Library Lending Kiosk to Arrive in Elgin Mall

September 7, 2016


Library Kiosk Coming Soon!

Library Kiosk Coming Soon!

Have you heard the news?!

St. Thomas Public Library has announced that on September 21st, it will launch a brand new service in the Elgin Mall – a Library Lending Kiosk!

But what is a library lending kiosk??

The new kiosk works like a vending machine, but instead of bottled drinks or a snack, the unit dispenses library books! All you have to do is enter your library card, and select the title you want. The book drops down, and you can take it home with you for 3 weeks!

What books will I have to choose from?

The lending kiosk will hold 20 titles, in a variety of formats (soft cover, hardcover, and large print) and will include both fiction and nonfiction titles.

Why did the Library choose the mall?

Back in 2011, the library operated day-to-day out of the mall, during its year-long building renovation. Library customers really liked having a presence at the mall, and patrons have told us that they miss having us there. So what better place to try and reach more library customers, who may not be able to visit our main location on Curtis Street!

How are the Friends of St. Thomas Public Library involved?

The lending kiosk was generously sponsored by the Friends of the Library group, and they happen to run a used book shop in the Elgin Mall already. The Friends of St. Thomas Public Library are volunteers who have donated over $200,000 to the Library since their inception in 1994, and they were so pleased to have been able to donate the funds for this exciting project.

When can I start using it?

The new library lending kiosk services will launch formally during the morning of Wednesday September 21st, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11am. Come by and try it out!

Questions or comments? Let us know by emailing

Stranger Library Things

September 3, 2016

library-thingsStranger Things! This show is everything. The eight episode Netflix series has made many of our lives complete this summer as we soaked it in, and then left a void in our hearts as black and empty as the Upside Down when we finished watching the last episode. This emotional roller coaster is a sign of true love, no? Now we have entered a sort of purgatory of boredom waiting for season 2, due in 2017 at some point. That’s next year! But it doesn’t have to be a meaningless existence until then, just come to the library to find some Stranger Library Things to tide you over! There are many lists like this one on the internet, but I have tailored this list to include items you can borrow from the library. Vetted by a true horror fan, these books and movies will contain the nostalgic feel and elements of strangeness that we love so much about the series. Here we go:


1. It by Stephen King (1986)

Stephen King’s It has a definite Stranger Things feel: A group of misfit kids up against a supernatural horror. If you are only an occasional horror consumer, this novel may be too terrifying for you. The enemy in It is far more manipulative than the sentient piranha-plant-head demi-gorgon of Stranger Things, and the kids have much less of a Spielbergien glow. The group faces real life monsters such as abuse, alcoholism, and severe bullying that are nearly as terrifying as the novel’s ancient shape shifter that most often appears as Pennywise the Clown. If you want Stranger Things but with deeper character studies and darker horror, It will leave you satisfied.


We all float down here…

2. Paper Girls volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (2016)

Paper Girls is Brian K. Vaughan’s newest graphic novel series, illustrated by Cliff Chiang in a vibrant neon colour palette straight out of the 1980s. The story takes place on the morning after Halloween in 1988 and follows a group of twelve-year-old newspaper delivery girls as they band together to solve a supernatural small town mystery. The dialogue gives the characters perfect depth and also feels true, much like the dynamic between the kids in Stranger Things. Read volume 1 now, and you’ll only have to wait until December for volume 2!


3. The Shadow Year by Jeffery Ford (2008)

The Shadow Year is pure nostalgic gold. While the story takes place in the 1960s, anyone who grew up in the 60s-80s will have their memories of childhood stirred up by the imagery in the novel. The three kids in the story, two brothers and their younger sister, build a model of their town in their basement. When Mary, the strange, Eleven-like younger sister, makes changes to the model, a corresponding strange event happens in the town. The supernatural is understated but has such an eerie feel to it that you’ll wonder if the kids are living close by a portal to the Upside Down.

The Shadow Year

4. Locke and Key by Joe Hill (2009)

Locke and Key is a six volume series of comics by Joe Hill, son of horror icon Stephen King. Gabriel Rodriquez brilliantly illustrates the comics with complex, beautiful scenes you can get lost in. Like It, do not tackle Locke and Key expecting the levity of Stranger Things. It is a relentlessly dark story featuring three siblings who find keys that unlock supernatural powers, and they soon raise a demon from a well who wants to collect the keys in order to unleash a hellish dimension into our own. Like Stranger Things, the Locke children fight with the armor of childhood that seems to give them an advantage over the adults in the story. Check it out if you have a strong constitution for visual horror.



