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Happy 20th Birthday, Lillian H. Smith Branch!

October 24, 2015 | Sarah | Comments (0)

Actually, the real Lillian H. Smith (1887-1983) would be turning 128 this year, but we celebrated two decades of Lillian H. Smith branch at 239 College Street on Saturday, October 17.

It was a fun and festive day, with good vibes travelling over all five floors of the library. Many people came for the Book Sale.


And stayed to marvel at the 3D printer demonstration (can you spot the Deathly Hallows badges in the background?).

3D printed bunnies

Alice in Wonderland was on hand.

Alice and flamingo

And children and families enjoyed watching the puppet show Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock.

Puppet Show

Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock

Christina Wong launched her Story Project, and of course there was cake!

The Cake!

We also welcomed special guests Peter Sutherland and Paul Oberst from the office of Phillip H. Carter, architect, and Ludzer Vandermolen, sculptor.

Sculptor and Judith
Ludzer and Paul with griffin Judith

Ludzer brought us some fascinating photographs from his private collection, taken during the design and construction of the griffin sculptures. I promise to add them to a blog post in the near future. Thanks for celebrating with us!


Lillian H. Smith library 20th Anniversary Story Project

July 24, 2015 | Sarah | Comments (1)

Lillian H. Smith branch
photo: Christina Wong

 Do you remember going to the Boys and Girls House, either before 1964 or after? Or the gas station and car park - the site that the Lillian H. Smith branch is built on? Were you at the opening of the library? Have you lived in the Kensington-China Town neighbourhood for a long time and witnessed the changes? Whether you're a long-time resident, or not, we want to hear from you.

To coincide with library's 20th anniversary in October 2015, the Lillian H. Smith Story Project is inviting the public to share their memories and photos of the library and neighbourhood. These memories will be put up on a dedicated website that will be launched in October.

This project encourages residents to become local historians and contribute to an ongoing scheme to record and preserve the evolving stories of both the Lillian H. Smith branch and the community it serves.

At the moment there are three ways to contribute to the project:

1. Interview
Book a time and chat with us in person at 239 College Street:
Wednesdays July 29, August 5, 12, 6-8pm
Saturday August 8, 12-2pm
Please call 416-393-7746 to book an appointment.

2. Analog
Submit your memories as text or images to the dedicated box on the main floor of the library.

3. Electronic
E-mail your memories to [email protected]

We look forward to hearing from you!

For more information, please contact Christina at [email protected]

All We Are Saying is Give Clowns a Chance

July 15, 2015 | Jennifer | Comments (0)

Allan Turner headshot
Photo Credit: Allan Turner

Clowns don't need make-up to make you smile (but sometimes a little bit doesn't hurt.) Clowning stems from within and anyone can learn.

Get in touch with your inner performer at Lillian H. Smith Branch. We invite kids ages 8-12 to participate in clowning games, drama exercises, silliness and improv. Let Professional Clown Allan Turner lead the way. See details here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

2pm - 3:30pm

Allan Turner writes, directs, teaches, acts, improvises and is just a generally funny guy, with credentials (translation: professional funny man.) His clown alias is Mullet, the zombie clown. Your child's introduction to clowning is safe in his hands, which won't be holding cotton candy or a water gun.

A lot of kids find clowns scary. Maybe it's one bad experience, like a clown who wanted to eat a child's popcorn at the Exhibition.  "Back off, clown!  I am not giving any popcorn to you." Maybe you just don't feel like laughing. However, clowning is a dramatic art form. Kids can learn a lot from it - training a growing brain to react to situations with wit and humour is a wonderful thing.  

The clown that made you cry at a birthday party may not be the same clown that can make you think or laugh. Some argue that laughter is the best medicine. Therapeutic clowns can barely be mentioned without a Patch Adams reference. Clowns Without Borders travels to conflict zones and refugee camps with the aim of providing psychological relief to sufferers, especially children. Isn't that an amazing mission?

Photo Credit: Derek Key on a CC License

Oh and by the way, Cirque du Soleil is hiring! We can't promise that anyone would pass this clown audition after completing our workshop, but Cirque qualifications include: "charisma and excellent stage presence," "emotional projection" and "a very original character." That's a tall order and a testament to the clowning profession.    

