Friday, September 7, 2012

Adopt a Puppet!

Have you ever been to a puppet show?  They are the silliest things.  Like living cartoons (so to speak), they capture the imagination of young and old.  They’re cute and they’re funny, even when the script isn’t!

HPL is in the process of collecting new puppets and buying a new puppet theatre.  Thanks to a generous donation from Ipsos Reid, the puppet theatre is on order.  But we need help with the puppets. 

And here’s where you come in!

You can adopt one for us! 

These are just some of the puppets you
can choose from to adopt for HPL!
We’ve chosen a variety of puppets that we think would be great in our collection.  Animals and people of all kinds are available for you to adopt.  Simply choose a puppet that you like, donate the amount of the cost of the puppet (we accept cheques!) and, in return, you will receive a certificate of adoption with the picture of the puppet you pick and a charitable receipt for the full amount you donate.  It’s win-win for you and the library!

Once we have enough puppets, we will begin planning and rehearsing puppet shows for the public.  We will also be starting a new program for youth on Puppetry.  Over a ten-week period, kids will create scripts and backdrops, practice with the puppets and then perform the shows they write for a live audience here at the library.

We are very excited about this new program and we hope that lots of kids will want to learn the magic of sharing stories through puppetry.

So, please help us to make this a reality.  If you don’t see a puppet that you would like to adopt, suggest one and we’ll try to find it for you.  We’re open to new ideas and we’d love to be able to expand the collection so we can create great stories and shows for you to enjoy.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ups and Downs!

Alien invasion at the Summer Reading Club!

Wow! It’s August already. Where did the summer go?

Mostly down the drain with the rain, I think.

The Summer Reading Club – Savour Each Word! – is winding to a close with only one more week of programming left. Then we’ll have the wind-up party and then it will be time to send off the summer students, Hannah and Justin, with a celebratory lunch. In a flash, it will be fall and we’ll be gearing up for Book Club, Children’s programming and the NCLF Fall Conference, which will be hosted right here at HPL.

I’m looking forward to September with a sense of excited anticipation. Literacy Now has provided funding for a part time programmer at HPL for 10 months. This pilot project entails hiring a dynamic and creative individual to plan and promote events and programs for our patrons and community. I wonder what surprises he/she will have in store for us… Family sleep-overs at the library? Quiz nights? Coffee houses? Contests? Author visits? Local artists’ displays? Who knows? But I’m sure looking forward to some very cool stuff. Watch for our monthly calendars for a complete list of dates, times and events!

As you know, HPL is a member of the North Coast Library Federation, a group of seven public libraries including HPL, Smithers, Hazelton, Terrace, Kitimat, Stewart, Prince Rupert, and the North West Community College libraries. At the helm, guiding us, is a very busy coordinator who manages our funds and organizes things like our annual conferences, shared collections, author readings and other federation events and programs. Without a coordinator, our equally busy directors and library staff members would have to do all this off the sides of our desks.

Until last May, Karen Filipkowski was our coordinator, but an opportunity to take over the directorship of a small library in Ontario took her away from us. She is now far, far away struggling with high heat and humidity, while we flounder in the cool rain.

Never fear! This week we welcomed a new coordinator, Katherine Anderson, aboard!

Kathy is now pulling double duty as both the NCLF coordinator and the IslandLink Library Federation Manager. And, boy, are we glad to have her! Her extensive experience in libraries throughout BC and familiarity with the North Coast region gave her the edge in a stiff competition to fill this vital position. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience that we are certain will be applied with efficiency, creativity and great enthusiasm.

Change is part of library life. Good people coming and going is part of the ups and downs we face as we deliver our programs and services to our communities. So, while we say good-bye to Karen and the summer students and wish them all well in all of their future endeavors, we now welcome Kathy and the soon-to-be-announced Program Coordinator to our midst and look forward to sharing wonderful things with our patrons.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Welcome to Goodreads

Contrary to popular belief, librarians do not sit around and read books all day. The fact is that being a librarian cuts into quality reading time BIG time! To boost our personal reading stats, we tend to pick up children’s picture books that we can breeze through in a couple of minutes. My most recent favourite picture book is Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin. This is a great book with a great message and, if you happen to overhear me singing, “I love my white shoes. I love my white shoes…”, it’s because the little ditty in the book has been stuck in my head for the last week. You can listen to Pete the Cat on the Internet at: It’s well worth the 3.5 minutes. (And I apologize in advance if the song gets stuck in your head.)

