North York Central Library

Landscaping with Trees and Large Shrubs

April 18, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Landscaping with trees and shrubs

Finally...finally...all the snow is gone and I can see my yard.  Every April, hope springs anew that this will be the year I finally get my garden into order.  There is an abundance of gardening titles for spring clean-up, garden maintenance, garden design, etc.:

Better Homes and Gardens Gardening Made Simple: the complete step-by-step guide The Curious Gardener: a year in the garden by Anna Pavord How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work by Jeff Bredenberg
Plant This Instead: better plant choices by Troy B. Marden Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture and Form by Rebecca Sweet The Essential Garden Design Workbook by Rosemary Alexander

This spring, I plan to take advantage of the library's Ask an Expert series featuring Toronto Master Gardeners.  Toronto Master Gardeners are university-trained horticulturists who volunteer their time to share their expertise.  At North York Central Library, join us for a talk on selecting, maintaining, caring for large shrubs and trees, on Tuesday April 29 in Room 1.

Rodolphe el-Khoury: visionary architect of the "internet of things" to speak at North York Central Library.

April 11, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Imagine a future in which your blanket conspires with your curtains while you sleep. All night “blanky” has been monitoring and recording your every breath and movement, standing guard against the grim reaper, ready to call an ambulance if you suddenly fall dangerously ill. Your curtains check your schedule, noting that you have an early appointment. They check the weather report online, and see that it's going to rain. On such a gloomy day, you may need a little extra help waking up on time, your curtains decide. They are laced with a memory alloy, which allows them to come alive, gradually loosening to let light in, so that you wake gently. Yawning, you step out onto your balcony for a moment to see how the grapes are coming along. You are 50 floors up, and your balcony is framed by lovely vine leaves that span the entire building, a vertical vineyard. The grapes are almost ripe. The automated vineyard will send out a tweet when the grapes are ready. It won’t be long before you and the other residents are sampling the wine.

It’s time to leave for your appointment. As you walk toward the door, your umbrella glows blue to let you know about the coming rain. It has checked the weather report, or perhaps it has been "talking" with your curtains. Before you return in the evening, the swarm of robotic wall partitions in your small apartment will have checked your schedule and noted that you are expecting guests for dinner. In response, they will reconfigure themselves to create a space suitable for entertaining.

Every object in your apartment is part of a community of objects which are embedded with technology, can communicate with each other wirelessly, and are responsive to your needs. This "internet of things" extends beyond your apartment. It is all around you in the built environment. The very walls of the buildings in the city communicate, reporting on their own health.

This vision of "the internet of things" is based in Rodolphe el-Khoury's TEDx talk in Toronto in 2013. Rodolphe el-Khoury will be sharing his vision of the future at North York Central Library at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday April 22. Please call 416 395 5639 to register for this FREE program. To get an idea of his speaking style, watch his presentation at TEDx Toronto (see the link at the bottom of this post.) You'll see he's very passionate about a future in which even your clothes and skin may be connected to the internet of things. To anyone who watches Star Trek, this sounds like the first step towards humanity becoming Borg, creepy cybernetically enhanced hive-minded humanoids. But hey, maybe the best way to survive the robot apocalypse is by becoming a human-machine hybrid.


IM Blanky

Sensors, which give this blanket "primitive cognitive capacities" according to its designers, are embedded into it, in the shape of flowers.










This is a brief biographical movie about Rodolphe el-Khoury.    

Click on the link below to watch Rodolphe el-Khoury's fascinating presentation at TEDx in Toronto, at the The Royal Conservatory of Music.

Designing for the Internet of Things: Rodolphe el-Khoury at TEDxToronto



Unmasking Superfoods

April 9, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Image courtesy of

While Gwyneth Paltrow was recently in the news for her "Conscious Uncoupling", aka her separation from hubby Chris Martin, longtime fans have followed the actress through her lifestyle website, goop.   I am not a fan, longtime or otherwise, but was recently directed there by a friend who was on a 'cleansing detox.'  Really, I should know better, having a degree in nutrition, but it just seemed so easy to eat and feel better and maybe, even lose weight, by 'detoxing'.  

I thought my pantry was well-stocked, but apparently not-- all the trendy superfoods-- stevia, coconut nectar, quinoa (okay, I do have quinoa), kale and hemp hearts, listed in the recipes meant a shopping trip would have to happen before any cleansing or detoxing. 

But I am cheap and my logical, skeptical, scientific side finally kicked in.  Some of these ingredients are expensive ... more important, do they really work?  Fortunately, we can get the lowdown from Jennifer Sygo, the nutrition columnist for National Post and a registered dietitian, to boot.  (Please note that anyone can call themselves a 'nutritionist.') Jennifer has been writing about these superfoods in her columns and has just published a book, Unmasking Superfoods: The Truth & Hype about Acai, Quinoa, Chia, Blueberries and More.


