From the Desk of a Librarian…

Supernaturally Good Time Had at Fontainebleau Library

On October 28th, fans of the TV show Supernatural visited the Fontainebleau Library for our Supernatural Fandom Fest. This program included activities, button-making, trivia, and a cosplay contest. Windsor Public Library would like to thank all those who attended the program.

A Creepy Kanopy Halloween

Every Windsor Public Library card comes with access to online apps such as Kanopy, a streaming service which allows patrons to watch ten free movies per month. In the spirit of the Halloween season, WPL’s webmaster summoned three of our spookiest staff members to write about their favorite horror movies currently available on Kanopy. Be forewarned, the films discussed below may be ghoulish, gory, and grotesque!

 

Zina’s Scares From Around the World

As someone deeply connected to my Middle Eastern heritage, I have always cherished the power of storytelling, especially when it comes to foreign horror films. These movies offer a unique blend of cultural perspectives and terrifying experiences. I want to share three exceptional foreign horror gems available from Kanopy that have left a lasting impression on me.

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

This one’s unique in more ways than one—it’s a vampire story set in Iran. The film captures the haunting beauty of an Iranian ghost town with its black-and-white visuals. The story revolves around a young, lonely vampire who roams the streets at night, encountering various characters in her search for connection. The best part is the mysterious titular character and her encounters with the town’s inhabitants. The film’s fusion of Western and Iranian influences creates a fresh perspective on both the vampire genre and Iranian cinema. It’s a beautiful and haunting blend of art and horror that showcases the rich cultural tapestry of Iran.

 

Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria is a timeless masterpiece set in Germany. The story follows a young American dancer who joins a prestigious ballet academy, only to discover that the academy is a front for a coven of witches. As you step into the eerie world of a prestigious ballet academy, you’ll find yourself tangled in a web of witchcraft, malevolence, and grotesque occurrences. The film’s connection to German folklore adds depth and authenticity, making it a chilling exploration of the supernatural deeply rooted in German culture.

 

Thelma (2017)

Hailing from Norway, Thelma is a modern psychological horror. It tells the story of a young woman named Thelma, who discovers that she possesses supernatural abilities. As she grapples with her newfound powers, she must also confront her repressed emotions and the traumatic secrets of her family. What sets it apart is the stunning Norwegian landscapes, which not only serve as a backdrop but also play a crucial role in the narrative. The juxtaposition of Norway’s natural beauty with the darkness within Thelma herself adds an extra layer of beauty and eeriness to the story, making it a truly unique cinematic experience.

 

If you’re as passionate about foreign horror films as I am, you won’t want to miss these cinematic treasures on Kanopy. They’ve not only terrified me but have also enriched my love for cultural storytelling and cinema.

  • Zina, Public Service Librarian

 

Dave’s Doomed Delights

 

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)

This movie stars Ray Milland as Dr. James Xavier who invents a formula that allows him to see through things and beyond the normal range of human vision. When his funding is threatened, he tests the formula on himself with terrifying results. Directed by cult B-movie filmmaker Roger Corman.

 

Donnie Darko (2001)

Combining elements of sci-fi with horror, Donnie Darko is an inventive film from filmmaker Richard Kelly. The story takes place during the 1988 presidential election as a teenager sleepwalks outside and sees a giant demonic looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days.

 

Scanners (1981)

A 1981 film from Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, Scanners is about a rogue scanners that use telepathic and telekinetic powers to control others with their thoughts. This cult classic sci-fi horror film is perhaps best known for its exploding head scene.

  • Dave, Library Service Representative

 

 

Sean’s Sickly Selections  

 

A Field in England (2013)

As a bizarre, somewhat slow-paced, psychedelic journey through the 17th-century English countryside, this one is probably a bit of an acquired taste, but fans of folk-horror and the occult won’t want to skip it. In 17th-century England in the midst of the Civil War, four deserters wander the English countryside searching for treasure. When they encounter the malevolent wizard-alchemist O’Neill (Michael Smiley), things quickly get very, very weird, and eventually downright terrifying. One scene in particular – when Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) emerges from a tent in the thrall of O’Neill – had me shuddering for days after watching. Filmed in a stark black-and-white, the visuals are top-notched throughout the film, with psychedelic imagery depicting a sinister blend of substance abuse and occult magic. Despite the haunting visuals, there are some funny and even tender moments, such as when Friend (Richard Glover) sings the somber traditional Scottish ballad, “Baloo My Boy.”

 

 

The City of the Dead (1960)

Long before he was Saruman or Count Dooku, Christopher Lee was known as one of the all-time great horror actors from his villainous roles in everything from the schlocky “Hammer horror” monster pictures to the folk-horror of The Wicker Man (1973). The City of the Dead features Lee in his prime playing a history professor whose area of expertise is puritan witch trials. He sends his student, Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson) to a small Massachusetts town where some of America’s most violent witch hunts had occurred centuries earlier. Unbeknownst to Nan, the town is still inhabited by a coven who made a deal with the devil in exchange for eternal life, and the audience soon discovers that perhaps her history professor has more than an ‘academic’ interest in this whole witchcraft thing. With its satanic pacts, conniving witches, and human sacrifices, City of the Dead has everything you need for an eerie October film night at home. And if that’s not enough, the film culminates with some pretty impressive practical effects related to crucifix-induced immolation!

 

 

  • Sean, Library Service Representative

 

Miss Kate Writes About Accessibility and the Library

As an openly disabled librarian, I think about accessibility a lot. Libraries are wonderfully inclusive places, which have long included large print books, audiobooks, and other tools to make reading accessible. Most reference desks have magnifying glasses handy to lend to anyone who needs a bit of help.

