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Last Chance: The Art of Cartography Closes October 16!

October 11, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (2)

This weekend will be your last chance to visit our free exhibit, The Art of Cartography, on display in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery. The exhibit runs until this Sunday, October 16.

The Art of Cartography

The exhibit begins with a brief timeline charting some of the major developments that influenced the look of maps from the earliest celestial maps, carved into stone or tusk, to the current age of satellite mapping and Google Earth.


The Art of Cartography reveals that the way maps look can tell us a lot about who was doing the mapping, for what purpose, and for whom.

Many of the maps on display originally served "functional" purposes: to help explorers navigate from point A to point B, to define (and claim) political boundaries and territories, or simply to help educate their audiences about world geography.   


The Art of Cartography_Games

Middleton's New Geographical Game of England and Wales, London: Nicholas Carpenter, Goswell Terrace, ca. 1850, Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books; Right: Wallis's New Game Exhibiting a Voyage Round the World, London: E. Wallis, 1835, Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books.

The exhibit features several examples of "maps" designed as educational tools. Above are two examples of "map race games" from the 19th century, popular toys aimed at teaching geography to British school children. The object of the game was to race around maps of England, Europe or the entire world. Players advance by spinning a teetotum, a small wooden top with numbered sides similar to a dice. The winner was the first to arrive in London. The games’ playing instructions include brief descriptions of the towns, cities and countries.



Mappemonde puzzle, R. Fremin, 1810-1860, Paris: Auguste Logerot, ca. 1842

Did you know that the earliest jigsaw puzzles were "dissected maps," created to teach geography to children? John Spillsbury is credited with creating the first jigsaw puzzle, a divided map of Europe, in the 1760s.The double hemisphere map shown above was originally part of a set of puzzles or a “puzzle atlas.” It was drawn by A. R. Fremin, a French geographer.


EslicksPuzzle1880CaseEslick's Patent puzzles, Steven Joseph Eslick, 1851-1904; Engraved by W. Hughes, London & Liverpool: George Philip, Son & Nephew, ca. 1880, Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books

Steven Joseph Eslick was an inventor from Birmingham. In 1878 he obtained a patent for an "improvement in geographical maps." The patent was for the process of dissecting a map while leaving the edges intact as a frame for the puzzle. The 1880 set above includes six dissected puzzles: maps of Europe, France, Scotland, the United States, Ireland, and England and Wales. The Art of Cartography exhibit includes a touch-screen interactive where you can try your hand at completing a few of Eslick's map puzzles.

 Charlotte's Miscellany 1805

Charlotte's miscellany, or, Universal guide containing amusing & useful information upon various subjects, Kempton Park: Printed by Harriet Petrie, ca. 1805, Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books

This sweet hand-written compendium of knowledge was created by a young British girl named Harriet Petrie as a birthday gift for her sister, Charlotte, on her ninth birthday. The section on “Geography” includes five original fold-out maps.  There are also sections on reading, grammar, history, astronomy, natural history, arithmetic and drawing.

In the early 19th century, schoolgirls in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom were expected to draw maps, either by copying or tracing existing maps. Boys were more often taught surveying and navigation. This was not to prepare young girls to be cartographers or geographers, but for them to practice and demonstrate their artistic skills, penmanship and attention to detail.

An Art of Cartography Scavenger Hunt! 

Are you planning to visit the exhibit with young map enthusiasts or explorers-in-training? Send them on a scavenger hunt to discover some of the weird and wonderful maps in the exhibit.

Can you find:

  1. A map decorated with sea monsters?
  2. A map of the North Pole?
  3. A map made by a famous explorer?
  4. A map decorated with pictures of animals?
  5. A map that shows something strange about California?
  6. A map with a cartouche? (What is a cartouche?)
  7. A map that shows a place that never really existed?
  8. A map that shows the pyramids?
  9. A map that was drawn by hand? (What do we call hand-drawn maps?)
  10. A map that shows a place you have lived or visited?


Want to learn more about The Art of Cartography?

Check out some of our previous blog posts or explore our Digital Archive to discover some of the highlights from the exhibit - including sea charts and celestial maps, city plans and views, and some curious-looking maps of newly "discovered" lands and invented islands.

Library Settlement Partnerships Week 2016: Celebrate with Dance

October 5, 2016 | Michal | Comments (0)

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance


Join us on Thursday October 20th, at 1pm, in the Atrium of the Toronto Reference Library, for Library Settlement Partnerships (LSP) Week 2016: Celebrate with Dance. Celebrate the LSP program with us, and learn about newcomer services and programs. Refreshments will be served, and all are welcome. 

