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Science Literacy Week

August 29, 2015 | stephen | Comments (0)

20150912_121954Science Literacy week is almost here! Join libraries and institutions across Canada as we celebrate all things science. Visit our website to find out more information about programs and activities at the Toronto Public Library! 

Don’t have time to participate in a science event or workshop at the Library? No problem! Check out a great science book from any of our 100 libraries.

Some suggestions are:

A short history of nearly everything – Covers how nearly everything was discovered

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks - A story of medicine, science and humanity

The emperor of all maladies – A look at the history of cancer

Silent spring – Rachel Carson’s passionate voice is said to have launched the environmental movement

Stuff Matters: The strange stories of the marvelous materials that shape our man-made world – Find out why glass is see through and why elastic is stretchy

Another great place to find recommend Science books is on a blog by Canada’s own John Dupuis, librarian at York University.

Happy Science reading everyone!

Reading Under the Trees

May 26, 2015 | KJ | Comments (0)

Wild Reading Walk

Explore Downsview Park with books borrowed from Downsview Branch!

Wild Reading Walk came out of a unique partnership between the park and the library and runs until May 30. Here’s how it works:

  • Borrow a Wild Reading Walk set* from Downsview branch and walk, bike or drive to Downsview Park for a self-guided walk adventure.  The booksets correspond to 4 areas in the park (the orchard, the lake, the farm and the grove). The walk will likely take 2-3 hours depending on breaks and your walking speed.
  • Return the book set to the main desk at Downsview branch and enter the Reading Walk Raffle. Entry forms are found in the swag bag accompanying your book set.  If you return your book set within 2 days you are eligible for one additional entry.  Prizes include food items from Fresh City Farms and a beach volley ball booking at The Hangar.

 *Please note that reading walk sets are available on a first come, first-served basis in limited quantities. Wild Reading Walk books are suitable for readers aged 3-8. A stroller is recommended for young participants who are unable to walk farther than 1 km (12 minutes).  Pets are welcome!

A valid library card is required to sign out the book sets. We recommend you also bring weather appropriate clothes, a litter-less snack, water (preferable in a reusable bottle), sunscreen and a blanket (optional).              

Visit the Downsview Park website for more information or call Downsview branch at 416-395-5720.

A local, active, fun family experience. Happy Walking and Reading!


Downsview Tool Library Now Open!

May 12, 2015 | Muflon | Comments (0)

The next time that you need a specific tool to finish a project, don’t head to the hardware store - head to the library, instead.

Toronto Tool Library

On April 30th, 2015, The Tool Library was launched to the public at the Downsview Branch. It’s being operated by a non-profit organization called The Institute for a Resource-based Economy (IRBE), in partnership with the Toronto Public Library. It’s located in the basement of the Downsview Branch and it’s the first public library location for this organization. In addition to lending a wide variety of tools and equipment, the Tool Library will also be providing workshops to support DIY projects. These sessions will be open to all members of the public.

Tools at the Library


The Tool Library is operated by its own staff and volunteers. In order to borrow tools, you have to become a member. The annual membership fee is $50, or $45 for those with a valid library card. “That’s cheaper than the cost of just one power drill,” says Ryan Dyment, President of IRBE and co-founder of the Toronto Tool Library. Most of the tools are acquired through donations which reduces the amount of waste going to landfill and gives tools a second life in the community. When fully stocked, the Tool Library will contain about 1000 items to lend out to its members. The goal is to register 1200 members at this Downsview location.

It’s a great new convenient service. You can come to the library to check out your favourite book on home projects and then take home the tools you'll need to finish the job!

The hours of operation are Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 3 pm to 8 pm and Saturdays, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Come check it out!



Using Windows Live Movie Maker

February 21, 2015 | lfeesey | Comments (0)

Windows Live Movie Maker is now installed on every public internet access computer in the Toronto Public Library system. So why not try editing a movie from the video on your camera, phone or tablet? 