One of the best picture books - EVER!

Now that I’ve squeezed in that little promo for Pete the Cat, let me get on with my original purpose in writing this long-overdue blog today…

If you are a Facebook user and you love reading, you may be familiar with the app Visual Bookshelf, a place where you could track, rate and review books that you read. Readers could log-in to their FB accounts, click on the Visual Bookshelf icon and instantly access a complete list of the books they have read – both the good ones and the duds. They had access to reader reviews, so they could get an opinion before reading. They could see how books were rated by other readers and see what other their Visual Bookshelf friends were into. It was a mini-social network within a social network – all dedicated to book lovers.

Alas, Visual Bookshelf is no more! The people who created and maintained it have decided to scrap it.

“It's not you. It's us. You see — about two years ago — we tried a new idea, which has taken our team and company in a new direction. This community needs tools and products that are fully supported and continually improved, and unfortunately, this is something we just can't support right now.”

(Way to break up with about a million app users!)

Being dumped by an app is almost as crappy as being dumped by a lover, only worse, because the app disappears completely and there is no chance of reconciliation. (There are no stalking opportunities either, but that may be a good thing.)

The good news is that the Visual Bookshelf creators – Living Social – are not that cruel. They have been kind enough to provide an alternative social network for readers called Goodreads, which can be found here:

Goodreads has all the great features of Visual Bookshelf and more! You can join the Goodreads Book Club and share your thoughts about a featured recommendation with literally thousands of other Goodreads users. You can participate in polls and answer trivia questions. You can join or form groups and connect with like-minded readers to discuss favourite genres, authors or styles. You can connect to Facebook so your FB friends can still see what you are reading and know what you think about it. You can see what your friends are reading and find out what they think about it, too. You can set a goal for your reading by taking the Reading Challenge.

I have to admit that I was aghast when I clicked on Visual Bookshelf and read the break-up announcement. How could they do this to me? I had a couple hundred titles entered and reviews written for most of them. Eek! But then I saw the silver lining: a link that imports all my Visual Bookshelf information to a new Goodreads account. Well, most of my Visual Bookshelf information…

My list of books zipped right over to Goodreads without the ratings and reviews. But there’s more good news! You can save your ratings and reviews in an Excel file for future importability – as soon as they perfect the transporter for it. Or you can manually reenter everything. I guess that depends on if you have a life or not. And if your current book is good or not.

Anyway, readers can rest assured that their Visual Bookshelf information has a good home waiting over at Goodreads. I hope to see you all there. Send me a friend request – I’ll look forward to seeing what is on your bookshelves!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Speakers and Magicians and Ventiloquists - Oh, My!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve last taken the time to compose and post a blog. My intentions were good, my schedule was uncooperative! But here I am – finally! – with something to say and the time to say it.

Things have been hopping at HPL. Last month I attended the BCLA conference in Victoria along with about 500 other library employees and trustees. This annual gathering of Libraryland citizens is a jam-packed two days of workshops, speeches, award ceremonies, vendors, dinners, and, of course the requisite schmoozing between directors, coordinators and trustees. Here we put faces to names and names to faces. We learn together, make contacts and come home exhausted from the whirlwind activity and information overload.

Paul Whitney

My favourite part of the conference is the key-note speaker. This year we gathered in the theatre at the Victoria Conference Centre next to the Empress Hotel to listen to Paul Whitney’s address entitled: The Times They Are Always A-Changin’. Paul Whitney reflected on library history and development in the province, from his perspective as a library leader and innovator. During his 36-year library career Paul was Chief Librarian for both the Burnaby and Vancouver public libraries. He served as president of BCLA and of CLA and was actively involved in countless national and international committees such as copyright, public lending right, and accessible services to the print disabled, to name just a few. Paul's reflection on his remarkable library career was nostalgic for long-serving members of the library community and inspirational for newer generations.

But, alas, all good things come to an end. All too soon the conference was over and it was time to head back to the office to pick up where I had left off – namely, getting organized for the summer. Planning events, hiring summer students, completing the annual PLSB survey and the submitting the Statement of Financial Information, were all on my plate waiting for me upon my return, along with the back-log of e-mails, statistics, and other day-to-day stuff that needed to be attended to. Oddly, I managed to catch up and get back into the swing of things in only a couple of days.

