Christmas in April

The first phone call I received this morning was at 7:30 am and I was greeted with the words “Merry Christmas”! Since I had already taken a peek out my windows and saw white stuff everywhere, I was not surprised. Still, not the words I wanted to hear in the middle of April.

The unexpected can bring a wide variety of emotions and responses depending on the circumstances.

  • An unexpected financial windfall can be exciting
  • An unexpected snowy storm when we are looking for spring weather can be disappointing
  • An unexpected visit from family or friends can be a treat
  • An unexpected day off mean you can relax without guilt
  • An unexpected loss of someone you love is devastating
  • An unexpected loss of your job results in confusion and even panic

Whether we are pleased, excited, upset, angry, or hurt, we still make choices. After the initial shock is passed it helps to take a bit of time to consider how we are going to choose to react. This may require some practice and maybe some advance preparation. Doing some reading on a variety of topics can help us to think about some of those life circumstances that we all have to face, and may assist us when we are thrust into unplanned situations.

This morning I didn’t spend much time choosing – I simply decided that since the weather is not something I can control, I would just have to be stoic and put up with it until it melts.

Happy Snow Day!

Treasures in Your Library

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time.” – Barbara W. Tuchman

We are fortunate to live in a country where books are available to everyone. There was a time when books and the ability to read were luxuries available only to the wealthy. Since the time when governments chose to build libraries and provide resources for their continuation, they have ensured that books are available to everyone, not just to those who can afford to purchase them.

I have always been a book-lover and reader and a couple of hours spent with a book can be one of my favorite things to do. Even with that said, visiting libraries when I am traveling is generally not a priority. However in 2008 I was fortunate to be spending a little bit of time in Ireland. My husband and I were exploring the city of Dublin via the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. We purchased passes that allowed us ride the bus all day, getting off at any spot of interest and spending as much or as little time as we wanted, then hopping on again to the next point we wanted to visit. It was a great way to visit the city since we had just one day. As we examined the options on the tour, I knew I just had to stop at Trinity College Library. (It is also the home of the Book of Kells which is one of the most amazing books every written. To view it was actually one of the highlights of that wonderful day. It was created circa 800 AD.)

This library has been in existence since 1592 collecting books published in the United Kingdom. It has 5 million printed volumes. It is not just about the number of volumes, it is knowing that some of the books on those shelves were written over 400 years ago. If those books had not been written, if the books had not been held safely, what would we know of the history of our world? How would medical knowledge have been passed on, and added to? Many lessons learned by experience would be lost if no one had written about it – as the famous quote states "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santanya).

At the entrance of Trinity College Library I saw rooms and rooms with rows and rows of books, and then looked up and saw a second story as well. I simply stood still and stared as I contemplated all those books, all the thoughts and ideas by all those authors through the years. What an immense treasure that library holds. Go to this link for a view of where I stood.

In our own small way, here at Jake Epp Library, we want everyone to understand the treasure that we have. I work here, but I am also a library patron. Sometimes when I walk through our shelves, I can stop thinking about our books from an administrative viewpoint, and I see them as open doors to the past, to knowledge, to adventure, to humour, to new ideas. What wealth we can find in the pages of books.

Whether the Weather


Whether the weather be fine,

Or whether the weather be not,

Whether the weather be cold,

Or whether the weather be hot,

We'll weather the weather

Whatever the weather

Whether we like it or not.


Once again Mother Nature has pulled a stunt. We have experienced some warmer temperatures, and seen a bit of snow melting and, as always, our hopes rise that maybe an early spring is just around the corner. But apparently it was just a teaser from Mother Nature and she is laughing up her sleeve as we are experiencing one of those infamous March blizzards today. It isn’t as if we are particularly shocked – after all we know that weather is a fickle entity here in Manitoba.

For those who are interested in weather as a science, or if your children are studying weather in school we have some great resources. To search what is available for students you can go to our website: and click the Search Catalogue button. Below is a picture of a basic search setup.

  • Search by Keyword, and select the criteria Any Match, rather than the default Start With
  • The keyword is weather, but if you want to choose specific kinds of weather, you could enter words such as snow, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.
  • Sorting Results by Title will present the resulting list of Titles in alphabetical order
  • One of the very important criteria to select is the Collection Type. The default setting is set to search everything in the library. But for school students the best help is to search by Juvenile Non-fiction or by YA (young adult) Non-fiction. This will limit the results to books that are at the appropriate reading level for your student.
  • After setting up the Search criteria, click the green Search button and start browsing.