Windows Live Movie Maker

In brief, here is how to use Windows Live Movie Maker:

  • Attach your camera or USB to a TPL computer. Transfer your video to the Public (P:) drive. 
  • The Movie Maker icon is located on the desktop. Double click it to open the program. 

Windows Live Movie Maker icon

  • Under the Home tab, click Add Videos and Photos. Import them all by holding down the Shift key on the first and last video clip. The clips will appear in order on the palette on the right side.
  • Save Movie As… onto your USB drive. This saves your project so you can work on it later.
  • The viewer is the window on left side.  Use the arrows or the spacebar to start and stop play. 
  • Drag and drop the clips on the palette into order.
  • Trim your clips. Under the Edit tab, Set a Start Point and an End Point. You can also Split a clip into parts and move them around on the palette.
  • Under the Visual Effects tab, alter the qualities of the image.
  • The options under the Animations tab provide various transitions between clips.
  • Speed up or slow down a video under the Edit tab. You can apply this effect to one clip or many depending on which are highlighted.
  • Under Home tab, add titles, sound, music, and/or credits.
  • When your edit is complete, under the Home tab click the Save Movie drop down menu. Choose the format according to viewing device or website.
  • Get more tips and advice directly from Microsoft, or a free download of this program for your home computer at: 


A few helpful books:

Making movies with your iPhone by Ben Harvell

Attack of the killer video book take 2: tips and tricks for young directors by Mark Shulman

Conquering YouTube: 101 pro video tips to take you to the top by Jay Miles

iPhone millionaire: how to create and sell cutting edge video by Michael Rosenblum 


Haiku - York Woods Writers Group

February 13, 2015 | lfeesey | Comments (0)

York Woods

A Haiku is a deceptively simple form of Japanese poetry. It consists of 17 on or sounds in three phrases. In the west, it is usually written as three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables each. A Haiku is usually a meditation on some aspect of the natural world that juxtaposes two opposing ideas. This week we tried it the haiku form in the York Woods Writers' Group. Below is are a few samples. 



Sparkle light in water

A loud sound

cover me


Bright sunshine reflects in window

Fresh scent reflect the flowers

Exciting feeling cover me



The time I watch TV

without commercials make me feel

I need shampoo or a refrigerator


Always we have news

Sometimes good, sometimes bad

Nobody wants old news



Haiku on a Haiku

Haiku innoccent

Simple, 3 littel lines - pie

Bam!! Struggle, a trap


Cinequaine on Haiku


Strange little thing

Hides understanding, search

Confusing, squeezing my poor mind



Artists In The Library: Interview with Joy Lapps

January 22, 2015 | Diana L. | Comments (0)

Earlier in September, Toronto Public Library partnered with the Toronto Arts Council to launch the Artists in the Library program which celebrates the love of art in neighbourhoods outside of the downtown core.

Joy Lapps

Latoya Joy Lapps, a musician, composer and arts educator was one of the Artists in the Library. Joy taught people of all ages how to play in a steel band at the Downsview Branch leading up to an energetic performance in December!

I got the opportunity to chat with her to hear about her artist residency experience:



What interested you about the Artists in the Library residency?

One of my mentors forwarded me an email from the Toronto Arts Council in which they announced a few new granting programs. I decided to apply to the Artists in the Library program because it allowed me to engage the community by offering free lessons and workshops as well as provide performance opportunities for other professional artists.

What was it like teaching people how to play steel pan in the library?

Joy Lapps having fun playing steelpan
Photo credit: Avital Zemer

I loved teaching people how to play steel pan in the library. It was a really enriching experience for me. Community arts is such an interesting field, no matter the artistic discipline. Especially with the way the program was organized, as the teacher, I never really knew who I would be getting in my class. When I would teach at summer camp, I would typically get an entire file about each participant. I’ve dealt with children and youth with different disabilities, personality disorders, allergies…you name it. And then as a teacher I get to adjust and find ways for each participant to feel included. But at the library I had no idea who I was dealing with. The registration required a name and a phone number at best.

