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TRLProgram Calendar December 2015

November 29, 2015 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Get in the Rush line for packed visits by best-selling authors John Irving and Michael Connelly. Or hear John Geiger on the discovery of John Franklin's lost ship Erebus (with interviewer and science journalist Alanna Mitchell),  and Carrie Brownstein on her life and times.  Running a business?  Free classes on using social media and Facebook.

Click on each image to enlarge or Download The December 2015 @ TRL as a pdf file.

For a full list of programs to browse or search, visit our Programs, Classes and Exhibits page.

December 1 December 2 December 3 December 4

Noirvember Reading: 10 Film Noir Adaptations

November 26, 2015 | Winona | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

In honour of Noirvember (the month formerly known as November; see also Movember), and for all you book-to-movie buffs out there, I offer you this selection of ten classic film noir favourites, adapted from books, and all available at the Toronto Public Library:



The Big Sleep book The Big Sleep film

Raymond Chandler's 1939 hard-boiled novel is the first to feature Philip Marlowe, that quintessential hard-drinking, wise-cracking private eye with a moral centre in an immoral world. The 1946 film adaptation, directed by Howard Hawks, stars Humphrey Bogart (Marlowe) and Lauren Bacall (the mysterious Vivian Rutledge), who by that time were romantically involved, and it shows. Both the novel and the film are famously more interested in style and atmosphere than plot, which is so convoluted that no one - author and director included - ever really knew who killed who.

Source: Backstory: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age.

book | ebook | eaudiobook || DVD




  Double Indemnity book Double Indemnity film












James M. Cain's 1943 taut novella, first published in 1936 as a serial in Liberty magazine, was inspired by a 1927 murder in which a woman persuaded her boyfriend to kill her husband after taking out a hefty insurance policy on hubby's life. The 1944 film adaptation stars Fred MacMurray (the insurance salesman), Barbara Stanwyck (the femme fatale), and Edward G. Robinson (the claims adjuster), and was co-written by Raymond Chandler and director Billy Wilder. The film version was much-loved by author Cain, who said, "It's the only picture I ever saw made from my books that had things in it I wish I had thought of."

Source: The Raymond Chandler Papers: Selected Letters and Non-Fiction, 1909-1959.

book | book - reference only || DVD | evideo




In a Lonely Place book In a Lonely Place film












Dorothy B. Hughes' 1947 serial killer thriller is told from the perspective of war veteran Dix Steele, whose romantic pursuit of his neighbour Laurel Grey (probably my favourite femme fatale of classic noir fiction) is doomed from the start. Hughes pre-dates other better-known queens of the genre, such as Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell, yet today only two of her fourteen published novels are in print (the other, Ride the Pink Horse was also adapted into a film of the same name). The 1950 film version directed by Nicholas Ray stars Humphrey Bogart (Steele) and Gloria Grahame (Grey) and is markedly different from the novel but no less admired.

book || DVD




Kiss Me Deadly book Kiss Me Deadly film













Mickey Spillane's 1952 pulpy crime novel is the sixth to feature detective Mike Hammer, that archetypal, brutally violent anti-hero private eye who takes the law into his own hands. The 1955 film adaptation, directed by Robert Aldrich, stars Ralph Meeker (Hammer) and Maxine Cooper (his secretary/lover Velma) on their search for the "the great whatsit" - a briefcase that contains a mysterious glowing substance. The film's pop culture influence can be seen in the recurrence of the glowing suitcase in other films such as Repo Man, Pulp Fiction, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

book - reference onlyebook || DVD




   If I Die Before I wake The Lady from Shanghai film












Sherwood King's fast-paced 1938 novel is the story of a good-looking sap named Laurence Planter who winds up headed for death row for a murder he didn't commit. The 1947 film adaptation was directed by Orson Welles who also stars (Laurence), alongside his estranged wife Rita Hayworth (the beautiful blonde Elsa), and whose divorce was finalized shortly after the movie was released. According to Welles, the idea to adapt King's novel came about by accident; he ran out of money for a project he was working on, so he called Harry Cohn, head of Columbia studios, and said:

"I have a great story for you if you could send me $50,000 by telegram in one hour. I'll sign a contract to make it." "What story?" Cohn said. I was calling from a pay phone, and next to it was a display of paperbacks and I gave him the title of one of them, Lady from Shanghai. I said, "Buy the novel and I'll make the film." An hour later, we got the money.