If you would like further assistance with learning how to use the search functions, please ask us when you are in the library and we will be happy to help you.

Don’t forget that once you have found titles you want, you can also put a Reserve on the book from home. You will first have to enter a password on your account while you are at the library, but with your password and the number of your account on your library card, you have the ability to check your account online. You can see how many books you have checked out, when they are due, put reserves on books, and check your loan history.

While the weather may be fickle, you will always find a warm welcome at the Jake Epp Library and, once you have shoveled your driveway and brushed off your car, we look forward to your visit.

Having a case of the Blahs?

After the last couple of weeks with some VERY cold temperatures and wind chills I’m thinking that travelling southward sounds like a nice change. I have always believed that we are fortunate to experience the variety of seasons that we get in Canada, and particularly on the prairies. I still believe that - in theory. I love to see the white snow banks just after a snowfall when they are pristine. Catching a glimpse of amazing sun dogs is still a treat. One of my favorite things is hoar frost as it covers everything and turns trees and tiny branches into spectacular works of art. Watching big, fat, snowflakes as they fall silently on a calm day is special. Winter provides us with beautiful landscapes.

But too much cold can leave us feeling worn out, and we end up with a case of the Blahs. Curing the Blahs seems to be different for everyone. Some escape the Blahs by running south for either a prolonged period, or for a week or two. Some shake the Blahs by embracing the situation, dressing very warmly and entering into snow sports – snowmobiling, skiing (downhill or cross country), skating, snowshoeing, or simply going out in the yard and building a snowman, or a fort, or having a snowball fight.

On the other hand for those of us who can’t travel and have no desire to play outside, we can take this time, either individually or as a family, to make good use of long evenings by ignoring the TV and reading instead. Choosing a good book as a family and taking turns reading can be great fun. Make a big bowl of popcorn, get comfy and read a grand adventure. Here are a few suggestions – some are better for younger children and some are great for ‘tweens and teens:

  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
With lots of adventures, humor and also some practical life lessons this is a classic story. Originally published in 1876.

  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Could you survive if you were shipwrecked on a deserted island? Robinson Crusoe’s ingenuity is astounding and if you have a teen who loves to make things, they may be inspired to experiment. Published 1719.

  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Swashbuckling is the term for Robin Hood and youngsters will enter into the adventure and might even have fun acting out some of the scenes. Published 1883.

  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
All the animals in a British forest come alive as they take over center stage in this warm and funny tale. Published in 1908.

  • The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat
This book will have you laughing aloud as you read the antics of a young boy and his dog, Mutt, on the Saskatchewan prairies during the dusty depression. Mutt doesn’t seem to believe that he is just a dog. Published in 1957

  • The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan
This is one of the all-time great adventure stories. An ordinary man gets caught up in espionage and is on the run trying to clear himself of a murder charge. If you have seen a movie by this name, it is a far cry from the book – the book is much better by far. Published in 1915.

  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
This is the story of a dog named Buck, and told from his point of view. Buck was stolen from his comfortable home and harshly trained to be a sled dog during the Yukon gold rush. Published in 1903

  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
In 1751 in Scotland, cheated out of his inheritance by a greedy uncle who has him kidnapped and put on a ship to the Carolinas, seventeen-year-old David Balfour escapes to the Highlands with the help of the Jacobite Alan Breck Stewart and there encounters further danger and intrigue as he attempts to clear his name and regain his property. Published in 1893.

  • The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
On his eleventh birthday Will Stanton discovers that he is the last of the Old Ones, destined to seek the six magical Signs that will enable the Old Ones to triumph over the evil forces of the Dark. Published in 1973.

  • The Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede
Eighteen-year-old Eff must finally get over believing she is bad luck and accept that her special training in Aphrikan magic, and being the twin of the seventh son of a seventh son, give her extraordinary power to combat magical creatures that threaten settlements on the western frontier. The story is set on a world much like ours, but things are just a bit different. Published in 2009.

Immerse yourselves into a story and read most evenings until the book is done, or, take it slower and read one evening a week to prolong the enjoyment and fit your schedule. Reading as a family can be fabulous fun and will certainly encourage your children to read on their own. Don’t forget to use as much animation in your reading aloud as you can find, because it will make a huge difference.