     Unmasking Superfoods: ebook

Join Jennifer at North York Central Library, on Thursday April 17, at 7 pm to learn which superfoods, if any, we should be picking up at the supermarket.  Copies of her new book will be available for purchase and signing.

Learn How To Become a Marathon Runner At This Upcoming Author Talk!

March 31, 2014 | Margaret W. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Feet Don't Fail Me NowBen Kaplan, National Post columnist and author of Feet, Don't Fail Me Now: The Rogue's Guide To Running the Marathon will be at the North York Central Library on Tuesday, April 1st at 7pm, to talk about how you too can become a marathon runner.

Kaplan will explain a simple way to move from your first 5K race to a 10K race to a half marathon to a marathon - all in one year. And he'll illustrate how running can make your life better, simpler and more fun in the process.                      

Come join us, and find out why running can help you in those times when you need to stand still.

This free talk takes place in the North York Central Library Auditorium on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014, from 7pm - 8pm.

Register by calling 416-395-5660.


Free Science Events in Toronto for April 2014

March 29, 2014 | Emoke | 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 April 2014 Calendar.

April's highlights include:

  • April 3: The Cosmic Dark Ages, part of the University of Toronto Free Astronomy Public Tours. The speaker will discuss what happened between the Big Bang and today. Such as for example, how soon after the Big Bang did the universe become populated with stars and galaxies.
  • April 22: Spring Cleaning at Evergreen Brick Works, part of the Evergreen Brick works Nature and Heritage Hikes. This event is part of Earth Day cleaning with Evergreen. The idea is to reconnect with nature and cherish Toronto's largest watershed with a cleanup hike exploring the Lower Don, Mud Creek and the Moore Park Ravine.
  • April 25: On Mental Health and Access to Care, part of the Communicating About Non-Communicable Diseases Series, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Global Health Division.

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

April's highlights include:

Non-toxic spring cleaning, Longbourn style

March 28, 2014 | Maureen | Comments (5) Facebook Twitter More...

LongbournAfter reading the novel Longbourn, by Jo Baker, I decided to put an intriguing cleaning method used by Sarah, the novel’s main character, to the test. Just to be clear, Longbourn is not a novel about cleaning, although a great deal of cleaning happens in it, including laborious hand-scrubbing of petticoats which have dragged through dirt, scraping mud from boots, and even the emptying of chamber pots (which are taken to the charmingly named “necessary house”, a small building set back from the main house.) This is because the novel tells the stories of the servants employed by the Bennet family in the  Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice. These folk are no more than fleeting presences in Austen’s novel, where they have no existence outside of bringing tea, serving meals, and delivering letters. Jo Baker gives them hearts and minds, which she fills with dreams and secret sorrows as intensely felt as any experienced by the genteel Bennets.

Reading Longbourn was a treat. I learned that sugar once came in loafs. I came across wonderful words like tatterdemalion, lickspittle, syllabub and flump. You won’t need a dictionary to read this book – such words are sprinkled sparingly through it, like judiciously used spices. And I was reminded that the seemingly perfect world of the upper classes was paid for by servants like Sarah, with blisters and exhaustion. As if all of that weren’t enough, Sarah taught me an old school sweeping method.

Jar_0207_25In the book, Sarah saves used tea leaves in a jar. Before sweeping, she sprinkles tea leaves on the floor. I suppose the idea is that dust sticks to the damp tea leaves, and is swept up along with them. I imagine this method would minimize the amount of dust stirred up and inhaled.

After a couple of days of saving used tea bags, I had more than enough tea leaves to give Longbourn style sweeping a try. I waited for a sun beam, and then liberally sprinkled damp tea leaves all around. Then I swept. I did see dust motes floating around in the sun beam as I worked, so not all the dust was caught by the moist tea leaves. 

I’m not sure how much more dust I captured using this method, but I’m going to continue using it. I’m sure I inhaled less dust than I do when I dry sweep. Besides, the tea had a nice, subtle scent. And I liked that I was practicing two of the "three Rs" of environmental sustainablity: reuse and recycle. (When I was finished, I tossed my dust infused tea leaves onto the compost heap.)

The timing is perfect for learning environmentally friendly cleaning methods. Earth Hour is on Saturday March 29. Millions of people all around the world will turn off their lights for one hour, at 8:30 p.m., as a declaration of their commitment to the health of this planet. Earth Day is on April 22. And it is spring, a time for the traditional thorough cleaning of our homes.

Sarah's sweeping with tea leaves made me see a connection between the world of Longbourn and the world of today. Someone had to pay the price for the lifestyles of the rich and idle like Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley in Longbourn. (Something far worse than Sarah's painful chilblains is hinted at in the book: Charles Bingley's fortune depends on the slave labour of sugar plantations.) Likewise, a price will have to be paid for the way we live now, too often putting the health of the earth at the bottom of the priority list. Who will pay the bill? Our children? Our granchildren?