Source: This is Orson Welles.

book | book - reference only || DVD




The Maltese Falcon book The Maltese Falcon film













Dashiell Hammett's 1929 detective novel, originally serialized in Black Mask magazine, introduces private detective Sam Spade, a precursor to Marlowe. The 1941 film adaptation was director John Huston's first picture and is considered by some to be the first major film noir. It stars Humphrey Bogart (making his third appearance on this list), this time as Spade, with Mary Astor as his femme fatale client (Ruth Wonderly/Brigid O'Shaugnessy), alongside three unforgettable villains played by Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook Jr., and Sydney Greenstreet as "The Fat Man." There were two other film versions (in 1931 and 1936), but Huston's comes closest to the book, keeping much of Hammett's dialogue intact, and is widely regarded as a masterpiece of adaptation as well as direction, photography, and performance.

Source: "The Maltese Falcon: A Tale Thrice Filmed" in American Cinematographer, April 1997.

book | ebook | large print book ||  DVD




Mildred Pierce book Mildred Pierce film












James M. Cain is known for his hard-boiled style, but this 1941 novel is more of a psychological study, told from the point-of-view of a hardworking divorceé as she struggles to maintain her social status and rivals her daughter for a man's love. The 1945 film adaptation was directed by Michael Curtiz and stars Joan Crawford (Mildred), Ann Blyth (her spoiled daughter Veda), and Zachary Scott (Monte, the sleazy love interest). The film differs substantially from the book, most notably by adding a murder and removing overt depictions of a sexual relationship between Veda and Monte, which would have violated the Motion Picture Production Code. But what makes the novel as much a noir as the film is in the desperate intensity with which Mildred loves Veda; as Cain writes:

"The one living thing she had loved had turned on her repeatedly, with tooth and fang, and now had left her without so much as a kiss or a pleasant goodbye. Her only crime, if she had committed one, was that she had loved this girl too well.”

Todd Haynes' 2011 miniseries adaptation is quite faithful to the novel and is also recommended.

audiobook | book | eaudiobook | ebook | talking book - print disabled patrons only || DVD




The Postman Always Rings Twice book The Postman Always Rings Twice film












Another book by Cain, this one his gritty 1934 debut, tells the story of doomed drifter Frank Chambers who stumbles into a job at a diner where he falls hard for the dangerously alluring Cora and hatches a grisly plan to get rid of her husband, diner owner Nick. The novel was a sensation at the time of publication, became the subject of an obscenity trial in Boston, and was reportedly an influence on Camus' existential masterpiece The Outsider (also translated as The Stranger). The 1946 film adaptation was directed by Tay Garnett and stars John Garfield (Frank) and Lana Turner (Cora). Cain didn't see the final version of the film until 1976, a year before his death; he deemed it "a passably viewable picture."

Source: "Tough Guy: James M. Cain Interviewed" in Film Comment May-June, 1976.

audiobook | book | book - reference only || DVD




Strangers on a Train book Strangers on a Train movie













Patricia Highsmith's 1950 debut is a tense psychological thriller about two strangers, the sociopathic Bruno and the (relatively) sane Guy, who meet and have a conversation about killing each other's enemy in order to establish the perfect alibi. The 1951 film version was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and stars Robert Walker (Bruno) and Farley Granger (Guy), with a screenplay co-written by Raymond Chandler, in his final scriptwriting stint. The film retains much of the novel's homoerotic subtext, despite the fact that homosexuality was a taboo topic for American films at the time. Highsmith regarded it as one of the best of the films made from her novels, largely because of the incredible performance from Robert Walker, whose Bruno may be the blueprint for that other memorable Highsmith sociopath, Tom Ripley.

