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  • Centauri Dreams looks at two brown dwarf pairs, nearby Luhman 16 and eclipsing binary WD1202-024.

  • D-Brief notes a study suggesting panspermia would be easy in the compact TRAPPIST-1 system.

  • Far Outliers notes the shouted and remarkably long-range vocal telegraph of early 20th century Albania.

  • Language Hat links to a fascinating blog post noting the survival of African Latin in late medieval Tunisia.

  • The LRB Blog notes the observations of an Englishman in Northern Ireland that, after the DUP's rise, locals are glad other Britons are paying attention.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting that refugees in the US end up paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

  • Spacing reviews a fascinating-sounding new book on the politics and architecture of new libraries.

  • Understanding Society examines the mechanisms through which organizations can learn.

  • Window on Eurasia talks about the progressive detachment of the east of the North Caucasus, at least, from wider Russia.

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Osgoode Hall, the handsome Georgian building t Queen and University downtown that houses most of Ontario's higher courts, was open for Doors Open. I was taken by its libraries, including not only the American Room where American law texts are stored but the gorgeous, columnned Main Reading Room.

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This morning, I headed over to Yonge and Bloor in order to take part in this year's latest incarnation of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

Cover #toronto #tcaf #comics


TCAF is a big event, spilling over from the Toronto Reference Library into the conference rooms of the Marriott Bloor Yorkville hotel to the east and north into the Masonic Temple.

Welcome to TCAF! #toronto #tcaf #comics


(We actually got to see the fifth-floor conference room in the Masonic Temple, a chamber that looked uncanilly like the Canadian Senate.)

Entering fifth floor, Masonic Temple #toronto #tcaf #masonictemple


Whiteboard #toronto #tcaf #masonictemple #whiteboard


The Reference Library was packed. By mid-afternoon, the temperature was still comfortable, but the milling crowds will surely change that.

Crowded #toronto #tcaf #torontoreferencelibrary


Ascending #toronto #tcaf #torontoreferencelibrary #elevator


Looking down #toronto #tcaf #torontoreferencelibrary


From the fourth floor #toronto #tcaf #torontoreferencelibrary


Bram and Bluma Appel Salon #toronto #tcaf #torontoreferencelibrary #bramandblumaappelsalon


I ended up coming away lightly, buying only Toronto Comics Mini #1. This, one of the latest entries in the successful Toronto Comics Line, is a must-have.

Toronto Comics Mini #1, acquired #toronto #tcaf #torontoreferencelibrary #torontocomics #books
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  • blogTO notes a threat to some of Liberty Village's historic buildings through development.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at planetary formation around close binary SDSS 1557, which includes a white dwarf.

  • False Steps' Paul Drye announces a new book project, They Played the Game, which looks at how different baseball players overlooked in our history might have become stars had things gone differently.

  • Language Hat looks at the linguistic differences between the two Koreas.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the exploitation of Syrian refugees by Turkish garment manufacturers.

  • The LRB Blog examines the phenomenon of myth-making regarding Sweden.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a website sharing the stories of cartographers.

  • The NYRB Daily notes the chaos that Trump will be bringing to American immigration law.

  • Peter Rukavina talks about his experience as a library hacker.

  • Supernova Condensate is optimistic about the potential of Space X to actually inaugurate an era of space tourism.

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The Toronto Star's Ellen Brait reports on how first-year engineering students at the University of Toronto came up with a solution to save the books of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

When 750,000 volumes of rare books are imperiled by condensation, it’s time to think outside the building.

Since at least 2004, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library – which houses books including all four of Shakespeare’s folios and a papyrus from the time of Christ – has had a condensation problem. The insulation inside the library has been slowly degrading and condensation has been building up, according to Loryl MacDonald, interim director of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. This also resulted in fluctuations in the temperature, something that can be detrimental to books that need climate controlled environments.

“Over time with those types of conditions mould can grow and affect some of the rare books,” said MacDonald.

The library consulted numerous architecture firms and was told the same thing again and again: construction had to be done in the interior. This would require the books, some of which are in fragile condition, to be moved and the library to be temporarily closed.

