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What's the Buzz?

May 27, 2016 | Carolyn | Comments (0)


Bee of the genus Apis on a flower
Image courtesy Maciej A. Czyzewski via Wikimedia Commons


Could we have had a more perfect long weekend than the one that just ended with Victoria Day? If you weren't at a cottage or campground, you may have spent time in your backyard, as I did, working in the garden. My husband and I planted vegetables, filled containers with flowers and divided and moved perennials. And we paid special attention to attracting pollinators by planting lavender, chives and bee balm.

The recent decline of honey bee populations has been getting a lot of attention since they're critical to our food supply; the widely-quoted statistic is that one third of what we eat depends on crops pollinated by bees. A condition called colony collapse disorder has resulted in a steep decline in the numbers of bees available to perform this critical function. But other pollinators are threatened as well by loss of habitat, pesticide use and climate change. 

If you thought this problem wouldn't be on the radar in a city like ours, you'd be wrong. It turns out that we share our urban environment with over 350 species of bees. Toronto has just become Canada's first bee city, which means it has made a commitment to protect bees and other pollinators and their habitats, and to educate citizens about the importance of doing the same. 


Bees of Toronto: a guide to their remarkable worldBees of Toronto, a recent publication in the City of Toronto's terrific Biodiversity Series, is a great place to start learning about our native species and how we can support them. Copies are available in library branches.


Here are some resources if you'd like to learn how to attract wild bees to your garden or balcony:

  • Friends of the Earth's Let It Bee program suggests practical ways to establish and improve bee habitats in backyards and balconies. Check out resources like their list (PDF) of bee-friendly native plants.


Urban beekeeping has become very popular. If you'd like to learn more about it, here are some resources:

  • the Urban Bee Network provides links to information about courses as well as issues of concern to urban beekeepers, such as by-laws and permits


My colleague Jeannette has prepared a reading list (PDF) about bees.


Here are a few books about bees available in library branches:             


If you're interested in beekeeping:        

The Backyard Beekeeper: an absolute beginner's guide to keeping bees in your yard and garden


Finally, if you'd like to introduce young people to this subject, my colleague Kate's recent post about bees features books for children.

Talk About Tattoos: Getting Inked!

May 20, 2016 | Muriel | Comments (0)

Tattooed   The World Atlas of Tattoo   Tattoo Masters   Wabori Traditional Japanese Tattoo

Thursday, June 30 from 7 to 8 pm

North York Central Library Auditorium (Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program)

Join members of the award-winning staff of Chronic Ink tattoo studio as they describe the process of getting a tattoo. Marvel at beautiful illustrations inspired by Asian and Western art, then consider a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum's Tattoos exhibit.

With the Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass, you and your family can explore, for free, the best of Toronto's arts and cultural treasures, including the Royal Ontario Museum. We also have lots of books you can explore for inspiration or interest.


Art by Tattoists   Skin Graf   The Nonstop Book of Fantastika Tattoo Designs   Literary Tattoos

Pen & Ink   Bodies of Subversion   Bang Bang   Go Big or Go Home
Tattoo   Wear Your Dreams   Tattooed by the Family Business   In the Paint


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


Canadian Opera Company Talk: Dying for Love in Rossini's Maometto II

April 22, 2016 | Muriel | Comments (0)

Gioacchino Rossini    Gioachino Rossini    Rossini
Canadian Opera Company Talk: 
Dying for Love in Rossini's Maometto II

Thursday, April 28, 2016, 7 to 8 p.m.

North York Central Library Auditorium

In one of his most ambitious works, Rossini summons a historical clash between Islam and Christianity to frame the story of a young girl who is forced to make the ultimate choice between love and duty. Join Opera Canada editor Wayne Gooding, as he uses audio and visual elements to explore works from the Canadian Opera Company 's 2015/16 season.

Please register for this free program by calling 416-395-5639.


The Cambridge Companion to Rossini    Gioachino Rossini A Guide to Research.aspx    Rossini Nicholas Till

Understanding Italian Opera    Fashions and Legacies of Nineteenth Century Opera    Singers of Italian Opera

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. 

There is a free iPhone/iPod Touch app available in the iTunes

App Store which can be used with the user's playlist login

information.  The app will give you streaming playback access

to the entire library of music and saved playlists.

A wifi or cellular data connection is required.

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.

Repair Your Car Yourself

April 11, 2016 | Ranald | Comments (1)

Use the library e-resource Chilton Library, which is accessible anywhere your car calls out to be pushed onto its side and repaired, and you have your tools with you and something, besides what you're wearing, to wipe your hands on.


Car repair 2016 04

Photograph: Julia Kertesz, "Bucarest, car repair on the street."


  • Use the "Vehicle Selector" menus on the left of the home page to select your car by, first, year, then make, then model.
  • Click on "Select."
  • Then click on "Repair" under the heading "Data is available for the following."

Now you're at the home page of the repair manual for the vehicle you've selected. The table of contents is on the left. On the right, an empty screen.

  • Click on a category in the table of contents to get to the table of contents of that category.
  • Keep clicking until you get to the heading of a specific repair procedure. When you click on this heading, the procedure will appear on the screen to the right of the table of contents.

Chilton library 2016 04 2010 GMC Sierra

Note the category chain at the top of the table of contents. In the picture above, "Top / Engine Electrical / Repair Instructions / Removal, Installation, and Replacement" etc. You can click on "Top" to return to the main table of contents. You can click on any of the other categories to return to the table of contents of that category.

Chilton Library (PDF), the guide, is a quick guide to accessing and using this resource.

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.