Monthly Archives: February 2019

In the Spotlight: Osborne Library, Millennium Library – Youth Services, Harvey Smith Library

In the Spotlight – where we share what’s happening at your library branches! This In the Spotlight focuses on the Osborne, Millennium, and Harvey Smith Libraries.

Osborne Seed Library at the Osborne Library 

The second year of the Osborne Seed Library is coming to a close, with approximately 300 packs of seeds having been “checked out” so far. The Seed Library is a free program to encourage gardening and local food production. By saving seeds we are preserving heirloom varieties and protecting biodiversity in our food crops. Just like the books you borrow from us, seeds also have a story to tell – from new immigrants bringing seeds from their home countries to re-discovering ancient squash seeds, like this huge Gete-Okosomin squash, grown in the People Garden this summer.

Carole, Branch Head of the Osborne Library, holding a Gete-Okosomin squash! This squash can grow to be 18 pounds. It’s a delicious squash too – sweet with hints of melon.


Every gardener we know loves to talk about their garden and what they are planting, and each season is filled with new discoveries. Winnipeg Public Library is also offering several gardening programs throughout March and April to help get you growing. Check out page 6 of the March/April At The Library Guide.

Thanks to all the gardeners who contributed seeds back in November. We hope you have great success with the seeds from our library, and don’t forget to set a few aside for us again in the fall!

Thanks to everyone who donated seeds for this year’s Seed Library. Don’t forget about us this fall when harvesting your seeds. We’ll be accepting donations!

You still have a few days to pick up some seeds –  we still have tomato, lettuce, squash (including the Gete-Okosomin), pumpkin, bean and cilantro seeds available.


Millennium Library – Youth Services

The Youth Services department is made up of 8 staff who are passionate about providing quality programming. You can find many of us running Baby Rhyme Time, Time for Twos, or Family Story Time on any given day in the program room. Plus, we love to get creative! When you visit our section on the main floor of Millennium Library be sure to look around at the myriad of displays that celebrate literature and community!

Prairie Sky getting everything started by introducing the readers. 

Prairie Sky getting everything started by introducing the readers.

One of our newer programs is called Read by Queens. This story time has  invited guest readers from the Sunshine Bunch of local organization Sunshine House. This year it was a part of the very popular Take Your Child to the Library Day and we went ALL OUT with glitter beards, unicorn masks and drag queen colouring sheets, decorative scarves, and a puppet theatre.

With the help of some librarians the royalty thoughtfully selected these stories to read:

Kate, a Youth Advisory Council volunteer, helped everyone making a glitter beard.

Kate, a Youth Advisory Council volunteer, helped everyone making a glitter beard.

Queens Starra, Feather and Moxie

Queens Starra, Feather and Moxie.

If you and your family want to attend this program you can look for it in the spring where we will be back with new stories. In the meantime, come visit us at the Youth Services section on the main floor of Millennium Library.


The WELL Program at Harvey Smith Library

Tucked in the Harvey Smith Library is a bright and inviting little classroom that houses the WELL program. A passerby can’t help but notice the activity – books, binders and laptops mix with papers, mugs of coffee… and laughter. There’s always a good time to be had in learning.

The WELL (West End Literacy and Learning) program is a certified adult literacy program funded in part by the Government of Manitoba. Up to 12 adult learners at a time are in the program, improving their basic writing, reading, numeracy and other skills. Some are preparing to enter mature student diploma programs. Others are working towards skills for employment. “I want to get better with my reading and writing to go to a higher program in the future”, says one student. “I like coming here because it’s welcoming”, says another. “We learn about Canadian history, math, spelling and we also learn about our nouns.”

Volunteer tutors provide one-on-one help under the lead of the instructor, Shannon. Classroom shelves are stocked with level-appropriate readers, dictionaries and numeracy games. Every day starts with journaling – Shannon then makes corrections and writes back to the learners after class. On Mondays, extra time is given to math. The laptops come out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for online spelling and vocabulary – as well as writing short presentations and letters. Thursdays are a mix of activities and catching up on the week’s work.

Shannon with students in the WELL Program.

The program welcomes new learners year-round with continuous enrollment. Learn more about the WELL Program including volunteers or scheduling an intake interview!


Somebody That I Used To Know

It’s been argued that there are no original ideas anymore, and when you consider the number of retellings of classic or well known tales, you might be inclined to agree. However, sometimes you come across a version of a story that manages to remind you of what you liked  about the original while still presenting you with something new and exciting. Here are a few books that might have you thinking, hey, that reminds me of somebody that I used to know!

