Blog - Library Services Centre

There’s a common misconception (among those who don’t use them) that libraries are a product of a bygone era, good only for books and fairly useless in today’s high-tech age.  This isn’t true, as anyone who’s stepped foot in a library in the past decade can tell you.  Beyond print books, libraries offer audiobooks, AV like DVDs and video games, and even toys and games. 

 

They are community hubs where you can learn how to write a resume, how to use a computer, and how to create art ranging from knitting to 3D printing.  Libraries provide a space for anyone to use, no matter their income; offering study groups, tutoring lessons, children’s activities, or just a warm place out of a cold Canadian winter.

 

One way that libraries are changing to meet current technical needs is by offering kits that can be borrowed just like a book.  These kits can contain a multitude of things, including educational toys, STEAM activity books, and technological gadgetry like the Raspberry Pi and solar robots.  Kits can also be more party-based, like with green screen props; focused on music like the ukulele; or even a collection of family games like a kid-friendly magnetic darts board.

 

Discovery kits are a good way for libraries to help support the school curriculum in their community.  Kits can cover a wide range of subjects, from chemistry to astronomy to minerals, crystals, and rocks.  You can even go on a dinosaur dig in the comfort of your own home!  The hands-on aspects of these kits help kids learn by doing, but for those that are more reader-inclined, discovery kits also include print books.

 

Steve Spangler's Super Cool Science Experiments for Kids / pictures of simple science experiments engulfed in lightningFortunately, science and art are perennial topics, with books published each season for both kids and adults.  In Steve Spangler’s Super Cool Science Experiments for Kids, children 8-12 can find dozens of experiments ranging from the world’s simplest motor to an artificial lung to eggshell geodes.  Instructions are simple to follow, cleanup is easy, and each project includes an explanation of how it works and a fun Did You Know? factoid.

 

For those with mathematical minds, DK is publishing Math Maker Lab in July. Suitable for ages 10 and up, the book offers 25 creative projects and experiments designed to make learning about math fun. Projects include a times-table dreamcatcher, a multiplication machine, and the ability to draw impossible objects.

 

Crayola Create it Yourself / two children displaying home made craftsArtier kids may be interested in Crayola’s Create It Yourself, with a colourful project for every week of the year organized by the seasons.  Projects include a DIY fish tank using moldable air-drying clay for the fish, a puffy paint rainbow, and melted crayon ornaments.

Adults can get in on the fun by working on projects with their kids (or by themselves; no judgement, says the woman with a 2-foot cardboard T. rex on her side table) or by looking for kits geared towards adults at their local library.  These kits can include textile art like quilting or cross-stitch; gardening complete with seed packets; or even tool kits for DIY home repairs.

 

Libraries are a vital part of the community.  They provide safe spaces, community outreach, and, yes, books.  Libraries are ever-evolving and working to support their communities, so if you haven’t been to one in a while, take a trip there and see what they have to offer. 

 

For clients looking to supplement their kits, LSC offers SLIST 44667: 82 titles on science, math, textile art, and more!  Kits themselves can be created by special request; please contact our new ARP Coordinator Julie Kummu, or Selection and Customer Service Manager Jamie Quinn.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Enjoy!

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For me, there are few things more soothing than getting lost in a good book and drinking an enormous cup of coffee. So when you find yourself moving to a new city, like I have just done (in the middle of a pandemic, no less‽) I find that reaching for an old favorite and returning to a familiar time and place within a story can be really comforting.

 

This is Where You Belong by Melody WarnickThis Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick is one of the many titles I will be picking to read over the next month or so. There is a ton of non-fiction out there to support all the feelings that come with moving to a new place. This Is Where You Belong looks at what makes people attached to a place, and what makes somewhere feel like home. It also gives some insight into how you can embrace that “I’m not happy here” feeling that sometimes accompanies a move, and turn that into “I never want to leave!” Along the same lines is Love Where You Live: How to Live Sent in the Place You Call Home by Shauna Pilgreen.

 

Braving the Wilderness by Brene BrownBrené Brown is wise in a most significant way, and since I’m such a huge fan of self-improvement books, I seek hers out over and over again, including Braving the Wilderness. As a research professor who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, she believes that these emotions shape the way we interact with the world and each other. Packing up your life and moving to a city you’ve never been to before, all while starting a new job definitely takes courage. Her flair for storytelling, and sharing her own most vulnerable moments makes it easy to relate and in turn find our own strength to be vulnerable with others. I will definitely be reading this one again for some of Brené’s soulful advice.

 

My New Home by Marta AltesJust like me, children may benefit from a story to help understand tough topics or new emotions. If I think moving away from friends and family is scary, I can only imagine what that would be like for a kid who has only known one place. Luckily there are a ton of books out there about leaving home for a new one. There are so many fantastic titles to choose from but a few of my favorites are My New Home by Marta AltesAlexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean it) Going to Move by Judith Viorst, Bella and Stella Come Home by Anika A. Denise, and Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn. And I just know there’s some brilliant guidance in there that even adults (including myself) could use.

