Dear colleagues:


I was cheered by the first article in this “Canada Letter” from the New York Times.  I am sharing it for others who may enjoy it, too.  And maybe there’s stuff in there that we can use for advocacy purposes?


It is a beautiful summer day in the Maritimes.  I trust you are all delighting in it, and hope that NL is also under blue skies.




Jocelyne Thompson
Director, Collections Services
UNB Libraries
T 506 458-7053 C 506 476-4620

University of New Brunswick

Facebook/uofnb Twitter@unb Instagram@discoverunb

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From: [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2017 10:01 AM
To: Jocelyne Thompson
Subject: Canada Letter: Summer Advice From Librarians, American Friends


The Times’s recent Canada-related coverage with back stories and analysis from our reporters along with opinions from our readers.


The New York Times

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The New York Times

The New York Times

Friday, July 21, 2017 »



Summer Advice From Librarians, American Friends


Like interest in traditional books, library systems in much of Canada have not only survived the rise of electronic media but have thrived. Over the last decade or so, there has been something of a central library revival in much of the country.

Over the past decade, Canada’s libraries have experienced a revival.
Over the past decade, Canada’s libraries have experienced a revival.
Ian Austen for The New York Times

Any trip to Montreal should include a visit to the reading rooms of the Grande Bibliothèque, with their multistory walls made of yellow birch slats. Vancouver’s Central Library is in the midst of a renovation and expansion that will increase its floor space by about 35,000 square feet. And after much debate, Ottawa is moving toward replacing its central library.

Those investments are not just empire building. The public uses them. While traveling around Canada on assignments, I often go to libraries to write and report. It took me some time last September to find a seat in the large central library in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which redefined the city’s core when it opened about two and a half years ago. (Like Montreal’s library, it should also be on every tourist’s list.)

Politicians crimp libraries at their peril. This year, a public outcry led Saskatchewan’s government to acknowledge that it was wrong to cut library budgets by 4.8 million Canadian dollars. Afterward, officials restored the flow of money. Similar protests last year led Newfoundland to suspend its library closings.

But what brings life to libraries, along with readers, are librarians. So ahead of Canada Letter’s midsummer break next week, we’ve asked some of those librarians for reading suggestions to fill the void (although of course you can still read about Canada and the world in The Times). Here are some of their suggestions for recent books by Canadian authors.

Megan Stecyk, Saskatoon Public Library, Saskatchewan:

“100 Days of Cree,” by Neal McLeod

“McLeod describes Cree as ‘the sexiest’ of all languages, and his book explores the humor, modernity and adaptability of today’s Cree. It’s easy to drop in to any page and learn the Cree word for the Death Star from Star Wars or a Tim Horton’s double-double, as well as traditional and seasonal phrases.”

“The Devourers,” by Indra Das

“This is Das’s first full fiction piece outside of his work in science fiction anthologies. It’s a raw, intense debut, well worth it for readers who enjoy folkloric creatures, unconventional romantic relationships and visceral (sometimes unsettling) storytelling.”

Michelle Patenaude, Vancouver Public Library, British Columbia:

“Son of a Trickster,” by Eden Robinson

“The first in a trilogy, ‘Son of a Trickster’ is an incredibly engaging, coming-of-age story of an indigenous teen in northern British Columbia. Eden Robinson’s almost magical ability to blend wry humor, magical realism and teenage reality will have you holding your breath for the next in the series.”

“Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber and Life With the Tree-Planting Tribe,” by Charlotte Gill

“Charlotte Gill spent nearly 20 years working as a tree planter in the forests of British Columbia. Her vivid descriptions of the landscapes and characters that she encountered in her work perfectly capture the beauty (and dirt) of our great wilderness.”

Caroline Land, Edmonton Public Library, Alberta:

“The Break” by Katherena Vermette

“In ‘The Break,’ Katherena Vermette crafts a story about a family dealing with the fallout of a terrible act of violence; through carefully constructed characters and multiple points of view, Vermette explores themes such as love and loss, tradition and modernity, intergenerational trauma and personal identity.”

Allison Hall-Murphy, Ottawa Public Library:

“The Best Kind of People,” by Zoe Whittall

“A sensitively observed, gripping exploration of the effects on a seemingly happy family after a husband and father is accused of sexual misconduct with his students.”

Deborah van der Linde, Morrin Cultural Centre, Quebec:

“The Blackthorn Key,” by Kevin Sands

“Who can resist a mystery full of adventure, puzzles, codes and an apprentice apothecary trying to save the world?”

For summer, in what is perhaps not a widely shared taste, I prefer thick biographies. This weekend I’ll be cracking open the 863 pages of “Marconi: The Man Who Networked The World,” a detailed look at the radio pioneer who later became a prominent fascist in Mussolini’s Italy. It is by Marc Raboy, a professor at McGill University in Montreal.

Alliances and Demands

Both my colleagues at The Interpreter and I have written about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attempts to do an end run around President Donald J. Trump by dealing directly with state and local politicians. (Mr. Trudeau, by the way, rejects the term “end run.”)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia at the National Governors Association meeting in Providence, R.I.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia at the National Governors Association meeting in Providence, R.I.
Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

Our reporter Alexander Burns attended the National Governors Association meeting in Rhode Island, where Mr. Trudeau spoke against trade protectionism and in favor of the continuation of action on climate change by Canada and the United States regardless of the Trump administration’s position.

Mr. Burns examined how several governors are bypassing the White House by directly reaching out to Canada and other countries. Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, which borders Canada, has been making regular trips to the country. He told Mr. Burns that part of his mission was to let Canadians know that “we were there fighting on their behalf, and on our behalf as well.”

As for Mr. Trump, he broadly laid out this week what his administration wants from the talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement, which are expected to begin about a month from now. Alan Rappeport, my colleague in Washington, found that while much of the 17-page document describing the strategy is a refrain of Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it also, perhaps surprisingly, borrows ideas from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another trade deal the president has spurned.

Read: Going Around Trump, Governors Embark on Their Own Diplomatic Missions

Read: U.S. Calls for ‘Much Better Deal’ in Nafta Overhaul Plan


Catherine Porter was recently in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to follow up on Razak Iyal and Seidu Mohammed, who were found half frozen by a trucker last Christmas Eve after they had walked from the United States through snowy fields and bitter cold to make refugee claims in Canada. With the exception of Mr. Iyal’s right thumb, both men lost all their fingers after they were amputated because of extreme frostbite.

Razak Iyal, left, and Seidu Mohammed met in a bus station in Minneapolis and fled together to Manitoba, hoping to escape their deportation orders to Ghana.
Razak Iyal, left, and Seidu Mohammed met in a bus station in Minneapolis and fled together to Manitoba, hoping to escape their deportation orders to Ghana.
Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times

Both men have gained permission to remain in Canada permanently. But Ms. Porter found that some supporters are critical of the potentially fatal decisions to cross into Canada during the winter.

Read: After a Harrowing Flight From U.S., Refugees Find Asylum in Canada

Breaking Apart

Miriam Johnson reflects on a breakup for this week’s Modern Love column
Miriam Johnson reflects on a breakup for this week’s Modern Love column
Brian Rea

Miriam Johnson, a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker and songwriter, reflected on a 12-hour breakup conversation for the Modern Love column. There is a link with the story to the Modern Love podcast.

Read: The 12-Hour Goodbye That Started Everything


A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for over a decade. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.



We hope you enjoyed our Canada Letter. Tell us what you think and what you’d like to see, at [log in to unmask]. I’ll be back again with a long weekend edition on Aug. 5 although I doubt that I’ll have finished the Marconi book by then.


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