In situations like this, you have a bunch of people who you don’t know anything about. You don’t know where they come from, what their life experience is, what they may be struggling with, if they were able to eat that morning, what their family life is like... and all of these things affect us as humans. They affect how we interact and communicate with people especially strangers. I love working with people and I like to be challenged. I love to make people feel included and feel like they are a part of something.

What were your favourite moments during the Artists in the Library residency?

I had a lot of amazing moments at the library during my residency. One of my favourite moments was seeing how the music in the library drew people in. Almost every time I taught a lesson, patrons in the library were drawn to the story room where I was teaching. I always loved to see how the children and toddlers enjoyed the music.

Young boy playing steelpan at Downsview Library
Photo credit: Larnell

The story room was right beside the children's book area in the library. Toddlers would run away from their parents towards my programming room because they loved the music. Or I would see parents holding their children as they peered through the window of the room. I always had an "open door" policy for lessons and rehearsals. As long as patrons weren't disruptive, they were allowed to come in and watch what we were doing.

In the morning before our final performance I was rehearsing with the string quartet and the percussionist. There were two older men looking through the window so I told my husband to let them know they could come in and listen. They stayed for a while and listened with such joy and appreciation. Eventually they decided to make a party out of it and went to Pizza Pizza and ordered a large party pizza for everyone. The pizza was large enough to share with the musicians, the youth that were helping to set up and a few other random visitors who came to observe the rehearsal.

Youth playing steelpan at the Downsview Library
Photo credit: Larnell

I was most proud of the youth and their level of engagement. They committed to attending classes twice each week. I was able to award them volunteer hours for assisting me in facilitating the family classes. They also helped with almost every aspect of each performance including setup, tear down, preparing refreshments and cleaning up at each performance. They also assisted musicians and décor specialist with moving their equipment in and out of the library. One of the challenging parts of my residency was setting up and tearing down all of the instruments used for the classes. This had to be done twice each week. Depending on the time of day I had to do it alone, which took about an hour each time. But when they were at the library on Friday afternoons, they would help me set up for my Saturday morning classes. It was also great to see their friendships flourish as they spent more time together. In my family class, it was so beautiful to see how the moms especially connected with their children and with the other parents in the class. I also had a few couples in my adult class as well as a mother/daughter duo. Overall, I was able to watch in amazement as relationships were strengthened through music.

What is your advice for people who want to learn how to play steel pan?

People who are interested in learning steel pan can contact some of the local steelbands. AfroPanPan Fantasy and Souls of Street Orchestra are some of the local bands that offer lessons throughout the year. Many of the TDSB schools also offer steel pan as a part of the curriculum and through afterschool programs. I always encourage parents to check the local schools and community organizations to see what arts programs they can access for their children and for themselves.

If people missed seeing you at Downsview, when is your next performance, program or event?

I'll be performing a free concert on February 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm. It takes place at St. Philips Anglican Church - 31 Saint Phillips Rd, Toronto, ON M9P 2N7.

I'll be performing with my jazz quartet. People can also visit my website at to find out more about this concert and other future events.

Joy Lapps and friends performing live!
Photo credit: Avital Zemer

Thank you Joy for the interview and for the wonderful program at Downsview Library earlier this year!  


Joy Lapps has performed at festivals including Toronto's AfrofestMuhtadi’s International Drumming Festival, and Antigua’s Moods of Pan Festival. Her primary instrument is the soprano steel pan. Joy has released four recordings and the self-titled EP Joy (2013). She has been nominated for a Harry Jerome Arts and Media Award and the Caribbean Music and Entertainment Award. Joy is founder of Steel Pan Experience, offering workshops and presentations to schools and communities across Toronto.

The Artists in the Library program animated four other Toronto Public Library branches with four additional talented artists and programs:

D’bi Young AnitafrikaD’bi Young Anitafrika
D’bi Young Anitafrika is an internationally celebrated African-Jamaican-Canadian dubpoet, monodramatist, and educator. She is the published author of two collections of poetry, eight plays, two dubpoetry albums, and The Sankofa Trilogy. D’bi led theatre workshops for youth, culminated in a play at the Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre.



