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October 2010

An exciting new programme: the Human Library Project.

October 29, 2010 | CCP | Comments (3)

Coming up on Saturday, November 6.  10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.:

This year, TPL is piloting an intriguing new concept in library programmes: It's called the "Human Library Project", and provides an opportunity for TPL users to “sign out human books": to have one-on-one conversations with individuals, from all walks of life, who have strong personal  stories to tell, or unusual experiences to share.

Browse through the main page for the programme at , or check out the page for Lillian H. Smith’s books:

Here’s what others are saying about the programme:

The Toronto Star had a recent article on TPL's programme:

Toronto News 24 had a story:

And CBC’s Fresh Air also had a clip:

A programme of this type first originated in Copenhagen, and has since been tried at other libraries around the world. The website  explains the concept, and has links to other libraries / organizations that have established Human Libraries / Living Libraries.

Phone us at 416-393-7746, or come down in person to reserve or check out a “human book”!

Aviva Community Fund: Beautiful Space, Beautiful Place!

October 28, 2010 | Ted | Comments (0)

For the last two years the Aviva Insurance company has held a competition to fund various community improvement projects across Canada.  Individuals and organizations may submit their idea for a project that will have a positive impact in their local community.

This year, the Ogden Jr. Public School has entered the competition with a proposal for a new playground.  Presently, the shcool's playspace is essentially an empty paved lot as you can see in the photo below.  The upgraded playground would include new equipment like slides and climbers as well as outdoor seating, permanent chess tables, an outdoor badminton court, and even a small vegetable garden.  The playground would be a wonderful addition to our neighbourhood so we're happy to help spread the word about this competition.  The school is located at 33 Pheobe Street, less than ten blocks south of the library just off Huron.

OgdenThe proposal to transform this empty lot into a vibrant playspace is called Beautiful Space, Beautiful Place!

The competition has already entered the second round, which will end on November 5 with the final round closing on December 15.

Show your support by voting online for the Ogden Playground Idea #5524.  You are given 10 votes and may vote for the same idea more than once.  The only catch is a limit of one vote per day for any one idea so you'll have to return the following day to vote again.

For more information contact: [email protected] or 416-393-9110.

Car-free Sunday in Kensington Market

October 27, 2010 | Frances | Comments (0)

This coming Sunday, enjoy the last car-free Sunday of the year on Kensington Avenue, Augusta Street and Baldwin Avenue, Toronto.

Sunday October 31, 2010
Hours: 1 - 7 pm (till 10 pm on North Augusta)

The theme this time is Halloween - Honour our ancestors.
Shop, stroll and be entertained!

Some of the events are:
3pm - Look for Michael Louis Johnson in his skeleton costume, telling stories to scare you
5pm - Musical chairs with Rambunctious on south Kensington
6pm - Gather at south Kensington to form a Halloween parade into the underworld

For more information, see the Pedestrian Sundays Kensington website

Hear you are: neighbourhood stories at [murmur] Toronto

October 23, 2010 | Sarah | Comments (0)

EarHave you ever noticed those green, ear-shaped metal signs posted around your neighbourhood?

They are part of the [murmur] project - dedicated to making site-specific oral history available  on the street. Passersby can call the number on the sign or visit the website to hear unique stories told by people from all walks of life. Some of the storytellers grew up in the neighbourhood, others own a business there, or studied its architecture. Their tales range from the scholarly to the everyday, from brushes with fame to quiet recollections.

Since I walk past College & Spadina most days, I enjoyed listening to the audio clips about The Grange, The Annex and Kensington Market.  Some highlights: John Degen reading Milton Acorn's poem "I've tasted my blood," right outside the Hotel Waverly, where Acorn spent the last 15 years of his life.  Also: Emma Lawson talking about the rumoured fridge full of eyeballs at 1 Spadina.  And Pete Pelisek describing one of those magical moments, when, coming home in the wee hours, he saw an unexpected sight on  Augusta Ave.

Book Review: Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci

October 21, 2010 | Pat | Comments (2)

  rose sees red by cecil castellucci
   It's the fall of 1982. The Cold War has taken a decidedly frostier turn now that  Yuri Andropov has replaced Leonid Brezhnev as Chairman of the USSR.  None of this would normally be important to your average New York City high school student.  Rose is more interested in New Wave bands like The Police, the Waitresses, Duran Duran and the GoGos. Unfortunately Rose's older brother Todd is infatuated with the tall and stately Yrina, a Russian girl who lives in the Soviet compound near their home in the Bronx neighbourhood of Riverdale. Yrina is constantly being tailed by older men, but neither Todd nor Rose can tell for sure whether they're KGB, CIA or both.   

   Rose also finds Yrina interesting though for very different reasons.  Their bedrooms face each other from adjacent apartment buildings and Rose can see they have the same ballet poster. Just from the way Yrina carries herself, Rose can tell that she is also a dancer, and a good one.  They even exchange knowing glances on the street one day while Todd is gawking at Yrina.  But apart from this, Rose knows nothing about the mysterious Yrina.