 

As a side note, did you know that Tom Hank moved ten times before he was ten? He credits always being the new kid to his developing his kind, unthreatening persona. And why he’s so good at acting, since with every move he had to slip into a new role.

 

Letters from the Country by Marsha BoultonNow, I didn’t move from the “big city” of Toronto to a rural Ontario farm like Marsha Boulton had, but reading about her struggles with adapting to farm life in Letters from the Country is so heartwarming and entertaining at the same. Documenting her experiences and hilarious mishaps through a series of short essay like entries really makes this book easy to pick up whenever I need a good laugh, or put down when I feel like stepping out my front door to explore. Each season on the farm comes with its own set of unique problems for her to solve, and makes me feel like discovering my fancy wine glasses not surviving the move isn’t the disaster I thought it was.

 

Home Again by Michael KiwanukaAt the end of the day, the song Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka I think sums it up nicely. Just like reading, music evokes emotion in all of us and can bring us comfort during challenging times. Having just taken this exciting step forward and settled into my new place, putting on a favorite album really makes things feel like home. And I think most of us can agree, there’s nothing better than music to make the unpacking go by faster!

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu.

 

In 2021, we will be transitioning the Green Memo into the LSC Weekly Update, delivered via MailChimp. If you want to continue to receive our weekly newsletter, and other notifications and updates, please take a second to update your profile.

 

Stay safe!

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Everyone is working their way through a new set of to-do lists that look nothing similar to what they were doing in early March. Many budgets have been shifted to electronic collections that patrons could take advantage of during the time library doors were closed. Now that libraries are reopening, staff members are juggling the tasks of filling holds, managing quarantine, cleaning of materials, and trying to figure out how best to spend the remaining collection budgets in a short time frame.

 

LSC’s selectors are trained professionals in spending collection budgets. Their help, with a few LSC tools, can maximize your budget whether you have had to cut, remain the same, or were able to add funds.

 

LSC’s Administrative Console is a very useful tool for budget tracking. The ADMN login is additional to your regular OLSC login and has many handy features, especially the real-time budget tracking. By quickly entering your budget amounts per fund, you can see how much is spent, how much is outstanding, how much has shipped, and more. This quick glance makes making decisions like moving money to another fund, easier.

 

In addition to the publisher catalogue selection lists we produce every week, LSC releases Bargain Books selection lists every 2 weeks that feature backlist and newer titles available at steep discounts. This lists can be especially useful to supplement children’s programming, or to backfill series. You will continue to find our regular monthly LSC catalogues like Mass Market, DVDs, Large Print, Small Press, Graphic Novels and more on our website as well as on Issuu. You'll also find the lists for all Findaway products including Wonderbooks, Launchpads and newly released Reading Academy. 

 

LSC HomepageFrom the front page of LSC’s website, you’ll see featured topical selection lists based on current world events and social relevancy like Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, Trans Support, Indigenous Voices, and more. The selectors put these together using resources to ensure they are valuable additions to Canadian library collections. Aside from the topical lists, the selectors can make specific suggestions for your library based on circulation data, budget or collection type. In their ARP selections and suggestions for budget management, they ensure, especially where budgets have been cut, that libraries are still receiving top of the market and popular material.

 

We do anticipate some publication date changes in the seasons ahead, as COVID has affected printing schedules industry-wide. LSC will do our best to communicate these changes to you, and make sure your orders are preserved. LSC’s selectors are here to help. If you need carts put together, specific selection lists created, or simply advice on how to proceed with a smaller budget, they are here to help alleviate some of that stress. Just reach out.   

 

And now, some collection specific updates from the Selectors.

 

Angela Stuebing, ARP Coordinator and Graphic Novel Selector:
Nightschool: Weirn Books Vol 1Graphic Novels are as popular as ever for readers both young and old, and are continuing to be released on a regular basis.  We have specifically seen an increase within the Juvenile collection.  There are so many fantastic titles from some of our favourite authors such as Svetlana Chmakova who wrote the Berrybrook Middle School series (Awkward #1Brave #2; Crush #3).  The first book in the new Weirn Books series shouldn’t be missed as part of your collection either!

 

Young Adult/Adult Graphic Novels should not to be forgotten when looking to boost your current event displays, both in the library and on your website.  The recent announcement of the Eisner Award Winners has overlapped with some of the LSC produced topical lists.  Some highlights include: Best Publication for Teens and Best Writer winner Laura Dean Keeps’ Breaking Up with Me, and Best Graphic Album winner Are You Listening.

Rachel Seigel, Adult Fiction Selector:
The CompanionsFiction publishing has felt the impact of the COVID shutdowns, primarily in the form of delays and cancellations. Many titles that had previously been announced for publication from late winter onwards have been either pushed back to fall or into 2021, but there will be plenty of regular print titles and big name releases to fill out budgets. Thanks to the quarantine, there is renewed attention on “pandemic novels” such as the buzzy new novel The Companions by Katie Flynn which focus on the effects of massive global outbreaks on a population.

