Tag Archives: Erica @ WPL

“Secret” Things the Library Can Do for You: Part 2, Totally Online Stuff

HERE IT IS. The long-awaited second installment of things you never knew about the library. Today we’ll be talking about some of the techy secrets – the things the library offers 24/7 through our website.

Woman with laptop looking shocked.

I know. I’m excited, too.


A lot of times when I have to tell someone there’s a waiting list for a book they want they seem so disheartened. “But don’t give up!” I say, “there are audiobook versions! And eBook versions! And eAudiobook versions!” Often they end up with the book they want, just not how they expected.

(I know it can be daunting to get set up with a new format, but remember, you can always ask us for help.)

So here’s a super quick run down of the online and downloadable info and entertainment you can get through us, in case it helps you find something fun, interesting, or informative. It can all be found through our website as shown below, or through our eMedia Guide.


I drew the red arrows myself.


Warning: A lot of these services have nonsense names, so it’s easy to get confused. But you’ll get used to it!


More than 5000 eAudiobooks!

I’ve just recently become reacquainted with the joy of being read to. It’s a fabulous way to squeeze more reading into your life, since you can do it bussing or driving, or while doing housework, cooking, or gardening. We offer two ways to find thousands of electronic audiobooks – through OverDrive and Hoopla (more about both below).


TV and movies! And music!

hooplaHoopla also offers free streaming of movies, TV shows, and popular music. No holds, wait lists or fines. Hoopla! A different music service, called Naxos Music Library has tons of classical, folk, world and jazz music.



zinDownload full-colour, complete issues of magazines, like US Weekly, National Geographic, Mental Floss, Newsweek, Cosmo and more straight to your tablet with Zinio for Libraries. And then they’re yours to keep forever!


eBooks, so many ways!

We are a library, after all, and books are a big part of what we do. Some of our eBooks can be read right in your web browser (no apps to download or set up). This is offered through: Overdrive,  McGraw Hill, Tumble Books, and Bookflix.

McGraw Hill eBooks offers eBooks in lots of subjects like business, computing, nursing, languages and sciences chemistry, mathematics, psychology, accounting and computing.

tumblebooklogoTumble Book Cloud and Tumble Book Cloud Junior have eBooks, read-alongs, classic works of literature and audiobooks for EAL audiences, high-schoolers, and elementary school kids. Read-alongs are especially great for those still struggling with reading, or for EAL students. There are never any waiting lists for these.

Tumble Book Library is also great for kids as they are animated, talking children’s picture books adapted from print books, but made interactive with quizzes, puzzles and memory games.

BookFLIX does something pretty unique, in that it pairs classic storybooks with related non-fiction books, so kids can learn new things in the context of their favourite stories.

frodWe also subscribe to two downloadable eBook services – Overdrive and Freading – so that you can download books to your mobile device (smart phone, tablet, or eReader) and take them wherever you go. Overdrive is great for popular, newer titles. Using it is very similar to print books, though, in that the library pays per copy of each book, so you might find yourself on the waiting list for something in demand. Freading is great for when you want to find an ebook right away as they offer unlimited use of the books we purchase from them.

Did you already know any of these secrets??


Happy reading (and watching, and listening)!

– Erica

Are you up for the Go Wild Challenge??

book fly

Starting July 4, the Library is challenging you to EXPAND your reading horizons with the GO WILD! Summer Reading Challenge. Each week we will offer three ways for you to read something you might never have read before. To find the right book for you, browse our shelves or catalogue, check out our displays, and stay tuned to this blog.

For every week you try something new, enter our prize draws at any WPL branch!

Ready? Good! Go!

Here are your challenges for Week 1 – World Week (And, to get you started, some staff picks we think you might like…)

Challenge 1: A book set in South America

b1-3BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett

When terrorists seize hostages at an embassy party, an unlikely assortment of people is thrown together, including American opera star Roxanne Coss, and Mr. Hosokawa–Japanese CEO and her biggest fan.


The Trueba family embodies strong feelings from the beginning of the 20th century through the assassination of Allende in 1973.


In a prequel to Jane Eyre, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway lives in Dominica and Jamaica in the 1830s before she travels to England, becomes Mrs. Rochester, and goes mad.