Over the years, libraries have loaned customers all kinds of wonderful, and accessible, resources in every imaginable format – including audiobooks. In my time at the Windsor Public Library we’ve had books on tape, CD, and now Playaways. Playaways are marvelous little self-contained audiobooks that are great for those who aren’t especially adept with technology. They’re simple with large button controls and all you need is a AAA battery and earphones!

Everyone can listen to audiobooks on Playaway.

Playaway

For a long time, many thought of audiobooks as something specialized for the visually impaired. However, audiobooks are also a game changer for many neurodivergent folks, commuters, and anyone who enjoys reading but doesn’t have the time to sit with a book. There is tremendous freedom in being able to read in a format best suited to one’s needs.

My preferred format of audiobook is electronic. I use a pair of digital resources offered by Windsor Public Library: Hoopla and Cloud Library. What I most enjoy about audiobooks is the ability to multitask. I can listen while I do other things or I can let my eyes rest while enjoying a book. Plus, many of the narrators are amazing! There are a some narrators I’ve enjoyed so much I specifically look for other books read by them.

Windsor Public Library is always looking for ways to make our services accessible to as many folks as possible. For example, the installation of shelf lighting at our Riverside branch’s Large Print collection looks stylish and gives prospective readers the light they need to find the books they want to take home with them!

Shelf Lighting at Riverside

It is important that folks with disablements are able to maintain as much autonomy as possible. To help support this we offer resources such as high-contrast keyboards that are available in some locations. The Windsor Public Library also offers technology to help folks magnify the print on any document in real time: the Prodigy tabletop magnifier.

Prodigy Magnifier

Our Accessibility Services Librarian can answer any specific questions regarding the availability of assistive technology system-wide. She also supports homebound customers with their reading needs by curating and delivering materials, runs our amazing Adult Sensory Storytime, and many other important services for our community. As someone who goes through phases of limited mobility, I know how much of a lifeline books can be. I’m grateful that WPL supports the community so that everyone has access to the books and resources they need to read, learn, and discover.

I see inclusion as something that we can provide beyond our formal accessibility services and supports. I make sure that my programs are accessible to all neurotypes and work to make my story times a positive sensory experience. Learning looks different for every child and that’s okay!

Of course, letting kids enjoy learning and literacy in the way that best suits them doesn’t just benefit disabled and neuro-divergent kiddos; this is also a way of honouring where every child is developmentally. “Toddlers gonna toddle” is a favourite story time phrase to soothe parents who may be concerned that their little one’s behaviour is distracting at story time. My goal is always to find ways to maintain children’s attention rather than enforcing compliance. I’m a big fan of wiggle breaks so that kids can burn off any excess energy.

Enjoying storytime

One of my biggest goals for early literacy is to help the very young associate reading with enjoyment. So many see reading and literacy as work rather than the play that it should be, especially for the very young. It is a privilege to be able to help facilitate their early literary adventures and nurture their marvelous little minds.

Story time may seem like an unusual place to think about accessibility, but that makes it all the more important. My approach to inclusion is to look for who is missing, who might feel excluded, and find ways to actively work to make sure that they feel welcomed and supported. Universal access means access for everyone regardless of socioeconomic status, background, neurotype, age, etc. All people have the right to access their library and to feel supported and welcomed. Every day I get to explore new ways to make that happen.

 

December – Miss Kate Write About The Joys of Picture Books

I love introducing people to new books. Helping a reader find a book is like being a very low-stakes matchmaker. We librarians call this reader’s advisory, or RA. I particularly love introducing children to new books.

What I especially love to recommend are picture books. When new picture books or board books arrive at the library, I look at them right away. There are so many wonderful things about books for the very young: they are accessible, colourful, and easy to read. Picture books can be deceptively simple, but are often incredibly complex and tackle difficult subject matter. They are also created with the understanding that they will be read over and over again.

A tremendous amount of thought goes into a book that’s going to be read repeatedly. It has to. Children are just beginning to understand the world around them. These books are among the tools they will use to understand themselves and their place in the world. Picture books are also read by more people than your average book. A child might read the same book with a half-dozen different adults, with each reading being its own beautiful and distinct experience. If you’re tired of re-reading the same book to the child in your life I highly recommend borrowing a Wonderbook or two. These are traditional paper books that feature an embedded audiobook. They’re a great way to encourage independent “reading” in the very young without screens!

The desire to re-read these works is understandable when you consider the quality of contemporary picture books. Advances in art, printing, and our understanding of children’s needs have resulted in what I believe to be a golden age of this medium. In addition to the beautiful, intricate illustrations these books contain, many come with bonus “extension activities” like recipes for foods mentioned, instructions for crafts, and advice on how you and a little one can get the most out of the book.

New picture books are funny, moving, and full of whimsy. There is an emphasis on characters of all kinds. This is important because there are all kinds of children. Even within a single family, children will often have very different life experiences. Some even argue that no two children grow up in the same family.

Each family is different in so many ways, whether it be structure, socioeconomic status, or values. These books provide a mirror that reflects the lives of children and windows into the worlds of others, an idea articulated by educator Rudine Sims Bishop in her seminal article Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors. The ability of picture books to provide “mirrors” and “windows” helps young readers develop a balanced and loving view of the world around them.

In an outstanding TED Talk, Grace Lin cited the work of Sims Bishop when discussing the lack of Chinese representation she experienced while growing up. Of course, I was introduced to Lin’s work by the Windsor Public Library collection: I strongly recommend checking out some of her books. She has written everything from board books to novels (which, in my humble opinion, are all just beautiful).

