Do you have “The Blahs”?

Do you have the blahs? Do they come and go or are they dragging you down every day? Personally I think a little blahdom is okay, sometimes we need the space to do nothing.   

But sometimes a dragged down feeling can last too long and might even start to lead into a depressive state. The only way I’ve ever been able move out of that mental state, or out of any emotion that is out of control, is through moving my body. Yes, exercise. And according to this video on Kanopy, The Power of Exercise not only improves your mood, it actually makes you smarter and reduces the risk of dementia by 50%!

For some people exercise is a bad word. Maybe you’ve never been physically active. You hated gym class and just wanted to go read a book in a hidden corner somewhere. Maybe you loved playing team sports at school but never really continued with individual fitness. Maybe you’ve been injured in the past and are apprehensive about working out again. Maybe your workouts have gotten boring. Or maybe, in the present set of circumstances, you just don’t feel like getting off the couch. (I get it!)

Whatever the reason is, it is okay. It’s okay that you haven’t moved your body in a while. But you are still here, you are reading this blog, and if there is a place inside of you that now has more of an interest in exploring movement, why not Own the Day today? It is Spring, the days are longer, you are practicing social distancing, why not move from thinking about exercising to actually moving your body? Canada’s Physical Activity Guide can provide you with ideas and goals. Near the end you will also find a Physical Readiness Questionnaire so you can find out if you need to talk to your doctor before you begin. You can start with Seven Minutes a day, even Small Changes can make a big difference.

No matter what your age or your fitness level, Winnipeg Public library has resources available to support you. Learn from an online course, read an eBook, or peruse one of our many fitness magazines. Another idea is to try out the ParticipACTION app. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself started. Exercise is a great way to start your day in a good mood, fight the COVID-19 blahs, and become healthier in mind, body and spirit.

Here is a list of interesting how-to courses on Kanopy. (Pssst. Did you know that The Great Courses on Kanopy aren’t included on your library monthly credits – you can watch as many as you like. If you don’t have a library card, you can sign up for a temporary one.)

And here are a few great eBooks to get you started on exercising at home or outside:

Finally, here is a Youtube video about walking, such an underappreciated activity, but one that your body loves to do. And it can be done inside by walking in place, walking around the house, up and down stairs, or you can walk outside, in any weather. (As many of our Community Service Ambassadors know very well!)

Whatever option(s) you choose to explore, I hope you will be inspired to get (or keep) moving and lose the blahs.


PS. If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health challenge, visit our Mental Health Information Guide for resources you may find helpful.

Tales at Night – From Home

In the late 1960s and early 70s, my mother was “Sharon” as in CBC Whitehorse’s “Stories with Sharon”. She would read aloud in the studio and sometimes at public events, for kids and adults alike. Her voice was soothing, and expressive, friendly and joyful, and it turned out that not only the kids were tuning in to hear her read aloud. In fact, she always claimed that the long haul truckers were her biggest fans.

Being very much Sharon’s daughter, from my dark hair to my love of embellishing a family story, I have discovered for myself how much I enjoy not only listening to stories read aloud but being a reader to adults as well.

My point is: storytime is not just for kids! I think we all love the comfort, the closeness, and the joy of hearing a story read out loud. And the Winnipeg Public Library does too. In fact over the years, we’ve run storytimes for grownups in a number of our branches, and most recently, have run a super fun series called Tales at Night – Library Happy Hour out of the Good Will Social Club.

Of course library programming has changed somewhat over the past couple of months, and while we have had to put a pause on our Library Happy Hour series, we are thrilled to still be able to present to you Tales at Night – from home. Our “from home” version features some of the best stories from the past, read aloud by familiar voices like Ed from Millennium, Trevor and Tauni from Louis Riel, and yours truly. So far we’ve recorded some of your and our favourites by Roald Dahl, Ursula Le Guin, Dorothy Parker, David Sedaris, Miranda July, and of course, Ray Bradbury.

A new story is released every Wednesday, and all are accessible from our youtube page. You don’t need to commit to an entire evening of stories; we’ve recorded each one individually ranging from 5-20 minutes in length. Pick and choose what suits you right now! Like with our Library Happy Hour series, these stories are all intended for adult audiences and are not suitable for children.

We can’t wait to see you all again at the Good Will Social Club when we can once more gather for Tales at Night – Library Happy Hour, but until then, we hope you can tune in – from home!