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay, AKA Romeo and Juliet

Juliet, after being murdered by Romeo to ensure his own immortality, has spent 700 years fighting her fickle husband for the souls of true lovers. Their battle continues until the day Juliet meets someone she’s forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

The Splintered Series by A.G. Howard, AKA Alice in Wonderland

This trilogy is a ghoulish take on the weirdness that is Wonderland, and although I never cared much for the original, this series captured my attention. It had one of the first scenes I can remember unsettling me so much I had to put a book down and walk away from it. Main character Alyssa is a descendant of the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland who must  pass a series of tests to fix Alice’s mistakes if she wants to save her family from their curse.

If the idea of a Dark Wonderland appeals to you, it’s well worth checking out A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney, along with its sequel, A Dream So Dark. This Alice is trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland, yet still has to contend with curfew, an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA.

Brightly burning

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne, AKA Jane Eyre (but in space!)

This retelling manages to keep enough of the gothic romance elements that characterize Charlotte Bronte’s novel that you recognize it, and maybe even know where it’s going, but while still bringing in new elements to keep the reader from getting bored.

Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on the private ship, the Rochester. Unfortunately, no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet. Surrounded by mysteries, Stella must decide whether to follow her head or her heart.

The Ravenspire Series by C.J. Redwine, AKA fairy tales

Specifically, books 1 – The Shadow Queen (Snow White) and book 4 – The Blood Spell (Cinderella). These folkloric classics become dark epic fantasies in Redwine’s hands,

shadow queen

In The Shadow Queen, Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. In the neighboring kingdom, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed, the second-born is suddenly responsible for saving his kingdom. But, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

The Blood Spell  follows Blue de la Cour. When her father is murdered and a cruel but powerful woman claims custody of Blue and her property, one wrong move could expose her–and doom her once and for all. The only one who can help? The boy she’s loathed since childhood: Prince Kellan Renard, crown prince of Balavata. Kellan must find a bride among the kingdom’s head families and announce his betrothal–but escalating violence among the families makes the search nearly impossible. When mysterious forces lead to disappearances throughout Balavata, Blue and Kellan must work together. What they discover will lead them to the darkest reaches of the kingdom, and to the most painful moments of their pasts.

Hazel wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert has much of the same ruthlessness that the original tales collected by the Brothers Grimm possessed. When Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

So many books, so little time. What do you prefer, the classics in their original form, a fresh take on a beloved tale, or something entirely new?

Happy reading,


It’s the month to jam with FAWM!

ideaMILL sound booth

I recently discovered that February is FAWM, or February Album Writing Month. Musicians from all over the world are challenged to write 14 songs in 28 days. Whether you’re an established professional with multiple albums under your belt, or a beginner who’s hammering out your very first song, musicians of all abilities are welcome to join. Members join online for free and upload their tracks as they go. In case you’re wondering, no – nothing bad happens if you don’t reach 14, and no – there isn’t any prize for writing more than 14 either! It’s the challenge itself that’s the reward. The FAWM website acts as a supportive online arts community, with musicians listening to each other’s tracks while offering feedback, friendly criticism and encouragement.

As a musician myself I was eager to join FAWM this month. My grand scheme was to write this blog about my experience writing the many songs I would have uploaded by now…except it’s mid-way through the month and I have yet to upload a single one. Yup. Writer’s Block. Or Laziness? Could be both or either! Whichever it is, I need a kick in the butt to get started on my songwriting.

Although the online FAWM community is great to share your finished tracks with, sometimes all you need to get an idea out of your head and onto paper is a real, live person to jam with. At the ideaMILL we are offering two ‘FAWM Collaborathons’ for musicians who are participating in FAWM. Participants can collaborate on songs together by jamming out chord progressions and fine tuning lyrics. The event is free and participants are welcome to drop in – no registration necessary.

Maybe you’re not involved with FAWM, but you’re ready to take the next step of recording your music? Lucky for you, the ideaMILL has two Whisper Rooms that are available to book. One booth is larger, wheelchair accessible, and can fit up to 3 people, while the other booth is meant for a solo artist. We have recording software on our laptops such as FL Studio, Reaper, Tracktion and Audacity. Microphones, headphones and midi keyboards are also available to book. Visit our online booking system to see all of the products that you can book at the ideaMILL.