There is no topic too complex to deal with via picture book. Windsor Public Library collects picture books about school (and all the ways that can be complicated), families (with all that that can mean), the immigrant experience, and even grief. There are books about nearly every topic. It brings me so much joy to know there is truly a book for every reader.

Like any media, it is best to enjoy picture books thoughtfully. That is why I recommend pre-reading a picture book before sharing them with a child. At a minimum, skim the pages (unless, like me, you want to spend an evening crying). My little niece asked me through tears why I’d brought My Nana’s Garden when it was so sad. Nana dies halfway through and the rest of the book is a beautiful meditation on grief and healing.

Another important reason to pre-read is that potty and body humour are huge hits with many little readers even if they might offend the sensibilities of some adults. A silly book like Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey teaches young readers that books are a source of fun. I love checking out the newest silly picture books as they arrive and finding something that works for storytime. Where’s My Butt is a tremendously funny book about a penguin’s quest to find…well, you guessed it. Potty humour is such a hit with little readers that there is a library subject heading for “flatulence – juvenile fiction.”

Whatever you and your little reader’s tastes or needs are. I assure you that there is a picture book for that. From the serious to the silly, there is a book for every reader. Discovering those books is one of the best things we can do for the children in our lives. Remember, if you don’t know where to start you can always ask a librarian.

November – Alex Writes About Whodunnit Mysteries

If you’re anything like me you love a good ‘whodunit’ style mystery. From books to movies, I adore any mystery with a twist at the end. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I truly enjoyed the 2019 film Knives Out, a whodunit mystery featuring Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Christopher Plummer. While I patiently wait to view the sequel, Glass Onion, the Windsor Public Library has an amazing variety of twisty, complex mysteries from which I can choose.

Whodunnit-Logo-2 | SWESRS

A well-written whodunit keeps you guessing right until the very end – holding your breath, on the edge of your seat, until the identity of the criminal mastermind is revealed. The library has a great selection of whodunit-style murder mysteries, ranging from classics to the newest titles.

 

Classic Whodunits

Maybe you’re just beginning to explore whodunit mysteries, or perhaps you’re well-versed in the genre. In either case, a classic whodunit can be a great option if you’re searching for that next great read. Authors such as Dorothy Sayers and Arthur Conan Doyle are only a couple of the great authors from which you can choose.

A discussion of whodunit mysteries would be incomplete without mentioning Agatha Christie. The library carries many titles by Christie in print format (regular and large print) and audio format (such as book-on-CD and Playaway). The library also provides an extensive collection of her books in ebook and eaudiobook format, through both cloudLibrary and Hoopla. Some notable titles you may want to try include Appointment with Death, Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, and the Murder of Roger Ackroyd, among many more.

 

The real life female detectives of the golden age of crime – TALL TALES MYSTERIES

More Recent Selections

If you’re on the hunt for a whodunit that is a bit more recent, Windsor Public Library has many options for you.

Magpie Murders is a well-crafted whodunit by Anthony Horowitz, an author who has also written for such television series as Midsomer Murders. This novel is unique in that it really plays with the whodunit form and is structured as a mystery within a mystery. This title is available as a print book or a Playaway. The novel following this title, Moonflower Murders, was released in 2020.

The Maid by Nita Prose is a charming, cozy whodunit with plenty of twists and turns. If you’re looking for a mystery without a lot of violence or language, this is a great option for you. The Library has this title available in a variety of formats, including regular print, large print, and as an ebook or eaudiobook via cloudLibrary.

Looking for more great titles? You might also try The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (also published as The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle), The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz, and The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.

Our Favorite Female Detectives in Crime Fiction | Novel Suspects

Keep on Reading

Avid readers are always on the lookout for more books, so why not subscribe to the Library’s mystery newsletter? You’ll get great suggestions (brand new titles or previously published titles) delivered directly to your email. In addition to mystery, you’ll find some other great newsletters available through Library Aware, including but not limited to historical fiction, thrillers and suspense, and Canadian Fiction.

 

October – Jennifer writes about everything audiobook: From a die-hard listener

As a lifelong fiction buff, I am also a huge fan of audiobooks. It started in the early 90’s when we listened to books on cassette.

AUDIO CASSETTE PACKAGING : Tapes.com - DVD, CD Blank Discs, Blank Cassettes, Media, Blu Ray and More
A blast from the past: audiobook on cassette!

Then I moved to books on CD (yes, Compact Disc!), which the library still offers if you have a CD player in your car. These are great for long trips or commutes. I always listen to audiobooks in the car through my smartphone, accessing downloadable titles from Cloud Library or HOOPLA (WPL’s free audiobook/eBook apps).

Your vehicle is not the only place to enjoy audiobooks. I listen while walking my dog and while I sew (it’s the activity that helped get me through the pandemic). You can even enjoy audiobooks at work! People working on the line in factories often listen to audiobooks to pass the time during shifts.

As a librarian, I need to be able to recommend titles for our customers. You have to read a lot to be able to make recommendations for a wide range of readers. It is safe to say I have listened to hundreds of audiobooks through the years. In fact, I consume twice as many titles per year using audiobooks; I still read print and/or eBooks, but always have an audiobook ready to play on my phone. While I have to keep track of several storylines, it has not been a problem for me – and I consider myself someone with a poor attention span!

Audiobooks: Your Guide to the Fastest Growing Format
Enjoying a good audiobook.

 

Getting into audiobooks

People often say to me that they don’t have time to read or fall asleep while reading. That is when I ask them, “Have you ever tried an audio book?” Audiobooks are great to enjoy while you are doing something else with your hands. Artists, crafters, and makers can enjoy listening to a story while working on projects. You can even catch up with a favourite author or book series while vacuuming, cooking, or washing dishes.