Source: Out of the Shadows: Expanding the Canon of Classic Film Noir

book | book - reference only | audiobook - ESL | eaudiobook | ebook | talking book - for print disabled patrons || DVD




Badge of Evil book Touch of Evil film













This 1956 novel by Whit Masterson (the pen name of authors Robert Wade and Bill Miller) is the story of a murder investigation that leads to the investigation of police corruption in a Mexican-American border town. The 1958 film adaptation was directed by Orson Welles (again) who also co-stars (again), alongside Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, with cameos by Zsa Zsa Gábor and Marlene Dietrich. Legend has it that Welles, who hadn't directed in Hollywood for ten years, chose the worst script he was offered to prove he could make a great film out of it. Today, it is indeed considered by many to be one of his greatest films (the opening shot alone is iconic: a single, uninterrupted, three-minute-long crane tracking shot), as well as the last of the classic noir era. It was also Welles' last American film.

Source: "The evolution of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil from novel to film" in Cinema Journal, Winter 1985.

book | evideo


Do you have a favourite novel turned film noir?

Leave a comment and share your recommendations!


Selected Further Reading:

Navigating the Toronto Reference Library with Wayfinder

November 20, 2015 | Richard | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

" "
You step into the Atrium of the Toronto Reference Library, you look up marveling at all the space, the levels, the 10 story plus sky-lit ceiling, and then you ask yourself: "how am I suppose to find anything in here?"

Locating staff and then telling them that you need assistance is ideal, but consulting wayfinder is also a good, quick and easy place to start.

Located around the corner to the left of the first floor elevators on two iPads, the wayfinder is a searchable map and directory of the Toronto Reference Library.

Wayfinder Sign

The wayfinder can direct you to specific locations, collections of material, and Dewey decimal ranges for browsing through the library's open-shelf collection.  Here are some examples - the blue and white spiral will animate to show you each location:

  • Genealogy collection (2nd Fl)


  • The Religion collection (2nd Fl)



  • Washrooms for each floor (1st to 5th Fl)


  • Newspapers (English & Other Languages) (Basement Fl)


  • Picture Collection (5th Fl)

Picture Collection

Other Examples:

  • Colour printer and photocopier (1st & 5th Fl)
  • The ESL collection (4th Fl)
  • Asquith Press (1st Fl)
  • Oceanography (3rd Fl)
  • Computer RLPCP655 (2nd Fl)
  • Baldwin Room Collection (5th Fl)
  • Careers (3rd Fl)
  • Music scores (5th Fl)
  • Journalism (4th Fl)
  • Writers' Room (3rd Fl)
  • Water fountains (All)
  • And on, and on, and on . . .

The Wayfinder will get you to your start point, but it will also be useful for finding out about the library in toto.

And still can't find what you are looking for? . . . Ask Our Staff.

Next time you are waiting for an elevator, give wayfinder a try: you will be amazed by what is on offer!



The Best Christmas Present Ever Is...

November 14, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

...the one bought at the Book and DVD Sale November 26-28th, 2015 sponsored by the Friends of the Library, South Chapter.

Does your Aunt Ida really want a scented candle for Christmas?

Does your best friend Tim really need another pair of socks?

Do you really want to give your niece a gift card?

No No No!

Instead, why not buy them a gently used, very good condition gift book, cookbook, children's book or previously viewed DVD or DVD sets.  It's a cash only sale and all proceeds benefit Toronto Public Library.



Friends of Toronto Public Library, South Chapter

Xmas Good Books and DVD Sale

Thursday, November 26,  9:30 a.m - 8 p.m

Friday, November 27, 9 a.m - 7 p.m

Saturday, November 28, 9 a.m - 4 p.m 

Beeton Auditorium, Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street 

All proceeds benefit library programs.

For more info and volunteer opportunities, call 416-397-5948 or email

friendssouthchapter @


To get in the mood please also visit the Half Price Sale at Book Ends North Chapter at the North York Central Branch.


If you can't make the sales, there are plenty of bargains at the two Friends' bookstores:

Did you know the Friends of Toronto Public Library have over 100 volunteers and that together, every year they dedicate over 11,500 hours of service? It is through their support and dedication that to date, the Friends of Toronto Public Library, North and South Chapters have jointly raised over $2 million in support of Toronto Public Library programs. You can buy both donated items and materials withdrawn from the library's collection. Money raised from sales is used to support library  programs and services.

