Toronto Public Library Homepage

This page has been archived and is no longer updated.

« July 2011 | Main | September 2011 »

August 2011

Don't Pay $100 for a Gondola Ride

August 28, 2011 | Bhowatson | Comments (0)

Our library users often ask me, "Where are you travelling to next?" , Gondolasince they know I'm always planning a future holiday.  I get great travel and cruise ideas from the Web and here are a few of the sites I use most often :  , cruisecritic, tripadvisor  and

From  Vacations to Go,  I see full lists of possible cruises and it's a super site since there are many helpful hyperlinks...e.g. the ship's name is linked to a listing of its tonnage, number of passengers and a full description of its amenities.  

  This is my favourite ship, the Azamara Quest, and from the "Boards" where other passengers post their tips on Cruise Critic, I was able     Azamara-quest-phototo find the laundry room with ease, link up with other passengers before the cruise to plan day trips, and sign up for the Captain's Party.  On Cruise Critic, I can give my review of a cruise, (I'm known as librarygirl), and it's great fun adding a Countdown Clock, to your signature.

I don't go anywhere without consulting  Tripadvisor for feedback on hotels and locations.  It's a wonderful source of information to use when looking for a recommended hotel. I love to check the real photos of bathtubs with rusty drains, torn or holy bed sheets, or the odd interesting bug. These delightful pictures are added by previous hotel guests and are more honest photos than those on the hotel website!

I'm a Fodorite too, which means I post reviews and keep up with information on gives you the latest on what you need to know to plan a trip and gives you access to forums where you can ask advice of other travellers.

Finally to really feel like you are a savvy traveller, use   That's where you can get super cool lists like What not to do in Venice , a list that includes how to not pay $100 for a Gondola Ride.

Oh, and if you're really cool, you never go to Harry's Bar for a Bellini, (according to Inspector Brunetti).


Trouble In E-Book Land?

August 26, 2011 | Out of Print | Comments (0)

Earlier this month a class-action lawsuit was filed in the United States which claims that "Apple Inc. and five of the nation’s top publishers, including HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group Inc. and Simon & Schuster Inc. illegally fix prices of electronic books, also known as e-books."

The anti-trust litigation claims that Apple and the big publishers were worried that Amazon was on the way to being the dominant e-book reader and e-book retailer, thanks to the very popular Kindle e-book reader and e-book store, which featured significant discounts on some titles. The publishers didn't want the rapidly expanding e-book market to be based on discounts; instead they wanted to establish set prices for titles that all retailers would follow. Apple didn't want the Kindle to dominate the e-book reader market or expand into music and movie sales. 

When Apple entered the market in 2010 with the iPad and iBook Store, they agreed to the new pricing structure ("agency model") the publishers had developed and listed most titles at $14.99, compared to $9.99 at Amazon. The publishers then forced Amazon to adopt the new higher prices. As the lawsuit says, "if Amazon defied the publishers and tried to sell e-books below the publisher-set levels, the publishers would simply deny Amazon access to the title. The defendant publishers control 85 percent of the most popular fiction and non-fiction titles."

The result has been up to a 50% increase in the cost of e-books from these big publishers over the last year. The allegations of price fixing are just another negative aspect about the commercial e-books market, which also has problems such as excessive restrictions on ownership via Digital Rights Management (DRM), piracy, and a crowded e-reader marketplace.

As we saw earlier this year when Harper-Collins announced plans to limit the circulation of their e-book titles by libraries, changes in the commercial e-book market will have an impact on public libraries. What changes will this class-action litigation bring in the coming years?



August 25, 2011 | Richard | Comments (0)



Here is something that has wide appeal. The TedTalks video site emanates from TED, a nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading". TED started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together inspiring thinkers from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. This incredible site now boasts over 900 recordings of speakers talking on topics from quantum physics to human psychology.

"If you are looking for something that will expand your mind, open your heart, and possibly rekindle your faith in humankind, a good place to start is listening to the fabulously inspiring presentations made by the best and brightest among us." -- David Sunfellow,

Here are a few that I think are worth viewing, along with their descriptions:


"Kevin Slavin argues that we're living in a world designed for -- and increasingly controlled by -- algorithms. In this riveting talk from TEDGlobal, he shows how these complex computer programs determine: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture. And he warns that we are writing code we can't understand, with implications we can't control".



"David Gallo shows jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures, including a color-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus, and a Times Square's worth of neon light displays from fish who live in the blackest depths of the ocean".



"Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied".


There are many, many more recordings to enjoy where those came from at

Tip: To access recordings by topic, I would recommend using the Talks Tags page.

Gallstones and how to help people who have them

August 8, 2011 | Ranald | Comments (0)

People have gallstones ("Gallstones occur in up to 20 percent of Canadian women and 10 per cent of men by the age of 60." Canadian Liver Foundation) and people who have them want books on them. I was asked for books on Gallstones gallstones twice last month.

But we don't seem to have a lot. If I do a subject-keyword search with "gallstones," I get 14 results (Aug. 4). The most recent two--The amazing liver & gallbladder flush and a title in Chinese--are from 2007. The less recent are older than the weeding guideline of 5 years for medicine.

Though all 7 copies of the English title are out and there are 9 holds, The amazing liver & gallbladder flush might not be for everybody. Its subtitle is: a powerful do-it-yourself tool to optimize your health and well-being; the author's described on the website of his wellness center as "the creator of Ener-Chi Art, Sacred Santémony and other wellness modalities." Not everybody wants a do-it-yourself tool or to dabble in "wellness modalities."

There may not be a lot in print but there is an abundance of electronic information. For starters:

1. Health & Wellness Resource Center [database]. Publication dates of articles: 2006-2011.

  • Enter "gallstones" in the search window.

The default category for results is "Books & Fact Sheets." The first page shows results ranging from 2006 to 2011. Look for the most recent information.

Note: 2006 is out-of-date, or next to being out-of-date (depending on whether you count back 5 years from 2011 or from 2010), for medical information, according to the weeding guidelines.

2. Natural Standard [database]. Publication date of article: 2011.

  • Select "Medical Conditions" from the "Databases" menu at the top.
  • Click on "G," then on "Gallstones" and then on "Accept Terms of Use and Login." The title of the article is "Gallbladder/pancreas disorders."
  • Click on "Gallstones (Cholelithiasis)" on the menu on the left to get to the section on gallstones.

3. The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook [website]. Publication date of article: 2007.

  • Enter "gallstones" in the search window.
  • Click on "Gallstones" under the heading "Index entries."

Interesting gallstone facts ("Gallstones," Medpedia).

  1. The largest gallstone on record was removed from an 80-year old woman in 1952 and weighed 6.29 kg (13.84 pounds).
  2. The record number for most gallstones removed from an individual is 3,110.

Happy Birthday Dear Gutenberg...

August 2, 2011 | Niki | Comments (0)

2658Last month marked the 40th anniversary of the e-book. According to most accounts, July 4, 1971 is the date Project Gutenberg founder, Michael Hart, first digitized the US Declaration of Independence.  I was at a conference a few months back when one of the presenters briefly mentioned a few sites from which we could download free EPUBs for personal use and Project Gutenberg still led the way. This is a wonderful site for biliophiles looking for free books. (He also stated that Google Books was not one of these sites but I will leave you to check that out.)

Another great site mentioned is the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive  contains a wide range of fiction, popular books, children's books, historical texts and academic books. These can be accessed through, a site where it’s already possible to read over 1 million eBooks without restriction.  These are available in many formats as well as  EPUB and Daisy and are linked to WorldCat if the physical copy is needed.

067172066X Other interesting EPUB sources include:  Many of these books are from Gutenberg but there are other public domain and creative commons works. There has been some concerns about the formatting of some of Gutenberg's texts.  This site re-formats texts into industry standard EPUB ebook format. most books on this site are for sale.  They do have, however, Free Original Books which includes Fan Fiction, Romance and Obnoxious Librarian from Hades coAdflesntains the Baen Free Library of science fiction.  The publisher gives a detailed explanation of why some of the books are free.  This site offers a wide range of free e-books.  It is  affiliated with Project Gutenberg.  Amazing collection of Pulp Fiction.

Chapters:  yes, you heard me right.  Simply go to their Ebooks, chose your genre and sort by price.  All the free items will be listed first. Good for Romance.

Of course you can just Google "free EPUB" and see what you can find.  Many Universities (Hathi) and other web sites have free books in EPUB.  If all fails and you just have to drag around the latest revision of the TPL Policy to read on the bus try a converter like  2EPUB and take your PDF files in EPUB format on your reader.




Welcome to the Information Services Blog! Visit often to learn about useful tools, collections and other resources to help answer reference questions. Get the scoop on new and innovative trends and services. Join us and send us your feedback!