If you and the kids are looking for something different to try this summer, why not give clowning a go? Don a red nose and PLAY!  You've got nothing to lose and a new character to gain.

Friluftsliv! Celebrate Summer with the "Open Air Life"

June 26, 2015 | Sarah | Comments (0)

Did you ever discover the perfect word for something you didn't know you needed to describe? Well, I found one today while combing through the shelves at Lillian H. Smith Branch: Friluftsliv is a Norwegian word that roughly translates as "open air life." In practical terms, it means "get outside and enjoy nature!" which is a perfect command now that summer is officially here.

The term was originally coined by playwright Henrik Ibsen in 1859, and its use was strengthened by philosopher Arne Naess, credited with founding the deep ecology movement of the late 20th century.

Norwegians exercise their friluftsliv beliefs by going on hikes, fishing, canoeing, camping (and in winter, cross-country skiing), with family and friends. Sound familiar? In Canada, we have the same traditions, and a multitude of parks, but we don't have quite as free access to nature. Norway's law of allemannsrett protects peoples' rights to enter and pass through all wilderness, no matter who owns the land.

The one book in our library that specifically talks about this philosophy is Nature First: Outdoor Life the Friluftsliv Way, edited by McMaster professor Bob Henderson and Norwegian professor and outdoor educator Nils Vikander.

Nature First Outdoor Life the Friluftsliv Way
 A few more books that I think embody the spirit of friluftsliv are:

The Perfection of the Morning: An Apprenticeship in Nature
The Perfection of the Morning: An Apprenticeship in Nature, by Sharon Butala

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard


Step into Nature: Nurturing Imagination and Spirit in Everyday Life

Step into Nature: Nurturing Imagination and Spirit in Everyday Life, by Patrice Vecchione, available as an ebook

For more recommendations about getting outside this summer, check out these amazing blog posts about hiking in and around Toronto, and the benefits of outdoor play for children

Summer Awakens the Wandering Traveller

See you at the Playground

Friluftsliv forever! 

Literary Speed Dating has Arrived at Your Local Library!

May 28, 2015 | Nancy-Anne | Comments (4)

heart hands
Photo courtesy of Stokpic on a CC License.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept our love lives won’t be like the romances in the fictional stories we’ve read.

Not everyone has a childhood friend or a high school sweetheart who conveniently becomes “the one.” Not everyone knows a firefighter who is single and looking. Not everyone meets a mysterious writer who moves to the city.

In reality, meeting people can be daunting, and finding love can be difficult.

Now imagine being in a room. This room is filled with book lovers. Everyone is talking about books they’ve read, books they’re reading, and books they’d like to read. Every person in this room is also (conveniently) single and looking. But who is organizing this event? Your local library, that's who.

On Friday, June 12, 2015, the Lillian H. Smith branch (located on College St., one block east of Spadina Ave.) will be hosting its first literary speed dating event. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and will run for two hours. Participants will be divided into two groups: people who are 20 to 34 and people who are 35 and up. All you have to do is call 416-393-7746 or drop by the branch to register, and then bring your favourite book to the event to discuss with your potential dates. No questionnaire, no profile, and no photo(shop) required.

When you arrive at the event, you’ll receive a temporary email address and a literary alias for the evening (it's up to you whether you'd like to give your real name to anyone during the event). Throughout the evening you’ll have a chance to nibble on some light refreshments, and when the event starts, you’ll have five minutes to chat with each person in the room before partnering with someone new. At the end of the night, you can exchange your email with potential dates.

What are you waiting for?

Take a chance. Make the call. See where this love story may lead you.

Man and woman kissing on beach
Photo courtesy of Eleazar on a CC License.

Text by Frances Gao

Storygami, Fold Me an Origami Story

May 9, 2015 | Jennifer | Comments (2)

If you've folded a paper plane before, you've done origami. Why not push yourself to fly a bit higher?  