Let us know what you think! Do you have any suggestions for future readings?

~ Kirsten


In a recent episode of the “Time to Read” podcast, on The Hound of the Baskervilles, we couldn’t help but talk a little bit about the various actors who have portrayed the great detective on stage and screen over the past century.

It turns out our listeners had just as many STRONG OPINIONS on this burning topic as we did, so we’ve dedicated our next special episode on some of the different takes on The Hound of the Baskervilles and the actors who call 221B Baker St home.

Bonus points if you can name all of these Sherlocks!

Find out what we had to say, and what our listeners had to say in our latest special episode, available now here and wherever you find podcasts.

Until next time, make sure you find some TIME TO READ.


Book clubs in the time of social distancing

One of the first events in my life that the pandemic disrupted was the monthly bookclub I’ve belonged to for more than twenty years. In early March, as more and more public places closed, it began to seem like gathering in one house for discussion (and snacks) wasn’t the best idea.

To judge from what we’ve been hearing through social media, a lot of book clubs are having the same problem.

If you’re missing entertaining literary discussion, be sure to check out Time to Read, the Library’s book club podcast. Each month our charming and funny staff read a book (this month’s title is Little Women) and discuss it on air, along with questions sent in by Winnipeggers reading along with them. And today they released a bonus episode about book-to-movie pairings focused on The Hound of the Baskervilles. The great thing about a podcast is that you can participate whenever and wherever is convenient for you!

If you want to keep your regular book club going, how can you make sure  everyone can get the same book?

My book club has been relying on free online classics and old favourites that all of us happened to have around. Check your shelves; you may find that everyone in your group has a copy of Larry’s Party, for example—or The Da Vinci Code! Be creative in your choices.

Some other potential sources:

  • WPL’s Overdrive collection includes a few Express titles that are always available
  • Our RBdigital service has so many ebooks and eaudiobooks
  • Project Gutenberg offers more than 60,000 ebooks!
  • several local bookstores are still open for social distanced browsing or curbside pickup of online purchases

And these days, video conferencing technology is pretty simple and straightforward. On almost any kind of smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can use one of these free apps to chat with multiple friends at once.

In the end, my book club held our meeting online using a video conference app and had a wonderful time! It was heart-warming (and hilarious) how excited we all were to “see” someone other than our families during this time of social distancing.


Local History Reads from Your Home

Our branches are not open, but there is still plenty to explore online with your library card, from databases to e-books and e-magazines, streaming music, movies and documentaries. One of the many subject guides that can help you find the material you are looking for is the Local History LibGuide, including a new section on material accessible from your home. You can also find a growing collection of e-books on Overdrive dealing with topics related to the history of Manitoba and other local interests, with more being added all the time.

Works of collected historical photographs are always a popular choice and Overdrive has made two local classics part of its collection. First, Imagining Winnipeg, which showcases the work of L. B. Foote, probably the most widely recognized Manitoban photographer of the last century. M. Foote’s work is showcased in this illustrated book, from royal visits, the General Strike, the building of Winnipeg landmarks like the Fort Garry Hotel, and scenes of everyday life in streets and offices. Originally published in 1998, A Winnipeg Album takes a wider approach, and gives the reader a photographic panorama of the entire history of Winnipeg, with over a hundred photographs. Of particular note are the oldest photos, showcasing Winnipeg in its very humble beginnings.

Among the local authors included in our Overdrive collection, Indigenous and Métis authors occupy a place of choice, and biographies in particular give voices to personal stories seldom heard before. In Creating Space, Verna J. Kirkness tells how she grew up on the Fisher River reserve, becoming a teacher to generations of students, and leaving her mark on the educational system as a whole. As the first cross-cultural consultant for the Manitoba Department of Education Curriculum Branch, she made Cree and Ojibway the languages of instruction in several Manitoba schools. 

