Author Archives: winnipegpublibrary

Let them read cake

13698449723_c09dc166fc_zEvery year, the Library Board of the Winnipeg Public Library organizes a fabulous “Books 2 Eat” event. This year’s Books 2 Eat will take place on Saturday, April 25 at the Millennium Library.

For the fifth year, we’ll hold an edible art exhibition and competition. Book and food lovers are invited to create an edible piece of art that has something to do with books. Those are the only rules – how you choose to interpret them is part of the fun! Think S’more and Peace, Alice in Wonderbread, Goodnight Moon Pie… (If you’re looking for more punny inspiration, try this list that starts with Banana Karenina and only gets sillier from there.)

The Challenge

  • Your creation can refer to a title, scene or character, look like a book or book cover, or just have something to do with books. It must be made entirely of edible materials, raw or cooked.
  • Enter in one of 3 categories: Family (adults collaborating with kids under 14); Amateur (14 & over); or Professional/Culinary School Students.
  • All edible entries will be put on display and a prize winner will be chosen by public vote.

How to Enter
Visit the Books 2 Eat website, fill out an online entry form, and email it to The deadline to submit an entry form is coming up on Monday, April 20. Of course, your edible creation doesn’t have to be dropped off at the Library until April 24 or 25.

13698438323_22ae7cab16_zBut there’s lots more to enjoy at Books 2 Eat, even if you aren’t tempted to try your hand at edible art.

Think you can hunt down food-related clues through all four floors of the Millennium Library? Kids and teens can pick up a Smorgasbord Scavenger Hunt sheet at the Children’s Desk and find out! Hand in your answers (right or wrong) by 3 pm and you’ll be entered in a prize draw.

Older foodies can whet their appetite at talks by Rachel Isaak, from Sam’s Place café and used bookstore, and Parlour Coffee’s Nils Vik.

At the end of the day, the winner of the edible art contest will be announced, and light refreshments will be served.

Check out our website for all the details on what’s happening as part of Books 2 Eat. Bon appetit!


po e tree

2146221973_ca0a73d7e4_zPoetry:  many people cringe at the word. It brings up grade school memories of obtuse arrangements of the English language and the mandatory memorization of their meter.

So let me start with a story instead. Once upon a time I took a creative writing course in poetry. It was in university. It was for credit. And when the instructor, an established poet, walked in and jovially stated that he didn’t like 90% of the poetry out there, my stomach sank uncomfortably deep. I swallowed hard and looked around the classroom: of the ten of us, did this mean that only one would receive a passing grade?

My friend dropped out of the class. She was a songwriter, a lyricist, and much more terrified of the class than me. I stuck with it though.  I was curious.  My instructor was humble and this intrigued me. He told us that this was his first time teaching a university course, and sometimes I got the feeling that he was more terrified of his students than we were of him.

As the course went on, I was exposed to more and more poetry and I made more of an effort to understand the poetry I consumed. What choice did I have? How could I write poetry if I didn’t understand poetry? Most of the poetry was take it or leave it, but every once in a while there was a gem. A poem that made me say:  “Wow, I like this!” and the crazy thing was, sometimes that was followed by “I’m not even sure if I understand this.” My instructor’s words took on new meaning:  It’s not that 90% of the poetry out there is garbage (although garbage poetry exists). Only about 10% of the poetry out there is going to intrigue any given reader.

Today I’m going to share with you some of my favourite poets. They may not speak to you the way they speak to me, so if not, I encourage you to go out and find a new favourite poet.


There is a school of thought in poetry that when composing a poem one should always keep in mind how a poem will sound out loud. This is because poetry is the oldest genre, one that predates writing. In a time when it wasn’t possible to record a poem on paper, many of poetry’s conventions, such as rhyme, meter, etc. were meant to ensure poems could be easily committed to memory.

bpNichol deliberately eschews this school of thought. I first encountered bpNichol flipping through 20th Century Poetry & PoeticsI had no choice but to stop at his poem Blues, in an anthology of poetry it was most immediately like no other. While it certainly uses letters and words, it is nearly impossible to describe using letters and words. Blues, like many of bpNichol’s other works is a painting done with characters instead of a brush. For an introduction to bpNichol I recommend An H in the Heart which is a compilation of his work selected by George Bowering and Michael Ondaatje.