For further information, visit our website to volunteer or donate material.

Researching Older Canadian Companies

November 13, 2015 | Pam | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

If you're researching older Canadian companies, the Business, Science and Technology Department of the Toronto Reference Library has just created, with the help of staff in other departments at TRL, a second edition of Researching Older Canadian Companies at the Metropolitan Toronto Library, called Researching Older Canadian Companies: a Guide to Resources in the Toronto Reference Library, Toronto Public Library.


We have included companies that have a significant or wholly Canadian presence. The geographic coverage is all of Canada. The selected date range is from 1867-1967, essentially, the time of Confederation and onwards. 


Here is the guide in PDF format:

Download Title Page - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Introduction - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 1 - Books - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 2 - Company Directories - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 3 - Magazines and their indexes - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 4 - Electronic Resources - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 5 - Annual Reports - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 6 - Microforms- Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 7 - Government Documents - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 8 - Primary Resources- Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 9 - Unpublished Resources - Researching Older Canadian Companies

Download Chapter 10 - Research Guides- Researching Older Canadian Companies


If you would prefer to see a hard copy of this publication, please ask staff at the Information Desk at the Business, Science and Technology Department, 3rd floor, Toronto Reference Library. Some of the material referenced in this guide is also found in other departments of TRL, such as Arts (5th floor), Special Collections (5th floor), and Humanities and Social Sciences (2nd floor).


See also Researching a Canadian Company.

Posted by Michal for Pam

War and Remembrance

November 10, 2015 | Raimo | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

My generation, the generation born after World War II, but before the sixties, in many ways grew up in the long shadow cast by the two World Wars. We all had some family, teachers and neighbours who had lived through one or both of the World Wars: in uniform, on the home front, or as refugees. There were reminders in the neighbourhood: Dieppe Park, Dunkirk Avenue, the Cenotaph, Memorial Gardens. One elementary school teacher had lived through the Blitz in London, a math teacher had served in the Italian campaign. Military items sometimes surfaced during show and tell at school - including a hand grenade on one occasion! So when we started reading chapter books, many of us were attracted to war stories, both fiction and nonfiction.

Biggles Sweeps the Dessert Great Escape  And No Birds Sang

British RAF pilot and author Captain W. E. Johns penned more than 100 juvenile fiction titles featuring the adventures of pilot James "Biggles" Bigglesworth.  Biggles Sweeps the Dessert, a ripping yarn that glossed over the horrors of war and thrilled many a young lad (a wiseacre friend remarked that Biggles must have had a big broom). The Great Escape by Australian Paul Brickhill is a nonfiction account of the 1944 large scale escape from Stalag Luft III by Allied prisoners of war that we read in Grade Six. This story of how POWs surreptitiously created an escape tunnel is well known from the movie of the same name based on Brickhill's book. Prolific Canadian author Farley Mowat served as a young infantry officer during the Italian Campaign. In And No Birds Sang he gives a graphic, stark autobiographical account of his experience of war.

The two World Wars have been a perennially popular theme for both authors and readers. Toronto Public Library has over 3000 First or Second World War fiction titles in its collections, and new titles continue to be published every year. Here is a brief selection:

War and RemembranceThe WarsRegeneration












Herman Wouk's sequel to The Winds of War, War and Remembrance is a massive (1000 pages plus) yet highly readable epic of historical fiction. The saga of the Henry family during the Second World War, it is notable for its attention to historical detail. The Wars by Timothy Findley is probably the most read and studied Canadian novel of the Great War. Along with Three Day Road and Obasan, it is on my list of the top three Canadian war novels. Regeneration, a fictionalized account of poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon's time in a military hospital for shell-shocked officers, is the final book in Pat Barker's trilogy of novels set during WWI.