Desperate for a different solution, John Toyonaga, manager of the Bindery for the library, saw an ad for a first year problem-solving engineering class and decided to throw the library’s problem into the mix.
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blogTO's Derek Flack highlights the ongoing upgrading of not a few of the branches of the Toronto Public Library system.

Perhaps the most stunning of these upgrades is happening at the TPL's Albion Branch, where architecture firm Perkins + Will have designed a stunning new building immediately adjacent to the existing branch that dates back to 1973.

By using the parking lot as the site of the replacement, it was possible to keep the original branch in operation throughout the construction process, which is entering its final stage. The new building is expected to open in fall of this year.

When it does, it'll feature a far more robust computer area, a technology centre complete with a 3-D printer, a specially designed kids area, and a social space being dubbed the "urban living room."

Similar upgrades are coming to another branch that's seen better days. The Raymond Moriyama-designed North York Central branch is still a stunning building with its seven storey atrium, but being the second busiest branch in the system, it was deemed a priority to upgrade its features and some of the finer points of the design.

The list goes on. No less than seven branches are currently undergoing renovation efforts, including Agincourt, Eglinton Square, Runnymede, St. Clair/Silverthorn, and Wychwood. In each case, the goal is the same: to modify the existing space to serve more as a community hub rather than merely a quiet place to study or read.
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The Globe and Mail's Alex Bozikovic reports on the central place that the library has taken in Canaidan architecture, as a locus for experimentation. As someone who likes the Toronto Reference Library and loves the newly-encountered Bibliothèque nationale in Montréal, this article makes perfect sense.

Imagine a slab: a low box clad in limestone and glass. Then place it on the crest of a hill and split it down the middle, one piece pressed down into the earth and the other slanting up to the sky. This is the three-dimensional drama that animates the new Waterdown Library and Civic Centre in Hamilton.

Inside, more twists. Walk in the door, and you can wind your way to the top of the hill: climbing a series of ramps lined with generous windows and slats of Douglas fir, past green roofs and through six levels of a library filled with colour and dashed with sunlight on all sides. At the top, the payoff: long views from the height of the Niagara Escarpment, taking your eye beyond the suburban road to the broad topography that defines this place, the arcing shore of an ancient sea.

The latest in a string of excellent public buildings from its architects, RDHA, the building is fresh proof that libraries are the locus of creative architecture in Canada. Waterdown brings together an elegant metaphor and accessibility with a sense of place – and shows how excellent art can emerge from constraints.

Plus you can find books here, or pay your taxes. The 23,500-square-foot facility combines the library branch with a seniors’ recreation centre, and smaller functions including an archive and a municipal customer-service office. These are folded neatly into those two boxes: library above, and other functions below.


[. . .]

Librarians – at least Hamilton’s – understand metaphor, and the architects won approval for the complex scheme. The key was linking the building’s two entrances, and the six levels within the library itself, with a series of low ramps, at a 1:20 slope. This makes “a kind of public landscape,” Sharp explains, “that you ascend to reach the different public programs at different levels.”
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  • Centauri Dreams looks at the advanced microelectronics that might last a space probe the two decades it would take to get to Proxima Centauri.

  • Dangerous Minds links to a 1980 filmed concert performance by Queen.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the discovery of potassium in the atmosphere of WASP-17b.

  • Language Hat looks at the Carmina of Optatianus, an interesting piece of Latin literature.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the shameless anti-democratic maneuvering of the Republicans in North Carolina.

  • The LRB Blog reflects on the shamelessness of the perpetrators of the Aleppo massacres.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at what Charles Darwin's reading habits have to say about the man's process of research.

  • North!'s Justin Petrone looks at the elves of Estonia.

  • The NYRB Daily praises the new movie Manchester by the Sea.

  • The Planetary Society Blog shares a recent photo of Phobos.

  • Peter Rukavina argues that the Island's low PISA scores do not necessarily reflect on what Islanders have learned.

  • Savage Minds shares an essay by someone who combines academic work with library work.