Bill Bissett

scarsI, perhaps like many of you, first met Bill Bissett on the bus. Not literally, but as a part of the Poetry in Transit series that appeared amongst the advertisements on city busses in 2013-2014. The featured poem, it usd 2 b, reads like the text of a modern teenager. But if you look at his bibliography, Bill Bissett has been omitting vowels since 1966.

There is a tendency to think of 733+ speak as lazy and/or obnoxious, but Bill Bissett’s poems help to make a case that writing in such a style can be used in a very deliberate fashion. It usd 2 b can be found in Bill Bissett’s book scars on th seehors.

Marlene Nourbese Philip

I encountered Marlene Nourbese Philip’s work while taking a course on diasporic Canadian literature. Her book She Tries Her Tongue Her Silence Softly Breaks is a collection of poems that addresses the challenges of finding a voice as an immigrant, a woman, and a Canadian. In her poem Discourse on the Logic of Language I was immediately fascinated by the way she uses a ‘/’ to conserve space and combine the words ‘languish’ and ‘anguish’ into ‘l/anguish.’ Philip is another example of a poet who manipulates the way characters are printed on the page to enhance the meaning of her poems.

John Weier

John WViolenMakereier taught me that when writing good poetry, you only get one shot at love. Love is to poetry as avoidance is to the plague:  cliché. So write your love poem, because every poet must write at least one.

There are so many poems about love that the word love is a cliché. If you want to write poetry, go ahead and write your one love poem. Then go and write all the rest of your poems and see what else the world has to offer. After that, check out Weier’s book, Violinmaker’s Lament and count how many times he uses the word love.

Poetry at the Library

April is poetry month! I didn’t want to mention it until now, because I didn’t want you to think that I was writing about poetry just because it was poetry month. If you’re interested in learning more about poetry, check out the following events at the library:

Hidden Poetry at Osborne Library
Saturday, April 25: 2-4pm
Hidden poetry is a fun, easy way to create your own poetry.  You simply black out words on an existing page of text, and what remains is your poem!  You can also use our button maker to make your poetry portable!

Speaking Crow: poetry open mic at Millennium Library
First Tuesday of every month
Share your own poetry with others, or just sit down, relax, and hear what other local poets have to say.  Speaking Crow is Winnipeg’s longest running Poetry Open Mic.

On The Same Page at
Cover image for North End love songsOn The Same Page is Winnipeg’s largest book club. The selection for 2014-2015 is Katherena Vermette’s Governor General’s Literary Award winning book of poetry:  North End Love SongsJoin Katherena Vermette and other members of the Indigenous Writers’ Collective for a live reading on Tuesday, May 28th at 7:00 pm at the McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave.


Twenty New Star Wars Novels? Yes Please!

Star Wars Logo

Like any good nerd, I’m practically buzzing as I scour the internet for any new tidbits about the upcoming Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, that hits theaters this December 18th. I’ll take anything to whet my appetite for all things long ago, from a galaxy far, far away. Fan theories about the plot of the new movie, production stills, concept art; heck, I even read this really in depth discussion about the new lightsaber design from the teaser trailer!

The most exciting news has to be the recently announced twenty books that will bridge the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This announcement comes hot on the heels of the controversial decision by Disney Studios and Lucasfilms to discard the dozens of novels in the “Expanded Universe”.

The Expanded Universe novels covered the aftermath of Return of the Jedi and the subsequent 40 years. Director J.J Abrams and his team of writers have decided to tell a different story, essentially making the Expanded Universe novels non-canonical in the Star Wars Universe.

Needless to say I’d felt a little cheated when I’d heard this news. All those storylines, all those characters I’d loved reading about, all those evil villains were no longer relevant! However, all that means is that these 20 new titles will bring a whole plethora of new characters and stories into the universe that I, and so many other nerds, love!