 

The areas that have been more severely impacted by cancellations and postponements are mass market and large print where we’ve definitely seen a reduction in available titles. If your library has a large budget devoted to these categories, this might be a good time to look at series gap-filling, or bumping up copies of popular titles.

 

Karrie Vinters, AV Selector:
While theatre closures may have affected box office titles, the rest of the film world seems to be keeping up just fine. Direct-to-DVD, TV series, documentaries and re-releases of classics seem to be releasing as per usual, with maybe fewer children’s titles than normal. Libraries may want to consider opening up their collections to these other areas in order to get their budgets spent. TV series on Blu-ray and DVD are on the rise, with more people staying home and ‘binge-watching’ their favorite shows, both old and new.

 

Playstation 5 with controllerThere were some delays earlier this year regarding video game production, but the fall appears to be heavy with great new releases, including the new upcoming platforms Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.  With so many people playing video games to pass their time, this would be a great place to increase spending as this collection is known to circulate very well. Similar to video games, some music releases that were slated for a spring release were delayed to the fall, so watch the upcoming music lists for these exciting titles.

 

Stefanie Waring, Non-Fiction Selector:
As an introvert, I like being at home and I keep myself busy; I cross-stitch, write, og jeg lærer til og med norsk (my grammar is atrocious but I have a lot to say about bears).  But with COVID, many more social people are now stuck at home, looking for something to do with themselves and/or their kids.  This has led to a rise in nonfiction about activities at home, both in terms of homeschooling and in terms of stuff to do that isn't just gaming and binging Netflix.

 

Although schools have reopened, their situation is in constant flux and so libraries are especially interested in nonfiction for all ages that supports the school curriculum, including the new commitment to teaching elementary-school kids how to program.  Outside of school, science - especially nature science - has risen in popularity, many people are discovering new recipes, and there's even been an uptick in witchcraft and spirituality.  With the shift towards people working from home, I also anticipate that upcoming seasons will see more nonfiction on remote work, technology that allows it, and how to be productive outside of the office environment.

 

Sara Pooley, Children’s Product Manager:
The CousinsAs a mother of 4 kids myself, I was incredibly thankful and privileged to have a variety of fiction books while stuck in quarantine at home. This helped pass the time and entertain all the girls (and get them off their devices!) However, there are only so many times you can read the same story before you want or need something new. While my one daughter discovered Percy Jackson for the first time (contact me for if you want to refresh your collection with this classic series), my other daughter discovered a love of thriller/murder and young adult horror. Some of her favourites have been Killing November, a thriller set in a secretive boarding school by Adrianna Mather.  The sequel Hunting November was published in May this year. My daughter also loved One of Us is Lying, along with the sequel One of Us is Next by Karen McManus.  She is very excited to read a new book also by Karen McManus; Cousins, a YA book full of family secrets and mystery, coming this December.

 

Little SquirrelAs happy as I am to see Young Adult Fiction taking off during this pandemic, my other favourite collection has not fared as well: board books. Because of the tactile nature (babies love to gnaw and touch these highly engaging books), they have naturally taken a hit, so libraries have cut back spending in this area. I can only speculate that caregivers with babies who would have traditionally taken part in a library “Books for Babies” initiative which allows play, talk and browsing, are not braving the holds queue at the moment for books that harbor germs. That said, if budget allows, there are two amazing new board book titles through Orca that would make great additions: Little Owl and Little Squirrel, part of the All Natural series by Britta Teckentrup.  

 

Julie Kummu, World Languages:
World Language/Multilingual purchasing has continued to rise over the past few years as libraries strive to maintain and enhance the provision of multilingual materials within their communities. LSC has also recognized this need and responded with offering services such as: including original script in MARC records; cover art for multilingual materials; transliteration stickers; selection lists; and, more frequent shipments throughout the year. While the availability for print materials continues to grow, there is a significant downward trend in the amount of AV materials produced in NTSC format & legally copyright for Canada.

 

As countries around the world continue to deal with the impact of COVID, acquisition of multilingual materials in 2020 has been challenging process. Many countries have been forced to lockdown for months, as a result multilingual publications and shipments have been delayed. This continues to be a fluid situation, as second waves are being reported and possible additional closures are required.  LSC is in contact with our multilingual suppliers on a regular basis, receiving updates as the situation continues to evolve.  As information is communicated to us, we will reach out libraries to let them know if there are any difficulties supplying certain materials; at this time, we will provide various options on how we can proceed temporarily to complete the 2020 budget year. 

 

Since we have re-opened in June, LSC has continued to receive a steady flow of multilingual materials, which so far has included materials in the following languages, but is not limited to:  French, Chinese, Spanish, Persian, Hindi, Panjabi, Tamil, Russian and Hebrew.