Origami crane
Photo Credit: Shereen M on a CC License

Lillian H. Smith Branch has an origami club for kids and their caregivers: all novice, intermediate and advanced folders are welcome. Each month showcases a new theme and feature folds. Storygami is offered in partnership with our friends from the University of Toronto Origami Club, F.O.L.D. - "Fly with Origami, Learn to Dream."

We welcome kids 6-12 and no registration is required to participate. Just come by Lillian H. Smith Branch every first Saturday of the month from 2pm - 4pm and keep checking our program listing for up-to-date themes.

Saturday, June 6, 2015 / 2pm - 4pm / Unique Animals

Saturday, July 4, 2015 / 2pm - 4pm / Summer

Saturday, August 1st, 2015 / 2pm - 4pm / Festivals

Origami Collage

Our club is called Storygami because you can tell a tale through papercraft. We were inspired by this Story-gami Kit which cleverly uses storytelling as a teaching method.

Origami is an exercise in patience, problem solving and *deep breath* inner peace. Stick with us and you'll never create terrible (though profitable) origami like this.  

Add a bit of flare to your writing with Typogami, an origami font that you can download, plus it's animated!

We're passionate about origami and want to share the love of it with kids.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda 10-Fold Origami Yoko's Paper Cranes 

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes Travel Origami All purpose origami

1. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberer / 2. 10-Fold Origami by Peter Engel / 3. Yoko's Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells / 4. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr / 5. Travel Origami: 24 Fun and Functional Keepsakes by Cindy Ng / 6.  All-Purpose Origami by Boutique-Sha

Upcoming teen events @Lillian H. Smith branch

May 5, 2015 | Nancy-Anne | Comments (0)

The end of the school year is fast approaching, and at Lillian H. Smith we've got an exciting summer and tons of programs planned, starting now! Yes, we're a little early, but there's nothing better than gearing up for warm weather, sunny days, and FREEDOM, GLORIOUS FREEDOM with some fun crafts and programs all at your local library.

Keep reading for what we've got planned for the month of May!


Saturday, May 16th: Teen Craft - Make your own watercolour mug 

If you're anything like us and are equally obsessed with hot drinks, mugs, crafts, and nifty DIY ideas, this is the program for you! We'll be crafting "watercolour" mugs using tissue paper and mod podge, and the results are almost endless! Check out this one we made below:

Watercolour mug

Registration is required and this program is sure to be a hit, so give us a call at 416-393-7746 or stop by the library to sign up! And don't forget to tell your friends and family if they're the crafty, creative types too. It's FREE and open to everyone ages 11 to 19. Here's when and where it's happening:

Saturday, May 16th, 2015
1:30-3:00 p.m.
Room A (lower level)


Thursday, May 28th: The Teen Fanfiction Writers' Coalition


Keep calm and write fanfiction
Image courtesy of Luchsohr on

Are you crazy about fanfiction? Do you love nothing more than to gush about your favourite book, movie, TV show, game, manga, anime, or comic? We sure do, and starting on Thursday, May 28th, the Teen Fanfiction Writers' Coalition will be resuming meetings after a long hiatus, and this time we're back at the Lillian H. Smith branch and better than ever!

The group is open to everyone ages 11 to 21, and it doesn't matter whether you like to read fic, write it, or just want to make friends with other people who can't get enough of their favourite fandom! Everyone is welcome, and this is a great place to talk to other people who share your interests, as well as share (or read) fanfiction, learn writing tips, and get and give feedback.

Meetings will take place on the last Thursday of each month from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., but please note that our May meeting will run from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

You can register by calling us at 416-393-7746 or dropping by the library, but here's the details:

Thursday, May 28th, 2015
5:00-6:30 p.m.*
Room B/C (lower level)

*4:30-6:30 p.m. every last Thursday of the month thereafter


Please feel free to get in touch with branch staff if you have any questions about these programs or want to sign up.

We hope to see you there!





Song of the Sea: Selkie love!

May 1, 2015 | Sarah | Comments (0)

Song of the Sea (2014 film)

                                                                        photo credit: Wikipedia Carniolus

If you want to see an amazing animated film, borrow Song of the Sea! For the past few days, I have not been able to get the title track of Song of the Sea out of my head. It is beautifully sung by Lisa Hannigan, with music by Bruno Coulais and Kila.