Eye of the Needle The Cruel Sea Slaughterhouse Five












The Eye of the Needle is a thriller about a top German spy nicknamed the Needle who must be stopped by British intelligence before he can spill the beans about the D-Day invasion to his masters. Great literature it is not, but nevertheless it's a gripping and entertaining page turner by Ken Follett. The Cruel Sea is one of the great novels of war at sea. Nicholas Monsarrat drew on his own service as a naval officer to craft this story of WWII convoys and the escort vessels that protected them from U-boats - a classic. American author Kurt Vonnegut's anti-war novel Slaughterhouse Five was based on the WWII firebombing of Dresden, an allied operation that resulted in 2500 civilian casualties.


Goodbye to All That Three Day Road Sharks and Little Fish












Goodbye to All That, by poet, critic and novelist Robert Graves, is perhaps the greatest memoir of the Great War. Graves was also close friends with Siegfried Sassoon, a relationship that is fictionalized in Regeneration. In Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road, the horrifying experiences of trench warfare have a profound effect on two young Cree soldiers from Northern Ontario. One becomes an extraordinary sniper but descends into madness and death. The other returns from the Western Front wounded in body and spirit, and addicted to morphine. Wolfgang Ott, the author of  Sharks and Little Fish, had served as a German submariner in WWII and wrote his novel drawing on his U-boat experiences. Translated from the German to English in 1958, it became a bestseller.

What are your favourite war titles?


The Gales of November--Canadian Shipwreck Sagas

November 10, 2015 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Pacific schooner rescue

Pacific, schooner; rescue of crew by Thomas Tinning; looking s.e. from shore near High Park. Toronto Reference Library

There are many famous shipwreck names in Canadian history. Titanic is probably the biggest, lost in the Atlantic off of Newfoundland in 1912—there are hundreds of books and more than one movie about her. Another is the Edmund Fitzgerald, lost 40 years ago this month on Lake Superior. The phrase “gales of November” comes from Gordon Lightfoot’s celebrated song the Wreck of the Edmund FitzgeraldThat tragic loss is also remembered in book and film.

Titanic-the Canadian Story Mighty Fitz Mystery of the Edmund Fitzgerald











But there are myriad names, less known. The earliest shipwreck account we have in the Toronto Reference Library comes from 1711— The sailors danger and hardship at sea: Giving a full and true description of the late expedition to Quebeck, under Rear Admiral Walker. Read it online through our Digital Archive. The deadly month of November claimed the Rebecca (1816, off the coast of Labrador), the Premier (1843, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence) and the Algoma (1885, off of Isle Royale).

Author Andrea Curtis explores the long term effects of shipwreck in her own family. Into the Blue: family secrets and the search for a Great Lakes shipwreck chronicles the loss of the J. H. Jones in a November storm in Georgian Bay in 1906. It took the life of her great grandfather Captain Jim Crawford, and left his family bereft and impoverished. A common thread through many a shipwreck story.

Into the blue Summer of the Marco Polo      










The clipper ship Marco Polo was wrecked in 1883, off of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Future novelist L. M. Montgomery was nine years old, and the event inspired one of her first published stories. More than a century later, the tale was re-imagined by writer Lynn Manuel and illustrator Kasia Charko as The Summer of the Marco Polo

The August Gales Novembers Fury Many a Midnight Ship











The thousands of wrecks in the Great Lakes include many from the War of 1812, and underwater archaeology of those vessels now contributes to a deeper understanding of how that war was waged. One of the most intriguing is the Nancy, sunk in 1814 in the Nottawasaga River. Not technically a shipwreck, she was set afire and scuttled by her own crew when they faced overwhelming odds during a battle. Sunk in shallow water, she was easily visible for many years, but gradually forgotten by local people. The wreck was rediscovered in 1911 by journalist and sailing history buff C. H. J. Snider, and eventually commemorated in Nancy Island, the land formed by silt deposits around the wreck. The Nancy also has a book and a song from another great Canadian song writer, Stan Rogers.

Coffins of the Brave Through water ice and fire From Fresh Water Stan Rogers









In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the decline of shipping and improvements in safety and navigation resulted in fewer wrecks. But the waves and the water do not lose their power. Last month the whale watching boat Leviathan II capsized with the loss of five souls off the coast of Tofino, British Columbia. To those in peril on the sea.