 

Libraries have had a hard time, and will be living with the ramifications of the lockdown and continued COVID safety measures for months, if not years. As a not-for-profit, LSC is focused on helping in whatever way we can. If you need additional help for a couple weeks, a month, six months, however long, we can take things off your plate and ensure that new materials continue to arrive in a state that saves you money, time, and stress. We will build lists, build carts, develop temporary ARPs, take on cataloguing, processing, whatever you need for however long you need it. It hasn’t been an easy time for us either, but together we’ll be alright.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

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Back in January 2020, COVID-19 was just something on the news, happening in a far-away country.  We knew about it, we sympathized with Wuhan, but it seemed like just another flu-type illness.  By February, it was hitting closer to home: a coworker’s sister, who lives in Italy, was under lockdown and the WHO had declared the outbreak a global public health emergency.  Mass cancellations of public events and the closure of schools followed, and by mid-March COVID-19 was officially a global pandemic, sparking lockdowns all over the world.  Even as we head into summer now, restrictions remain in place for many people, including social distancing measures and the requirement of face coverings.

 

So what exactly is COVID-19?  In broadest terms, it’s a coronavirus, part of a large family of viruses named for their spiky appearance.  According to the CDC, there are four main sub-groupings of coronaviruses – alpha, beta, gamma, and delta – and seven types that affect humans.  229E and NL63, both alpha coronaviruses, and OC43 and HKU1, beta coronaviruses, are the most common and usually cause mild respiratory symptoms.  The three remaining coronaviruses, however, are the dangerous ones, evolving from infecting animals to infecting humans.  These three are MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2, aka COVID-19.

 

Which is a lot of science to try to explain to kids who haven’t been in school, or seen friends and family, since the lockdown began. Add to this a number of new terms that have been introduced to our lexicon, including social distancing and flattening the curve, and it’s a glut of information to take in even for an adult.  To help kids understand these terms, and COVID-19 as a whole, ABDO Kids is releasing two series: The Coronavirus, aimed at grades 2 and under, and Core Library Guide to COVID-19, for kids in grades 4-8.  The Coronavirus series includes information on the virus itself as well as information on staying connected, maintaining healthy habits, and distance learning.

 

The Core Library Guide series goes more in-depth for older kids.  Understanding COVID-19 examines why the virus is so dangerous, and what steps scientists and medical professionals have been taking to combat it.  Flattening the Curve explains this and other measures people can take to help stop the spread of the disease, or at least slow it down to help keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.  Other books in the series include Front-Line Heroes and The Economic Impact of COVID-19.

 

Beyond avoiding social activities and large groups, some ways that everyone can help slow the spread include proper hygiene and face coverings.  COVID-19 is destroyed by the simple act of washing your hands with soap and water.  Teaching kids hygiene has always been important, but especially so now.  To aid in this, check out How Does Soap Clean Your Hands? by Madeline J. Hayes and Srimalie Bassani.  For more of an overview of germs and diseases, The Germ Lab by Richard Platt and John Kelly offers plenty of fun facts and great illustrations.

 

All these sudden changes and dire warnings can cause anxiety even in kids (and adults) not prone to worry.  This is understandable, but parents will likely want to help their kids feel more confident and reassured.  In October, Vancouver author-illustrator Scot Ritchie will release Follow Your Breath!: a First Look at Mindfulness.  An introduction to mindfulness, the book will help kids learn how best to manage stress and remain calm even when upset.  Other upcoming books to help kids manage their feelings include The Worry (Less) Book by Rachel Brian, Mindfulness For Children by Sarah Rudell Beach, and Puppy In My Head by Canadian author Elise Gravel.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel,  and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Stay safe!

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Children’s Display Day Spring 2020 is coming up on March 4th at the Sherwood Community Centre in Milton, and we are very lucky to have special guest, Forest of Reading winning author Elizabeth MacLeod joining us for an author talk and book signing. We had a chance to talk with Elizabeth about her new books ahead of the day.

 

Elizabeth MacLeod loves science; that much is clear from her bibliography. A catalogue deep with biographies of Chris Hadfield , Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie, she pulls these figures out of recent and far history, and brings their lives and accomplishments to the attention of children across Canada.

 

This attention to science makes sense, as a former editor at OWL magazine. But with more than 60 books under her belt, she is a writer who can find passion and interest in any subject sent her way, as diverse as the subjects of her two new books, biographies of Willie O’Ree and Terry Fox.

 

With your background in biology, it is interesting that many of the scientists you have profiled have been physicists, chemists, and engineers. How do you choose which historical figures you write about?

 

"I love science so I want to interest kids in it and show them that it’s part of our lives every day. I also hope to help kids see that scientists aren’t necessarily geniuses, but they’re people who look at the world carefully and really see it. That’s something we can all do.

 

"There are so many great people to write about that I’m always sending names to my publisher. When I give presentations in schools and libraries, I ask kids, teachers and librarians for ideas. When I listen to podcasts or read blogs and newspapers, I’ve always got this series on my mind. My editor, Erin O’Connor, is also great at coming up with suggestions (and she’s a fabulous editor!).

 

"Choosing the subjects is hard because there are so many wonderful options. Diversity is really important in the series since we want kids to see themselves reflected in the books. We’re trying to include Canadians from many different backgrounds, men and women and from all across the country."