1. Super 8 (2011)

Super 8 takes place in a small Ohio steel town in 1979. A group of young teenage friends are filming a super 8 movie when they catch an epic train crash on video, and strange things begin to happen in their town. This movie shares a lot with Stranger Things: small town, young friendships taking on more mature dynamics, kids against an enemy they seem to understand better than the adults do, and the inevitable return of buried grief.


2. Stand By Me (1986)

Based on Stephen King’s short story The Body, available here, Stand By Me follows four boys on their quest to locate the body of a local kid who was struck and killed by a train. Again, it is the dynamic of the friendship as the boys mature that is reminiscent of our five young heroes in Stranger Things. There isn’t anything supernatural at play in the movie, but everything is rumbling beneath the surface of the sleepy everyday with a sort of phantom energy that is embodied by the Upside Down in Stranger Things. In Stand By Me, the disappearance of a boy also drives the action, and the innocence of the group of friends is lost when they confront the mortality of their young lives.


3. It Follows (2014)


It Follows makes the list because it seems to have kicked off the recently growing trend of 1980s nostalgia in movies. The film isn’t explicitly set in the 80s, but it has that feel to it. The story follows a group of teens as they try to help their friend, Jay, fend off an enemy that can take any form and is always walking towards her. The premise is strange and simple, yet makes for a terrifying, paranoid atmosphere. The soundtrack to It Follows will remind you of the opening of Stranger Things, as will the settings and dialogue among the friends. This entry comes with a warning, there is considerable gore and adult content in this one!

4. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

The Disney movie of the classic Ray Bradbury novel is surprisingly terrifying, and conveys a definite nostalgic feel, perhaps because it was produced in 1983 before Disney began to really churn out its canon of sickly sweet animated fairy tales. It’s hard to pin down why this one comes so close to Stranger Things, but fans of the show will eat this movie up. It has a supernatural enemy in the form of Mr. Dark and his phantasmic Pandemonium Carnival, and two young boys with a complicated friendship that must expose the carnival for what it is before it overtakes their small town.


That wraps up the list of read and watch- alikes, but if you don’t already know, Stranger Things is full of references to classic horror and sci-fi movies. Here are some of referenced titles that are available at STPL:

Alien, The Thing, Pan’s Labyrinth, Needful Things, The Shining, Rambo, Firestarter, Altered States, Twin Peaks, Jaws.

Happy horror-ing!

*We will be discussing The Shining by Stephen King for our October STPL Book Club on Tuesday, October 4th at 10 am in the Carnegie Room! If you enjoyed this post, join us to discuss this deliciously terrifying horror novel! Open to all, extra copies available at the circulation desk.

-Strangely yours,



Arduino in the Library

August 26, 2016

Arduino UNO


Over the last few years you may have heard about something called Arduino, but might not be quite sure what it is.  Arduino is a really amazing circuit board that you can connect to a computer, and relatively quickly build an electronic circuit that can be used as a prototype for something you wish to make.  Arduino was developed by Massimo Banzi as a way to bridge the gap between having to understand complex electronics principles and building circuit boards while allowing designers to prototype electronics into their products and allow them to express their creativity.

The Arduino board allows a designer to connect different electronics components to it such as lights, speakers (for sound), sensors (such as light, pressure, temperature), switches (including tilt switches like those found in phones), and various types of motors for movement.  Then the Arduino board is connected to a computer and the user can modify or create their own small programs (called sketches) and program the Arduino board to function as they would like.

Using the different components along with the sketches allows the designer to create things that light up, sense, and/or move allowing for a wide variety of applications.  From making toys that sing and dance, having your house plant tweet you and tell you to water it, or as the foundation for a satellite, Arduino is an amazing tool for do-it-yourselfers (aka Makers).  They have been finding many novel and ingenious ways to use this fun designer friendly little board to create amazing things.  Also, with the internet of things (electronics connecting to the internet) being utilized more and more, many amazing things are being done with Arduino boards.

With the traditional role of the library changing to adapt to the modern needs of patrons, we are starting to see many libraries create Maker spaces.  These spaces serve as a new hands on way of learning that takes the information in the book stacks and magazine racks and allows patrons to apply their new found knowledge.  It is also a great way to bring a sense of community back to the library and make it a central place for meeting, learning, and sharing ideas.