In a near future that is not quite ours, a major scientific breakthrough permits historians to view, but not participate in, past events.

THE LOST CITY OF Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

Interweaves the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who vanished during a 1925 expedition into the Amazon, with the author’s own quest to uncover the mysteries surrounding Fawcett’s final journey and the secrets of what lies deep in the Amazon jungle.

b1-4THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES: A Journey Around South America by Ernesto (Che) Guevara

A chronicle of the author’s seven-month motorcycle journey throughout South America reveals the beginning of his transformation into a dedicated revolutionary.

WALKING THE AMAZON: 860 Days, One Step at a Time by Ed Stafford

Describes the author’s quest to walk the entire length of the Amazon River, offering details on the effects of deforestation and his encounters with both vicious animals and tribal members with machetes.


Staff picks for Challenge 2: A book set in the Middle East

3-2PERSEPOLIS: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

The great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval-al and vast contradictions between public and private life.


The award-winning author recounts his boyhood in war-torn Jerusalem of the 1940s and 1950s, his mother’s tragic suicide, his decision to join a kibbutz and change his name, and his participation in Israel’s political upheavals.

I AM MALALA: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

Describes the life of the young Pakistani who survived an assassination attempt and became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.


The lives of a fading aristocrat, voluptuous siren, devout doorman, secretly-gay editor, roof-squatting tailor, and corrupt politician intertwine in an apartment building in downtown Cairo.

3-3ALIF THE UNSEEN by G. Willow Wilson

A young Arab-Indian computer hacker unearths a secret book of the jinn, a book that may open a gateway to unimaginable power.

DE NIRO’S GAME by Rawi Hage

Follows the lives and choices of two best friends, Bassam and George, caught in Lebanon’s civil war. Both men are desperate to escape Beirut but choose different paths to accomplish their goals.


Staff picks for Challenge 3: A book set in Africa



A novel of postwar life in Sierra Leone, in which two friends struggle to rebuild their ruined village despite violence, scarcity and a corrupt foreign mining company.

HALF OF A YELLOW SUN by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Re-creates the 1960s struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria, following the intertwined lives of the characters through a military coup, the Biafran secession, and the resulting civil war.

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver

The lives of a fierce evangelical missionary and his wife and four daughters begin to unravel after they embark on a 1959 mission to the Congo.

2-1THIRTY GIRLS by Susan Minot

Forced to commit unspeakable atrocities after being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army, Ugandan teen Esther struggles to survive and escape.

ROAD TRIP RWANDA: A Journey Into the New Heart of Africa by Will Ferguson

Ferguson travels deep into Rwanda with friend Jean-Claude Munyezamu, who had escaped just before the genocide, where they discover a country reborn.

LONG WALK TO FREEDOM by Nelson Mandela

The leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement chronicles his life, including his tribal years, his time spent in prison, and his return to lead his people.


Happy reading!

  • Erica



Our authors, our stories

On Saturday, May 7, Millennium Library hosted our first ever Local Author Fair, which featured 40 Winnipeg and Manitoba authors. In the morning we heard talks from three on their personal journeys through writing and publishing, which I thought I’d share with you (as well as a bonus one at the end).

mamieFirst to speak was Elizabeth Murray, author of Holding on to Mamie. It was gut-wrenching to hear her talk about the need she felt to write her memoir, in order to deal with how her mother’s dementia poisoned their relationship and turned mother against daughter. About her book:

“As her dementia advanced, Mamie wrote a multitude of notes that evidence the anger and paranoia that are often symptomatic of it. This memoir offers unique insight into this inner turmoil, as well as the fears and frustrations of her daughter and primary caregiver.”

ensNext was Melinda Friesen, author of the dystopian novel Enslavement (book one of the One Bright Future series). In addition to speaking about how she got into writing as a stay-at-home mom, Melinda told us about how and why she and her team started the new Winnipeg company Rebelight Publishing. About her book:

“‘One World. One Currency. One Bright Future.’ That’s the promise made by OneEarth Bank after a global economic collapse—but only for those who obey. When Rielle’s parents refuse to comply, government officials force her into a Community Service Contract—a legalized form of slavery—and sell her to a wealthy, abusive banker, who might nevertheless hold the key to Rielle’s freedom.”

dancing.jpgLast to speak was Daniel Perron, author of Dancing Gabe: One Step at a Time. He told us how he unexpectedly found himself writing a book about a local celebrity and the many things he’s had to learn in order to see it self-published. About his book: 

“He was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, institutionalized at six, and non-verbal until he was ten…. Then became one of the most recognized and adored figures in Winnipeg. This is the journey of Gabe Langlois, his mother, his family, his friends, and the many medical professionals, local media and sports figures who influenced his life.”