Toronto Public Library's LSP Celebrations 2015 involved music, and this year, we chose dance. Enjoy a performance by Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company & Academy of Spanish Dance. As it states on their website, founder Esmeralda Enrique is "one of the most celebrated Flamenco dance artists in Canada,.. lauded internationally as a both a choreographer and teacher... [and the company is] renowned for its innovation, versatility and artistic excellence". 

Toronto Public Library partners with other service organizations to provide free assistance with many aspects of settling in Canada as a newcomer. At the Toronto Reference Library, we partner with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the YMCA's Newcomer Information Centre. We call this Library Settlement Partnerships, or LSP. We offer help at the Newcomer Information Desk, one of several locations in Toronto Public Library, as well as a series of information sessions.

Our New to Canada landing page includes information about Settling in Toronto, as well as where you can Learn English, find ESL & Fun programs for children, information about the Citizenship Test, and resources related to Jobs, Training and Certification, and more.

Also check out our New to Canada blog, to find more information and resources available from the library and around Toronto to new residents of Canada.


LSP logo

TRL Program Calendar October 2016

September 30, 2016 | Katherine | Comments (0)

Meet the new Toronto Public Library Entrepreneur in Residence Sima Gandhi, former member of MaRS Entrepreneurship Program Team. Find out about Driverless Cars in Toronto, attend one of many book clubs, and join us for free evening films @ the Toronto Reference Library.

Click on each image to enlarge or Download The October 2016 @ TRL as a pdf file.

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

October 1 October 2 October 3 October 4

How to Find Journal Articles Using JSTOR: Search Tips and Tricks

September 29, 2016 | Winona | Comments (2)

So you have a research assignment and you have to find academic journal articles on your topic. Or maybe you've already graduated from your studies and you want to keep learning. Or perhaps you just have a hunger for knowledge and need to feed your mind. What should you do?

Image via JSTOR

Get to Know JSTOR

JSTOR ( is a full-text digital archive that contains over 2,000 academic journals. Content comes from more than 900 publishers in more than 50 disciplines spanning hundreds of years. And you can access JSTOR with your Toronto Public Library card, from anywhere in the world, at any time, for free. Yes, free.


Black Books gif via Book Riot

One of the unique things about JSTOR (which stands for Journal STORage) is that it digitizes the full run of journal titles and makes them available from the very first issue up to the most recent two to five years depending on the journal. So when you search JSTOR you are searching across all the major disciplines, for almost all the years of a journal's publication, and in all the text.

All the text!
Image (and meme) originally by Allie Brosh's from her website Hyperbole and a Half - now in book format!

Pretty great, right? Yes! Until you realize that searching all the text of all the articles in all the journals across all those years and in all those disciplines will bring back about a gazillion results.

All the text?

But don't despair. The library is here to help.

JSTOR Search Tips

First, learn the basics of searching JSTOR. The library has a video tutorial for that.

We also have a JSTOR info sheet to view online or download in PDF format.

JSTOR info sheet
Click the image to enlarge it


Next, try a few search tricks.

Phrase Search

  • To find items that include an exact phrase, place it in quotation marks.
    • Example: "to be or not to be"

Boolean Search

  • To find items that include ALL of your search terms, use AND.
    • Example: unicorns AND maidens
  • To find items that include ANY of your search terms, use OR.
    • Example: unicorns AND (maidens OR damsels)
  • To eliminate items that contain a term, use NOT.
    • Example: unicorns AND (maidens OR damsels) NOT myth

Wildcard Search

  • Use a question mark to vary a single letter in a word.
    • Example: wom?n = women, woman, womyn, etc.
  • Use an asterisk to vary letters at the end of a word.
    • Example: bird* = bird, birding, birds, etc.

For a deeper dive into JSTOR search tips and tricks, check out their Core Functionality webpage.

Bonus Tip! Citations

Always remember to cite your source. JSTOR has a built-in citation generator. Search to find the item you want, click the blue “Cite This Item” button in the upper right corner, and JSTOR will do the rest. All you need to do is choose a citation style (APA, MLA, or Chicago) to copy and paste into your document.  


Need Help? Just Ask!

If you get stuck, ask library staff for assistance. Librarians are expert searchers and we are happy to help.

Until then, what are you waiting for? Connect to JSTOR and do your research!