Because the Arduino board is meant to make it easier for designers to take their ideas and make them a reality with significantly less technical knowhow, it allows for greater artistic expression and advancement in technology.  Because Arduino is open-source, ideas and designs are readily shared and showcased in maker communities which honours and rekindles the freedom to learn that Gutenberg’s printing press elicited.  With access to the internet, and as libraries begin to embrace new technologies such as Arduino and build creative commons, a library can work towards creating a space where patrons come and learn.  This places the library as a centre of academic excellence and cultural centre in the great tradition of the Library of Alexandria and honour the muses of literature, the sciences, and the arts.

If you are interested in getting started with Arduino in your library, there are some great beginner books that nicely lend themselves to workshops, and there a lot of amazing online tutorials to learn from and share with patrons.  Below is a recommended list of books and websites to help you incorporate Arduino into your library and build your own creative commons space.

Make has created a really nice and readable series of books related to Arduino:

  • Getting Started with Arduino: The Open Source Electronics Prototyping Platform
  • Basic Arduino Projects: 26 Experiments with Microcontrollers and Electronics
  • Getting Started with Sensors: Measure the World with Electronics, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi
  • Make: Action: Movement, Light, and Sound with Arduino and Raspberry Pi

There are also some really great websites that offer free step by step tutorials and code to help get you started.  Some personal favourites:

Adafruit Industries

Started by Limor Freid in her dorm room while at MIT. Adafruit Industries offer many step by step tutorials for all learning levels and also sell the Arduino board and electronic components for building projects.

Jeremy Blum and

Back in 2011 while still a student Jeremy started making Arduino tutorial videos on YouTube, which have since had over a million visitors.  Jeremy is still creating videos to this day, and has built on the success of his tutorials by recently writing a book Exploring Arduino, which a testament to the success of his video tutorial series.

Sparkfun and

Like Adafruit, Sparkfun is another Arduino reseller that also sells electronics components to use with the Arduino.  Sparkfun has created a seven hour tutorial video on YouTube to take people new to Arduino through the basics and walk them through creating projects and using a virtual design program called Fritzing.


Instructables is a great DIY resource that allows contributors to share the instructions for any project they have completed with a larger community.  They also have a section devoted to Arduino projects because of the popularity of the board.

Written by Kris Levey, e-Services Technician.

Flipster Update!

June 29, 2016


Earlier this year, St. Thomas Public Library launched a new online magazine lending service: FLIPSTER!

Flipster provides access to digital copies of magazines, that you can download via an app on your tablet, or the browser on your computer! Now you can download magazines to read offline, anytime, anywhere, for FREE!

Back in January, we selected 25 magazine titles that we thought would be popular.  Recently, we reviewed the usage and feedback from library customers, to see which ones hit the mark, and which ones weren’t so interesting.

Based on that information, we’ve now decided to keep some of our original picks, but also try some new ones!

Here are all the titles we will be offering, starting in July:

  • Clean Eating
  • Chatelaine
  • Car & Driver
  • Creative Knitting
  • O, the Oprah magazine
  • Cooking Light
  • Popular Photography
  • Discover
  • Canadian Geographic
  • Today’s Parent
  • Motorcyclist
  • Canadian Wildlife
  • Cottages & Bungalows
  • New York Review of Books
  • Sports Illustrated for Kids
  • Seventeen
  • HGTV Magazine
  • Amazing wellness
  • Fast Company
  • Garden Making

Because we want to make sure that we provide the most popular magazines, we will be reviewing these titles again in December 2016, to see if there are any that should be replaced!

Want to learn how to use Flipster? Check out our blog post from January 2016!

Questions? Comments? Let us know!

Virtual Tour

June 6, 2016

St. Thomas Public Library’s website has a brand-new feature: a VIRTUAL TOUR!

If you haven’t been into the Library for several years now, and are curious what it looks like today, here is your chance to get a sneak peek before you even set foot in the door!

In April, we had photographer Aaron Burns come into the Library early in the morning before we opened to the public. Once here, he took over 5000 photos of the building – pictures were taken from every angle, so that, once stitched together, they give us a complete 360 degree view of the space. Every detail is included – all around, the floors, the ceilings, everything! We placed the camera in the central areas of many of our rooms – so that you can get a good idea of the layout of the building.