There were dozens of other books at our fair in the afternoon (for a short time you can still find them all listed here).

For a small taste, here’s one. Because, you know, chocolate.

Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate by Doreen choco.jpgPendgracs

A delicious chocolaty tour, introducing us to chocolatiers, chocolatemakers, cocoa growers and chocolate events around the world. My kind of tourism. 

Want to learn more about our local authors? Get in touch, or stay tuned for our next Local Author Fair in November.

Keep on reading!


“Secret” Things the Library Can Do for You (Part 1)


shh. secret - Young boy with his finger over his mouth


Ok, they aren’t really secrets, but there are some things we offer here at the library that may as well be. Often, my family and friends are surprised by something I refer to. Maybe it’s because these aren’t programs that are featured in our bi-monthly newsletter, but services that we always offer. Or maybe we have to work on tooting our own horn. So in the interest of tooting, here are some of things I wish more people knew they could get from us.  There are a ton of these, but I’m going to start by mentioning four, and save the rest for next time.


Personalized book recommendations

One thing I wish more people knew about is how much staff LOVE giving book recommendations. It’s not always a quick process, but we love searching out new books for you. Talk to your local library person and see what happens! Side note – we might consult our website or our NoveList service, which you can also access yourself with your library card. You can search for books by appealing terms like “character-driven,” and “suspenseful”.


We’re not quiet

ottomancomedy jpgI’m always amused when people assume the library is still a quiet place. I suppose it can be sometimes. But we also host groups socializing, friends meeting up, kids running around and climbing on our animal ottomans and lots of programming in our public areas, like Folk Fest (for adults and kids), Library Out Loud, Comedy Fest, storytelling and more.


A spot just for you

All of our 20 locations have comfy armchairs for lounging and tables to work at. We have desks with plugs nearby for laptops and other gadgets. Some areas of the library are busier and noisier and welcome groups. Other sections tend to be quieter. Staff can tell you which are which. Millennium, Louis Riel, Henderson, and Sir William Stephenson Libraries all have Tutorial rooms that are great for small groups, and a large dedicated quiet study room. Check here for more information about booking a room. And of course our much-photographed sunny terrace.


Bonus tip: You can now tour all of Millennium Library streetview-style! Check out all the little corners you may not have had a reason to visit in person yet:


Cheap used books (and free for non-profits!)

All branches have ongoing used book sales where you can pick up A BAG OF BOOKS for $5.60. That’s right. A BAG. Some of these are withdrawn from our collection, but many were donations. All money goes toward new books for the library. So you can load up and help the library at the same time. Also, non-profits can get books for free. It’s true.


My circle drawing skills need some work!


I can’t let you go without reminding you of our worst-kept secret – we are always planning a zillion programs for you. We’re trying lots of things in the spring that we’ve never done before!

More secrets to come! Or for a sneak peek, chat with your local branch and they’ll fill you in.


Keep on reading!

– Erica


I Think, Therefore I Am… An Animal?


Such a good cover!

I just finished reading The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. I picked it up because I liked the cover. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book that way, but it worked out in this case (as it recently did with another book I tried because of the cover and enjoyed, Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator by Homer Hickam).

What I loved most about this book were the descriptions of the author’s direct interactions with the octopuses (yes octopuses, not octopi, as apparently you “can’t put a Latin ending–i–on a word derived from Greek, such as octopus”) at the New England Aquarium. I had never before heard an account of this type of intense and physical hand-to-sucker experience before.

Twisting, gelatinous, her arms boil up from the water, reaching for mine. Instantly both my hands and forearms are engulfed by dozens of soft, questing suckers.