The narrator of the audiobook is key: it can make or break the story for you. A good narrator performs the book rather than just reading it. The best narrators are often trained voice actors who perform and dramatize the story. In my opinion, the best narrator of all time is George Guidall. He has performed over 1300 audiobooks.

Legendary Voice Actor George Guidall to Once Again Voice Mitch Rapp in Kyle Mills' Latest Thriller, 'Red War' – The Real Book Spy
Voice actor George Guidall.

Check out this list from TCK Publishing of their choices for the best audiobook narrators.

Sometimes the author narrates their own book. This doesn’t always work. Just because the author wrote the story does not mean they are the best person to voice it. Most authors are not trained voice actors and should let someone else do it! Then there are the actual actors voicing books and doing it well.

Can you imagine a book read by Tom Hanks? He’s a great one for audio.

If you like celebrity readers here is a great diverse selection offered from USA Today.

 

Where to find audiobooks

I find the best source for audiobooks to be public libraries. Not only are library audiobooks free, you also get the expertise of library staff who are all readers and are immersed the world of books and stories. We know our stuff when it comes to fiction & non-fiction. There are options to purchase audiobooks from sources such as Audible or Kindle (Amazon), and Indigo/Chapters Kobo. Some of these services are worthwhile if you consume audio on a daily basis, but can be very costly. Public libraries offer the most recent and popular titles – and hey, it’s free!  If you see we don’t carry an audiobook you wanted to read go to our website and recommend a title to us. It’s your library you can to tell us what to buy (within reason)!

How To Increase Your Reach and Royalties With Audiobooks - Your First 10,000 Readers
Find the best and most popular audiobooks at your public library.

 

Kid & Teens Too!

Children and Young Adults can also benefit from audiobooks. If you know a child who is a reluctant reader, has difficulty reading, or thinks they just don’t like to read – try audio! Windsor Public Library has an amazing selection of audiobooks for younger readers, offering titles for little kids to teenagers. In our current time, I can’t help but notice how the screen is challenging the imagination of children. When children listen to a story they have to imagine it in their heads; a screen does not provide it for them. Having to envision the story helps a child to develop their imagination and creativity. It can also be a quite calming activity in our loud and busy world. You can even make enjoying audiobooks a family activity by hooking up your device to a speaker so that everyone can enjoy the story together. For a good family listen try The Swiss Family Robinson, an exciting classic story that kids and adults can enjoy.

 

The BEST of the BEST – Opinions vary

There are several different points of view on the best audiobooks of all time:

My all-time favorite audiobook is Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (available on the WPL’s Cloud Library app). Fall of Giants is Book One of Follett’s Century Trilogy. The audiobook was better than reading the print version due to the narrator, Dan Stevens (not the guy on Downton Abbey). He performs every accent you can think of during World War II – British, American, Welsh, Australian, German, and Russian (just to start). This audiobook is essentially a dramatic production of Follett’s epic novel. Dan Stevens has won awards for his audiobook work and has narrated over 30 titles.

Dan Stevens — The Movie Database (TMDB)
Voice actor Dan Stevens.

Fall of Giants is a story about the experience of war through the perspective of multiple individuals – and their own personal stories. Each character has a different accent – the narrator accurately performs all these diverse accents. He even got the Welsh accent correct which is not easy to do (I should know, my dad was from Wales). He even does a Canadian accent! The way Stevens jumps between accents is quite stunning. I found his narration to be entertaining, emotional, exciting, heartbreaking, and interesting – it’s a must for audiobook lovers. This story is also a great way to learn about history, and to understand why we would never want another war in our generation. Note: it is really long. When I originally listened to this audiobook it was on 24 CD’s. However, it allowed me enjoy my commute to Essex. I couldn’t wait to get in my car every day to see what would happen next! Now Fall of Giants is available through downloadable audio and much easier to access – and safer too (I do not recommend changing CD’s in your car while drive 80 K down Manning Road!).

To discover your favourite audiobook, visit Windsor Public Library’s website and explore our Cloud Library or HOOPLA apps.

 

July – Daniele talks about diversity
Windsor is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse communities in Canada. In fact, 1 in 4 people in Windsor are immigrants and 27% of the total population of Windsor is a newcomer. This diversity is something we strive to celebrate here at the Windsor Public Library.

Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors is a metaphor from Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop of Ohio State University. It suggests that books can be mirrors, reflecting ourselves, our cultures and languages. Books can be windows, giving us views of other worlds, cultures and stories. Books can be sliding glass doors, where readers can walking through in their imagination and become part of the story. It is so important for libraries to provide all of these things through a diverse and well rounded collection.

Dr. Bishop says literature can “help us to understand each other better by helping to change our attitudes towards difference. When there are enough books available that can act as both mirrors and windows for all our children, they will see that we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities, because together they are what make us all human.”

In this spirit, the Windsor Public Library has started some amazing projects to help showcase this diversity and to move towards making our library collection as diverse as our city. We are working to find ways to make sure that all people are reflected in our collections; whether that be cultural differences, religious expression, gender identities, sexual orientations or differently abled bodies, we hope to build a more representative collection. One such project is our Collection Diversity Audit.

You may be wondering “Hey Daniele, what’s a diversity audit?” Well let me tell you! A diversity audit is a tool for libraries to thoroughly review and examine items that we have available for the public to check out. The goal of a diversity audit is to see which items are diverse and, more importantly, where there are gaps.

So starting in April 2021, Windsor Public Library has put together a special team to conduct a Diversity Audit of our physical collections. We started with Board Books and are now working on Picture Books. While we work on documenting what is already here, we are so excited to see a wide variety of diverse titles coming in each month.

