Let’s Talk About Books!

Let’s talk about BOOKS.

St. Thomas Public Library is full of books, but not just the books you see on our shelves – we get a lot of gently used books donated to us from members of the community. We truly appreciate that people think of us as a place to support with donations, but the truth is that we simply cannot take all the donated books and put them on our shelves. Sometimes we don’t have enough room! Sometimes we already have a copy of the book in our collection, and don’t need a second one! Sometimes the book is older and out of date, or is in too poor condition. For times like these, we are happy to lean on our fundraising group, Friends of St. Thomas Public Library.

friends logo

The Friends of St. Thomas Public Library are a volunteer group who help raise funds for the library and promote the library as a cultural institution in the community. They began in 1994, and have so far donated over $200,000 to St. Thomas Public Library. They accept donated books on behalf of the library, and have a permanent book shop located at the Elgin Mall. Many of the donated books we receive at the main library end up being brought to the Friends’ Shop, so that they can be sold. All the proceeds from sales are distributed back to the Library, to support collections, programs, and services. You can learn more about the Friends’ of the Library here: https://stthomaspubliclibrary.ca/friends/

 

St. Thomas Public Library buys nearly 10,000 new items every year – but our physical building does not expand accordingly! That’s why we have to be mindful about the books we remove from our collection – if 10,000 new books come in, then a similar amount of old books must come out! We use a variety of methods to select the books we discard; we look at things like poor condition or damage, whether or not anyone has checked out the book recently, how many checkouts it has had since we bought it, etc. All of this is taken into consideration. But at the end of the day, that’s a lot of books to get rid of! We send the books in the best condition over to the Friends of the Library Shop at the Mall, so that they can sell them and generate revenue for us. But a lot of the items we pull from our shelves won’t make for great local sales – so we use a company called Better World Books as a backup plan.

bwb

Better World Books is a company that works with libraries to make good use of the books they don’t need any more. They send us boxes and shipping labels, and all we have to do is pack up the books we aren’t sending to the Friends’ Shop, and ship them off to Better World Books instead (shipping is even free!) Once Better World Books receives our boxes, the items are sorted and scanned, and each saleable item is listed on over 50 channels for sale online. If an item is determined not to be “saleable”, meaning it isn’t a good candidate to sell online, Better World Books has a recycling program set-up. They never, ever, throw away a book. In fact, when we log in to their site with our Library Account, we can see exactly how many of our books have been recycled, and see a real-time review of the positive impact we are having on the environment.

Below I’ve included a screenshot from our Better World Books account, where you can see how many of our books have been reused or recycled, and how many trees we have saved by using their recycling program!

metrics

We have only been using Better World Books for a little over 2 months now, and already we can see great results!

If you have any questions or comments about how St. Thomas Public Library deals with discarded library books, or if you would like to learn more about the Better World Books metrics seen here,  please send an email to: info@stthomaspubliclibrary.

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.

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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)

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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

 

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

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

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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: http://www.stthomastimesjournal.com/2016/05/16/elgin-soldiers-remains-found-in-belgium

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 info@stthomaspubliclibrary.ca

By Donna Hanson, Technical Services Coordinator

Bald Eagles in Elgin County

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

 

St. Thomas Seed Library Launch Event!

It’s finally here!Seed Library Launch

Do you like eating? Who doesn’t? Do you like paying high prices for imported veggies covered in pesticides? ….Maybe not. So here is a novel solution- grow your own! And we are here to help make it as affordable as possible by “lending” you the seeds to do just that!

Whether you have a large or small garden, access to a community garden, or even just an apartment balcony, the St. Thomas Seed Library has a wonderful variety of heirloom vegetables, fruits, and even ornamental flowers suitable for both the average backyard as well as small container gardening.

The idea of a “seed library”- where a patron can borrow packages of seeds for free, just like books, and return some of the seeds from what they grew at the end of the season- has been gaining grassroots popularity for years. It is an idea that will appeal to folks who want to take control of what they eat and don’t want genetically modified “Franken-food”, to people who just like the DIY concept of free food, to those who have just watched too many episodes of “The Walking Dead” and figure getting on the homesteading bandwagon is a good idea! (Which of course it is, all zombies aside!)

We live in an ever-technological world where so many of us have lost sight of where our food comes from, and the effort it takes to get from the seed to our plate. How cool would it be to be able to walk out to your backyard and get everything you need for a tasty salad for lunch? Or you could choose to grow just the veggies you need to make enough preserves to last all winter- and know you are helping someone else in our community do the same thing when you return some seed from your harvest back to the library!

So St. Thomas, come on out to St. Thomas Public Library on February 29th at 6:30pm in the Carnegie Room for the Seed Library Launch Event! We will have light refreshments, sign-up sheets for the orientation sessions, and a very special screening of the documentary “Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds”.

Get ready to get dirty- dig into our links and check out what seeds we have to offer, and lets get back to our roots!

http://stthomaspubliclibrary.ca/using-the-library/services/seed-library/

St Thomas Seed Library Logo