Dwayne Morgan 

Dwayne Morgan
Dwayne Morgan is a spoken word artist and the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word National Poetry Slam Champion. He is founder of Up from the Roots entertainment, promoting the artistic contributions of African Canadian and urban influenced arts. Dwayne taught spoken word workshops and helped participants explore their written work using photography and video at the Cedarbrae Branch.  


Founded in 2006, FIXT POINT is a professional theatre and media company engaging communities with site specific performance and audio art. Their goal is to preserve local heritage and promote neighbourhood cultures through art and storytelling. The FIXT POINT group helped people at the Mimico Branch collect local stories to produce an oral history audio installation through recording workshops.


Rukhsana Khan
Rukhsana Khan
Rukhsana Khan is an award-winning author and storyteller. She has published twelve books ranging from picture books to short stories to teen novels. Rukhsana held storytelling workshops at the Fairview Branch, helping participants tell their life story.


Check out our Programs webpage for more special programs with artists, innovators and other talented Torontonians!

Writers on Writing

January 16, 2015 | lfeesey | Comments (0)


Writers are observant and introspective, and obviously bursting with things to tell the world about itself. They can also tell us about what writing is, what it is like to write, and how to do it well. Many illustrious writers have taken the time to share their expertise in books. They know how to put words together so that they affect the reader in just the right way. Below are a few of the more interesting examples of writers writing about writing.  

Steering the craft - le guinUrsula K. Le Guin wrote up Steering the craft: exercises and discussions on story writing for the lone navigator or the mutinous crew after a writing workshop she gave. She divides writing into its major components. The book gives lessons, examples from literary classics, and hands-on exercises to develop anyone's storytelling skills. It is a writing course in a book. Ideal to serve the do-it-yourselfers.


On writing - kingWriting is inextricably woven into the fabric of Stephen King’s life. To help others achieve the writerly life, he penned On writing: a memoir of the craft. Embedded in his autobiography is his drive for ever more efficient and impactful writing. He explains how through trial and error over decades of writing best sellers, he attained his mastery over narrative fiction.


These books are more concerned with crafting the art of writing than crafting the writer as artist-philosopher. The next group of writers on writing look at the way writing affects the writers’ personal development. Writing to them is more than the sum of style, plot and character, it is the writers’ progress toward enlightenment.

Zen in the art of writing - bradburyZen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Writing by Ray Bradbury is a collection of self-effacing essays that uses the Zen as a conceptual hook into how to remain balanced as writing takes over your mind and life. Writing is always challenging. Understanding and integrating its lessons brings the writer closer to wholeness. Amid his tips, tricks and lists, he invokes universal love as the motivator and the product of the writer.


Bird by bird - LamotteAnne Lamotte firmly believes in writing for its own sake. In Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life, her candid anecdotes demonstrate her ability to portray the raw truth. She feels that perfectionism strangles the writing process, whereas attentiveness opens it up. Whether traumatic or triumphant, life is messy. Making sense from it is possible by writing with the deepest honesty. 


The writing life - dillardThe Writing Life by Annie Dillard is a slim volume that presents writing as a tool. Like a stone carver’s chisel that uncovers forms hidden in the stone, the act of writing discovers the sublime in a formless whorl of words and ideas. The writing guides the writer towards completion. She provides plenty of examples of how she transformed her imagination into literary passages.


On moral fiction - gardner
According to John Gardner “relentless moral analysis” is what sets apart the best in modern fiction. On Moral Fiction is his polemic on “what fiction should be”. It is a lesson on how to understand and write about your characters’ difficulties and consequent choices. Although it is argued with inconsistencies and contradictions, Gardner ably maintains that the purpose of the novel is to explore a profound, universal level of human truth. Gardner also wrote two less contentious books on writing, The Art of Fiction and On Becoming a Novelist.