Publishers have conceded that not all 20 titles will be full novels; some will be graphic novels, some will be short stories, and there is no confirmation on when the first title with hit the shelves. One thing you can be sure of, WPL will have it on the shelves as soon as possible!

Luke Skywalker

May the Force be with you.


Stop Buying Stuff!

“We need to remember that the work of our time is bigger than climate change. We need to be setting our sights higher and deeper. What we’re really talking about, if we’re honest with ourselves, is transforming everything about the way we live on this planet.” Rebecca Tarbotton, Executive Director of the Rainforest Action Network from 1973-2012.

It’s Spring – the time of year when I get the urge to purge. I go through every closet and make keep, toss, and donate piles and wonder how I accumulated so much stuff. neverstoptothinkThere are 2 schools of thought on this subject. One is the “more is more” espoused in Never Stop to Think… Do I Have a Place for This? by Mary Randolph Carter, a self-confessed magpie. But the junk she picks up at flea markets and antique shops and artfully arranges is so darn charming.

stylesimplicityHome décor eye candy is cleverly displayed in Style and Simplicity which argues that there is a place for carefully curated ephemera to help us  “live each moment as beautifully as we possibly can.”

prettythingsAt the other end is of the spectrum is A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy, a graphic memoir by Sarah Lazarovich. She  illustrates and catalogues items that she coveted but refused to buy based on the shopper’s philosophy, “Buy clothes. Not too many. Mostly quality.”, as well as a “Buyerarchy of Needs”.

life-changingTime magazine recently examined “The Joy of Less” and claims that 75% of garages in America are so full that homeowners can’t park their cars inside. A whole subculture of experts have mushroomed around this acquisitiveness – self storage rental, downsizing and organizing consultants, and junk removal companies. A wildly successful book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up responds to this urge to purge. According to Time her name has now “become a verb: To Kondo your sock drawer.”

thischangeseverythingThese thoughts  intrigue me especially after reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein, an investigation into the climate change crisis precipitated by capitalism. Klein urges us to “consume less – right away” and  look at “changing how much energy we actually use: how often we drive, how often we fly, whether our food has to be flown to get to us, whether the goods we buy are built to last, how large our homes are.”

what'smineisyoursThe time has come to investigate new approaches to acquisition such as co-ops and the share economy as exemplified in What’s Mine is Yours. The new minimalism is explored in Everything that Remains.

Is there a happy medium between austere minimalism and overconsumption? Start by considering small steps to limit purchases. Why not have a swap party as a way to socialize with friends, make a change, and save the planet? Everything from clothing to toy and book swaps will help you feel lighter and end up with something new to you for zero dollars. And don’t forget – your local library is the best place to borrow rather than buy resources such as  books, magazines, DVDs, and videogames.


New Features in the WPL to Go App


We’ve got some new features in our WPL to Go app that we’re sure you’re going to enjoy. If you’ve got the app already installed, the features are live already (no need to install an update, just open your app and explore!)

wpltogoappmainNew Look

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that we’ve updated our app icons… our old icon set was looking a bit dated, so we’ve gone in and done a bit of a makeover. The new look is cleaner and sleeker – we hope you like it! If something’s not where you expect it to be in the app, note that all of the services that you’ve been using the app for – searching for books, checking your library account, contacting the library – are still there; we’ve just rearranged things a bit to make room for some new content.

Leave your card at home

The most anticipated new feature is the app’s ability to store your library card number and display your barcode for scanning at the checkout desk.   That’s right, you can now leave your library card at home (or lost in the back of your wallet, whatever) and just scan your app instead!