Not everyone would like this… But Athena’s suction is gentle, though insistent. It pulls me like an alien’s kiss. Her melon-size head bobs to the surface, and her left eye–octopuses have a dominant eye, as people have dominant hands–swivels in its socket to meet mine. Her black pupil is a fat hyphen in a pearly glove. Its expression reminds me of the look in the eyes of paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses: serene, all-knowing, heavy with wisdom stretching back beyond time.

“She’s looking right at you,” Scott says (page 4-5).

In The Soul of an Octopus, Montgomery speculates on what it might be like to be an octopus, asking are they aware of themselves and the world around them? Is their intelligence in any way similar to ours? Do they possess what could be called a consciousness? In her quest for answers she becomes intimately familiar with several octopuses (Athena, Octavia, Kali and Karma) and shares in the stages of their lives at the aquarium.

I was also struck by two things that Montgomery mentions. One is the long-standing taboo within the scientific community on even asking such questions about animals. This taboo was powerful enough to have long prevented the exalted Jane Goodall from publishing some of her observations of chimpanzee behaviour (such as purposely deceiving one another), due to the fear that she wouldn’t be believed, or would be accused of projecting human emotion onto her study subjects. Apparently, this prejudice remains, and “is particularly strong against fish and invertebrates” (page 11). Much of the book deals with other animals in the aquarium and the unexpected behaviour staff, volunteers and visitors see them exhibiting.

The second comment was a mention of The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness of which I had never heard. This 2012 document was released by “a prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and computational neuroscientists” and it states:

[T]he weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.

Quite the statement! If you like you can read the full text.

This reminded me of another remarkable animal I had heard about at an event here at Millennium Library.

tucoBack in September, Canadian poet and author Brian Brett came to visit as part of Thin Air: The Winnipeg International Writers Festival. Back then I had gathered for a display other books related to his newest (and much celebrated) book, Tuco: The Parrot, the Others, and a Scattershot World. I was surprised to discover quite a number of other books on remarkable parrots. I’d always heard parrots were smart, but I hadn’t realized they’d been so studied, documented, and loved. Most of Brian’s talk here focussed on the astounding behaviour of his parrot Tuco and how he became convinced that parrots were so intelligent that they really shouldn’t be treated as “pets” at all.

dogsIt seems every month there’s another story, study or incident that indicates one animal or another is smarter than we previously thought. Sometimes it’s elephants, sometimes chimpanzees or dolphins. Dogs, cats, or rats. Octopuses or parrots. The library is a great place to discover more about this. You could try Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation by Marc Bekoff; Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness by Donald Griffin; or The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, which is the title of a book and movie, both of which are fabulous.


Another great cover!

So here’s to learning something new. Or if you feel like fiction, you could try the book I mentioned at the beginning, Carrying Albert Home since it now occurs to me that it also fits with this topic in a way: the eponymous Albert himself is an amazing (albeit fictional) animal – an alligator that smiles (see the cover picture), loves his human “mom”, and rolls on its back for belly rubs.

Either way, enjoy your reading!


Writing Someone Else’s Characters and Other Controversies

sequelBook sequels, like film adaptations, can be troublesome things for the people who love the original work. They often incite passion, so if you’re not ready to be disagreed with, you’d best be advised not to bring them up. It’s a subject that should be added to the list of those you should not mention if you want a peaceful get-together – politics, religion, and book sequels.


Clearly disagreeing about a sequel.

We are currently in the midst of the release of two particularly controversial sequels. The first is the new Lisbeth Salander thriller, The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Though all of author Stieg Larsson’s colossally popular Millennium series books were published after his death, this is the first to be written after his death by fellow Swede David Lagercrantz.

spiderThe publisher and Larsson’s estate both gave their blessing, saying Lagercrantz is “uniquely qualified” to carry on the series that Larsson would have continued had he not died so young and suddenly. “He knows what he’s talking about, about the police or the intelligence units in the Swedish government, how they work.” But Larsson’s de facto widow of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson, is less than thrilled as they never married, and she has no legal say. Gabrielsson says that “I wouldn’t have continued Stieg’s work. It was his language, his unique narrative… The worst thing is how saddened Stieg would have been. He never let anyone work on his literary texts. He would have been furious.”