This audit is helping us find our baseline, what our library collection currently looks like. Once we have a better understanding of where we are, we’ll be able to create a plan to continue balancing our collection. We aim not only to provide books that are mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors for anyone who walks into our library but also to use this diversity audit to find ways to move beyond books, to celebrate who we are and lift the voices of those who might have been silenced in the past.

Since I started working on the Diversity Audit Team, I’ve found some old favourites and many wonderful new titles I’m excited to share with our patrons. I hope to continue reading more diverse books and look forward to helping WPL move towards a collection that celebrates the cultural diversity that Windsor is so well known for. Below you’ll find some of my favourite diverse reads, hope you enjoy!  Don’t forget to check out our Diversity Story Times

Board Books:

Counting on community by Innosanto Nagara

Whose Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim

 

My heart fills with happiness by Monique Gray Smith

Toesy toes by Sarah Tsiang

 

Picture Books
The hips on the drag queen go swish, swish, swish by Lil Miss Hot Mess

Powwow day by Traci Sorell

Bodies are cool by Tyler Feder

Saturday by Oge Mora

How Nivi got her names by Laura Deal

A place inside of me : a poem to heal the heart by Zetta Elliott

Sources

Dr. Bishop “Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors”

Stats on Windsor’s Diversity
June – Erica Talks about Prison Library Services
As a former child and youth worker turned librarian, my work with homeless and at-risk youth opened my eyes to the lack of support around delivering literacy-based programs to underserved populations. Social justice within librarianship is a hot topic issue; as it should be in many areas of public service. While conducting research for a paper on bibliotherapy, I came across several articles linking it historically with rehabilitation programs for incarcerated individuals. This discovery lit a spark within me and, as a result, I have made advocating for literacy support programs within correctional facilities a passion of mine.

Bibliotherapy is essentially what the word implies – the use of books and/or narratives to provide mental health support. The concept of bibliotherapy was actually born behind prison walls. In Victorian England, when the modern prison system first came into existence, prisoners were supplied with bibles as means for them to “find God” and repent their “evil ways”. Today, rehabilitative and recreational literacy programs have proven to be positive indicators for reducing prisoner recidivism rates.

In order to gain a better understanding of the interventions needed for literacy programs to succeed within correctional facilities, I joined Book Clubs for Inmates as a volunteer reader. BCFI, as it is more commonly known, is a not-for-profit organization that runs books clubs in federal correctional facilities throughout Canada. The mission of the program is to create engaging literary experiences for those who are incarcerated so that, “inmates develop empathy, listening skills, and self-awareness” (Book Clubs for Inmates, 2022). As a volunteer, my role is to choose books for the program and screen them for potential triggers and/or concerning content (e.g., references to self-harm/suicide, physical and sexual abuse, drug use, violence, etc.). While challenging at times, the process of selecting materials for a wide range of reading interests and abilities has reinforced the fundamental reason why library collections should contain diverse and accessible materials. Currently, the subjects most requested by book club participants are sports, politics, and self-help, so I try to focus the majority of my book screenings within these categories.

My experience with Book Clubs for Inmates served as the springboard for the development of my own non-profit books-to-prison project. Beyond the Sentence, which I officially launched in July of 2020, aims to support people in prison through literacy. In choosing the name for this initiative, I hoped to convey the fact that literacy support is lifelong and goes beyond the timed correctional sentence of a person behind bars, and that its impact extends far beyond the words or sentences written on the physical page.

Before officially launching this initiative, I conducted extensive research on prison librarianship. This included participating in the American Library Association’s webinar, “The Prison Library as an Agent of Rehabilitative Change”; attending conference presentations on the topic;  literature reviews; and, where possible, informal conversations with librarians currently working in correctional facilities throughout Ontario. During my information seeking process, one book that really stood out to me was, Solitary by Albert Woodfox (2019). His story reinforced how valuable and necessary access to reading material is to the incarcerated. Albert served 40 years in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. While many of his experiences behind bars were harrowing, it is the stories he tells with regard to his connection with books and how he, essentially, turned his cell into a mini-university that are the most enlightening. One chapter in Solitary is entirely devoted to the escape Albert found within the pages of books. He explains, “I…became something they didn’t want or expect—self-educated. I could lose myself in a book. Reading was a bright spot for me. Reading was my salvation” (p. 161). I had the privilege of participating in a virtual book talk with Albert at the start of the pandemic. Throughout his talk, he reiterated his love of reading and emphasized how the library was key to many of his post-release successes.

To determine the best way for Beyond the Sentence to be of support to correctional institutions, I reached out to several librarians currently working in the field. I quickly discovered that funding for library materials was almost non-existent; in many cases, no money was allocated for reading materials within prisons. Almost all of those with whom I spoke relied heavily upon private donations or partnerships with public libraries to provide materials for their library collections. One frustration that I heard repeatedly was that many of the donated books were out-of-date and featured white, heterosexual characters with Christian-based narratives that were of little interest to the majority of the corrections population. Digging deeper, I discovered that the most requested materials include works pertaining to Indigenous spirituality; LGBTQIA2S+ stories; works by authors of colour; and graphic novels. Somewhat surprisingly, dictionaries were listed as the most sought out material. Through ongoing partnerships between correctional librarians and community donors, filling these reading gaps is where I hope Beyond the Sentence can be of most help.

As a librarian, I regularly witness how powerful the written word can be. For many, reading goes far beyond a recreational activity or a way to “pass the time”; it can also open a pathway to self-identification, empathy-building, and personal reflection. Ultimately, my goal for Beyond the Sentence is both advocate for literacy support for the incarcerated as well as provide much needed resource assistance to the correctional librarians who are constantly fighting an uphill battle behind the scenes.

