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January 2011

Two Generals by Scott Chantler

January 27, 2011 | Pat | Comments (1)

 I've been a fan of Scott Chantler's since North West Passage.  Chantler has a curious habit of giving his work titles that don't fully match the content.  North West Passage, describing a fictional conflict set in a fort in Rupert's land in the early days of the Hudson's Bay company is not about the long and repeated attempts to find the Northwest passage.  Similarly Two Generals is actually about two Lieutenants.  The name comes from a short note scrawled as a joke on the back of a photo of the two men. 

 Graphic Non-Fiction is just about the rarest breed of book, and this is an example that will hopefully make it just a little less endangered.  It is based on the diary of Chantler's grandfather Law Chantler who saw action in the Normandy invasion during World War II.  The story is also informed by letters home and by military records of the Highland Light Infantry (HLI) out of Cambridge Ontario.  The first part of the story describes the friendship between Law Chantler and Jack Chrysler another Canadian Lieutenant in the same regiment.  Chantler has recreated a vivid moving and accurate portrait of the lives of 2 officers as they prepar for the largest amphibious invasion in military history.

 The second part of Two Generals concerns the invasion and the push to Caen.  The HLI had an important  role in the capture and defense of Buron, a bloody and pivotal conflict that has often been overshadowed by more well known larger scale battles usually involving American or British forces.  Chantler manages to convey the horror, loss and destruction of war effectively.  While he does not shy away from unavoidable violence and gore, he also doesn't overdo it as often happens in the graphic books.  Two generals is an accessible and emotionally moving portrait of one of the lesser known battles in Canadian history.

Introduction to eBooks and eAudiobooks

January 21, 2011 | Ted | Comments (2)

KoboAccording to this article from the Toronto Star from December 27th, one of the hottest gifts of the season was the Kobo eReader.  If you were one of the hundred thousand plus who recently activated a new Kobo, you may be interested in a free workshop on how to access library materials for your eReader or mp3 player.  Not limited to just Kobos, our eBook and eAudiobook collection can be used with a variety of devices so if you'd like to learn how to tap into this free resource we'd love to see you at the Lillian H. Smith branch next week; see program information is below.

Introduction to eBooks & eAudiobooks -- Wednesday, January 26th at 6:30pm
Learn how to access and use all of the eBook services available from the Toronto Public Library. We'll explain the differences between various file formats and demonstrate how to easily find, download, and transfer content that will work with your device. You are welcome to bring your own gadgets* and laptops for some hands on help but they are not required for this workshop.

Please register in person at the branch or call 416-393-7746.

*Please note, the Amazon Kindle is not compatible with the library's collection.

Imagining Toronto

January 14, 2011 | Sarah | Comments (6)

Attention all Torontophiles: here's a cool new book that's not at the library yet, but will be soon. It's by Amy Lavender Harris, and it's called Imagining Toronto.  

Imagining Toronto

Amy has curated a list of books that take their inspiration from this city, its neighbourhoods, its history and its people. This book is a great starting point for anyone interested in reading Canadian literature, particulary novels, poetry and essays about Toronto. From forgotten gems to new, necessary reading, you can view her bibliography online here. It's a good resource for university students, book club members and ESL students alike.

Amy will be speaking at Lillian H. Smith library on April 27, at Yorkville on April 19, and at Port Union on April 14.

Three of my favourite books from Amy's lists are Fauna, by Alissa York, written last year, and taking place in the ravines and wild places of the Don Valley; In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje, about the construction of the Bloor Street Viaduct and so much more; and The Incident Report, by Martha Baillie (what can I say - as a librarian, I'm biased!)  What are your favourite Toronto books?


Borrow a book this week and get counted

January 12, 2011 | Frances | Comments (0)

From January 10 until Sunday January 16, the National Reading Campaign will be counting the number of books sold or borrowed in Canada this week. Toronto Public Library is participating in this event. The results will be published in time for the TD National Reading Campaign Summit II on Jan 20-21.

So you have until Sunday to visit us and borrow a few books! Lillian Smith branch is now open Friday evenings until 8:30 pm as well as 9-5 on Saturday and 1:30-5 pm on Sunday.

For more information see this Globe and Mail article,
National book count aims to show that books count.


Get the latest software for your home computer the easy way

January 8, 2011 | Frances | Comments (2)

New to computers? Google has put together a "Google Pack" of software that gives you many of the most useful applications. It is all free and you just have to tick off the ones you want to download!

There are different packs for Windows and Mac users. Your computer will automatically bring up the right list. 

Windows XP or Vista users can download a pack that includes:

Google Apps - Use Google email (Gmail), calendar, and document applications (word processing, spreadsheets, drawings, presentations, and more).

Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus - Protects your PC with advanced anti-virus detection and removal and detects and removes spyware, adware, trojans and keyloggers

Adobe Reader - View, print, and search PDF files via a redesigned interface 

Skype - Make free voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype and call landlines and mobile phones cheaply.

Picasa - Photo editing, sharing. Easily remove red eye and fix photos

Google Talk - Chat (IM) and audio conferences

Google Earth - Zoom from space to street level — tour the world

RealPlayer - Play popular media formats, organize music and videos and transfer music to iPod and other portable media players

Mac users, don't despair! Almost all of the downloads are available for you too. Just that the convenience of the Google Pack isn't available for all of the above. You will have to search in for the application yourself.
For example, to find Skype for your computer, type skype download mac.

Mac and Windows users are both able to use all the web-based applications from Google, like the word processing and other office applications.

iPhone, iPod touch user, Google has a list of free software for you too. And for iPad.

To get started, get a free Google account. Register to create a user name and password.

Then go to 

Just to be clear - Google is offering free application software (apps), not operating system software (e.g. not Windows NT system software).

And what about in Lillian H. Smith branch? We have Adobe Reader installed on our computers and you can use the Google Docs (word processing, etc.) Need help? Ask staff!


Revision - Jan 10. Removed search for Adobe Reader for Mac. Mac users can use Preview instead (comes with the computer).

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.