Before being known as Eddy Weetaltuk, he was know as E9-442 (Eskimo from region 9 #442), the designation that the Canadian government had given him. In 1951, Eddy changed his identity and served in the Canadian army in the Korean War and stayed in the military for fifteen years before returning home. In his memoirs, From the Tundra to the Trenches, Eddy tells how he worked to inspire Inuit youth who struggled with hard living conditions and substance abuse, showing how they could make their own way, define themselves as they choose, and be proud of their unique heritage.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not include a mention of our own humble history of the Winnipeg Public Library, More than Books, by Eve Dutton and Kathleen Williams. Using primary sources and archival photos from our collections, this is a great read for those curious to know how our public library system evolved from its beginnings as private collections from back to Red River Colony days were pooled to create subscription libraries, to the present system open and free to all citizens thanks to the initial donations from Andrew Carnegie that allowed the constructions of the first WPL branches.

Finally, it may seem a bit odd to recommend a travel book but let’s face it: we are going to want to get out of the house and see a bit of the outside world when the confinement dust has settled down. The Great Canadian Bucket List ebook for Manitoba will give plenty of inspiration for ideas of places to visit in our province and events to go to. From fishing expeditions in the Interlake region to Polar Bear sightings near Churchill, from the local festivals to the out-of-the way hiking or biking trails, Robin Esrock provides another volume of his to-do suggestions in the amazing province you are already part of and yearn to (re-)discover.

Stay safe and healthy.


Coffee over Compliments

“I’d rather take coffee over compliments right now.”

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, and Eliza Scanlen as the March sisters

Winnipeg Public Library’s read-along this month is Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Even though our physical collections and buildings are closed for now, you can still access this classic novel as an ebook through Overdrive and as an audiobook through RBdigital. All that you need is a valid WPL library card.

This novel was recently adapted into an award-winning film in 2019 by Greta Gerwig, but that is by no means the only adaptation of this classic coming-of-age story. Between 1935 and 1950, there were at least 48 different radio dramas, according to The New Yorker. In addition to the well-known movie and tv adaptations, there’s been a ballet, an opera, and even a Broadway musical starring Sutton Foster as Jo. If you want more information on the various versions out there, please check out this interesting article.

Little Women was picked by the “Time to Read” listeners in a poll on our Facebook Group as our next read, so we are extra excited to hear what our listeners have to say.

Keep an eye on WPL’s social media and the Time To Read website for discussion questions around the middle of May.

In the meantime, our latest episode on “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is available for your listening pleasure.

Until next time, we hope you all find TIME TO READ.


Hidden Gems: Explore PastForward

How about exploring your province while at home? The Winnipeg Public Library has an amazing free resource that can be used by all to explore the rich history of Manitoba through PastForward: a database of digitized primary sources.

Carnegie Library

Here you will find images, audio, and more, related to Winnipeg’s past. From vintage postcards to historical directories to oral histories, these materials can be browsed and downloaded.

St. Andrews Locks , 1912

Historical Postcards

The historical postcard collection is a personal favourite, containing thousands of original postcards showcasing Winnipeg and other Manitoba locations as they were from the late 19th century to the 1950’s. The database allows the user to browse by location name, subject or year range. In many instances, the original sender’s message has been preserved and can still be read, providing an additional human element to the historical context. We owe the existence of this resource in large part to two individuals: Rob McInnes and Martin Berman who donated their extensive personal collections to the library to digitize and post online.


Henderson Directories

Another popular resource accessible though PastForward is our collection of digitized Henderson’s Directories for the City of Winnipeg. For those not familiar, Henderson’s Directories were created like regular telephone directories, but were searchable by street address as well as household and business name, and also included other useful information like their profession. Thanks to a partnership with the University of Alberta, and made available on the Peel’s Prairie Provinces database, you can research historical information about the people and businesses that were listed as living in the city from 1880 to 1965. Through Peel you can also browse other Manitoba or prairie city and town directories as well.

While researching his book The Mosaic Village: An Illustrated History of Winnipeg’s North End, local author Russ Gourluck interviewed many present and former residents of this famed Winnipeg neighbourhood. He has generously donated the interview recordings to the Winnipeg Public Library in order to make them freely accessible.  The stories revealed in these audio interviews are as diverse as the people who participated in them. Some have become well-known personalities. Some are business owners. Some were born in the North End, while others moved there. All called it their home.

And More..                                    

PastForward allows you to look at posters, handbills, and photographs of familiar venues of the past. You can also browse through collections of historical photographs and monthly bulletins related to the Winnipeg Public Library.

You can also go and check our “History Mystery” on the WPL Facebook account.  We will post sections of vintage postcards twice a week for you to guess the featured Winnipeg locations as they appeared at the time. Come and check it out!


market square