I didn’t know this all this until a colleague told me about it the other day. I did know that many (many, MANY) people are excited about another Salander and Blomkvist adventure. Many agencies reported The Girl in the Spider’s Web passed 200,000 sales in a single week. In library land, we can see that demand is huge in our own way – as of this moment there are almost 300 people on the waiting list (and we’ve ordered 51 copies!).

watchman I was more aware of the other controversy this summer, which surrounds Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. Written before To Kill a Mockingbird, but depicting an adult Jean-Louise, there’s some question as to what prompted Lee to suddenly okay its publication after not doing so for decades. But Mockingbird is, I will venture to say, one of the most beloved novels out there (I may be biased – it’s one of my all-time favourites). So no amount of rain could dampen the parade of those wanting more of Scout and Atticus. Reviews of the book have not been overwhelmingly positive. Maybe give it a read, and let me know what you think…

A small sampling of other sequels that triggered hullabaloo include:

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. This title is a sequel to The Shining, written 39 years after.

fight club 2Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk. A graphic novel sequel to Fight Club.

Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. This sequel to Peter Pan was the winner of a competition by the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, to which J.M. Barrie had willed the rights to his works.

Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley, Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig and, most recently, Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig. All sequels to Gone with the Wind authorized by Margaret Mitchell’s estate, though Mitchell herself had not wanted to write a sequel.

And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer. A whole new installment in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy” by Douglas Adams.

Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker. Sequel to Dracula written by Bram Stoker’s grandnephew.

There are, of course, many others. Do you have a favourite controversial sequel,  or one that you feel fell far short of the mark? What do you think, in general, of an author carrying on the work of another? Let us know in the comments!

Erica @ WPL

Read Local! The Best Brand New Made in Manitoba Books

Ever heard of the 100 Mile Book Diet?

The other day I spent some time (maybe too much time) playing with the interactive Read Local map at 49th Shelf (a site devoted to Canadian books). It plots Canadian books not just within provinces or cities, but right down to exact addresses! I ended up finding a book set in my neighborhood, so I borrowed it for my weekend reading. Can you find one set near you?

I’ve been thinking about local books because last week I attended a Book Blitz with the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers (AMBP). This is where a series of speakers has just a few minutes to talk about top picks for the best new Manitoba books being published in several categories. I really enjoyed hearing about these local books so much that I thought I’d share a selection with you!  For more of their choices, feel free to contact the AMBP.

*Many items are quite new therefore descriptions are adapted from book cover summaries or the Book Blitz booklet.

Kraken BakeKraken Bake, by Karen Dudley

It was a great day when Perseus slew the mighty Kraken. But what do you do with a 100 tonne sea monster on your shores? You eat it of course. Now, after months of Kraken cakes and kabobs the people of Greece are getting a little sick of Kraken and have decided they need to find a Bronze Chef with the skill to tackle the “Kraken crisis”. When Chef Pelops (who can’t cook any food from the sea having offended Poseidon) learns he has been chosen as a Bronze Chef candidate, he faces humiliation or worse, such as the end of his cooking career. Add to that the wedding of his beloved to his best friend as well as the need to dispose of a Gorgon’s head, and Pelops’s plate is full. This sequel to the critically acclaimed Food for the Gods mirthfully re-imagines the world of ancient Greece with a modern spin.

The WittenbergsThe Wittenbergs, by Sarah Klassen

All is not well with the Wittenbergs. Alice has given birth to her second child with a genetic disorder. Millicent has withdrawn into a depression. Joseph must choose between becoming principal of George Sutton Collegiate and the new English teacher. Mia finds herself at the mercy of an unsympathetic teacher while the attractive athletic neighbour ignores her. Only the oldest Wittenberg, the matriarch who holds the key to the family’s Mennonite past, can lead the Wittenbergs along the Dnieper River and toward a better tomorrow.

Tombstone BluesTombstone Blues, by Chadwick Ginther

After beating back the might of Surtur, Ted Callan is getting used to his immortal powers. The man who would stop at nothing to rid himself of his tattoos and their power seems to be enjoying his new-found abilities. However, not everyone is happy the glory of Valhalla has risen from the ashes of Ragnarӧk. Thor, former God of Thunder, rages in the land of the dead, and now that Ted’s woken the dead, there’s going to be trouble.