For a fictional account of a prison librarian, check out Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian.

– Erica, Public Service Librarian

May – Alexandra talks about eResources

After a long, cold winter and days of grey skies, many of us are ready for the sun and warmer temperatures that the month of May brings with it. I’m looking forward to tending to the garden, relaxing on the front porch with a book or magazine, and enjoying the sun as often as I can.

It’s clear that when it comes to sun and warmer temperatures, I am thinking of a whole lot of rest and relaxation. And thankfully, the Windsor Public Library (WPL) has a wealth of resources to support me in these endeavours. From eBooks and eAudiobooks to full-colour digital magazines, WPL has plenty of high-quality resources that can be accessed for free, 24/7.

eBooks and eAudiobooks

When I’m gardening or out for a walk, I love listening to an audiobook – especially eAudiobooks that I can access conveniently through my phone. cloudLibrary has eBooks and plenty of eAudiobooks available to all WPL customers. They can be streamed through an Internet connection or downloaded to a device for offline access. Right now, I’m listening to Dave Grohl’s memoir The Storyteller. Hoopla Digital also has an impressive selection of eAudiobooks from which to choose. Lately, I’ve been feeling nostalgic and have once again been listening to the Harry Potter  series of eAudiobooks. Hoopla also offers eBooks, music, movies, television shows, and comic books, all of which are available digitally through the App. As with cloudLibrary, eAudiobooks and the other resources that are offered through Hoopla can be downloaded for offline access for those times when we find ourselves without an Internet connection.

Magazines and Newspapers

When I am sitting on the porch, relaxing and enjoying the sun, I’m usually reading a magazine. WPL has an excellent selection of physical copies of magazines for all interests. And for those who are looking for digital magazines, Overdrive Magazines (Libby) is an excellent resource. One of my favourite magazines to read lately is The Simple Things, which has a great focus on mindfulness, overall wellness, and taking a moment to stop and notice the beauty around us. I really enjoy cooking and am looking forward to finding some new, spring recipes using the food and cooking magazines that are offered through the App. There are also some great health and fitness selections that I always enjoy looking through. And seeing that I am relatively new when it comes to gardening, I regularly find myself turning to the home and garden magazines for some gardening guidance and inspiration.

 

If you’re looking for digital newspapers as well as digital magazines, Press Reader is just for you. Press Reader offers digital versions of newspapers and magazines, in multiple languages, from around the world – of course, all for free with a library card. Press Reader conveniently offers the current issue of the Windsor Star in a digital format. And if you are looking for more magazines to supplement Overdrive Magazines (Libby), Press Reader is an excellent choice. Magazines from around the world are available with Press Reader, with categories ranging from Arts and Entertainment to Business and Technology.

Music

Maybe you’re looking for some music to soothe or inspire you. You don’t have to look far – WPL has some amazing digital music Apps that I regularly turn to when I need motivation. Freegal Music offers music that can be streamed, with three free downloads every week that you can add to your music collection – all of this, as the name suggests, is both free and legal. Hoopla Digital also has a great selection of music that can be streamed or downloaded through the App for offline listening. Hoopla has an 80s Mixtape with some great songs, but there’s an entire library of selections to choose from to suit your preferences.

Keep Exploring

If you’re trying to slow down and make more time for the things you enjoy, WPL has plenty of Apps and resources to help you find the entertainment you are looking for. As the weather (finally!) gets warmer, I know that I’ll be turning to the great Apps that WPL offers. We’ve looked at eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines, newspapers, and music, but there is plenty more to explore. Take a look at our Online Resources section of our website for a complete list of digital resources.

-Alexandra, Accessibility Librarian

April – Christine discusses Information Literacy

It’s probably no surprise that public libraries support the development of literacy in different ways. Literacy—the ability to read and write—is an integral part of everyday life that enables everything from basic daily tasks and civic participation to lifelong learning and intellectual development. When you think of literacy, you probably think of books—and Windsor Public Library certainly has no shortage of those! Public libraries, by providing access to books and library programs, support the development of reading and writing skills for all.

However, there is another form of literacy beyond reading and writing that is just as important in today’s world. Information literacy refers to the ability to effectively find, evaluate, and use information. With the advent of the Internet and the prevalence of online news sources and social media, it’s not difficult to find information—information is everywhere! The challenge comes with finding the right information—relevant, reliable, useful information from trustworthy sources. Traditional literacy skills give you the ability to read information; information literacy skills equip you with the tools to effectively handle and make sense of that information.

Improving your information literacy skills

Test your skills here!

To improve your information literacy skills, it’s important to first reflect on your own information-seeking processes. When you need information about a specific topic, where do you search for that information? How do you search for that information? And when you have a lot of information in front of you, how do you determine which information to accept and to use? These questions are all part of the information-seeking process, and having strong information literacy skills will guide you through that process to find the best information.

To strengthen your information literacy skills, consider the following factors when searching for and evaluating information:

  • Am I considering multiple information sources? Or did I just look at the first source I found?
  • Who is the creator of this information source? Does the author possess relevant expertise or credentials?
  • Are there any potential biases or conflicts of interest that could have influenced the quality of this information?
  • What is the purpose of this information? Is it to inform, to entertain, to generate profit?
  • Who is the information source’s intended audience?
  • Where is the author getting their information? What are their sources? How is the author drawing their conclusions?

Why is information literacy important?