Sherlock gif via destruction-mode.tumblr



The Clash of Ignorance: The West and the Muslim World

September 28, 2016 | Richard | Comments (0)


October is Islamic History Month!

This year we celebrate Islamic History Month in a very timely manner by inviting speaker Dr. Shafique Virani. To be certain, the need for the kind of dialogue that Dr. Virani brings has never been greater.

Dr. Virani (Ph.D., Harvard University), distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto, founding Director of  the Centre for South Asian Civilizations, and past Chair of the Department of Historical Studies, is an award-winning author and internationally recognized public speaker who has addressed people from over 50 countries and audiences of over 15,000.

IsmailisHis book, The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation, is believed to be the first academic title of any major university press to have had its own book trailer. Describing him as "a visionary," the United Nations honoured him for dedicating his efforts "to the cause of extending the frontiers of knowledge and the welfare of humankind."  For some additional background, you may be interested in reading this Huffington Post article about him.

With shocking evidence, hilarious anecdotes, heart-wrenching personal stories, and brilliant insights into world events, Dr. Virani urges us to confront the clash of ignorance between the West and the Muslim world, replacing walls of misinformation with bridges of understanding. Appealing to the best in human nature, Dr. Virani presents a visionary path forward, and inspires hope for a better future.


ShafiqueThis free event takes place in the Hinton Theatre on the 3rd Floor of the Toronto Reference Library on Wednesday October 5th from 6:30 to 8:30.

No registration is required.

 All are welcome.


The Art of Cartography: Why Do We Need Map-makers in 2016?

September 27, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (2)

When you visit our TD Gallery exhibit, The Art of Cartography, you might get the impression that making maps is an art of the past. At a time when virtually every square metre of land on Earth has been accurately mapped, is there any need for map-makers in 2016?

Join us on Monday, October 3 at 6:30 pm in the Toronto Reference Library's Hinton Learning Theatre as cartographer Chris Brackley tackles just that question. 


Courtesy of Chris Brackley

In his talk, Chris will explain how the cartographer's role has shifted from creating maps that help people get from A to B, to creating maps that help people understand the complexity and the beauty of the world that exists between A and B. 



Courtesy of Chris Brackley

Chris Brackley is the cartographer for The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic Magazine, as well as the owner of As the Crow Flies cARTography


Intact Forest_07

Courtesy of Chris Brackley

This program is presented in partnership with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

The Art of Cartography is a free exhibit on display in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery until October 16, 2016. It is open to the public during regular library hours. 

The Art of Cartography: Mapping the City with Shawn Micallef, Daniel Rotsztain, Flavio Trevisan & Marlena Zuber

September 19, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Our current exhibit, The Art of Cartography, focuses on the artistry of mapmakers from the 16th to the 19th century. Crafting beautiful and insightful maps, however, is certainly not an art form resigned to the past. Maps continue to inspire artists, illustrators, geographers and story tellers. As a medium, maps can help communicate complex ideas, challenge assumptions about place, and connect new meanings about the spaces where we live. 

All the libraries

All the Libraries map by Daniel Rotsztain

Interested in learning more about how the city of Toronto is being mapped by artists, illustrators and geographers today?

Join us this Thursday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Toronto Reference Library's Hinton Learning Theatre for a panel discussion on Mapping the City featuring Daniel Rotsztain, Flavio Trevisan and Marlena Zuber.

Daniel Rotsztain is the Urban Geographer: an artist, writer and cartographer whose work explores the relationships to the places we inhabit, especially the fascinating and elusive geography of Toronto. The author and illustrator of All the Libraries Torontoa colouring book featuring drawings and captions of all 100 branches and 2 bookmobiles of Toronto Public Library, Daniel's work has also appeared in Spacing MagazineGlobe and Mail and Now Magazine.


Trevisan - Grey AreaGrey Area, 2009 by Flavio Trevisan

Flavio Trevisan is a visual artist and designer. He has been publishing books as Hex Editions since 2013. His previous projects include “Museum of the Represented City,” at the Koffler Gallery Off-Site; “Pink Republic,” at TYPE Books and “The Game of Urban Renewal (Special Regent Park Edition),” a project for Queen Specific. His work has been featured in Art With Heart 2011, Titles  and A Guidebook to Contemporary Architecture in Toronto


Map of Kensington Market by Marlena Zuber

Marlena Zuber is an illustrator and map maker with a career in Community Arts. Her first large scale map of the city was published in uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto. Her maps and drawings were also featured in Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto. In 2013, Marlena collaborated with Matt Galloway of CBC's Metro Morning and his listeners to create a people’s map of Secret Toronto. Her maps have also been featured at Toronto Harbourfront Centre and at City Hall for Doors Open and they have been published in collections such as All About Maps and a Map of the World: The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers.