North End Love SongsNorth End Love Songs, by Katherena Vermette

For Katherena Vermette, Winnipeg’s North End is a neighborhood of colourful birds, stately elms, and wily rivers. It is where a brother’s disappearance is trivialized by local media and the police because he is young and Aboriginal. It is also a place that young girls share secrets, movies, cigarettes, Big Gulps and stories of love—where a young mother full of both maternal trepidation and joy watches her small daughters as they play in the park.
*Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry.

Rain on a Distant RoofRain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada, by Vanessa Farnsworth

More than the story of one woman’s battle with Lyme disease, Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada is also the story of an organism likened to a creature from outer space, and a medical system that continues to have no idea how to deal with it. Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, shares features with a parasite, but can switch from looking like an invading bacterium to being indistinguishable from a heart or neural cell. With many areas of Canada experiencing an increase in infected ticks, more and more of the population is at risk of contracting this tick-borne illness.

Indians Wear Red“Indians Wear Red”: Colonialism, Resistance, and Aboriginal Street Gangs, by Elizabeth Comack

With the advent of Aboriginal street gangs such as the Indian Posse, Manitoba Warriors, and Native Syndicate, Winnipeg garnered a reputation as the “gang capital of Canada”.  Yet beyond the stereotypes, little is known about these street gangs and the conditions that have produced them. Drawing upon extensive interviews with Aboriginal street gang members as well as with Aboriginal women and elders, the authors develop an understanding from “inside” the inner city and through the voices of Aboriginal people — especially street gang members themselves. Solutions do not lie in quick fixes or getting tough on crime, but in decolonization, re-connecting Aboriginal people with their cultures, and building communities in which they can safely live and work. *Winner of the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction at the Manitoba Book Awards.

Another great way to stay up to date on great local reads is with the Manitoba Book Awards held every spring. I love that there’s so much great writing going on in our own backyard!  I want to ask – do you have a favourite book about, or published in, Manitoba?

– Erica

My Favourite (Canadian) Banning Attempts from 2012

FTR buttonBanning books isn’t something we have to worry about here. It’s something from days past, or in distant countries, right? Wrong, I’m afraid.

The fact is that in 2012 alone there were 73 documented attempts to remove movies and books from publicly-funded Canadian libraries.

(Which means 73 attempts that happened to be reported to the Canadian Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Advisory Committee. As reporting is completely voluntary, the committee believes these incidents “represent only a small fraction of all challenges”.)

For the first time ever, more challenges involved movies than books. Most of the libraries reporting these challenges were able to keep the items on their shelves, thanks to existing processes to deal with these issues. But, if they hadn’t been, the complaints of a few (sometimes just one person) would result in these movies and books made unavailable to others who might want them.

The committee does a great job of making available to the public the details of these challenges, including why they were challenged, and why they were (or weren’t) kept in the library.

After reading the list, here are some of my favourite attempted bans:


Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts by Dr. Gail Saltz.   Reason: Age inappropriate

i love

I Love You Phillip Morris (DVD). Challenged 3 times. Reasons: Homosexuality, sexually explicit, age inappropriate


Teenage Dream by Katy Perry (CD) Reasons: Age inappropriate, sexually explicit

that touch

That Touch of Mink (DVD) starring Cary Grant and Doris Day. Reason: Sexism, violence


Coraline (DVD) based on the book by Neil Gaiman. Reasons: Age inappropriate.

Here are some from 2011:


All graphic novels (Policy of providing graphic novels in libraries). Reasons: Sexually explicit, violence.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (DVD). Reasons: Violence, age inappropriate.


The Remarkable Maria by Patti McIntosh. Reasons: Inaccurate depiction of ethnicity. Removed from school library shelves.

Meanwhile, an anti-censorship organization in the United States called the The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) reported a 53% increase in the number of books being challenged or banned in the country’s schools. Many of these were concerns brought up by parents of students or library patrons, but some were from local or state government officials.

Again, in many cases, procedures in place  to deal with these challenges (and organizations such as KRRP) meant that items were kept, or if they’d been removed from shelves and reading lists, were eventually put back. So, happily, along with the increase in attempted bans, there has also been an increase in books being returned to the shelves (especially after KRRP got involved).