To show your barcode at checkout, you need to first save your library card in the app. If you use the app to place holds on items all the time, you’ve probably done this already – just check the “Remember login” box on the My Account sign in page.

wpltogoapplogin   wpltogoappshow   wpltogoappcard

Once you’ve signed in, you’ll now see a line that says “Library Card (#####): show card for scanning.” Tap this and a version of your library card will appear on the screen. You can show this to the staff member at your local library’s checkout desk to access your account, or use it on any of our self-checkout machines (note that you may have to turn your screen brightness up to 100% to get the scan to work).

cool new content

wpltogoappcontentWe’ve also added more library content on the front page of the app, so you can launch all of your favourite WPL services with a tap of your finger. We’ve always included a quick link to our available OverDrive eBooks and eAudiobooks (and that’s still there) but now we’ve also added quick links to our hoopla digital (movies, music and audiobooks) and Zinio eMagazines services, too.

We’ve also added a quick link down at the bottom of the app that takes you to our full library website, for those occasions when you find you need to access a library service that isn’t included in the app (after all, it’s an app, it can’t do everything).

what’s happening at the library this week?

wpltogoappcalInterested in checking out a program at the library? Want to know if there’s any interesting programs at your local branch this week? Or looking for computer classes to help brush up on a skill? Tap on Programs and Events to open the complete list of upcoming library events – and then search the Calendar list for something you’re interested in.

Enter your local branch name in the search box to find events near you, or search for a descriptive word like “story,” “ipad,” “HELP” (yes, we have programs that match that term!)

Try it out!

If you haven’t already downloaded the WPL to Go app, you can do so right now just by going to (the page will redirect you to your device’s app store so you can install it right away – it’s free!).

You can also try it live before installing the app by going to on your device. You can try this on your computer, too – just go to the page and then shrink your page window down to phone size.

We hope you enjoy it!


Cartoons for the Reluctant Adult

Let’s face it: being an adult is hard. You have to go to work, pay the bills, do your own laundry… there are days where it all seems a little overrated. Don’t you ever wish you could go back to being a kid, even just for a little while?

Well, they say that growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional, and never has that been more true than today. The upper age limit on formerly youthful pursuits like video games and social media is constantly rising. Gone are the days where we put aside childish things, and nowhere is this truer than in the realm of animation. Cartoons used to be for kids, but have been gradually and steadily becoming more mature. Sometimes it’s simply adult humour; other times, it’s more serious plot lines; and in many cases, it’s a simple appreciation of the talent and beauty in the art itself. Whatever the appeal is to you, the library has a number of titles available to grown-ups who just want to watch some Saturday morning cartoons.

Cover of "The Simpsons" DVD featuring Ralph Wiggum

The Simpsons
Hailed by both Time and The A.V. Club as one of the greatest shows of all time, The Simpsons is the show that launched adult cartoons into the mainstream. Though its primary aim is to parody American culture and satirize the middle class, The Simpsons has always done so with great heart, emphasizing the importance of family and friendship above the shallow, fleeting distractions of modern American life. No wonder it’s still going strong in its 26th season.



You’d think that being the mastermind behind one of the most significant shows in television history would be enough for Simpsons-creator Matt Groening, but no. In 1999 he launched a second animated-for-adults series about a pizza delivery boy who’s cryogenically frozen on New Year’s Eve, only to re-awake in the year 3000. Philip J. Fry must navigate a future world full of alien species, retrofuturistic technology, and an evil robot manufacturer named ‘Mom’, among other things. On the surface, much of the show may seem to rely on wacky premises and low-brow humour, but savvy viewers will quickly realize it’s one of the smartest shows to ever air – even going so far as to invent its own mathematical theorem.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Forget about the widely panned movie of the same name; the cartoon that was its 2015-03-20_Avatarinspiration is highly acclaimed by viewers and critics alike. Avatar takes place in a world where certain people are able to use a combination of psychic abilities and martial arts to manipulate the elements of earth, water, fire, and air. The story follows 12-year-old Aang and his friends as they try to save the Earth, Water, and Air Nations from a war led by the Fire Nation. The well-developed characters, complex themes, and high-quality art (a blend of anime and American cartoon styles) helped this children’s show cultivate a devoted adult audience. (If you count yourself among them, don’t miss the excellent sequel, The Legend of Korra.)