   One evening, Yrina manages to elude her secret service chaperones and shows up on the fire escape outside Rose's window.  Rose lets her into her room, and they start to talk.  They decide to take a walk to a nearby cafe, and then on a whim they make a spontaneous decision that eventually sparks an international uproar.

   Rose sees Red is a fast moving Cold War era tale of overcoming shyness and a touching exploration of friendship and loneliness.


Listening to Books

October 20, 2010 | Frances | Comments (0)

I am an audiobook fan. Love that I can listen while I walk or do laundry! I just finished listening to Deaf Sentence by David Lodge and I was struck by how good the narrator was. Steven Crossley was able to create great characterizations. I had met him before reading Tana French's book In the Woods.

About seven years ago, a friend recommended that I listen to James Lee Burke's novel Jolie Blon's Bounce read by Will Patton. I don't normally read Burke but I was caught up in the colourful story by Patton's amazing rendition. Since then, I have been paying attention to the readers, not just the book.

With some readers, it is genuinely a performance, so much so that narrators are celebrated by Audiobook of the Year and Audiofile's Earphones awards. Toronto Public Library has ordered copies of Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales, the winner of the Audiobook of the Year for 2010.

Some favourites:

Lisette Lecat - She adds a new dimension to the books about Precious Ramotswe and her Ladies' Detective Agency.

Davina Porter - Ms. Porter has a wide range and is skillful. Try her classics or her M. C. Beaton!

Nadia May -  She does Jane Austen beautifully!

Steven Crossley - Check out more by this reader.

Audio formats available: Books on CD, books on tape and downloadable.
For information on downloading, see the Find Your Way to Downloads and eBooks on the Toronto Public Library website.

Any favourites? Tell me about your favourite readers.


Book Review: Folly, by Marthe Jocelyn.

October 9, 2010 | Pat | Comments (0)


    Told from the alternating points of view of James Nelligan, a young orphan and Mary Finn, a teenage servant girl, this is an engaging and revealing work of historical fiction. Folly is a tale of the kind of rotten luck that could typically befall a poverty stricken youth in the largely unforgiving society of London at the time when it was the most powerful and wealthy city on earth. Folly also abounds with interesting incidental detail. Jocelyn manages to convey the wearying sort of day a servant might have without ever imposing that humdrum on the reader. As the servants peel potatoes or run out to buy thread, schemes and intrigues are unfolding and the stakes for Mary slowly rise. The orphan James is a virtual prisoner at the school for foundlings but despite a strictly controlled and regimented existence he manages to get himself into trouble at several points in the story. Based on historical reality and skilfully incorporating the poetic and archaic writing style of the times into an accessible narrative, Folly is a beautiful sharp eyed glimpse of two harsh young lives in a brutal and demanding world.

Learning to Mango Italiano

October 7, 2010 | Frances | Comments (2)

I am dreaming of springtime in Italy, searching for that optimum place to spend my time and euros! I am getting ready for colourful piazzas, art all around me, and coffee and gelato on my doorstep by learning Italian. Online for free through Mango Languages. No classes to trek to after a long day's work - just me in my living room learning with my "teacher".

Toronto Public Library recently subscribed to Mango online language learning site. You can learn a foreign language or improve your English. I am up to lesson six in Complete 2.0. So far, I can meet and greet people, tell them I am very well, say "see you soon" and ask them if they speak English. Tonight I am learning how to say "you are". The e sound is challenging and I am using my built-in microphone to record my voice. I compare it with the teacher's voice using wave-based voice-comparison technology.

Sounds complicated? Well, I thought it would be but it isn't really. First, obviously, you have to have a microphone on your computer (my Mac iBook has one built-in) I click the Voice Comparison icon beside the words in the website and then I click the narrator's voice to hear the word or phrase. Next I click the red ball, wait for the countdown, and then try my luck at pronouncing it. I can listen to my voice and the narrator's again and again. When I think I have said the word as well as I can, I drag the waveform graph so that my voice graph matches the timing of the narrator. Then I click on "both" to hear my voice at the same time as the narrator's voice, both saying the word at the same time. Well, my pronunciation is not perfect yet and I still can't order a cappuccino or gelato di nocciola. Or maybe I can!

If you are interested in Mango languages, just type Mango languages in the search box on the library homepage. You will need to log in to use this premium service with your library card and PIN. Need help? Come in and talk to us! Now I have to learn how to ask where I can find the very best gelato in town!

Have you tried Mango? Want to share your adventures with us? Click on Comment and tell us!

Library Limerick Contest!

October 1, 2010 | Sarah | Comments (0)

Attention all poetry writers: introducing our first ever library limerick contest! 

There is a library named Lillian
With stuff on her shelves by the million
No matter the reader
For work or for leisure
It's all here at the door with the gryphons!

Do you have a funny story that happened at the library, a favourite book you borrowed,
or a fondness for the architecture at Lillian H. Smith?  Send us your poem by making a
comment.  We'll announce the winner on December 1.

Lillian H. Smith library, in the heart of the Discovery District, Chinatown and Kensington Market, is a district branch of Toronto Public Library. Learn more about your local library & community, and while you're at it, drop us a comment. If you are visiting us in person, look for the bronze gryphons guarding our door.