And again, my favourites:


The most challenged was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It was challenged in Montana, New York, New Jersey and West Virginia.

anneThe diary of Anne Frank (often challenged worldwide) was unsuccessfully targeted for banning in schools in Northville, Michigan “after a parent complained that passages detailing Anne’s descriptions of her own body were ‘pornographic’”.


Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman was taken off shelves at schools in Alamogordo, New Mexico, also because of a single complaint. Eventually the school board was persuaded to return it.

Gaiman’s commented:

I’m just glad that organisations like the Kids’ Right to Read Project exist, and that so many of these challenges have successful outcomes – it’s obvious that without them, the people who do not want their children, or other people’s, exposed to ideas, would be much more successful at making books vanish from the shelves.

Freedom to Read Week

All this is why we are holding two events to mark an annual initiative called Freedom to Read Week.

This week is a chance to voice opposition to “all efforts to suppress writing and silence writers” and to celebrate free access to the written word, as guaranteed to Canadians under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms:  “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms . . . thought, belief, opinion, and expression.”

marathonWestwood Library is hosting a Freedom to Read Marathon, where the public is invited to read aloud from those challenged books that mean something to them.


Here at Millennium, our event is taking the form of a Freedom of Expression Day. There will be talks on different ways this freedom has been challenged, readings from our favourite banned and challenged books, and a table of these *forbidden* books to browse and borrow.

We hope very much that you will get come down and get involved, or just show your support for free access to the books and movies of your choice!

And tell us, what is YOUR favourite challenged book or movie?

– Erica

January is (unofficial) Jane Eyre month

And we’re back! Across the city, winter programming for adults and kids is getting under way. (I can’t pass up the chance to specifically mention our Skywalk series of talks and concerts, our free Folk Fest concerts, and our variety of movie screenings).

Here at Millennium, this means the return of our popular From Page to Stage series with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. This series offers casual talks about the process of turning a book into a play.  They are currently mounting an adaptation of the beloved classic Jane Eyre and we thought we’d have some talks about that!

**Important note: it was necessary to switch the dates for these programs after the newsletter went to print, so the details in the newsletter are no longer accurate.

Jane Eyre

Tuesday, January 21, 12:10 pm: Vanessa Warne (Associate Professor and Graduate Chair in the Department of English, Film and Theatre at the University of Manitoba) will discuss the novel and what may explain it’s continuing popularity.

Tuesday, January 28, 12:10 pm: The two leads in RMTC’s new production, Jennifer Dzialoszynski (Jane Eyre) and Tim Campbell (Edward Rochester), will discuss playing the classic romantic couple.

Tim Campbell and Jennifer Dzialoszynski in MTC's Jane Eyre. Photo by Bruce Monk

Tim Campbell and Jennifer Dzialoszynski in MTC’s Jane Eyre. Photo by Bruce Monk

In excitement and anticipation of all this, and because this is what we do, we put together a list of related books (and movies) that you might enjoy. Some are inspired by the Jane Eyre story, some are inspired by the author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, and her remarkable novelist sisters, and some offer a little more information about the life and times of both the fictional, and the very real, characters.

Explore more of the Jane Eyre story

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
The remarkable, dark, and compelling story of Antoinette Cosway, Creole heiress from the West Indies, who becomes the first Mrs. Edward Rochestor and brings ruin to Thornfield Hall.

FlightThe Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesay
An intelligent and passionate orphan triumphs over misfortune and a largely uncaring world. Gemma Hardy is Jane Eyre set in Scotland and the Orkney Islands in the 1950s and 60s, with more than enough originality to make the familiar story new again.

Jane Eyre (1944 film adaptation)
With Aldous Huxley collaborating on the screenplay, and Orson Welles influencing the script and the filming (and starring as Rochester), this dark and moody adaptation is still thought of as one of the best.

Jane Eyre (2011 film adaptation)
Cary Fukunaga directs a popular and lauded adaptation, with Michael Fassbender as Edward Rochester and Mia Wasikowska as what some consider the best Jane yet.

Explore the Brontës – fiction inspired by Charlotte and her sisters

BecomingBecoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler
A vision of what life could have been like in the secluded Brontë home, from the thoughts of the Brontë patriarch to the family nurse, from boarding school deaths to the genesis of the Jane Eyre character, and the interrelationship between life and fiction.