When you click the link on our website (, here is a screenshot of what you will see:Virtual tour

You begin the tour at the front of the building, outside. You can click and drag your mouse anywhere on the image, effectively pulling the pictures around you; this is what gives you the 360 degree feel! In addition to viewing up, down, and all around you, you can navigate to different areas of the building; between floors and to the east and west areas of the building, by clicking the arrows. There is also a menu in the upper-right hand corner, helping you switch between levels quickly. If you want to see a floorplan of the level you are looking at, just click the little “floorplan” icon at the bottom of the page.

We had a lot of fun bringing this tour to life, and we feel as though it shows off our best side! But really, the library rarely looks like the way it does in the virtual tour – we are never empty! You’ll have to use your imagination to picture the more than 800 library members who walk through our doors each day!

Have you checked out our virtual tour yet? We think it’s worth your while!


Questions, comments? Email


– Sarah Macintyre, Systems & Support Services Librarian

Local History and Geneology Fit into the Big Picture of National History

May 25, 2016

Blog 1

In April, St. Thomas Public Library was contacted by a Forensic Genealogy Coordinator working for the Canadian National Defense.  They were seeking to identify a recovered WWII soldier who they believed to be Pte. Kenneth Donald Duncanson, killed in action September 14, 1944.  The Coordinator had searched the Elgin OGS (Ontario Genealogical Society) online index for the St. Thomas Times Journal and found a marriage announcement for his sister, Lyla Patricia Duncanson.  The Coordinator was looking for a copy of this announcement, other family information, and the existence of any children, and asked us if we could help!

In our research, we found the marriage announcement for a woman named Iyla Patricia Duncanson.  Though we could not find an obituary for Pte. Donald Duncanson, we did find that he was buried (presumably without remains) in the Fairview Cemetery in Dutton.  The inscription on the tombstone reads “Their Son   Kenneth D.  1915 – 1944   Killed in Action, Belgium.”   We forwarded this information to the Coordinator, and directed her to the Elgin Archives, and their holdings of the  Dutton newspaper the Dutton Advance. The Forensic Genealogy Coordinator must have taken our recommendation, and found additional information which substantiated the identity of the remains, because on May 17, 2016 local newspapers carried an article that an “Elgin Soldier’s Remains Found in Belgium” were indeed those of Pte. Kenneth Donald Duncanson of Dutton. Read more from the St. Thomas Times Journal:

We are so pleased that we got to be a small part of solving this mystery!

Learn more about our Local History collections on our website!

Questions? Email us at

By Donna Hanson, Technical Services Coordinator

Bald Eagles in Elgin County

May 3, 2016

They’re back. I can tell by the line of cars parked along the busy country road. If there are several vehicles parked, but spaced out along the road, there may be one or two big, long cameras pointing out a car window. If there is a cluster of cars parked together, the inhabitants of those cars have emerged and can be seen congregated, and chatting, with their heads turned to the north and their faces angled upwards. Chances are that there is a beautiful bald eagle in the forest, sitting in a massive nest near the tree top. The nest is a bit obscured by all the branches, and one needs to focus to see that distinctive, white head.  If the roadsters are lucky, they will clearly see the other eagle perched on a favoured branch, at the very outside edge of the forest –  a site chosen no doubt to give it clear view of the gawkers at the roadside.  This is the third year that they are have used that nest, a nest that must have been so carefully and skilfully constructed.  The first year, as I was driving to work, I was so surprised to catch sight of such a huge clump of sticks at the top of the forest. Could it really weigh 2000 lbs? How strong can those supporting tree limbs at the tree top be? Imagine sitting up there – the view, the gentle swaying, the frog chorus at night, and being so much closer to the stars.

There are a few sightings of bald eagle nests throughout Elgin County. This site is on Ron McNeil Line, just west of Wellington Road, in the forest on the north side, not far from my home. Soon, the leaves will be unfurled, the view of the nest will be obscured, and the line of cars will disappear. I will still be looking to sky everyday though as I drive by the forest, always hoping to catch a glimpse of a magnificent bird, gliding ever so gracefully into the forest.

Book Suggestions:

Birds of Elgin County by Naturalists of Elgin County

Birds of Elgin County

Birds of Canada ed. David M. Bird

Birds of Canada


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