Spring cleaning can be done in an earth friendly way, with non-toxic ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and lemon. Here's a simple recipe for furniture oil from Ellen Sandbeck's Organic housekeeping book:

Mix one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil. Mix in a blender or shake vigorously in a tightly lidded jar. Apply sparingly to furniture. If the mixture begins to separate, shake it up again before applying. Let the mixture soak into the wood for a few minutes, then wipe dry with a clean, soft cloth.

Here’s a non-toxic method for removing soap scum build up on shower doors, from Jill Potvin Schoff’s Green-up your cleanup.

Removing mild buildup of soap scum on shower doors:

White vinegar

A spray bottle

A nonabrasive sponge

Spray the surface heavily with undiluted vinegar. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub it using a nonabrasive sponge.

For heavier build up, try using a paste of baking soda and water.

Try one of these books for more green cleaning ideas. Happy spring cleaning!

  Green cleaning for dummies   Greening your cleaning   House works   Clean home
Green cleaning for dummies Greening your cleaning

House works: how to live clean,green and organized at home

Clean home, green home:the complete illustrated guide to eco-friendly homekeeping

  A guide to natural housekeeping   Soaps_bubbles_scrubs   Ecoholic home   Naturally clean home
A guide to natural housekeeping : recipes and solutions for a cleaner, greener home  Soaps, bubbles & scrubs natural products to make for your body and home   Ecoholic home The Naturally Clean Home

Books of Wonder, Books with "Wow!" Three Reasons to Visit the New IBBY Collection

March 24, 2014 | Deb | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Its full name is "The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities" -- that's it in the photo below, on the shelves directly under the sign -- but there are other words that best describe this one-of-a-kind resource: "Amazing!" "Fantastic!" and, yes, "Wow!"




As its official name indicates, this collection comes from IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People. The IBBY collection features more than 3000 multilingual books in sign language, Braille, Blissymbolics, as well as cloth and tactile books and other formats -- all for and about children and teens with disabilities.

Until very recently, this reference collection was housed in a school near Oslo, Norway. Today, thanks to the efforts of many people on both sides of the Atlantic, you'll find this outstanding collection at North York Central Library, its new home, where it is already receiving lots of attention and accolades.

What's so special about this collection? And why should you see it for yourself? Here are three reasons to come and explore these books:

Reason One: You'll find titles from around the world about children and teen characters with disabilities -- all in one place.

If you're a local teacher or librarian, you can arrange a class visit to share these books with your students. You can also arrange the loan of a small kit of books to share with your class at school. Using these books in the classroom, and talking about them, is a terrific way to help children develop empathy for others and introduce them to different ways of seeing the world.


Leigh Turina  with IBBY book-1
Leigh Turina, Librarian in charge of the IBBY collection, shows "Petit Bleu and Petit Jaune," an oversize Braille and tactile edition of "Little Blue and Little Yellow" by Leo Lionni. This edition is published by Les Doigts Qui Revent.

Reason Two: The accessible formats of the books in this collection means that there are many ways to enjoy them and use them with children.

For example, you can use the sturdy, colorful picture books, many containing simple text or no text at all, with children who have developmental delays and learning disabilities. You can also use the same books with children who are learning English as a second language.


Leo Deckt den Tisch
"Leo Lays the Table" (in German: "Leo Deckt den Tisch") is a wordless picture book with vibrant colors, strong outlines, and a simple story that works well with young children who have visual disabilities. It was created by Christin Linder and Regula Stillhart and published by Edition Bentheim. Image credit: Edition Bentheim

Reason Three: You'll discover amazing examples of illustration and inspiring examples of craftsmanship in the one-of-a-kind and limited edition cloth and tactile books.

Books like the one in the photo below -- an imaginative retelling of Little Red Riding Hood that is unlike any version you've ever seen before -- are the ones that provoke a "Wow!" response, every time.

"Le Petit Chaperon" (known in English as "Little Red Riding Hood") is a tactile adaptation by Myriam Colin of the artistic book created by Warja Lavater. This accordion-style book uses colors, shapes, and textures to tell its story. It is published by Les Doigts Qui Revent. Image credit: Les Doigts Qui Revent.

Interested in learning more about The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities? You can find out more by clicking on the IBBY logo below:


Happy reading and browsing and be sure to let us know what you think!

Vaccines Revealed

March 23, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Despite a study linking vaccines to autism being discredited, some parents are still skeptical and wary about vaccinating their children.  With recent measles outbreaks in Ottawa, London, British Columbia and Alberta, the debate over whether or not to vaccine has been in the news again. 