The talk will be moderated by Shawn Micallef. Micallef is the author of The Trouble with Brunch: Work Class & the Pursuit of Leisure, Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto and Full Frontal TO. He is also a weekly columnist at the Toronto Star, and a senior editor and co-owner of the independent, Jane Jacobs Prize–winning magazine Spacing.  


The Art of Cartography: Mapping the City 

Before or after the talk, be sure to visit the exhibit in the TD Gallery to take a look at early maps and views of Toronto and other cities from around the world.

As you can see from the highlights below, maps, plans and views help to define a city’s character. Cartographers offer new perspectives and selective highlights: important landmarks, architectural styles, boundaries, and places of civic importance. Maps can also be tools for visualizing and planning for future development.   

Topographical plan of Toronto Fleming 1851

Topographical plan of the city of Toronto, Sir Sandford Fleming (1827-1915), Toronto: Hugh Scobie, 1851

Sir Sandford Fleming was a Scottish-born Canadian engineer, inventor, surveyor and engraver. His many accomplishments include the proposal of worldwide standard time zones and designing Canada's first postage stamp.  While Fleming worked as a land surveyor in 1851, he drew this plan of Toronto with engravings of the significant buildings of the city around the edges.

The map was published by Hugh Scobie, a Scotsman who published a newspaper entitled The British Colonist out of a book and stationery store at 16 King E. in Toronto. His services were listed as such: “Bookseller, and stationer, printer, bookbinder, lithographer, copperplate and woodengraver.” 


Plano Pintoresco de la Habana con Numeros de las Casas 1853

Plano Pintoresco De La Habana con los numeros de las casas, José María de la Torre (1815-73), Engraved by William S. Barnard, 1809-?, Havana, Cuba: B. May y Ca, 1853

An example of one of our maps of international cities, this “picturesque” plan of Havana was created by Cuban geographer José María de la in 1849.  The scale is in Castilian varas (yards), an old Spanish unit of measurement. The border features decorative vignettes and views of the city: prominent buildings, fortifications, military facilities, existing and proposed roadways, railroads and boundaries. These engravings originally appeared in Federico Mialhe’s Album Pintoresco de La Isla de Cuba.


A view of Savanah as it stood the 29th of March 1734

A view of Savanah as it stood the 29th of March, 1734, Peter Gordon (1697-1740), Engraved by Pierre Fourdrinier (1720-1760), 1734. Gift of James Bain Family

Peter Gordon was one of the first settlers of the British Colony of Georgia and served as its chief bailiff. He sketched this bird's-eye view of the new planned settlement of Savannah. This plan captures how James Edward Oglethorpe (1696-1785), British philanthropist and founder of Georgia, meticulously laid out the streets, housing lots, public buildings and town squares.



Toletum [Toledo, Spain], Book V, Plate 15 from the German edition of Braun and Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Georg Braun (1541-1622), Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590), 1566.

The exhibit also features several hand-coloured views from Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum (“Cities of the World”), considered one of the greatest achievements European cartography. Published in Cologne, Germany in a series of six volumes between 1572 and 1618, the Civitates eventually contained 546 scenes, birds-eye views, and map views of cities from all over the world. The editions appeared in Latin, German and French. 

This hand-coloured panoramic view of Toledo has an elaborate border and features dramatic elevations of the city’s cathedral and royal palace.  In his commentary, Braun notes that the Italian city was rumoured to have been founded by Hercules.


Iaverinum vulgo Rab Anno 1594

Gyor [Hungary], Book V Plate 54 from the German edition of Braun and Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum, 1594

Braun who was a cleric of Cologne Cathedral was the principal editor of the work. He consulted and sought input from various artists, printers and surveyors of the time.  The engravings are mostly attributed to Frans Hogenberg, a Flemish engraver and painter.  

The maps in Civitas Orbis Terrarum often include foreground figures wearing local garb.  It is interesting to note the similarities between the contours of the clothing and the topography and architecture in the scene.


The Art of Cartography is a free exhibit on display in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery until October 16, 2016. It is open to the public during regular library hours. 

Excitement in the Water - HMS Terror Found at Last!