(Japanese animation, or anime, has a fervent audience, and varies in ways far too detailed to discuss here. For those interested in testing the waters, consider starting with the many award-winning films of master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.)

Adventure Time
Continuing the trend of cult favourites, 2015-03-20_AdventureTimeBMOAdventure Time is one of the clearest examples ever seen of “you either get it or you don’t”. Devoted fans praise the animation, complex-yet-absurd stories, and use of both subtle and overt humour; others seem to get genuinely angry at how darn weird it is. Taking place in the magical land of Ooo, this colourful cartoon follows Jake the Dog and Finn the Human on their many adventures, which include everything from stopping the evil Ice King, to jamming with Marceline the Vampire Queen, to exploring any and every dungeon they come across (they’re more common than you think!).

Bob’s Burgers
In the world of adult-oriented animation, shows generally follow one of two Cover of Bob's Burgers DVDhumour styles: the “how inappropriate and offensive can we be” (think South Park and Family Guy), or a blend of low-brow humour and extremely clever references (the aforementioned Simpsons and Futurama). Bob’s Burgers falls into the latter of those two categories. Following the travails of the Belcher family, who own the titular hamburger restaurant, the show is just as likely to make a fart joke as it is to reference an obscure piece of literary canon. For music fans, Bob’s Burgers also guarantees hilarious, catchy songs at the heart of nearly every episode, some of which have been covered by musicians like St. Vincent, The National, and Sleater-Kinney.

So go ahead. Watch some cartoons. Heck, eat a whole carton of ice cream while you do it. Who’s gonna stop you? You’re a grown up.

Share your favourite grown-up cartoons with us in the comments! Is the library’s collection missing your favourite title? Make a suggestion, and we’ll look into purchasing it!


Searcher beware

In our internet age, it can seem as though the library is losing its place as a provider of information. I just want to say that can’t be farther from the truth! Sure, you can Google any kind of information, or YouTube many of the DIY videos available out there, or even Wikipedia just about any subject. But unfortunately, much of that information may be erroneous, misleading or biased. It’s not rare to get a message like this from Wikipedia:wiki

Or find joke YouTube channels like this one, which purposefully mispronounces words for no reason at all. And don’t get me started on all the misinformation one can get from a Google search.

The internet can be a great starting point, but I find I end up doing more research than necessary to figure out if that information is accurate.

Of course the library has many books on just about any subject, and the publishers often have better fact checkers than… whoever fact checks on the internet, if anyone does! But that’s not all the library has to offer. We have many online resources that provide accurate information, which anyone can access at home. Let me list a few databases as alternatives.

Instead of Wikipedia, check out Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedias and Oxford Reference. Grolier’s has articles for all reading levels, as well as videos and timelines, and Oxford Reference is a helpful resource with articles ranging from mythology, history, dictionaries, law, biographies and so much more.

Our new Chilton’s Auto Repair database is a wonderful alternative to looking up YouTube DIY videos or sifting through pages and pages of online forums.

For those of you looking for proper English pronunciation, make sure you get the right one and look at Pronunciation Power. This wonderful database helps those who want to improve their English pronunciation hear the different sounds of English and includes recordings of a wide range of words.

Getting proper medical information on the internet can be very tricky, so make sure to reference our new online database: Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties. CPS is the standard for drug monographs and will have all the information you need.

Online reviews can be deceiving or contain little explanation for their ratings. Some product reviews are even written as a form of sarcastic entertainment (such as the BIC Cristal for Her Ball Pen). Make sure to get serious, independent reviews for all your next purchases with our subscription to Consumer

Finally, the database of databases, EBSCOhost, includes 8 databases that you can search at the same time. From academic articles to newspaper and magazine articles regarding all kinds of subjects, this resource will help you with almost any school or university project. It will even help you find that article you read a few years ago in Maclean’s…

And of course, if ever you need help navigating these databases, never hesitate to call your local library or visit the information desk there. We will gladly help you!