Peril at sea Graveyard of the Pacific West Coast Wrecks










Birds of America: A Collaborative Work

November 9, 2015 | Nicole | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

You have just three more weeks to see John J. Audubon’s Birds of America, our current exhibit on display at the TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library.

The creation and production of the double-elephant folio edition of Birds of America was a monumental undertaking. Comprised of 435 plates with life-sized images of over a thousand individual birds, it was a remarkable project that relied on the talent and meticulous work of many.

While John James Audubon (1785-1851) was always the primary artist of his watercolours, he also collaborated with other professional artists. Audubon would first outline the entire composition in graphite. Often, his artistic associates would help render backgrounds and plant elements in watercolour, allowing Audubon to focus his efforts on rendering the birds and on completing his mission to paint all known bird species in North America.  

John James Audubon 1826

John James Audubon by John Syme, 1826

In 1820, he was accompanied on a birding expedition down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers by his talented 18-year-old student Joseph R. Mason (1802-1842). Mason, a specialist in botanical illustration, is believed to have contributed to at least 50 of Audubon’s compositions. George Lehman, a Swiss landscape painter, also assisted with painting plants and backgrounds of Audubon’s watercolours for several years.

Blue Yellow-backed Warbler

Blue Yellow-backed Warbler (Plate 15), Northern parula warbler, Parula Americana, 1827-1838. Joseph R. Mason was credited with painting the Louisiana flag (Iris fulva) in the background.

Amateur artist Maria Martin (1796-1863) painted plants and insects in around 30 of Audubon’s works. She eventually married Audubon’s close friend, Reverend John Bachman (1790-1874). Some have speculated about the nature of Audubon’s relationship with Martin, as he often referred to her with terms of endearment in his letters to his friend Bachman. Writing to his son Victor in 1833, Audubon wrote: "Miss Martin with her superior talents, assists us greatly in the way of drawing; the insects she has drawn are, perhaps, the best I've seen.”

Bachman’s Warbler

Bachman’s Warbler (Plate 185), Vermivora bachmanii, 1833. Audubon drew the bird from specimens belonging to his friend Reverend John Bachman and named the bird in his honour. Maria Martin drew the bush Franklinia alatamaha.

Audubon’s own sons, Victor Gifford and John Woodhouse also contributed in the production of Birds of America. They were also very involved in the creation of their father’s second great work The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. The original hand-printed and hand-painted 1845 edition of Quadrupeds, depicting the mammals of North America, is also housed in the Toronto Public Library’s Special Collections. Audubon’s wife Lucy also played an important but largely unrecognized role in the publication – supporting the family while Audubon set out on countless expeditions, she edited Audubon’s writing.  

Red Fox

Red Fox, John James Audubon and Rev. John Bachman, Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, New York: J. J. Audubon, 1845-1848, hand-coloured lithograph

Audubon occasionally credited these artists in his Ornithological Biography, the separately published text that accompanied Birds of America. However, he likely considered their contributions to be in the tradition of the Old Masters where teams of studio assistants would work together to complete paintings and other artworks under their master’s name.

Once Audubon had assembled a portfolio of watercolours, he set off to find a publisher for his masterpiece. After gaining some attention from exhibiting his work, he engaged printmaker William Home Lizars (1788-1859). Lizars completed the first ten plates of Audubon’s work, and then his colourists went on strike forcing Audubon to look for an engraver elsewhere. In London, he found his great collaborator and master printmaker Robert Havell Jr. (1793-1878).

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey (Plate 1), Meleagris gallopavo, 1827 – 1838. One of ten plates engraved by W. H. Lizars.

Havell would trace the waterolours onto copper plates. He would then produce the prints through a complex process of etching, engraving, and aquatint. Aquatint is a technique of applying acid and acid-resistant resin to create marks in the metal plates which are then used to hold and transfer ink to paper. Audubon was a perfectionist and a dedicated supervisor of the print making process. He would review a proof for each plate making every effort to have them match his original watercolours.

