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Mothers as Artisans of Compassion

May 6, 2016 | Ann | Comments (0)

Titles on compassion at tpl.caImage courtesy of BK under CC 2.0 Generic Licence

The term, mother, brings to mind someone who loves, protects, strengthens and endures. Mothers do their best to raise their children to face the world in all its pain and glory. 


More images of Dorthea Lange from the Library of Congress
Image courtesy of Boerboy from Wikimedia Commons

As Dorthea Lange's photograph of the (1936) migrant mother so aptly illustrates, a mother loves and worries about the well-being of her family. The face behind the Migrant Mother was that of Florence Thompson. Florence, at that time, had seven children, few resources, little food and concerns causing her brow to furrow. Her image has become part of the human folklore around a mother's undying strength and compassion through the Great Depression.

Clearly, motherhood is no easy task no matter what era. Care-giving skills are based on love, trial, effort, error and success. Many mothers rely on experiences passed on from family and friends who have gone through these roles themselves.

Jeanne Garbarino's (May 11, 2012) article called, Motherhood Defined: It is in the heart of the beholder, compiles brief excerpts from different people of what motherhood entails. Matt Shipman's comment summarizes how mothers project strength while setting aside their own feelings of trepidation, "Motherhood is letting your kids think you are ten feet tall and bulletproof, so they feel you can keep them safe — even though there’s stuff out there that scares the hell out of you."

The library offers resources on this topic with information for mothers at different stages in their lives. These resources can reinforce a new mother's course of action as well as provide a chuckle or two for those who have made it through the early stages of parenthood.

The M word: conversations about motherhood   Mindful motherhood: practical tools for staying sane during pregnancy and your child's first year Motherhood (DVD) Mommyblogs and the changing face of motherhood
Mothers, mothering and motherhood across cultural differences: a reader The mask of motherhood: how becoming a mother changes everything and why we pretend it doesn't Dorthea Lange: a life beyond limits No caption needed: iconic photographs, public culture, and liberal democracy 

Mothers and Life Challenges

More titles on tarot cards available at North York Central Library
Image courtesy of Nocturbulous under CC 2.0 Generic Licence

The Rider-Waite Tarot deck portrays motherhood in the form of the Empress. The image shows a regal lady dressed in a loose-fitting gown befitting a young woman in early pregnancy. The green lush background, flowing river, the crown of leaves and stars circling her hair, and the pomegranate printed dress symbolize fertility, Earth and life. The cushions providing her with comfort are adorned with Venus symbols. All the symbols offer an impression of a new season emerging with new life. Everything in this image appears sunny, ideal and soothing.

What this image does not capture are the unexpected life experiences that all mothers must face on a daily basis. Even with the best of intentions, challenges can occur and mothers are only human. In some situations, mothers may no longer be available for the family. Many people survive these difficulties and learn to cope, becoming stronger over time. Here are some moving stories with themes of interpretation and acceptance of life's obstacles. Self reflection can reshape these experiences towards a better future.

My secret mother: two different lives, one heartbreaking secret: a memoir Battle hymn of the tiger mother The loss that is forever: the lifelong impact of the early death of a mother or father Our mothers' spirits: on the death of mothers and the grief of men: an anthology
Not becoming my mother: and other things she taught me along the way Mother in the middle: a biologist's story of caring for parent and child Pieces of my mother: a memoir Divine secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood (book & DVD)

Extraordinary Moms 

Despite life's obstacles, a mother who tries to make it her goal to provide care for her child is an amazingly extraordinary person. Mastering the daily demands of motherhood with care and compassion and preparing for future emergencies are keys to success. Stories and lessons by extraordinary moms inspire the rest of us to appreciate what it takes to do that extra bit to make life a wonderful journey for everyone involved.

Successful single moms: thirteen stories of triumph I know how she does it: how successful women make the most of their time How she really does it: secrets of successful stay-at-work moms Peaceful parent, happy siblings: how to stop the fighting and raise friends for life
The mother of all parenting books: an all-Canadian guide to raising a happy, healthy child from preschool through the preteens The mindful parent: strategies from peaceful cultures to raise compassionate, competent kids Dolphin way a parent's guide to raising healthy, happy, and motivated kids Nurtureshock: new thinking about children

Mothers face so many challenges. It is a special role that many women take on to help raise wonderful families. We would like to wish you and your family a bright and warm Mother's Day this Sunday, as you celebrate and remember her marvelous achievements in your life.


Related blog posts:

Fun, Free, Fabulous Drag Fashion Show

May 6, 2016 | Maureen | Comments (2)

Miss Understood by David Shankbone
  Miss Understood by David Shankbone
You’re invited to Stilettos on the Move, a drag fashion show! Come celebrate Pride Week at North York Central Library on Tuesday, May 17 at 7:00 p.m. Flamboyant drag performers will turn the library stage into a catwalk as glamorous as any you'll see during Toronto Fashion Week. Watch Juice Boxx, Scarlet Bobo, Heaven Lee Hytes, Sofonda and Katinka Kature strut their fabulous stuff – and I do not use the word fabulous lightly. The art of drag involves dazzling costumes, wigs, glitz and gloss, and all the colours in the makeup box. If you've ever been curious about the art of drag, this is your chance to learn about it from the performers themselves. After the fashion show, they'll be interviewed, and you'll have a chance to ask them questions. A thrilling group performance by all five drag artists will conclude the evening. Call (416) 395-5639 to register for this free program.