September 13, 2016 | Sephora | Comments (1)

Photo courtesy of


The remains of the HMS Terror have been found in the waters of a Nunavut bay, according to reports by various news sources. This tremendous discovery marks an important moment in Canada's history, and solves a mystery that has been 168 years in the making. On May 19, 1845 Sir John Franklin set out on an expedition to chart the Northwest Passage on the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, with a crew of 129 men. Despite being very well-equipped, the ships were no match for the challenges of the harsh Arctic environment. The last sighting of the expedition by Arctic whalers was in July 1845, and then Franklin was never seen again.

The disappearance of Sir John Franklin launched the greatest rescue mission in the history of exploration. In September 2014, the remains of the HMS Erebus were located, and now two years later almost to the date, the remains of the HMS Terror have been found. 

Inuit knowledge has been integral to this story from the beginning, as it was the Inuit who helped the members of the rescue expeditions so many years ago, providing information on the whereabouts of the last sighting of the ships, and the crew members, and now it was an Inuk crew member who is credited with the sighting that led to the discovery of the HMS Terror, in Terror Bay no less.  

There are many items in the Baldwin Collection of Canadiana at the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre at the Toronto Reference Library that relate to Sir John Franklin, his original expedition and the large-scale rescue missions. A number of these have been digitized and can be found in the Digital Archive, accessible from anywhere.

Frozen Ocean, one of our virtual exhibits, covers the hunt for the Northwest Passage, The Franklin Expedition as well as the important role the Inuit played in the assistance of the rescue expeditions. There is also a beautiful collection of images on Pinterest, To Seek A Northwest Passage to The Sea.

There are also eBooks on this topic in PDF format that can be downloaded, for example:

 Arctic researches, and life among the Esquimaux; being the narrative of an expedition in search of Sir John Franklin, in the years 1860, 1861, and 1862 (1865)

Toronto Public Library also offers some more contemporary writings on the topic, that can be placed on hold including:
  Unravelling the Franklin mystery Franklins lost ship Frozen in time As affecting the fate of my absent

Please visit the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre for more original material, and to begin your own discovery.
For more information about the recent discovery of the HMS Terror in the news, here are some links to news stories featured in the CBCThe Globe and MailThe Toronto Star and The Guardian, who first reported it.

The Art of Cartography: Giant Floor Map Explores Canada From Space

September 13, 2016 | Nicole | Comments (0)

Our current exhibit, The Art of Cartography, showcases historical maps and atlases offering remarkable views of Canada and the rest of the world from the 16th to the 19th century. 

This Thursday, September 15, visitors to the Toronto Reference Library will also have a chance to explore a very different map of Canada -- one that is truly out of this world!  


A giant floor map will cover the library's Atrium, offering a view of Canada From Space! The map is comprised of images taken by Canada’s RADARSAT-2 and is the first of its kind. 

Canada From Space Giant Floor Map was produced by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society with the support of the Canadian Space Agency and the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation. This resource gives Canadians the opportunity to explore the critical role of Earth observation satellites in our everyday lives. 

On Thursday, educators with The Royal Canadian Geographical Society will be leading local classes of Grade 7 students through curriculum-linked activities. Students will learn first-hand how pollution and natural disasters impact our country, the importance of Canada’s Arctic ice, and the scientific phenomenon of the northern lights. They will get a chance to see Canada from the International Space Station, through the eyes of the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Please note: Registration for class visits is very limited. For more information please contact:  

If you stop by the Reference Library on Thursday, be sure to stop by to check it out -- it will be hard to miss!

The Art of Cartography is a free exhibit on display in the Toronto Reference Library's TD Gallery until October 16, 2016. 


Older Caregiver Cafes

September 12, 2016 | Pam | Comments (0)



You are invited to join a series of FREE workshops being held at several Toronto Public Library branches.

These workshops are just for family caregivers. When was the last time you took a rejuvenating break? You're invited to join other family caregivers to socialize, learn, relax and be entertained in a series of interactive workshops.


Thursday, September 29, 2016 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

10:00 am Caregiver Connection: Sharing - Listening

11:00 am Taking Care of Self, While Taking Care of Others

12:30 pm Toronto Police Advice on Frauds and Scams

1:15 pm Caregiver Survival Tips

2:15 pm Understanding Musical Support

3:00 pm  Care for the Caregiver: Relieving Tension - Finding Balance

Mingle with like-minded caregivers over coffee, refreshments and snacks and take away educational support resources along with a renewed sense of self. In partnership with Caregiving Matters. Please RSVP 1-905-939-2931 or visit



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