It’s important to note that not every question you have needs to (or should) be answered through in-depth research. Sometimes you just need to know the phone number of your local pharmacy, or the name of your favourite author’s upcoming book, and a quick Google search will suffice. Nonetheless, it’s important to know when more careful and critical information seeking is necessary. Having information literacy skills is important because a lot of the information seeking we do impacts our daily lives in big ways. We seek out an

d use information to make all sorts of important decisions—including medical, legal, political, and financial decisions—that affect both our personal lives and our communities.

Strong information literacy skills are also valuable because they equip you to better navigate the vast amount of information that’s out there. There are so many online sources, and with social media and 24/7 global news coverage, there is a constant flow of available information and the very real potential for information overload. Also, with the Internet and social media, anyone can be a creator and distributor of information. This can be a good thing, of course (for instance, in giving a platform to those whose voices may be underrepresented or excluded from mainstream discourses), but it’s another factor to consider. Moreover, this is not to say that all online information is untrue or unreliable. However, with all the information that surrounds us, it’s important to remember that not all information you encounter is necessarily factual or from a trustworthy source. Someone who is information literate will consider all of these factors in their critical evaluation of information.

Information literacy and Windsor Public Library

As a librarian, the importance of information literacy is on my mind in the course of my day-to-day work. My belief in the value of information literacy guides how I approach my work and how I help people who come to the library seeking all kinds of information. To support your information needs, Windsor Public Library has lots of good sources no matter what you’re looking for. We have nonfiction books on a variety of topics that you can browse in our catalogue, newspapers, community links, and e-resources that provide information in areas like law, history, health, travel, genealogy, and home improvement. Library staff are available to help you find the information you need, and they can guide you in the direction of good, reliable sources. You can also fill out our “Ask a Librarian” form or send an email to askalibrarian@windsorpubliclibrary.com with any research question. You will receive a response from a librarian at WPL, who will answer your question and direct you to relevant information sources.

The core of information literacy is thinking more critically about the information you encounter and reflecting on your own information-seeking processes. There’s a certain 21st century adage that resonates here: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet!” Information literacy skills will serve you well in your everyday life as you navigate all the information accessible to us in our world today.

– Christine, Public Service Librarian

March – Miss Marple talks about how the library meets demand for popular items

How we meet patron demand – AKA “Alert-To-Purchase”
Have you ever placed a hold on an item in our catalogue all excited, and all your dreams were dashed when that little message popped up proclaiming you are 158th in line? Feel free to roll your eyes at us strong enough to start a cyclone in the Pacific, but we’ve got you covered!

Welcome to a small part of our behind the scenes efforts: alert-to-purchase. Alert is a report we use to ensure we have enough copies of an item our patrons want to borrow. The industry standard, more or less, is about 12 weeks for physical items, and our ratios are designed to support that. For books, the ratio is 1:6 (1 copy per 6 holds), and for DVDs it is 1:8.

The technical aspect might be a bit boring, so feel free to scroll down. The report is set up to run every Tuesday morning, and it generates every single record that has 7+ holds on it. Aside from the title of the item and the number of holds, it also gives us the number of copies we already own. We will then get coffee, find earbuds and a cool playlist, and go through every single line to check the ratios so we can order the items we need.

At the peak of the pandemic, when we were only open for curbside and our collection moved solely via holds, the report would contain 500+ records. Now that the restrictions are relaxed and browsing is back, the report is back to its standard 300-400 lines. It is not as tedious as it sounds, and it usually doesn’t take more than 2 hours.

Ordering DVDs is fairly straightforward; however, when ordering books we have to make sure we buy the same edition (ISBN). If we don’t, the record will load separately and will not fulfill the holds. When it’s impossible to match the ISBN, our lovely cataloguers have to come to our rescue and do their magic!

The Patterns
After some years of going through this report, certain patterns have become noticeable. For example, holds tend to rise at two separate times in an item’s life: when we load the on-order records, and when we receive the actual item. This probably happens due to the way those two types of items are grouped in our online catalogue. As well, if a book gets a promotional boost through a great review, radio, or a talk show, we will see a rise in holds. Movies and TV shows go through the same cycles – award shows, re-releases, and critical acclaim will all bump the holds.

The Interesting Bit
We use alert to buy additional copies when needed, on top of our regular quantity. We almost never have to buy alert copies for James Patterson, Danielle Steel, and Stuart Woods books, because our initial order is large enough to satisfy the demand. However, there are times when an author breaks out and their debut novel becomes extremely popular. Holds then keep rising week over week, and we keep buying extra copies week over week. Eventually, we reach sort of an equilibrium, and the holds start to come down.

At this time, we are trying to keep up with The Maid by Nita Prose. Our initial order was for 1 copy. What could go wrong, right? We have since ordered 12 additional copies, and the holds are still rising! It’s not always debuts, either – Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis and the Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley have been “hot” for a few months now!

The Flukes
Occasionally, there will be a resurgence of interest in older titles. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller that we first got in 2012 has seen 105 holds placed on it since February 2021. Atomic Habits by James Clear, which we’ve had since 2018, is back on the alert report for the umpteenth time. Luckily, we are still able to source additional copies, so the wait times are not atrocious.

Colleen Hoover’s romance and thriller novels have recently found their second wind thanks to #BookTook, TikTok’s community of bibliophiles. For us, this has meant that many of her titles in our collection are seeing a rise in holds. Unfortunately, older titles will sometimes go out of print, leaving us with no way to purchase them. We are currently going through this heartbreaking scenario with the large print copy of Ugly Love – we have ordered it several times, and each time it was cancelled by our vendor because it is no longer in stock. The holds are still climbing, and it’ll be a year or more until the queue is cleared up.