  • Torontoist notes the city's subsidies to some major water polluters.

  • Window on Eurasia notes the anniversary of some important riots in Kazakhstan.

  • Arnold Zwicky reflects on the penguin-related caption of a photo on Wikipedia that has made the world laugh.

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Spacing Toronto's Arlene Chan profiles the exciting introduction to the public via the Toronto Public Library of an archive of Chinese Canadian history over the past century and more.

On Dominion Day, 1923, Canadians were in a celebratory mood. But those good feelings didn’t extend into any Chinatown. July 1 came to be regarded by the Chinese in Canada as “humiliation day.” The Chinese Immigration Act, known commonly as the Chinese Exclusion Act, banned virtually all Chinese immigration for the next 24 years. It stood as the most severe legislation of the more than a hundred anti-Chinese policies of the day. The successively increased head tax of $50 (1885), $100 (1900), and $500 (1903) failed to deter immigration, as intended, at a time when the vision for the country was a ‘white Canada.’

My mother, Jean Lumb, nee Toy Jin Wong, was three years old on that infamous day, but almost a year would elapse before a government bureaucrat photographed her for this official document. After all, the Chinese Exclusion Act not only halted immigration; it also required that all Chinese, whether born in Canada (as my mother was) or abroad, to register for an identification card within one year of the passage of the new law.

The card looks uninteresting in itself – a document that lived for decades in a shoebox. But in a recent interview for Ming Pao Daily News, a former employee of the now defunct Shing Wah Daily News, once the largest Chinese newspaper in North America, commented that the need to pass on and preserve this history to future generations is more urgent than ever. The connections to our past are fast fading with the loss of our elders.

Such documents will now be shared, thanks to a new initiative of the Toronto Public Library. The mandate of the Chinese Canadian Archive — which will be launched officially at a reception this evening (Tuesday) at the Toronto Reference Library – is to collect, preserve, store, and provide access for researchers and the general public.

“This archival program is a great opportunity to properly accommodate our family’s precious historic material that our children will not want to keep,” says Nelson Wong, whose father, W.C. Wong, was a prominent leader in Chinatown.

Mavis Chu Lew Garland, who grew up in Chinatown, wants others to know that her “half-Chinese family also existed in Toronto.” Garland’s sizeable donation of documents and photos reveals the extent to which her family honoured its Chinese heritage. “The items will now be available to be shared with whoever is interested in the Chinese culture, and in the people who valued them.”
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  • Beyond the Beyond remembers pioneering electronic musician Jean-Claude Risset.

  • blogTO notes the changes that will save the Toronto Public Library a million dollars.

  • In Media Res' Russell Arben Fox finds things to be thankful for.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the increasingly large vote margin of Hillary Clinton's popular vote victory.

  • Marginal Revolution notes one challenge to globalization.

  • Torontoist looks at the idea of landlord licensing.

  • Window on Eurasia examines a proposal to Putin to copy Trump's social networking usage.

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Torontoist's Christopher Bird engages in an excellent criticism of an ill-judged, ill-thought op-ed in the Financial Post against the Toronto public library system. ("The Financial Post and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad anti-Toronto Library Op-ed" is a fantastic title.)

Periodically, one gets the opportunity to see the pundit equivalent of a caterpillar emerge from its chrysalis, typing unsupported or simply wrong and factless drivel in the same way that a veteran of Toronto newsrooms would. The difference is that these caterpillar pundits are much younger, giving us the opportunity to see how your Margaret Wentes and Joe Warmingtons enter the pundit world.

Enter Matthew Lau. Lau began publishing poorly written libertarian/conservative screeds while at the University of Toronto, and appears to have graduated, hack-wise if not degree-wise, to the Post, where he has written about how the Laffer Curve shows that Canada’s taxes are too high and how the gender pay gap isn’t a problem, thus ensuring he has a future writing hateclickbait.

Lau’s latest screed, however, is about how the Toronto Public Library is fiscally wasteful, and at a certain point one must stop indulging the follies of youth and slap them across the goddamn face.