Norden the Magician

So now we are looking forward to some fun things, like Norden the Magician, who will be visiting us on May 26th. Mike Norden is a comedic magician who has won several awards, including Children’s Magician of the Year five years in a row. His show promises to be fun for the whole family! It’s also free and everyone is welcome. The show starts at 3:30! Many thanks go out to the North Coast Library Federation for sponsoring this event.

Val Hiliker
Then in June, we will welcome Val Hiliker from Calgary, Alberta. Val is a ventriloquist specializing in children’s entertainment. She learned ventriloquism in 1977 and has been performing since 1979. We partnered with Houston Link to Learning and the Early Childhood Development Committee to bring Ms. Hiliker to Houston. Her performance starts at 6 p.m. on Friday June 10th, right after the FREE Family Night BBQ.

It’s always exciting to be able to provide quality programming for our patrons and the community and we are looking forward to sharing a few good laughs with them at these events.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Kobo Experience


That pretty much sums up how I feel about these little gadgets. A thousand books in the palm of my hand. Simple, fun, versatile! Every time I pick it up, I discover something new about it.

It does take a bit of getting used to, though. I’ve had a few giggles at my own expense while using my personal Kobo. It’s not uncommon to find myself reaching out to turn the pages as I read – sort of like going from a stick shift to an automatic transmission in a vehicle; there’s an adjustment period. But the built in dictionary and the ability to adjust the font size and style are brilliant features. I don’t need my reading glasses to see the print and when I come across a new word, I simply highlight it and – click! – the definition is right there!

Maneuvering through the book is fast and easy as well. From the main menu, I simply choose the table of contents, scroll to the place I want to go and – click – I’m instantly where I want to be! Just press the back button and I’m returned to where I left off. There’s no need to book mark, the Kobo remembers where I stopped reading and takes me right there when I want to read. I can have multiple books on the go at the same time if I like. And the wi-fi feature makes downloading new books an instant and convenient process anywhere, anytime. Did I say Wow!?

The screen is not backlit (as I thought it would be), making it easy on the eyes. It really is just like looking at the page of printed book. I purchased a clip-on LED light from the dollar store for $2.25 that makes bedtime reading entirely possible without needing a lamp. It fits into the groovy, quilted case that my sister made for me right along with the charging cord, instruction book, pencil and note pad.

Charging the Kobo from an empty battery takes a couple of hours, but the charge lasts a long, long time. I’ve had my Kobo for two weeks and haven’t had to recharge it yet – and the indicator for the battery says that it’s still ¾ full. Pretty economical and more environmentally friendly than many other gadgets.

These things are amazing!

The library Kobos will be ready for check out mid to late April. Right now the staff is learning how to use them so they will be able to help patrons who want to try them out with Library to Go. You can place a hold on a Kobo any time after April 1st. Just call or drop by the library and ask to be put on the list.

With spring just around the corner and summer not that far away, a Kobo will make packing vacation reading material as easy as slipping one into a pocket, leaving more room for those bikinis and Bermuda shorts! You really have to try them out and HPL is a great place to start.

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's Flavia Up to Now?

I’m quite excited! Alan Bradley’s third book, A Red Herring Without Mustard, has finally come out and I can’t wait to see what Flavia de Luce is up to now. This precocious eleven-year-old junior sleuth and self-taught chemist is one of my favourite literary characters of all time. She’s clever and innocent, but not na├»ve. She’s funny. She’s tenacious. She’s somehow both sensitive and unflappable. And through her, Bradley has managed to resurrect the good old-fashioned whodunnit in a most delightful way. Fans of Flavia de Luce will already know what I’m talking about. Those who haven’t yet had the Flavia experience are in for a big treat.

I cut my murder mystery teeth on Nancy Drew when a boy in my third grade class gave me a copy of The Secret in the Old Clock (the first Nancy Drew mystery, 1932). I think it may have been the first real novel that I ever read, and while I cannot recall the plot at all now, I will never forget the feeling of being thrilled by the discovery and unraveling of the clues. I wanted to be a detective!

As I grew older, I got to know more literary detectives, both amateur and professional. Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot topped my list of favourites for decades. They were the quintessential representatives of the mystery genre where, while yes, there were dead bodies, the focus was not on the violence of the murder, but the detection involved in solving the crime.

Brother Cadfael (Ellis Peters) and Amelia Peabody (Elizabeth Peters) soon joined the intrepid trio of esteemed crime solvers, rounding out a short, but beloved list of clue-gathering brilliance. Then came Jim Qwilleran, Willam Murdoch, Tom Barnaby, and Mikail Blomkvist. The list was growing. And now dear little Flavia has found a permanent place in my heart (and on my list).