Maybe you’re into music but you’re not into songwriting? Then perhaps Make Music Mondays is the group for you. This free, drop in program occurs every Monday at the ideaMILL from 6:30-8pm. Musicians of all abilities are welcome to join and share original songs, or jam out to covers. We’ve had everyone from experienced professionals to people who have never held an instrument before. And if you just want to sit in and sing along with us, you’re more than welcome to do that too!

If music isn’t your thing, and you’re curious to explore what creative ideas are rolling around in the ole’ noggin, head on down to the ideaMILL anyway! Come discover something that may spark your creativity.

~ Brittany



Hé ho!

As you may have heard, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Festival du voyageur! This annual winter celebration of Franco-manitobain language and culture starts today – Friday, February 15 – and this year, the Winnipeg Public Library is taking part for four days (February 16, 17, 18 and 23).

You’ll find our bibliothèque éphémère (pop-up library) in the Forest Tent at Voyageur Park complete with a station de bricolage (craft station), and heures du conte (story times).

Plus all the usual Festival fun will be going on, of course, from pancake breakfasts to fiddling contests, dogsled rides, and snow sculptures. Bon festival!

And if you can’t make it out to join us, here are a few titles appropriate for Festival and Louis Riel Day…

Canoeing the Churchill: a practical guide to the historic voyageur highway

Louis Riel and the creation of modern Canada


Louis Riel: a comic strip biography

Making the voyageur world / Les voyageurs et leur monde

My first Métis lobstick

My true and complete adventures as a wannabe voyageur

Festival du voyageur HEHO!


Merry adventures and the spirit of rebellion – Robin Hood

I would say it is highly indicative that when a story has survived about 700 years, it must be pretty good. One of the most well-known English folktales, the story of Robin Hood has managed to resonate with people over hundreds of years and is as popular as ever today. I’ve always loved the adventure and spirit of rebellion it carries, and having tried many different versions over the years, rarely have I been disappointed. From ballads and poems to TV shows and movies, you can find a Robin Hood to suit any preferences. The genres span from aged classics, science fiction, romance, modern mysteries and stories suited for any age range.

Though the legend may have survived, almost all of the details have been tweaked and added to by storytellers over the years. The earliest written versions of Robin Hood, from 1450 on, portray an outright ‘bad guy’. At best, he was a self-interested outlaw with some inkling of sympathy for the poor. His raison d’être (taking from the rich to give to the poor) is nowhere to be found until many centuries later. Robin really only became the hero we know him as today with a few texts from the 1800s, in particular The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle and Ivanhoe by Walter Scott – both very entertaining and enlightening reads.

The more recent versions have changed characters and plot lines in major ways. You can find traditional characters like Will Scarlet, Alan-a-Dale, Little John, Much the Miller, Friar Tuck and Maid Marion in many different variations or not at all.

So where to begin? You can always start with a classic, and there are many adaptations that stick pretty close to older versions of the legend. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley is one of my personal favourites that has a good mix of old and new. The library has so many different versions of Robin Hood, there really is something for everyone.

Book cover - Stephen Lawhead's book "Hood"

If you’d like a gritty, darker Robin then you can try Steve Lawhead’s King Raven series (beginning with Hood), Angus Donald’s Outlaw Chronicles, or try a paranormal spin on the tale with Debbie Viguié’s Mark of the Black Arrow. Tim Hall’s Shadow of the Wolf is a good option for YA readers who also enjoy a supernatural and dark spin.

The Forest Queen book cover

Where you have adventure, there’s usually a spot of romance. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and Lady of Sherwood each have a good balance of both, as do their YA cohorts, The Forest Queen, A Daring Sacrifice and Scarlet.

Legend of Hong Kil Dong book cover

There are many graphic novel versions, including DC Comic’s Red Hood and the Outlaws, Outlaw by Tony Lee and for younger readers, Robin Hood: Outlaw of Sherwood Forest. One of my favourites was The Legend of Hong Kil Dong, a Korean addition aimed at younger readers.

Kids and tweens have tons of options to choose from. Will in Scarlet and The Band of Merry Kids are both historical fiction with a similar feel. If you prefer female main characters, then Hawksmaid, Shadows of Sherwood and Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street will be right up your alley. Younger readers will enjoy Robin Hood adapted by Annie Ingle. It also makes the perfect read-aloud for these cold winter days!