Just the other week, the Toronto Star complained in an editorial that municipal politicians were still convinced they had to “stop the gravy train…. But there is no gravy train.” The editorial was decrying a request from Mayor John Tory that city departments, including the Toronto Public Library, cut a paltry 2.6-per-cent from their budgets. City spending, the Star insisted, “has already been cut to the bone.” Oh, please. Anyone who looks at the library’s budget will find more gravy there than at Swiss Chalet.

This sort of writing just sets my teeth on edge. That Swiss Chalet line in particular is the sort of Toronto pundit quip that is completely tone-appropriate for Toronto newspaper punditry, because it is a Canadian cultural reference that manages to be hackneyed, unfunny, and not even really the right answer because Swiss Chalet isn’t known for their gravy but for their delicious barbecue sauce.
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Torontoist's Nikhil Sharma describes how important Toronto's public library system can be for immigrants, thanks to settlement programs based at some of the branches.

Three years ago, Gong Zan Cang entered through the doors of the Parliament Street library for the first time. He lived nearby—it took him just a few minutes to get there in his wheelchair.

The 79-year-old immigrated to Toronto from China in 2002 to join his daughter who already lived here. He speaks Mandarin and little English.

Cang went to the library that day to attend one of its workshops, Tai Chi for Well-being. It wouldn’t be the last time, he’d be a frequent client of the library in the coming years.

[. . .]

[T]he TPL provides physical space for the workers in the branches and resources such as ESL collections, materials on resumés and job interviews, and electronic business resources.

Sixty-seven per cent of immigrants use Toronto Public Library branches once per month or more, compared to 46 per cent of non-immigrants, according to a November 2012 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

While there are 100 public branches across the city, the library settlement partnership program is only offered at 16 of them, which raises the concern of limited accessibility.
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  • 'Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith talks about when it is appropriate to judge a book by its blurb.

  • Beyond the Beyond examines the remarkable scandal in South Korea involving with the cult and its control over the country's president.

  • blogTO notes unreasonably warm weather in Toronto this November.

  • Dangerous Minds shares a corporate sales video from the early 1990s for Prince's studio.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes the effect of Proxima Centauri on planetary formation around Alpha Centauri A and B.

  • The Extremo Files notes unorthodox ways of finding life.

  • Language Log talks about the language around Scotland and Northern Ireland and their relationship as complicated by Brexit.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting inheritances reduce inequality.

  • Savage Minds talks about an anarchist archaeology.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers a controversy at the Library of Congress.

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CBC News' Laura Chapin reports on a recent donation by Cavendish Farms to towards the new Summerside library which, incidentally, sounds fantastic.

The fundraising goal for Summerside, P.E.I.'s new Inspire Learning Centre has almost been reached after a major donation from Cavendish Farms.

The Irving-owned company has donated $150,000, and will eventually have the first floor of the new library named in its honour.

[. . .]

Originally, the renovations to the former post office on Central Street were only going to involve the first two floors, but raising the fundraising goal from $1.5 million up to $2.5 million means the third floor will also be converted into usable space.

"This is not just a library. This is a community building," said [chief fundraiser Steven] Cudmore, comparing the new centre with Halifax's new library on Spring Garden Road.

"It's not a quiet building, it's conversational. There's little seating areas where people can read and work on their computers and laptops and chat. There are meeting rooms, community spaces, so not-for-profit groups can book out a room."
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David Rider of the Toronto Star writes about the Toronto Public Library faced with cuts. Past a certain point, we're going to have to find ways to pay for the nice things we need.

Toronto’s bustling library system is the latest agency to say it can’t make city council’s directive to cut 2.6 per cent of its spending without hurting services to Torontonians.

At a meeting this week, chief librarian Vickery Bowles presented the library board with 2 per cent in proposed “efficiencies,” through increased revenue from space rentals plus lower spending, thanks to technological innovations including fine payments at self-checkout terminals.

The $3.529 million in savings includes eliminating 8.7 full-time staff positions. To hit the target approved by city council at the urging of Mayor John Tory, the library would have to cut a further $1.077 million.