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë by Syrie James
This fictional diary turns Charlotte into a romantic protagonist in her own right. The setting is the moody moors of Yorkshire. Charlotte and her sisters are desperately trying to handle their peculiar father, who is slowly losing his eyesight, and a brother with a drug problem. The plot thickens with the introduction of Arthur Nicholls, a mysterious, and intriguing, new neighbor.

Explore the Brontës – what we really know about them

LifeThe Life of Charlotte Brontë Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
The official biography of Charlotte by a fellow female Victorian novelist, who also happened to be her friend, and so had access to personal letters, interviews, and her own observations.

The Brontë Myth by Lucasta Miller
The Brontës have inspired more works (biographies, plays, movies, and novels) than they themselves produced, and have reached what could be argued is cult status. This work tracks the different ways they have been and continue to be portrayed and analyzed, whether romantic, feminist, Marxist, or postfeminist.

VictorianThe Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed by Judith Flanders
Running water, stoves, flush toilets – even toilet paper – arrived slowly throughout the century, and only to the prosperous. See the not-too-charming manual labour behind the outward elegance, with a room by room tour of everyday life in a Victorian home; From childbirth in the master bedroom, through the scullery, kitchen, and dining room (cleaning, dining and entertaining) and upwards, ending in the sickroom and death.

And on that cheerful note – hope you find something you enjoy!

Christmassy Things to Do and Borrow

This week, the Christmas decorations went up here at Millennium. With lights lit up, and snow coming down, we’re starting to get in the holiday mood, and starting to look forward to our holiday programming:

Nutcracker Storytime

Tomorrow at 2:00 pm, Millennium’s children’s department is hosting some wonderful folks from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (including Filbert the Bear!) for their annual Nutcracker Storytime.

HandbellsSt. Andrew’s Handbell Choir performs next Thursday (December 5), over the lunch hour, as the last event of our fall Skywalk Concert and Lectures. Look for that to return in January!

Next Friday, in motion @ the library is going to be a Dance Explosion, guaranteed tohelp you dance away your holiday stress over the lunch hour.

Sounds of the Season

Finally, we’re once again hosting Sounds of the Season! Local elementary school choirs will be performing in Millennium Library’s lobby at 12:15 every day from Monday, December 16 to Friday, December 20. Elementary school kids singing holiday tunes – how can you lose?

A Christmas Story

Meanwhile, our friends over at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre are in the middle of their run of A Christmas Story. It’s on until December 14, so, we put together a little list of A Christmas Story-inspired reads.

I’d like to share them here, for those of you who like a little laughter during the holidays:

The Best Christmas Pageant EverThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. The horrible Herdman kids hijack the neighborhood Christmas pageant—and surprise everyone with their version. The original book for children has been adapted into both a play and a picture book.

Holidays on IceHolidays on Ice by David Sedaris. Hysterically funny essays on the difficulties of the holiday season, including the SantaLand Diaries, his unforgettable tale of what it’s like to be a Macy’s elf (not for kids!).

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for ChristmasScaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas by Mélanie Watt. Everyone’s favourite neurotic squirrel prepares for Christmas in this fun children’s picture book.

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle DogThe Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry. It’s 1960 in a small town, and drama and holiday miracles surround Doug Barnes, his family, and the annual church Christmas pageant.

SSurviving the Holidays with Lewis Blackurviving the Holidays with Lewis Black (DVD). A comedian’s take on staying sane during the holiday craziness.

Christmas CuriositiesChristmas Curiosities: Odd, Dark, and Forgotten Christmas by John Grossman. A revealing look into the little known origins and forgotten traditions of Christmas past.

God Rest Ye Grumpy ScroogeymenGod Rest Ye Grumpy Scroogeymen: New Traditions for Comfort & Joy at Christmas by Laura Jensen Walker and Michael K. Walker. A dose of practicality and insight for those looking for alternative ways to participate in the holiday season.

Christmas MiscellanyChristmas Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Christmas by Jonathan Green. More trivia and facts about the most well-known Christmas symbols and customs, from stockings to reindeer to mistletoe.

I hope everyone is able to stay warm, relax, laugh a little, and overall have a great December. And, don’t forget the pile of other holiday cookbooks, craft books, stories, and magazines we have! In the meantime, let me know: Do you have a favourite holiday book or movie?