Once the proofs were approved, a group of colorists hand-coloured the prints. Though colour printing was technologically feasible at the time, the highest quality of printing was still largely done by hand, particularly when printing artwork and nature illustrations, as hand-colouring offered a limitless range of colours which resulted in more vivid and true-to-life prints. The process limited the number of copies that could be printed and made the production of works like Birds of America incredibly expensive.

The double-elephant folio edition of Birds of America was coloured by an assembly line of 50 colourists, believed to be predominately young women. As is the case with most hand-colourists of the period, we know almost nothing about these individuals, not even their names. The process took time and skill, but it was largely a thankless task.

Our exhibit, which runs until November 29, is a great opportunity to get up close  to these hand-coloured plates and appreciate not only Audubon’s creative genius, but also the outstanding achievements of these lesser-known collaborators, artists, engravers, and colourists, without whom this masterwork would not exist.  


For a fascinating window into Audubon’s life, including his deep affection for painter Maria Martin, be sure to check out Katherine Govier’s novel Creation. Better yet, join us at the Toronto Reference Library this Wednesday, November 11 at 2 p.m. to hear Govier speak about her fascination with Audubon and how the Toronto Public Library’s copy of Birds of America helped inspire her novel.

NOW Magazine Readers Vote Toronto Reference Library the Best in T. O.

November 5, 2015 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

A huge thanks to all the readers and library lovers who named the Toronto Reference Library the Best Library in NOW Magazine’s Best of Toronto Readers’ Choice 2015.

NOW Best Library Award

Come by anytime to celebrate! And if you haven’t discovered us yet—come and find books, magazines, music, DVDs, free wireless, study pods, music practice rooms, a Writers Suite, Digital Innovation Hub (3-d printers, computers), Asquith Press , the Global Connect TV wall, TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library, green walls, a reflecting pool and lots and lots of free programs and classes.  (Incidentally, we also have all the copies of NOW back to the first one in 1981.)

Toronto Reference Library view

  Display case & Open Shelf 2nd floor

3rd Floor Computer Terrace-1
Study Pods

Music Practice Room

Digital Hub-Asquith Press 1st floor

First floor TV

  Writer's Suite 3rd floor

TD Gallery interior

Idea Garden 2nd floor

Information Commons 1st floor

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library


And hey—if you like libraries, check out the runner-up:
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
A wonderful atmospheric place full of treasures.



Forgotten Gems: Canadian Science Fiction

November 3, 2015 | Monika | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Today's post is by Max, a librarian who delights in uncovering forgotten gems in our collections. Enjoy!

When a books still stays in the mind more than 10 years after you read it, it is worth mentioning.

Canada has more good science fiction writers than you might think and one is Robert Charles Wilson who lives in Concord, Ontario. Mr. Wilson has published 17 novels, and has won the Hugo award for science fiction, which is a very big deal in science fiction.

In 2001, Mr. Wilson published The Chronoliths. I read it in the early years of this century and it has stuck with me because the premise is genuinely strange, a hard thing to accomplish. Also the story has overtones of our post 2001 world history.


The book opens sometime after 2001, when a series of monuments begins to appear, out of thin air, across Asia.  These “monuments,” of indestructible stone and 800 feet tall, bear inscriptions honoring military victories by an unknown general named Kuin. The victories are dated 20 years in the future.

In the chaos that follows (imagine 20 million tons of stone suddenly, instantly, materializing, suddenly just there, at the corner of Bloor and Yonge) the world begins to slide into anarchy, anarchy that will make Kuin (whoever he is) first a possibility, then a reality.

Time-paradox stories are not new to SF, but this is a genuinely new approach. And beyond that, the novel is a parable about what happens when society has to deal with a fact not seen in the game plan. It reminds you of world history since 2001 and has an unsettling quality that is hard to forget.

Below is a selection of other books by Robert Charles Wilson, including some of his award-winning titles.

Spin      Axis      Vortex

A Bridge of Years     A Hidden Place     Darwinia

Welcome! Discover the rich and diverse world of the Toronto Reference Library through the eyes of its expert staff. Join us to see the many ways we are connecting with the city - through special events and exhibits, new books, digital information and innovative library services.

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