Men wearing high heels is nothing new -- they've been doing it since the 1600s, according to an exhibition currently at the Bata Shoe Museum. If you'd like a free pass to see the exhibition Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, pick up a Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass. The Bata Shoe Museum pass is available at 50 Toronto Public Library branches.


Movies featuring drag performances:

Kinky boots Hairspray Victor Victoria The adventures of Priscilla Queen of the desert

Books featuring drag or cross-dressing:

Fanny and Stella Girlfriend men women and drag Manchu princess, Japanese spy Drag teen

 Books on fashion:

Fashion the fifty most influential fashion designers of all time A queer history of fashion Fashion that changed the world The fashion manifesto

Watch Matty Cameron's dramatic transformation into Scarlett Bobo, one of the performers you'll see at North York Central Library:

Is Spring Your "New Year"? Two May Programs that Support Positive Change

April 29, 2016 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

image from
Image:, licensed under CC0

I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions. January 1, falling during the coldest and darkest time of the year, just doesn't feel like the right time for new beginnings. In the spring, signs of new growth and new life are all around, so it has always been my personal "new year" -- a time to take stock and make changes. 

If you find yourself thinking of making changes in your life at this time of year, two May programs at the North York Central Library may interest you.

On Wednesday May 4 we're presenting Finding Skin Care Products that Work. If you're as confused as I am about the hundreds of products available, and as skeptical about their claims, take control by learning how to identify the right products for your skin type. Chemist Louise Hidinger will discuss the ingredients and formulations to look for to tackle a range of specific issues, including acne, sensitive skin, hyperpigmentation, sun exposure and aging. Learn how to identify products that contain effective amounts of active ingredient and get tips on how to make the most of them.

Here are some books and eBooks about skin care products available in library branches or through our website:


Program details:

Finding Skin Care Products that Work
North York Central Library - Auditorium
5120 Yonge Street
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
6:45 pm - 8:00 pm

If you're concerned about the physical effects of tension and stress, a second May program may interest you.

On Thursday May 12, learn about the Mitzvah Technique at Physical Solutions to Posture Problems, Tension and Stress. Susan Green, a certified Mitzvah technique instructor, will explain and demonstrate practical ways to develop and maintain a healthful and youthful posture. In this participatory workshop, suited to all ages and fitness levels, you'll learn how to apply the technique to your daily activities. Anyone can benefit from this practical session, but if you're concerned, as I am, about the health consequences of spending too much time sitting, it should be especially helpful.

If you'd like to learn about the benefits of improving your posture, try one of these books:


Program details:

Physical Solutions to Posture Problems, Tension and Stress

North York Central Library - Room 1
5120 Yonge Street
Thursday, May 12, 2016
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

No registration is required for either of these programs. So come to the North York Central Library in May and learn how to make some positive changes in your life.


Free Science Events in Toronto for May 2016

April 28, 2016 | Jeannette | Comments (3)

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


Looking for Life in the Cosmos

April 18, 2016 | Jane | Comments (0)

Let’s grapple for a moment with another of the universe’s eternal puzzles. Is there life elsewhere, besides here on earth? Neil deGrasse Tyson at NASA says that “most astrophysicists accept a high probability of there being life elsewhere in the universe, if not on other planets or on moons within our own solar system. The numbers are, well, astronomical: If the count of planets in our solar system is not unusual, then there are more planets in the universe than the sum of all sounds and words ever uttered by every human who has ever lived. To declare that Earth must be the only planet in the cosmos with life would be inexcusably egocentric of us.”

When astronomers and astrophysicists ask this question of themselves, a strategy is to identify celestial bodies that have conditions similar to those we know here on earth. There’s some clear logic to this. There is also plenty of hard work that goes into pinning down the hard science. It isn’t reasonable to send someone to find out . . . so instead scientists build extraordinary telescopes like the Hubble, the Spitzer and the James Webb. These can identify planets or moons that are the right distance from stars to allow for the presence of liquid water, one of the key necessities for life, at least for life as we currently understand it. It’s complicated. But Dr. Michael Reid of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at University of Toronto will be on hand next week to explain some of it.

Life in the Cosmos

Tue Apr 26, 2016

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


North York Central Library, Auditorium

5120 Yonge Street


This program is a part of the Thought Exchange series. Take a ride into the final frontier . . .                                                                                                               

 Hubble'sAmazingRescue  SpaceStarsandtheBeginningofTime  400YearsoftheTelescope Gravity's Engines

  AYearIntheLifeoftheUniverse  Hubble'sUniverse  HubbletheYearsofDiscovery 

Life in space  TheCosmos  TheHubbleCosmos  TheLastoftheGreatObservatories    

TelescopeHuntingtheEdgeofSpace  TheUniverseThroughtheEyesofHubble  HubbleImagingSpaceandTime Thelivingcosmos

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.

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:


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.