 

I’d like to ask you about your process a bit. How long do you spend researching your subject before you start writing? Are you researching multiple subjects at once, writing about one while researching another; or do you pick one, get it done, and move on to someone new?

 

"As soon as I’m given the subject, I start researching. I’m looking for facts and amazing stories as well as photos that the illustrator, Mike Deas, can use for visual references. I’m also searching for each subject’s most important characteristic — for Tom Longboat, for example, that was his love of running, while for Elsie MacGill it was her determination to work hard.

 

"The amount of time I spend researching depends on when the first manuscript is due and what other projects I’m working on at the same time. It can take me anywhere from two weeks to two months. I write each of the books in the series one at a time, but sometimes I’m working on books for other publishers too. As well, depending on the schedule, I may be writing one of the biographies in this series, while reviewing final pages for an earlier book."

 

Which of the figures you’ve written about has been your favourite? Which has surprised you the most?

 

"I think what I like best about the people in this series is that they were ordinary people, but went on to do something extraordinary. Viola Desmond was a businesswoman, not a black rights activist, when she sat down in that movie theatre, refused to move and made history. Chris Hadfield dreamed of being an astronaut when Canada didn’t even have a space program, so his ambition seemed impossible.

 

"I think each of the people in the series has surprised me. Did you know that Chris Hadfield is afraid of heights? Or that Elsie MacGill took drawing lessons from Emily Carr, Canada’s most famous female artist. Willie O’Ree not only faced discrimination because he’s black, but also lost the vision in his right eye when a puck hit it. I love discovering incredible stories like this!"

 

It was just announced that the Canadian Mint chose your newest subject, Willie O’Ree, as the figure to grace the 2020 Black History Month coin. What drew you to Willie?

 

"I’ve always loved hockey, so I was so happy when Scholastic, the series’ publisher, agreed to let me write about Willie. He really came on our radar when he was made a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2018. I also loved how he inspired kids with sayings like, “If you think you CAN or you think you CAN’T — you’re right!”

 

"When I researched Willie’s story, I discovered that as a young teenager, he’d met baseball great Jackie Robinson and told him that he, Willie, was going to be the first black NHL player. Isn’t that amazing? The stories about the discrimination that Willie faced are so disheartening, but it’s important that kids hear them and understand what Willie had to overcome."

 

Terry Fox may well be one of the most famous Canadians, ever. With the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope this year, is there anything about Terry that still surprised you while researching him?

 

"First of all, I was amazed that it’s already been 40 years since Terry’s Marathon of Hope.

 

"My editor and I and the whole Scholastic team have also been surprised at how emotional Terry’s story still makes us. We keep complaining that someone must be cutting onions nearby when we watch videos of him running or the interview he gave when he had to stop his Marathon of Hope! Such a brave man and he united and inspired all Canadians.

 

"I was also surprised that at one point Terry said that he was more upset at losing his hair during the chemo treatments than he was at losing his leg. As well, before the treatments, his hair was straight, not at all curly as it grew back after his treatments."

 

Is there someone you’ve wanted to write about but haven’t had the chance to?

 

"There are so many great Canadians to write about! There are a few that are almost definite for upcoming books and I can’t talk about them yet, but I’d also love to write about Joseph-Armand Bombardier, who invented the snowmobile; singer and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie; Jeanne Sauvé, Canada’s first female governor general; wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen (who was inspired by Terry Fox) … the list goes on and on! And we’re always open to suggestions — let me know if you have any good ideas!"

 

If you want to hear Elizabeth talk more about her books, her process, and her new subjects, Willie O’Ree and Terry Fox (and maybe suggest a future subject), she’ll be speaking and signing books at LSC’s Spring Children’s Display Day on March 4th, at the Sherwood Community Centre in Milton. RSVPs can be sent to Jamie Quinn at jquinn@lsc.on.ca.

 

We’ll see you there!

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January 19th, 2020 is the inaugural I Read Canadian day, a day (and week) dedicated to encouraging young people to celebrate the richness, diversity, and breadth of Canadian literature.  The aim is to have Canadians, especially young people, take just 15 minutes out of their day to read a Canadian book, or have it read to them. 

 

Many libraries and schools are participating, including Ajax Public Library, Guelph Public Library, and Lethbridge Public Library. Here at LSC, we asked staff to let us know their favourite Canadian authors and/or books.  See below for their choices!

 

CEO Michael M. notes that one of his daughter’s favourite books was The Paper Bag Princess by the one and only Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko.  Originally published in 1980 by Annick Press, the book has withstood the test of time, Mike feels. Robert Munsch was a theme among our staff, also mentioned by CFO Kirk O., Multilingual Selector Julie K., and Nonfiction Selector Stef W. This year is the 40th anniversary of this classic book.

 

Stef’s personal favourite Canadian authors are Tanya Huff, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Gemma Files.  All three authors have written urban fantasy set in and around Canada: Tanya Huff’s Smoke trilogy and Enchantment Emporium trilogy; Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry; Gemma Files’s We Will All Go Down Together; and short fiction The Puppet Motel from the collection Echoes, edited by Ellen Datlow. 