The movie itself is based on Irish and Scottish legends of Selkies: magical creatures who take a human form on land, and change to seals in the water. Ben's mother Bronagh disappears soon after giving birth to his sister Saoirse - they live with their father, Conor, on a remote island housing not much more than a lighthouse, off the coast of Ireland. A seashell left by her mother leads Saoirse to discover a special coat, and reveals her true selkie nature. When Saoirse and Ben are taken by their grandmother to live in the city, they are very unhappy and try to escape, but in order to find their way home they must first help Faeries recover their stories and evade Macha the witch, who is saddened by the loss of her son, Mac Lir.

My kids and I loved it, but if you are wondering if this film is suitable for your family, GeekDad has a good review here: 7 Things Parents Should Know About 'Song of the Sea'.

Another classic kids' film about selkies is The Secret of Roan Inish

There are many books about selkies if you want to delve further.

For children:

Hidden folk

The Hidden Folk: Stories of Fairies, Dwarves, Selkies, and Other Secret Beings, by Lise Lunge-Larsen, illustrated by Beth Krommes

The Seal Children, by Jackie Morris

The Folk Keeper, by Franny Billingsley

For Teens:

The Brides of Rollrock Island, by Margo Lanagan

Water Shaper, by Laura Williams McCaffrey

For Adults:

Home from the sea

Home from the Sea, by Mercedes Lackey

The Golden City, by Kathleen J. Cheney

Tempest's Legacy, by Nicole Peeler

In the world of shape-shifting magical beings, I say roll over werewolves, it's the selkies' turn! Let us know if you have a favourite selkie story.


Doll Houses: Creepy or Cute?

March 23, 2015 | Sarah | Comments (3)

Doll houses are cute, right? WRONG. Do a quick search for doll house stories, and you are bound to come up with one of the scariest books (of my childhood, at least): The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Ren Wright. Amy and her sister Louann move to an old farmhouse with their aunt Clare, where the inhabitants of a dusty dollhouse in the attic start to move around at night, revealing clues about a grisly family secret.

Doll Bones, by Holly Black, is about three friends, Zach, Poppy and Alice, who are on the verge of leaving their doll-playing years behind. They are drawn together for a midnight mission involving a creepy China doll with a strange pull and the crushed bones of a dead girl who yearns to be laid to rest.

  The Dollhouse Murders   Doll Bones  

However, for every Chucky there is a Tottie, as in Tottie Plantagenet, from Rumer Godden's classic The Doll's House. A doll who is not cruel or twisted, but well-rounded and caring. Three of my favourite more cheerful doll tales are The Doll People, by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, brilliantly illustrated by Brian Selznick (pre-Hugo Cabret), The Doll Shop Downstairs, by Yona Zeldis McDonough, and The Paper Dolls, by Julia Donaldson. 

  The Doll People   The Doll shop downstairs   The paper dolls

So, what do you think? Do doll houses make you go, "Aaaaarrrgh!" or "Awwwww"? If you can't decide, drop by Lillian H. Smith branch to see the Osborne Collection's new doll house. Do you think these dolls move around at night after all of the library patrons have gone home?


I certainly don't want to stay around to find out . . .

Cartoon Exhibit and Drawing Workshop

June 28, 2014 | Ames | Comments (0)

Cartoon by Tony Wan

Do you love to look at art?

Do you love to draw?

Do you feedback on your work from a professional?

Join us on Thursday, July 24th for an exhibit of Chinese Cartoonist Tony Wan's work, followed by a drawing workshop for teens!



Tony Wan has been drawing for contests and newspapers since he was eleven years old. In 1999, he was on Time Magazine's first list of the 100 most influential and iconic people of the year.


The exhibit will be held on the lower level of the Lillian H. Smith branch, 239 College St (just east of Spadina), from 10:00am until 4:00pm, followed immediately by a drawing workshop from 4:00pm to 6:00pm!

Teens, please phone (416) 393-7746 to register for the workshop. All materials will be provided. You can also bring some of your previous work for feedback!

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.