If you like to write or just want to try it, come to the Writers' Group at York Woods branch every Thursday 7-8 PM. We offer support, advice and writing exercises, as well as a few books and articles on writing from some of today's most interesting writers. 


What I saw at York Woods branch

November 24, 2014 | lfeesey | Comments (0)

York Woods picnic table

York Woods branch lies enviably at the juncture of two extensive ravine systems, Derrydown Park and Black Creek Parklands. Everywhere you look there are trees and bushes, as well as Jane-Finch's ubiquitous high-rise apartment blocks. The landscape is an evocative collision between the natural and the man-made. Check out these photos taken by a staff member on a cell-phone. 

  York Woods trees





York Woods parking lot

York Woods driveay






  York Woods driveway

Photography is a great hobby. Toronto Public Libary has lots of photography books to inspire you. Below is a small selection of books by photographers working with the complexity of urbanization:

New american pictureA New American Picture by Doug Rickard 2014 – Rickard ransacked Google Earth to find images that document the ravages of America's selective economic decline. 


American nightAmerican Night by Paul Graham 2003 - Graham's photographs portray the complete separation between America's middle and lower class areas, and the emptiness found in both.  


American prospectsAmerican Prospects by Joel Sternfeld 2003- Sternfeld photographs the southwestern US where the edges of suburbia overtake the rural vistas. 



William Eggleston, for now  2011 – One of the first and most inventive practitioners of colour photography, Eggleston used the aesthetic of the snapshot with high-end professional equipment to create unsettling glimpses into a Southeastern U.S. that was disappearing under the onslaught of commercial development. 



  Detroit dissassembledDetroit Disassembled by Andrew Moore 2010 - This book captures the grandeur of this once great industrial city and the tragedy of its devolution.


Urban blight is transformed by these uncanny photographers into images that are eerily strange and strangely familiar. They find beauty and human pathos in unexpected places. 

Knock, Knock, Who’s There…Fall!

October 10, 2014 | KJ | Comments (0)

_autumn leavesDid somebody say fall! There’s no denying it – the days are getting colder. Beat the chill and head to Downsview branch with your kids for some exciting steel pan music!

This fall we are fortunate to have Joy Lapps as our Artist-in-Residence. Joy (a.k.a. the “Princess of Pan”) is a musician, composer and arts educator who is conducting programs at Downsview from September to December. Space is still available in both the Children’s Steelband program and the Youth Steelband.

The Children’s Steelband is for children aged 10-13 and runs every Saturday until December 6 from 10-11 a.m. Registration is required. Call 416-395-5720 or email

The Youth Steelband covers ages 14-25 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. until December 10 and has a few spaces left! Again, please register.

If that’s not enough to warm your insides, bring your creative writers aged 8-12 out to our Sophie’s Studio program called ‘Creative Fiction From What You Know’ every Saturday from October 18 to November 8 from 2-3:30 p.m.

Join children’s author Dirk McLean and use your experiences and imagination to write an awesome book! Registration is required.

Sophie’s Studio programs were created to support early literacy, creativity and writing skills in children thanks to a bequest from long-time library lover and user Sophia Lucyk.

So pull on that snuggly sweater and join us at Downsview Library for some fun!


September 17, 2014 | Paula | Comments (0)



1:30 - 2:30 PM Image1

Joy Lapps, our artist in the library will demonstrate the amazing pan drum and have you drumming to the beat. 














3:00 - 4:00 PM

Attasha Jordan and costumed performers in full regalia will inspire you to design your own head piece.  Find out how Caribanna themes are born; why bands win and how YOU can get involved.

Welcome to the York Woods District Libraries' blog. Our purpose is to provide information about Library programs and services, community news, and special events in the Black Creek, Downsview and Jane-Finch neighbourhoods. You are invited to be a part of our interactive space where you can post and respond to comments. Visit the blog often, or subscribe to the RSS feature for automatic updates. Follow the link for an explanation of RSS feeds and how to subscribe.