 

In juvenile nonfiction, Stef recommends the Scholastic Canada Biography series, Indigenous author Theresa Corky Larsen-Jonasson, the Mothers of Xsan series, Eric Zweig, Elise Gravel, Jess Keating, the Haunted Canada series, and Helaine Becker.  In adult nonfiction, be sure to check out Metis author Jesse Thistle’s autobiography From the Ashes; The Skin We’re In: a Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole; and The Vagina Bible by Jen Gunter.

 

Kirk O. cites Patrick DeWitt as one of his favourites; he’s loaned and recommends The Sisters Brothers to friends and family as a great read.  He also loved Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

 

Acquisitions Clerk Fabiana S. recently read Sweep: the Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier and enjoyed it so much that she plans to read the rest of his bibliography.  She also recommends the Lullaby series, which includes Canada Lullaby, British Columbia Lullaby, and Alberta Lullaby.  They’re even available to listen to on Youtube.

 

Rachel S., Adult Fiction Selector, has always had a special place in her reading heart for Gordon Korman.  Not only did she attend the same elementary school he did, but she’s met him professionally (he’s always charming and funny) and his book Don’t Care High was loosely based on the high school she attended.  She also recommends quintessential summer camp book I Want To Go Home, as well as No More Dead Dogs.

 

Outside of Gordon Korman, Rachel makes a point of reading Courtney Summers’s YA fiction, and books like Very Rich by Polly Horvath.  She notes that Dennis Lee wrote a picture book – Lizzy’s Lion – in 1984 that’s one of the most twisted and brilliant picture books she’s ever read, and some of her favourite adult fiction authors are Timothy Findlay, Michael Ondaatje, and Robert Sawyer.

 

Finally, Library Service Representative Michael C. has two recommendations to make.  First up is John Bianchi, who was actually born in New York but came to Canada in 1968 and made his career here.  Snowed in at Pokeweed School was a childhood favourite of Michael’s, and he’s always found Bianchi’s drawing style a delight.  His second recommendation is Canadian writer – and computer programmer – Ryan North.  North created Dinosaur comics, has written a Choose Your Own Adventure style version of Hamlet, and recently published How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveller.

 

These are just some of the great Canadians creating great literature.  For more information on I Read Canadian Day, check out their website, which offers awesome reading lists, including the Forest of Reading Awards and the CCBC Book Awards.

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As a mom of a toddler on the spectrum, recent life has been a crash course about neurodiversity. It’s painful to acknowledge that until recently, the main representation of autism in popular culture was the movie Rain Man, where Dustin Hoffman plays an autistic savant. Things have come a long way since then, but there is so much room for improvement. Still, only characters with “cute” special needs are reflected in popular media. Think Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. What is never addressed is that our world is built for those who are “normal.”

 

Some treatments that were considered effective for autism therapy are being described by the now autistic adults who undertook the therapy as detrimental to their core being. Instead of focusing on inclusion and support, the focus was on compliance, but a tide is turning. Consider for example being nonverbal. Books like Ido in Autismland by Ido Kedar and The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, both nonverbal young adults on the spectrum, have opened eyes globally. Both of them learned to express themselves (from basic needs to complex imaginative thoughts) through a simple alphabet chart. Previous to these books, there was a basic understanding among professionals that nonverbal meant non-understanding; meant non-intelligent.

 

Luckily, we have great author advocates like Meg Raby who released picture book My Brother Otto: An Autism Awareness Book this year. Otto is a young nonverbal crow on the spectrum. The book is told by his sister who describes his traits, likes and dislikes, and how much she loves him. He is pictured ordering bugs and cheese for lunch using an alternative communication device like an iPad. This picture book is ground breaking, in my opinion – the underlying message doesn’t leave you pitying Otto, it’s about two kids’ everyday experiences with an emphasis on kindness and understanding, one of them just happens to be autistic. It is also extremely refreshing to see an alternate mode of communication in popular media.

 

In a similar vein, I shared a copy of I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism by Pat Thomas with my son’s daycare teachers for reading with his class. The gentle, informational approach describes the sensory challenges people on the spectrum deal with daily, how they might feel like an alien on their own planet sometimes, and how everyone needs a friend for love and support.

 

A less serious picture book we have enjoyed very much is Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap: NT is OK by Clay Morton. This book reverses the common depictions of neurodiversity by showing how a neurotypical (NT) kid is seen by his best friend on the spectrum. The narrator’s funny confusion at his NT friend’s habits (for example, his tardiness for showing up at 4:59pm or 5:01pm instead of 5pm on the dot) show that “normal” depends on who you ask. Similarly, we can all take a page from recent picture book My Shape is Sam by Amanda Jackson, about a square who wants to roll like a circle – but scratch that, Sam ISN’T a square or a circle, he’s just Sam! He doesn’t have to be what others want or expect him to be.

