increasing daylight hours ahead, winter holds center stage.  The season accompanies face-freezing temperatures, frost-covered roads, incessant sleet, blowing snow, and blazing winds.  Past temperatures have easily dipped down to -25 degrees Celsius or lower and this does not include the wind chill factor.

Despite the frosty welcome, this arctic-like weather compares little with the winter temperatures at the bottom of the world.  The December 10, 2013 Guardian article, Coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth in Antarctica: -94.7C (-135.8F), provides an eye-opening account of how people sustain themselves in such severe biting conditions.

Canada sits in the northern hemisphere and the Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories are the land masses nearest to the North Pole.  In contrast, the North Magnetic Pole currently lurks near the upper western corner of Nunavut.  Both the geographic north and south poles have corresponding north and south magnetic poles that shift in location over time.  

For more information on the Earth's magnetic poles, please read Gillian M. Turner's (2011) title, North Pole, South Pole : the epic quest to solve the great mystery of Earth's magnetism:

North Pole, South Pole: the epic quest to solve the great mystery of Earth's magnetism by Gillian M. Turner

The Geographic North and South Poles in Early Maps

One could become fascinated with the interpretations of things and events in earlier times.  The Toronto Public Library Digital Archive and The Toronto Public Library on Pinterest offer amazing digital artifacts to entertain, enlighten, and enrich our understanding of past accomplishments.

Early maps provide an intriguing view of the world.  Featured below is a map of the North Pole in 1732. As you can see, the region where the country of Canada currently resides was, "Part of America," and the area above the Arctic Circle was named, "Parts Unknown."  Clearly, little was understood on the various aspects of this northern terrain, but geographers such as Herman Moll provided the North Pole with a definitive point in space.

More digital images pertaining to the North Pole on
1732 Map of the North Pole by Herman Moll and courtesy of the Toronto Public Library


The map below was printed forty years later and sketched an outline of the South Pole.  This depiction seemed as mysterious as its polar counterpart.

A Southern or Antarctic Hemisphere map by Robert Sayer in 1732 on
Map of the Southern or Antarctic Hemisphere by Robert Sayer in 1773 courtesy of The Toronto Public Library

There was no indication of any land structure at the South Pole.  This visualization is a chilling reminder of the limits of human endurance in early global exploration.  The Polar Regions remained shrouded in secrecy for the next century.

Recorded for Posterity

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, travelers have endeavoured to reach the poles. The need to know was of paramount significance.  The unfinished maps of that period in time compelled explorers to fill in the gaps with new knowledge.  Other aspects included competition to reach that place first and the challenge to test their own physical, mental, and emotional limits against the harshest conditions imaginable.  Even so, some explorers paid the ultimate price for this opportunity.  These stories, too, are preserved in the historical body of knowledge as a part of that particular landscape.

In today's world, current technology in the form of satellite imagery digitally maps out these forbidden landscapes.  This information is easily accessible through print and online resources.  Explorers who want to travel to these regions (particularly the South Pole) will require the latest tech gear to arm themselves against these harsh terrains.  

For the rest of us who prefer to reside in warmer climates but want to read up on these fascinating explorations, here are some suggested cool titles:

Race to the top of the world: Richard Byrd and the first flight to the North Pole by Sheldon Bart To the end of the earth: our epic journey to the North Pole and the legend of Peary and Henson by Tom Avery Polar attack: from Canada to the North Pole, and back by Richard Weber Into the cold (2011, DVD) by Copeland, Sebastian and Heger, Keith
South with the sun: Roald Amundsen, his polar explorations, and the quest for discovery by Lynne Cox Return to Antarctica: the amazing adventure of Sir Charles Wright on Robert Scott's journey to the South Pole by Adrian Raeside 1912: the year the world discovered Antarctica by Chris Turney Photographs of Captain Scott by David M. Wilson

Enjoy the cheery warmth of the festive season while Old Man Winter pounds the Northern Hemisphere with blistering icy conditions.  The early travelers on their polar expeditions will solemnly wait until the reader chooses to pick up and continue along with them on their epic journeys.

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.