Electronic Resources
Electronic books and audiobooks on CloudLibrary are dealt with via a similar process. There are some differences though – the ratios depend on the price, rather than the format. For libraries, new releases in e-publishing can be very expensive, and our budget can’t quite keep up with the demand in that area, without sacrificing other parts of our collection. We also won’t buy more than 5 electronic copies of a title – depending on several factors, the licensing for most items in CloudLibrary dictates their life time for at most 2 years, at which point we’d have to purchase them again. We have no such upper limit for the physical collection. While physical items can live on our shelves for 10, 15, 20 years, multiple copies of electronic items will simply expire once the initial demand dies down.

The Satisfaction
For the librarian who goes through this report, this has become an extremely rewarding part of the job. It is based solely on patron demand, which makes it feel like we’re making a difference. It is done weekly, so we can see the impact it has in almost real time. For many of the items on this list, there is a life cycle – holds will rise, rise, rise, and as we start receiving shipments of alert copies, there’s a point when the holds start to go down. At that moment, when the levee breaks, we know that the queue will clear up quickly, and the patrons no longer have to wait 12+ weeks for the item they want.

-Miss Marple, a Public Service Librarian whose special talent has become being able to divide by 6 or 8 very fast

February – Miss Kate talks about Encanto

As a children’s librarian I consider keeping myself up to date on “kid culture” part of my professional development. And right now kids are into Encanto.

I’ve been thinking about how we can use Encanto – something children are already excited about – to remind families of my favourite kind of fun. The completely free fun times they can find in libraries! Like, say, The Windsor Public Library, which gives everyone the opportunity to read, learn, and discover.

Read Encanto

I realize that the person in your life most obsessed with Encanto may not yet be reading independently. Parents and caregivers – already reaching their limit – may also be a bit wary about encouraging yet more Encanto fever.

This is where the library is a perfect fit: while YouTube is forever even the children understand the time-limited nature of library borrowing. If you borrow the Encanto soundtrack  (or the karaoke version) you can honestly tell your little one that you only have it for the week.  Another reason enjoy the music of Encanto on Hoopla rather than YouTube? Hoopla resources are downloadable so you won’t waste data replaying them over and over again.

We also have read-along e-books: a hands-off option when you just can’t talk about Bruno (no, no no!) any more.  Read along e-books have long been one of Hoopla’s coolest features. The little one in your life can borrow a book about the youngest member of the family Madrigal with Antonio’s Amazing Gift, Disney Classic Stories: Encanto, or this cute Bilingual (English/Spanish) book Encanto El Don De Una Familia/The Gift Of Family. All read-along options any child can enjoy independently.  If you’re looking for something for a more advanced reader there’s a junior novel and an easy reader available as well. At the WPL there’s something to read for every age!

The books about the film are a great starting point for a deeper exploration of picture books based in Caribbean and Latin America and exploring the many cultural traditions and magic of these diverse groups of people. There’s been a lot of talk lately about the importance of diverse literature for young readers. Like the kind available with your handy WPL card.

You can model reading by enjoying some of the Windsor Public Library’s novels that feature a grownup version of the magical realism displayed in Encanto. My favourite author for magical realism is Chilean American author Isabel Allende but Colombian-Mexican author Gabriel García Márquez, Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges, even British-American Salman Rushdie are all, arguably, magical realists so there is a book for every taste! Did you know that children are more likely to read if they see the adults in their lives enjoying reading? How lovely is that? An excuse to curl up with a good book to help your little one with early literacy!

Learn through Encanto

We can also use Encanto to explore the real world. Encanto takes place in Colombia. With your WPL library card you can share books about Colombia! Or explore Colombia through Global Road Warrior for lots of fast facts. Take the research process further and look up even more countries!

Another thing you can learn together: language. Could Encanto be what encourages you or your littles to learn Spanish? Maybe finally download Mango Languages and enjoy this amazing resource! And if you want to take your language learning even further, check out one of these great Spanish language learning books from the WPL collection! You can even get Spanish language read-along e-books through Hoopla!

If the little person in your life was most excited the animals why not check out books about jaguars or capybaras. Check out a whole list of books about unusual animals! WPL has animal picture books, kids non-fiction about animals! Or learn to cook some delicious foods from South America with one of these cookbooks available through Hoopla.

Discover

Finally, what can you discover about yourself and your little learner? Did they get so excited about the world that they want to explore our entire National Geographic kids collection or check out our many fact books? Or maybe planet earth is too limiting a topic for the child in your life and they want to check out books about outer space. Or maybe you’ve got a budding chef on your hands. Check out the WPL’s collection of kid-friendly cookbooks (or one for adults!) And then keep on discovering!

Did you know that the WPL has a cookbook in a comic book format? Did you even know that the WPL has all kinds of non-fiction comics for all ages and in all formats! And maybe you’ll be so inspired by these wonderful books that you want to write your own comics. We have a book for that too!

I’m a huge fan of Raina Telgemeier, so I if I wanted to learn how to write comics I’d start with Share your smile: Raina’s guide to telling your own story. But don’t stop there! The WPL has other awesome books about drawing your own comics and cartooning. In fact, the WPL has all kinds of drawing books for kids, teens, and adults. And why are we only drawing when we could be making crafts! There’s no need to limit yourself when you have a library card!

Go Even Further

Encanto is just one example of something you can use as a tool to explore the WPL collection, whether you’re looking to entertain yourself or someone else. In my many, many years as a librarian I’ve found that people who “don’t need libraries” really don’t know where to start. So I like to help everyone, of any age, by showing them the different ways they can use the library to support their love for something they already enjoy. Whatever your interests, you can always find something at the Windsor Public Library to help you read, learn, and discover.