 

The point is, “normal” doesn’t exist anymore. Put your love and patience into high gear and show those who are flappy, nonverbal, hyper, and differently abled from you that you love them, want them around, and that the world is becoming a more inclusive place day by day. 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Until next time!

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When I was 16, a friend of mine asked me if I’d heard of NaNoWriMo.  It turned out that there was this event going into its second year called National Novel Writing Month, where the goal was to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.  Both of us were writers and at 16, my only real time concern was being in my last year of high school, so we decided we would both sign up and attempt this challenge.

 

NaNo (as it’s known to us Wrimos) was small back then, at least compared to today; its inaugural year in July 1999 featured a whole 21 participants.  By the time I heard of it, I was one of 5000, and the event was being reported in the L.A. Times and the Washington Post.  I won that year with a terrible novel about vampires, a talking cabbage, and a hellhound named Fluffy, because when you need to write 50,000 words in a month, reality is the least of your concerns.  I’ve participated every year since, in both the original NaNo and in the spinoff Camp NaNoWriMo, which began in 2011 and allows me to choose my own wordcount goal rather than sticking to the 50K.  I’ve also won every year, sometimes legitimately, sometimes by cheating... I mean, rebelling.

 

In 2003, NaNo’s founder, Chris Baty, wrote No Plot? No Problem (updated and revised in 2016), a guide to writing a novel, whether in 30 days or not.  My copy hangs out on my overburdened bookcase along with Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Dreyer’s English. NaNo taught me a lot about writing a first draft quickly, including the fact that it will suck and that’s okay.  As King says, you write your first draft with the door closed.  And preferably locked, when you live with your parents or roommates who inevitably want to know what you’re doing (writing), why (because I want to), and if they can be characters in your story (no).

 

In past years, there’s usually been one or two news articles or blog posts questioning NaNo and whether it’s ruining the sanctity of the written word.  They usually point out that a novel written in 30 days probably isn’t very good, and also such a singleminded focus on length won’t improve that.  This is true.  A novel written in 30 days will be awkward and ungainly, full of run-on sentences, illogical actions, and plotholes you can drive a truck through.  Characters change names, appearances, and occasionally gender.  Authors forget how to English (or whatever their language is), as proved by the hilarious NaNoisms thread that pops up every year for participants to chronicle their worst typos and brainfarts.  At the end of the month, you have a novel that is certainly not in any state to be published, or even shopped around to agents.

 

That’s not the point.  The point of NaNo is to get yourself writing.  It’s to train yourself to sit down in your chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and write some words.  Sometimes that’s only a sentence.  Sometimes you drag out the first few (hundred) words and your muse finally engages and you’re off flying, words spilling out so fast your fingers can’t even keep up.  Either way, you’re doing something many people say they’ll do but never carve out the time to actually do it.

 

Of course, there are plenty of novels out there that started as NaNovels and were beaten into submission, polished, and published by real live publishers.  They include Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Wool by Hugh Howey, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and many more.  And this year, though I haven’t actively been searching for any, I haven’t seen any handwringing about how NaNo is destroying writing as an art.  I have seen news articles, pep talks from famous authors, and library programs in areas like Burnaby, Montreal, and Cambridge’s Idea Exchange.  I’ve seen another official NaNoWriMo handbook in Brave the Page, a juvenile nonfiction guide and inspiration for middle graders.

 

In the 18 years I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo, I’ve written almost 1 million words.  I’ve written halves of novels, full novels, short stories, novellas, 104K in a month, 50K in 6 days (Surgeon General’s Warning: not recommended unless you like uncontrollable tremors).  Whether I finish a full novel or rebel by rewriting older stories (or by writing blog posts), NaNo has taught me to just put my head down, stop complaining, and get it done.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Enjoy!

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If you’ve turned on the news lately, you may have heard of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist who’s been making waves with her passionate speeches.  In August 2018, Greta began to protest climate change by sitting outside of Sweden’s national legislature, the Riksdag, with a sign reading Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate).  Her protests have inspired countless similar protests throughout the world, and Greta herself has been invited to speak on many global stages, including here in Canada.

 

Greta and her family will be releasing their autobiography, Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis, at the end of April 2020.  For those who can’t wait for more information, however, Jeannette Winter has published a nonfiction picture book with the same title.  Other books featuring Greta’s story include Greta and the Giants by Zoe Tucker and No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta herself.

 

Fortunately Greta isn’t the only one concerned with both the environment and our world as a whole.  Youth activism is on the rise, according to author and scholar Jessica Taft.  In the United States, the survivors of the Parkland school shooting have been campaigning for better gun control.  Malala Yousafzai has been working on behalf of girls and women since 2009, even surviving an assassination attempt.  Here in Canada, we have our own youth focusing on a range of topics, from Stella Bowles in Nova Scotia – whose juvenile nonfiction book My River: Cleaning up the Lahave River was recently nominated for the Forest of Reading – to Metis-Jamaican Larissa Crawford, and LGBTQ2+ activist Fae Johnstone.