Unavoidable costs for negotiated salary increases plus improved services — including expanded Sunday hours at some branches — boost the library’s 2017 operating budget request to $178.8 million, or 0.9 per cent over this year’s budget.

“If TPL is required to find equivalent savings to meet the (council-directed) target, the Library would then need to implement service reductions,” Bowles wrote in her report, adding she’ll continue hunting for efficiencies.
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blogTO let me know about a new book sale by the Toronto Public Library.

I'm not saying that the Friends of Toronto Public Library North Chapter and the Friends of Toronto Public Library South Chapter are exactly in a competition to see who can clear out the most stuff and make the most money - but it certainly has the feel of sibling rivalry.

We can all thank them though for having their clearance sales on different weeks so we don't have to choose. This is a great opportunity to buy a lot of interesting books, CDs and DVDs at some really affordable prices (half price at North York Central and all items 10 - 50 cents at Toronto Reference Library).

Did you know the Friends have raised over $2 million in support of Toronto Public Library programs? In 2015 the Friends donated $165,000 to Toronto Public Library, their largest combined donation in their 22 year history. Faithfull supporters of children's literacy the Friends allocate their donation to Leading to Reading, Elementary School Outreach, Storytime Outreach, Young Voices and Family Literacy Day.


I won't be able to make it, but perhaps you will?
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A mention at the Map Room Blog of The Art of Cartography, an exhibition of maps at the Toronto Reference Library in the TD Gallery. Some of the maps are quite old.

Star chart of Orion, 30 000 BCE #toronto #torontoreferencelibrary #maps #tdgallery #orion


Others date back only centuries. The Toronto Star's Christopher Reynolds listed some of his favourite maps. My three favourite are below. This map of New France after Samuel de Champlain caught my eye.

Carte de la Nouvelle France #toronto #torontoreferencelibrary #maps #tdgallery #samueldechamplain #newfrance


So too did this map of early 19th century Upper Canada.

From West Canada, John Rapkin #toronto #torontoreferencelibrary #maps #tdgallery #canadawest #uppercanada #ontario


I was particularly interested by this map of Toronto, highlighting how the Leslie Spit once extended to the Toronto Islands and made Toronto's harbour accessible only from the west.

Plan of York Harbour #toronto #torontoreferencelibrary #maps #tdgallery #york #toronto #torontoharbour #torontoislands


The Art of Cartography has all kinds of maps in all kinds of formats. If you're in Toronto, do go see it.
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Marcus Gee's article in The Globe and Mail makes me want to go see Vaughan. (Did I say that? Yes.)

Margie Singleton started working in libraries when she was 15. Her first, in Kingston, was a solid, traditional affair with hushed rooms, watchful librarians and long drawers filled with cards cataloging the books by title, subject and author.

Forty-four years later, she is about to preside over the opening of a new library that would have startled her younger self. The Vaughan Civic Centre Resource Library on Major Mackenzie Drive is the latest in library technology and design. Designed by Toronto’s ZAS Architects, it is all glass and metal on the outside, all light and space on the inside. Like the new Fort York and Scarborough Civic Centre branches of the Toronto Public Library, this one throws open the doors and lets the sun shine in.

Ms. Singleton, who is chief executive of the library system in Vaughan, the sprawling suburban municipality north of Toronto, beams at the idea of introducing the $15-million marvel to the public at the official opening on Saturday. It has been open to visitors since May, but she says many people still drive by and say, “What is that? No one would think it’s a library.”

The library’s sweeping, curving walls were inspired by the roller coasters at the nearby Canada’s Wonderland theme park. At its centre is an open-air courtyard with a spreading maple tree.

The open, airy spaces inside are designed to be casual and flexible. Librarians don’t stand guard behind circulation or reference desks any more. They roam around, ready to help, with lanyards around their necks to identify them. Books are displayed in the front lobby the way they would be at a big-box bookstore, a “merchandising” approach designed to draw people in. A staffer even visited a local Chapters to take measurements of the book-display racks so the library could copy them. Ms. Singleton isn’t afraid to borrow.

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