I almost put The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia’s first adventure) down after the first page. What? I asked myself have I gotten myself into. The opening paragraphs described, in the first person, a dreadful kidnapping and escape. It was this passage – on page 2 – that got me hooked: “I skipped down the broad stone staircase into the hall, pausing at the door of the dining room just long enough to toss my pigtails back over my shoulders and into their regulation position.” I had to read on.

I’m so glad that I did. Alan Bradley spun a tale of mystery so utterly captivating that I rushed out and bought my own copy. When The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag came out, I pushed aside two other novels to read it. Flavia had lost none of her charm. Her vivid imagination and genius detection skills kept me up well into the wee hours each night until I sadly turned the last page and closed the cover on another endearing chapter in her young life.

Now, the bright yellow dust jacket that hugs A Red Herring Without Mustard beckons me back into Flavia’s post WWII English world. Shortly after a Gypsy tells her fortune, Flavia stumbles (probably literally) across the seer’s dead body. “…bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan.” Was it an act of retribution? Flavia is about to find out.

You can place a hold on this book by searching the on-line catalogue at for A red herring without mustard. Click on the title and then click on Place Hold on the far right side of the page. Enter your user name and password and then click on the Place Hold button near the bottom of the page. You will be entered into the queue and our friendly staff will let you know as soon as it is available.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Canada Reads - and an HPL contest maybe!?

It’s that time of year again. The Canada Reads 2011 debates will air on CBC on February 7, 8 & 9 at 9 and 11 a.m. and again at 8 p.m. Started in 2001, Canada Reads is CBC's annual battle of the books, where five Canadian personalities select the book they think Canadians should read. Each personality selects a book to defend and the books are eliminated one by one until a winner is declared. Jian Ghomeshi has hosted Canada Reads since 2008.

So today I’m going to present the five titles, their defenders and pull it all together with a cover photo of each. What I’m actually going to do is copy most of the stuff from the Canada Reads site, but don’t tell anyone. If you are concerned about copyright and information piracy, you can go to the Canada Reads site and read it all there - What you won’t find on the Canada Reads site is whether or not any of the titles – should you be so inclined as to want to read them – are available at HPL. It’s entirely up to you; read on here or surf on over and read it all legally.

The first book on the list is The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis:
The peccadilloes of Parliament Hill's political animals are the subject of The Best Laid Plans (McClelland and Stewart), Terry Fallis's hilarious first novel, which won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

The novel's protagonist, Dan Addison, has had his fill of Parliament Hill propaganda and backbench maneuvering. A former speechwriter for the leader of the Liberal Opposition, he's disillusioned by the discrepancy between what's said on the Hill and what's done behind the scenes. Now in his 30s, he's washing his hands of the whole thing. Dan Addison is dropping out of politics for the relatively tame world of academe.

Not so fast, say his former employers. Before Dan can cast off politics once and for all he's given a Herculean task: find the party a new Liberal candidate to run in the next federal election.

Terry Fallis
No stranger to the worlds of public affairs and government, Terry Fallis has worked in public relations for more than two decades - and his insider knowledge in both arenas shines through in his irreverent, award-winning satire of national politics, The Best Laid Plans.

Defended by Ali Velshi
An award-winning CNN anchor and the news network's chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi has covered every major news story from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year to the financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Lehman Brothers in 2008.

The second book on the list is The Birth House by Ami Mckay
The miracle of birth and the struggle to live a good life; the miracle of a good life and the struggle to be born — these are just a few of the themes explored in Ami McKay's poignant debut novel, The Birth House (Vintage Canada).

The novel is set in a small Nova Scotia community during a period of great change: in Europe, the First World War is raging. In North America advances in medicine and social organization are radically altering the way people live. It's an era charged with tumult, destruction and social revolution.

Ami McKay
Born and raised in the U.S. Midwest, Ami McKay moved to Nova Scotia a decade ago and embraced Canadian history in writing her debut novel The Birth House. She and her family moved into a home that was once known as the local "birth house"-- it was there that she began writing fiction in earnest.

Defended by Debbie Travis
A pioneering force and major star in the now popular TV makeover genre, Debbie Travis is a household name - for good reason. The design maven is a best-selling author and the CEO of a growing housewares empire, Travis's Home Collection, which boasts nearly $100 million in annual sales.

