Libraries of Canada

Over Spring Break, I had the opportunity to visit a few fun libraries in Canada. The first was the Parliamentary Library in Ottawa. It is a beautiful High Victorian Gothic Revival style, built in 1875. Happily, the librarian’s architect recommended that it be separated from the Parliament building by a corridor with a closing door- because, yep, you guessed it, the Parliament building did actually burn down in 1849 and again in 1916. Happily, the second time, the books were saved. The building went under renovation and conservation 2002-2006.


Library (left) of Parliament (Right)

In Montreal, I stopped by the “BanQ”, the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationale du Quebec, to see the national public library.  A huge building, it was bustling with people checking out books, returning them on the automated return system, and using the free computers and wifi.

Nearby, several murals had been painted with some literary themes. Here are some of my favorites (good luck, not only are they a fairly difficult rebus, they are in French):






In Quebec City, I visited the Morrin Centre, originally a jail, then a co-ed college, unusual for its time (1880s). Starting in 1824, the building also housed the Literary and Historical Society of Canada, which gathered historical documents about Canada, republished rare mansuscripts, and published scholarly essays. Now the building also houses Quebec’s English-language cultural center and is a working library. Notable figures such as Charles Dickens have visited and the inside is really a treat for library lovers.


The George Peabody Library


Yesterday I had to take the whole day off to have two doctor’s appointments that were spaced four hours apart (hilariously, at two different military bases), so I decided to fill the time in between by visiting the George Peabody Library in Maryland. Located in the Mount Vernon cultural district of Baltimore, the Peabody is part of the Johns Hopkins University.


I always love the old card catalogs




These books are really old!


Peabody gave $300,000 in 1857 to the citizens of Baltimore to create the first cultural center in the US, featuring a library, an art gallery, a music school, and cash prizes for the top graduates of the city’s three high schools. The library itself features over 300,000 volumes and is generally considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The interior of the building features a black-and-white marble tiled atrium, while 60 feet above the floor is a frosted glass skylight. On all four sides, five levels of ornamented cast-iron balconies and gold columns hold the bookcases of the library’s collection. In the early 2000’s the entire building underwent a million dollar makeover. The results are stunning and if you’re ever in Baltimore, please do yourself a favor and visit the Peabody. The city of Baltimore, by the way, has a free “Charm City” circulator bus that will take you to all the area attractions.



YA Books to Movies… So Many!

Wow, I am really impressed with the number of Young Adult books that are being made into movies this year. Here’s a few of my personal favorites:

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness: this book about a boy who is losing his mother to cancer is simply fantastic. The all-star cast, including Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, and Lewis MacDougall, ensures that this movie will be a hit. It came out in late December 2016.


Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher: Another heartbreaker, about a girl who commits suicide but leaves behind 13 audiotapes detailing the acts of the people who impacted her life in such a negative way. Selena Gomez is producing this one on Netflix, due out March 31.


Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina: I love anything by Meg Medina; she presented at my school and she’s just as wonderful in real life as she is in writing her characters. This YA award winning book, about a girl who transfers to a new school and is set upon by “mean girl bullies”, is going to be a Hulu series sometime next year. Way to go, Meg!


Wonder, by RJ Palacio: As a middle school librarian, we had the entire 8th grade read this book. It speaks so powerfully about accepting people with differences, tolerance, and learning empathy. I can’t wait to see it on the big screen, with Jacob Temblay as Auggie and Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as his parents. It will be on the big screen in April.


Allegiant, by Veronica Roth: If you watched Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant part I, you’re probably ready for the final installation of the series. Starring Shailene Woodley as Tris and Theo James as Four, the movie will be out on June 9.


The Breadwinner, by Deborah Ellis. When eleven year old Parvana’s father is taken away by the Taliban for having an education, she must disguise herself as a boy and work in the market in order to earn money for her family. Produced by Angelina Jolie, The Breadwinner will be an animated movie this fall.


Plenty to read and watch this year! All six of these books are available at the ACHS library, and most likely at your local library or Overdrive.


Visiting Walden

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I come to die, discover that I had not lived.” –Henry David Thoreau

On our way to Boston this year for Thanksgiving Break, we decided to stop at Walden Pond, and discover our inner transcendentalists. The pond is only about half an hour outside the city, near the small town of Concord (site of the Lexington and Concord Battle of the Revolutionary War).

We visited the replica of the cabin that Thoreau built, on the land owned by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. The cabin is quite simple, holding only a cot, a desk, and a wood-burning stove. Inside the cabin is a list of how much the materials cost.


Next we walked around the lake, or pond. It is actually quite deep- it is 108 feet deep in the middle, and was formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago. It’s a kind of lake called a “kettle lake” because of the shape it makes, and because it has not river going into or out of it.  In the 1800s, the lake would freeze over, and they would cut blocks of ice from the lake and put the ice on ships to send down to the Caribbean and even to India. The water is very clear and very pure. Around part of the lake is a sandy beach, and people go swimming there in the summer.


On one side of the lake, a few meters up the hill from the water’s edge, you can see the foundation from Thoreau’s cabin. For years no one knew exactly where the cabin had been; it wasn’t until 1940 that an amateur archaeologist went out and started digging around in the woods, looking for the exact spot.  He found the footings for the chimney and now a marker shows the spot where the house was. About 700,000 people visit the Walden park every year now.