Rather than relying on health information from people like Jenny McCarthy and Kristin Cavallari, come to an educational seminar on vaccines at North York Central Library on April 2nd.  University of Toronto Department of Immunology graduate students will clarify what goes into making a vaccine, and how vaccines work together with your immune system to prevent the spread of disease. 

Book A Librarian

March 21, 2014 | Cathy | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Book A Librarian service allows patrons to book a 30 to 60 minute appointment with a librarian for assistance with understanding how to do research, get readers' advisory assistance, or learn how to use and access library resources and services.   Appointments can be made in person at the library of your choice or online

Recently, we had an interesting query that resulted in a Book a Librarian appointment in the Science and Technology Department on the 5th floor.  The patron was interested in knowing the types of trees that grew in New York and Massachussetts, and the characteristics of those trees, for example, the height and strength.  After viewing a couple of reference books such as:


Dirr's Encyclopedia of Trees & Shrubs by Michael Dirr Trees and Shrubs: a gardener's encyclopedia by Geoff Bryant & Tony Rodd  

the patron clarified that he was looking for maps which showed the locations and species of all the trees in New York and Massachussets.  The question appeared to be quite daunting; however, when I demonstrated to the patron how to evaluate information on the Internet, using the CRAAP Test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose), we discovered a treasure trove of useful sites:

Did you know that NASA, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey created a map documenting the tree population in the U.S.?  The map depicts the measure of organic carbon stored in the trunks, branches and leaves of trees.  The darkest green reveals where there are the densest and tallest forests. This map, created in 2012, will be used to measure future tree loss or gain.

Where the Trees Are


"The Forest Inventory and Analysis National Program reports on the status and trends in forest area and location; in the species, size, and health of trees; in total tree growth, mortality, and removals by harvest; in wood production and utilization rates by various products; and in forest land ownership."  Tools are available to create Forest Inventory Maps for individual states. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a website which allows one to search for trees and plants by state.  This one-stop shop provides information on the growth habits of trees, fact sheets on tree species and detailed views of tree locations by state.

Individual states also have associations that track forest inventory.  For example, the New York State Flora Association has created a plant atlas, which provides listings of all the plants growing within any given county.

Showing the patron how to find relevant information online was a great learning experience for me, too; it was amazing to see the amount of current information available from reputable sources--way more detailed than the pages in the oversized atlases of my childhood.   Just a caveat: the purpose of Book of Librarian appointments is to teach how to research information.  For those who are time-strapped and would like a librarian to do the research, IntelliSearch is the library's fee-based custom research service. 

Happy St. Paddy's Day! Don't Let the Clover Knock You Over!

March 16, 2014 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Events on Saint Patrick's Day



Are you proudly showing off your Irish greens today?

If you are not Irish by birth (but fully Irish in spirit), the first thing to learn is the correct Irish greeting to use.  Marcus Campbell offers up a wee bit o' advice to assist you: 

It's Paddy, not Patty. Ever.

Saint Patrick’s Day? Grand.

Paddy’s Day? Sure, dead-on.

St. Pat’s? Aye, if ye must.

St. Patty? No, ye goat!

Paddy is derived from the Irish, Pádraig, hence those mysterious, emerald double-Ds.

Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a burger, and just not something you call a fella.

There is not a sinner in Ireland that would refer to a Patrick as “Patty”. It’s as simple as that.


  • Paddy
  • Pat
  • Packie
  • Podge
  • Pád
  • Pod


(Excerpt taken from

Knowing the appropriate greeting is a good start.  Learning a few Irish sayings could bump you up in popularity by an extra foot. has a list of the Top 50 Irish Sayings to share with the company of others.  A personal favourite of mine is Saying #22: 


May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks.

May your heart be as light as a song.

May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you

all the year long.

Definition of Clover from EOL

St. Patrick's Day is a time of fun celebrations to welcome the coming of warm green weather.  The St. Patrick's Parade Society of Toronto is a good place to connect to all events Irish. 

Link to Toronto Saint Patrick's Parade Society website


This day also celebrates people of Irish descent and the achievements made in history.  North York Central Library offers a selection of titles for you to peruse at your leisure:

All Standing on Strong Bow on
Why do people kiss the Blarney Stone on
The Republic on
Everybody matters on The origins of the Irish on The graves are walking on The famine plot on


We offer titles on Irish folktales.  These gems are rare, ye see, like the tiny leprechauns they are.  If ye get a chance, nab 'em! Sneak up quietly towards the shelf or click "Hold" and have them within yer grasp.

A Celtic Reader on A Tangle-Coated Horse and Other Tales on Irish Wonders on Myths and Folklore of Ireland on
Irish Food and Folklore at The Penguin guide to the superstitions of Britain and Ireland on The Matchmaker of Kenmare at Ancient legends of Ireland on

Enjoy this day!  May yer day fill with green beer, much cheer, and a Spring in yer step to carry ye through the year.

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