The third book on the list is The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou
Angie Abdou's remarkable debut novel The Bone Cage (NeWest Press) takes readers deep into the gruelling, often solitary world of amateur athletics. Neither a classic sports novel, nor a simple coming-of-age story, The Bone Cage offers a unique spin on both beloved genres.

Sadie and Digger are amateur athletes with the same goal: to make it to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Sadie is a swimmer, Digger a wrestler. Both have spent an inordinate amount of time training and training and then training some more. They've made sacrifices, both personal and physical, over many years to achieve their dreams. But life will get in the way of dreams. Sadie, in particular, deals with tragic unforeseen circumstances, which threaten to undermine her dreams of Olympic glory.

Angie Abdou
The fierce drive of a former competitive swimmer and the imagination of a gifted fiction writer: these are the qualities that author and creative writing instructor Angie Abdou brought to her compelling first novel, The Bone Cage.

Defended by Georges Laraque
During his 11-year career in the National Hockey League, Georges Laraque was one of the most feared enforcers in the game. But off-ice, this talented tough guy has put his muscle behind a wide range of social causes, from relief efforts in Haiti to animal welfare.

The fourth book on the list is Essex County by Jeff Lemire
Jeff Lemire's Essex County (Top Shelf Productions) is composed of three interconnected graphic novels: Tales from the Farm, Ghost Stories and The Country Nurse. Winner of several major awards in the world of comics, including a Joe Shuster Award, it was hailed by reviewers as "the comics medium at its best" (Booklist) and "a quiet, somber, haunting masterpiece" (The Oregonian). The minimalistic though intensely emotional trilogy gives form to the author's inspired vision of what it means to live, work, dream and even die in a Southwestern Ontario rural community.

The population of Lemire's fictional landscape is represented from childhood to old age through the characters of Lester, Lou and Anne. Their external world is rendered in stark black-and-white lines. The vividness of their interior lives, however, is what gives the graphic novel its colour and vitality.

Jeff Lemire
A graphic novelist and comics illustrator who has garnered international acclaim, Jeff Lemire paid tribute to his rural roots in his remarkable trilogy, Essex County, and the world of comics responded with a plethora of major prizes and rave reviews

Defended by Sara Quin
She's a musician who has been in the limelight for more than a decade, though she's only 30. Calgary native Sara Quin, one half of the indie music sensation known as Tegan & Sara, has been singing and writing songs with her twin sister, Tegan, since she was 15.

The fifth and final book on the list is Unless by Carol Shields
Most people want to be happy. But how many have what it takes to be good? Can self-realization and morality share the same space in our lives? Or can we only have one and not the other? These are the questions that underlie Carol Shields's 2002 profoundly moving novel Unless (Vintage Canada), which explores the "problem of goodness" and how it squares with the very human desire for happiness.

Reta Winters is going through a period of "great unhappiness." The successful writer, wife and mother appears to have every gift life can offer, and yet, she's miserable, consumed utterly by the sudden change in her 19-year-old daughter, Norah.

Without warning, the pretty, confident young university student has chucked it all — school, love, her family — for a life on the streets. Norah now spends her nights in a homeless shelter, and her days plunked on a street corner in downtown Toronto. Around her neck hangs a sign that reads "goodness." She collects money from strangers, which she then distributes to the homeless of Toronto. The question that haunts her family: Why?

Carol Shields
One of Canada's most beloved and prolific literary figures, Carol Shields influenced a generation of writers both in this country and abroad. She wrote her first novel, Small Ceremonies, in 1976; over the following three decades, she went on to publish more than 20 other books in an array of genres, including fiction, poetry, plays and criticism.

Defended by Lorne Cardinal
One of Canada's most recognizable actors, with numerous television, film and stage credits, Lorne Cardinal is best known for his role as police officer Davis Quinton on the hit TV series Corner Gas.

And now that you have read this far I’ve decided not to tell you which ones are available at HPL. Instead I’m going to let you guess. I will tell you that only two of them are available. I will also tell you that you don’t even have to guess. You can search HPL’s on-line catalogue to find the answer. If you e-mail me with the right answer by February 15th, your name will go into a draw for a $25.00 gift certificate from with which you can buy one of these Canada Reads titles – or any title you want, actually. My e-mail address is You can find the HPL on-line catalogue at:

I'll be looking forward to hearing from you soon! Happy reading!