When talking Robin Hood (at the office water cooler, for example) you’d be remiss not to mention some of the wonderful films. Most enter the ‘hood’ with Disney’s Robin Hood (1973), but Prince of Thieves and Men in Tights are also popular editions. The Adventures of Robin Hood is a fan favourite from 1938 and definitely wins the best wardrobe award. On my to-do list are the BBC series Robin Hood, which seems to fit into that darker, grittier category, as well as the most recent (put your hold on it now!) Robin Hood fresh out of theatres.

Happy reading!


What I Love to Read

Bibliophile: (n) A lover of books; someone who finds joy and peace of mind while holding a quality book.

Being passionate about your work is one of the greatest gifts that you can have in this life, and I’m so fortunate that my job allows me not only to indulge in my passion for reading but also to share it with others. Since February is also I Love to Read month I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some of my most current favourite books. I’m fickle about my favourites, so this list changes often, but these are the books that are currently on the list.


penguin in love

Penguin in Love by Selina Yoon

You can never go wrong with a penguin story, and this story not only has penguins, it has knitting and (almost) unrequited love.



ruinous sweep

The Ruinous Sweep by Tim Wynne-Jones

Donovan Turner has lost his memory and has no idea what he’s doing on a dark, deserted stretch of road in the middle of the night, after being tossed out of a moving car. Then things really start to get interesting. This book kept me guessing from beginning to end, and my first impulse after finishing it was to read it again, to really be able to savour the intricate twists and turns in the plot.



Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda

In contrast to The Ruinous Sweep, which I read quickly (both times, and there will likely be a third reading in the near future) Gmorning, Gnight! is best read only a page at a time, preferably once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Lin-Manuel’s upbeat and inspiring words, coupled with Jonny Sun’s incomparable illustrations are the best way to start and end your day.


synchro boy

Synchro Boy by Shannon McFerran

I loved this story of a teen competitive racing swimmer being brave enough to try synchronized swimming. Bart’s journey of self-discovery is centred around the swimming pool, where he finds a way to be true to himself, despite the pressures and perceptions of those around him.

To my way of thinking, the only thing that’s better than reading a great book is telling someone about it. So what’s on your list?



The Right Book for the Right Time

three-body problemOver the last couple week, I’ve committed a librarian faux-pas. I recently read Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem and have been telling everyone to read it because they’ll love it. It’s so good; I don’t understand how someone could not love it! It’s compelling, imaginative, and suspenseful. Covering topics as broad as theoretical physics, Chinese political history, aliens, video games, with a sprinkle of social commentary, the author still succeeds in telling an engaging story.

The faux-pas I committed isn’t from being so excited about a book that I can’t stop talking about it—I highly encourage everyone to do this!—but rather, telling people they should read it without taking into consideration their reading preferences and interests, and hyping up the series so much that I promise they’ll love it. I end up taking responsibility for that person’s enjoyment of the book, and that is something I definitely can’t control. I’m usually more careful, but when a book is this good, my judgment gets clouded.

But when you come to the library and ask for a book recommendation, we’ll be much more professional. We’ll ask you a few questions to get a sense of what you like:

  • Which books have you really enjoyed in the past?
  • What sort of book are you looking for today?
  • Do you prefer books that are focused on character, plot, setting, or language?

the dark forestIt may take us a few minutes to figure out what to suggest, but know that we’re basing those suggestions on your reading preferences. We’ll usually give a few suggestions so you can figure out what works for you. Reading a book is a very personal experience and so much more than its subject or genre. Language is more nuanced than that and so to get the perfect book for the perfect moment we have to take into account different factors such as your mood, your level of engagement, your openness to different experiences, and so on. If you can’t make it into a branch for your next suggestion, make sure to check out our new Info Guide: Your Next Great Read for ways to discover new titles.

death's endThe stars aligned for me with The Three-Body Problem. Just before the holidays, I was reading a mystery novel more focused on the sense of place and character (P.D. James’ An Unsuitable Job for a Woman), but I was looking for something different – something fast paced to contrast the slow days of winter. I wanted a story that was plot-oriented yet more stimulating than the usual action-thrillers I go for. I overheard a friend losing his mind over this book called Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu, recently translated into English and set in the same world as the Three-Body Trilogy. Intrigued, I picked up the first in the series at the library and subsequently lost my mind over the writing style, the mysterious plot, and Cixin Liu’s prediction of humanity’s response at finding out there is extra-terrestrial intelligence in the universe.

You should really read The Three-Body Trilogy. It’s exhilarating! But if it’s not for you, let us help you discover something that will excite you.

– Rémi