 

Human impact on the environment and climate change have been big topics over the past few years.  In our recent election, climate change was second only to health care among Canadians polled by Ipsos.  The book world has seen a number of publications focused on the environment, climate change, and the plight of the natural world and its animals.  At the beginning of October, Kari Jones published Ours to Share: Co-Existing in a Crowded World as part of the Orca Footprints series.  The book focuses on the growth of the human population – from just a few hundred thousand people to our current population of nearly eight billion – and our impact on the world around us.  It’s a positive book, however, highlighting how we can share with our neighbours and what kids can do to help better the world.

 

One of the bigger issues in the climate change discussion is the issue of plastic.  Some steps have been taken to reduce our plastic waste – like encouraging reusable bags at the grocery store and charging for plastic ones – but there’s a glut of information out there that people may struggle to sort through.  The Plastic Problem by Rachel Salt. Written by a producer for the YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE, the book breaks down the issues and lays out solutions.  For younger readers, there’s also Join the No-Plastic Challenge by Scot Ritchie, part of the Exploring Our Community series.

 

We’re headed into winter now and the forecast for the year is milder but stormier.  While I can’t say I’ll particularly miss the dreaded polar vortex, unpredictable and stormy weather is still a sign of climate change.  According to NASA, the rising ocean temperatures are likely to lead to an increase in extreme rainstorms.  In the winter, despite the colder temperatures, the increase in evaporated water can also lead to heavier snowfall.

 

All hope isn’t lost, though.  Many people all over the world, including youth activists like Greta Thunberg, are working towards reducing our carbon emissions, pollution, and plastic garbage.  This past spring and summer, the #trashtag challenge went viral, encouraging people to clean up an area near them and post before and after photos.  Much better than throwing slices of plastic cheese onto your baby.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Enjoy!

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At LSC, we endeavor to ensure that Canadian libraries have unparalleled access to Canadian content, whether that be materials by Canadians, about Canadians, or what is important to Canadians. Part of that commitment is improving access to materials by Indigenous Peoples. Thanks to some recent initiatives, we now have additional tools to help with that.

 

Back in June BookNet Canada announced a research project they had undertaken, to generate a list of materials specifically dealing with Canadian Indigenous topics. As a starting point, they used BISAC codes to isolate the sales data on materials associated with Indigenous or Native American/Canadian headings. They were then able to see how these materials have sold compared to other English language materials. Happily, from 2016, there have been consistent gains in sales for Indigenous themed material. Next, they pulled just the data from Junes 2018 to 2019, identified the top sellers and broke down the results into Fiction and Non-Fiction categories for Adult and Juvenile. The resulting four lists they are calling the Bestselling Indigenous Books in Canada.

 

They are quick to point out that only two of the forty items were not written by Canadian or Indigenous authors. They also point out that Canadian publishers are responsible for most of the items on the list. This is all to say, this list represents a collection of books in which Indigenous Peoples are telling their own stories, a critical and foundational aspect of decolonization.

 

For a more complete breakdown of their methodology, see their announcement post here. For your ease, we’ve put all four lists together into one single Slist, from which you can purchase the items directly. The Adult Fiction list includes recent favourites by Joseph Boyden and Thomas King, as well as brand new books like There, There by Tommy Orange, and Starlight by Richard Wagamese. The Non Fiction list is a fantastic list of items that would bolster any collection, including All Our Relations by Tanya Talaga, and Indigenous Relations by Bob Joseph.

 

The children’s lists consist of many items that I know are already being used in many elementary schools, including Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and The Sharing Circle by Theresa Meuse. As well as newer titles that will hopefully find their ways into the hands of more young Canadians, like The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette and Go Show the World by Wab Kinew and Joe Morse.

 

In addition to this, the UN General Assembly has designated 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. This resolution came about as “40 per cent of the world’s estimated 6,700 languages were in danger of disappearing— the majority belonging to indigenous peoples.” They hope to raise awareness of these languages and the cultures they represent internationally. You can see the full scope of their initiative here

 

Map: Chris Brackley/Can GeoIn Canada, 2011 census data shows that there are 60 active Indigenous languages, belonging to 12 root language families, spoken by 213,000 people across the nation. Canadian Geographic has put together a wonderful graphic mapping these languages, which can be viewed fully here (Image credit: Chris Brackley/Can Geo.)

 

To support this Year of Indigenous Languages, LSC has put together a list of recent and prominent Indigenous materials. This list of 101 items is a mix of Fiction and Non-Fiction, Adult and Juvenile, English and French. The items are all by Canadian Indigenous authors, again ensuring that people are telling their own stories. These items would form a powerful foundation to an Indigenous collection, and satisfies two of the UN’s five key action areas: “Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation”; and “Elaborating new knowledge to foster growth and development.”

 

LSC is committed to helping libraries decolonize and increase the representation in their collections. Indigenous languages are part of that commitment. We list Southern Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibway among the languages available through our World Languages program. We are constantly looking out for new materials from new and existing publishers, in Indigenous languages. As demand for this material grows, so will supply, and LSC will be there to help libraries build the best collections for their customers.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Yours, Fictionally

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