Indigenous Book Club Month

Did you know that June is Indigenous Book Club Month? Perhaps you’re participating with your book club, but even if you’re not in a book club it’s a good time to check out some Indigenous authors! Here are some picks from our collection:

Get to Know: Elgin Children’s Network (ECN)

ECNhero

Did you know?

The St. Thomas Public Library is a member of the Elgin Children’s Network (ECN).

What’s that, you ask?

ECN brings together a number of agencies and individuals from our local education, health and social services sectors.  Through the years, ECN has evolved to become an innovative and collaborative planning table.  As a group, we strive to put children and families at the centre of all discussions, decisions and actions.  The goal is to build communities where every child has the opportunity to be engaged, empowered, and to thrive.
Can you give me an example of something ECN has done?

Yes!  There are two examples, in fact. 

One: ECN was instrumental in the planning and development of the Northside Neighbourhood Hub.  The Hub is a public, accessible space where people can come together to Connect, Celebrate, Discover, Explore and Share. People can easily participate in a variety of free or low-cost activities, seek information about different services and supports in the community, sign up for a program offered right in their neighbourhood or simply drop-in to connect with a friend.  Check it out at 114 Confederation Drive or give them a call at 519-631-5182.  You can also find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NorthsideHub

Two: ECN has also recently launched a website http://www.elginchildrensnetwork.ca/.  The site is designed to connect parents and caregivers with people, places and resources that can help them.  Check it out today!

Why is it important for the library to be involved with ECN?

Sitting at the ECN table gives us a unique insight into the programs and services available for children and families around Elgin County.  We can share this information with library customers.  We can also use it to make sure our programs and services complement, and don’t duplicate, what’s already available in our community.  It also provides us with opportunities to expand the reach of library services.  For example, stay tuned to hear more about our new holds pick up location at the Hub!

25 Amazing Books for Black History Month

Celebrate diverse stories, voices, and ideas with these Black History Month Book Picks!

 

ADULT FICTION

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad is a 2016 tells the story of Cora and Caesar, two slaves who make a bid for freedom from their Georgia plantations by following the Underground Railroad, which happens to be an actual underground subway.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a man of an Ibo village in Nigeria.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace
For Robert Jacklin – packed off without warning to boarding school in Zimbabwe – everything is terrifyingly new. Branded an outsider from the moment he opens his mouth and unable to decode the subtle power struggles of the classroom, he longs for the safety of his old life in England. And then he meets Ivan, who offers him not only friendship, but power. As Robert is drawn slowly into Ivan’s destructive web, he begins to question things he’d always held true and.

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom―and of the knowledge she needs to get home. This captivating story of one woman’s remarkable experience spans six decades and three continents and brings to life a crucial chapter in world history.

Wash by Margaret Wrinkle
In this luminous debut, Margaret Wrinkle takes us on an unforgettable journey across continents and through time, from the burgeoning American South to West Africa and deep into the ancestral stories that reside in the soul.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
A collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection. The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community – and the things that ultimately haunt us most. It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, 17-year-old. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance – and the subsequent cover-up – will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Two girls dream of being dancers–but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child—the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment—weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.

ADULT NONFICTION:

‘Membering by Austin Clarke
In ‘Membering, Clarke shares his own experiences growing up in Barbados and moving to Toronto to attend university in 1955 before becoming a journalist. With vivid realism he describes Harlem of the ’60s, meeting and interviewing Malcolm X, and writers Chinua Achebe and LeRoi Jones.

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
As the country grapples with racist division at a level not seen since the 1960s, one man’s voice soars above the rest with conviction and compassion. Michael Eric Dyson speaks out in Tears We Cannot Stop―a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
With humor and levity, Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens–those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color.

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
This powerful memoir follows Mock’s quest for identity, from an early, unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that saw her transitioning during the tender years of high school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world alone for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. With unflinching honesty, Mock uses her own experience to impart vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of trans youth and brave girls like herself.

Steal Away Home by Karolyn Smardz Frost
The story of a fifteen-year-old escaped slave named Cecelia Reynolds, who slips away to freedom in Canada while her Kentucky owners holiday at Niagara Falls. In this compelling work of narrative non-fiction, Governor General’s Award winner Karolyn Smardz Frost brings Cecelia’s story to life.

JUVENILE FICTION:

My Name is Phillis Wheatley: A Story of Slavery and Freedom by Afua Cooper
This is the remarkable story of Phillis Wheatley, who is born into an African family of griots, or storytellers, but captured by slave raiders and forced aboard a slave ship, where appalling conditions spell death for many of her companions.

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson
As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara dreams of a reunion with her Momma, who lives on another plantation–and even of running away to freedom. Then she overhears two slaves talking about the Underground Railroad. In a flash of inspiration, Clara sees how she can use the cloth in her scrap bag to make a map of the land–a freedom quilt–that no master will ever suspect.

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King.

JUVENILE NON-FICTION:

Martin and Mahalia: His Words, Her Song by Andrea Davis Pinkney
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and his strong voice and powerful message were joined and lifted in song by world-renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. It was a moment that changed the course of history and is imprinted in minds forever. Told through Andrea Davis Pinkney’s poetic prose and Brian Pinkney’s evocative illustration, the stories of these two powerful voices and lives are told side-by-side.

Oh, Freedom! Kids Talk about the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made it Happen by Casey King
31 interviews that cover three main areas of the movement: life under segregation, the nonviolent movement, and the black power movement. Everyone is here — regular, ordinary people who dedicated themselves to the cause of freedom and the fight for equality, and even a few of the better known people whose names we hear and associate with Martin Luther King, or with the Freedom Rides, or with other familiar aspects of the movement.

TEEN FICTION:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty.

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks
In 1919, the 369th infantry regiment marched home triumphantly from World War I. They had spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and winning countless decorations. Though they returned as heroes, this African American unit faced tremendous discrimination, even from their own government.

Juba! by Walter Dean Myers
This engaging historical novel is based on the true story of the meteoric rise of an immensely talented young black dancer, William Henry Lane, who influenced today’s tap, jazz, and step dancing. With meticulous and intensive research, Walter Dean Myers has brought to life Juba’s story.

 

Stranger Library Things

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:

Books

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.

it
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!

PaperGirls_Vol01-1

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.

lk-alpha02-covd

Movies

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.

poster-super8

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.

Stand_By_Me_1986_American_Theatrical_Release_Poster

3. It Follows (2014)

itfollowsposter01

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.

SomethingWicked

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,

Amelia

 

Arduino in the Library

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 Industrieshttps://learn.adafruit.com/series/learn-arduino

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 Blumhttps://youtu.be/fCxzA9_kg6s and http://www.jeremyblum.com/

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.

Sparkfunhttps://youtu.be/jRqLFn9rDJs and https://www.sparkfun.com/categories/103

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.

Instructableshttp://www.instructables.com/tag/type-id/category-technology/channel-arduino/

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!

flipster

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

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 (https://stthomaspubliclibrary.ca), 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 info@stthomaspubliclibrary.ca.

 

– Sarah Macintyre, Systems & Support Services Librarian