If you are having a hard time finding a book that you can all enjoy, please ask us, we would enjoy helping you find just the right story.


We are in the middle of a very cold spell with today’s temperature being -25 with a wind chill that makes it feel like -38. If you are like me, you have a tendency to want to stay indoors where it warm and would rather not stick my nose outside. However, since we are Manitobans,we are a hardy breed and we dress up warmly and go about our business as usual.

This Sunday, January 27th, is Family Literacy Day and the library is planning a party. Yes, the library is closed on Sundays, but for this special day we are opening our doors from 2:00 – 4:00 pm and we are inviting all families to come and join the fun. In honour of Family Literacy Day’s 15th year, ABC Life Literacy Canada is encouraging Canadian families to have Fifteen Minutes of Fun!, learning together. Taking just 15 minutes a day to participate in literacy activities, as a family, can make a big impact. ABC Life Literacy Canada lists the following suggestions:

  • Create your own comic strip about your family.
  • Invent two new endings to your favourite book.
  • Make up a new recipe together and post it online.
  • Tell knock-knock jokes together while doing the dishes.
  • Sing five songs really, really loud!
  • Invent a new game while playing at the park.
  • Read a story to your pet (or favorite toy).
  • Make a paper fortune teller with eight fortunes.
  • Write a silly poem and tell it to your family at dinner.
  • Log on to your favourite word game - can you beat your best score?
  • Create your family tree.
  • Play rhyming "I Spy" - "I spy something that rhymes with..."
  • Play a board game together.
  • Text your friend and tell them about your holiday.
  • Find 15 things that begin with the letter "S".


At the library there will be games and fun things happening. We want YOU to come and join us. Corny Rempel from Mix96 will be there, there will be a HUGE crossword puzzle that everyone will have a chance to fill in, and lots more. There will, of course, be cookies and milk for all. So mark your calendar and have a fabulous family Sunday afternoon that will provide a warm atmosphere to counteract the chilly temperatures outdoors.

The library is very fortunate to have received a grant from the Community Access Program which is funded by Industry Canada. With the grant we have been able to hire a short term intern who is available for tutorials in basic computer and internet skills. There is no fee for this service – there is a $1 per hour charge for using our public access computers. If you have a laptop, bring it along and your tutorial will be geared to your laptop. Phone the library to make an appointment or make one next time you visit. Our grant is finished at the end of March 2013, so don’t wait too long.

More and more people are enjoying the flexibility of being able to read in more than one format – especially if you are travelling and you don’t have space in your suitcase for books. Our intern is ready to assist you with setting up an e-reader and teaching you how to download ebooks, or audio book files, from eLibraries Manitoba (eLM). eLM is a collection of ebooks that is a holding for all Manitoba public libraries. Many people have assumed that this is just another way to check out the books that belong to Jake Epp Library. That is not the case. eLM is a totally separate collection and is still in the process of growing. Each electronic “book” is a license that must be purchased just as an actual book must be purchased before it can be circulated. So be prepared for a possible wait for popular titles and authors. As with our books, you can put a reserve on an e-book, and you will receive an email notification when it is ready for you to download. Any Manitoban resident that has a current library card in their local public library has free access to eLM. One more important piece of information is that not all e-readers are compatible with eLM, so if you are thinking of purchasing one, make sure you find out which devices are compatible. Feel free to call us with questions or book an appointment with our Intern, Andrew, for assistance.

Happy reading – in whatever format you choose!

Christmas Reading Indulgence

For many of us the Christmas season is often a time when reading choices reflect the season more than at any other time of the year. It is so much fun to read Christmas stories to little children. We enjoy stories that bring to life Christmases of the past reflecting on what may have been a gentler and simpler time. Christmas poetry also has a special place in our hearts. And, of course, traditional stories are often read year after year.

So this post is going to list just a few suggestions for your Christmas reading – for all ages, books both new and old.

Adult fiction

  • The Christmas Sweater - Glenn Beck (based on a personal true story)
  • The Gift of the Magi – O. Henry (classic short story)
  • Lost December – Richard Paul Evans (modern-day prodigal son story)
  • An Irish Country Christmas – Patrick Taylor (a new doctor’s 1st Christmas in the cozy village of Ballybucklebo)
  • Favourite Christmas Stories from Fireside Al – Al Maitland
  • Christmas Tales – Charles Dickens (including the traditional “A Christmas Carol”)

For Children

  • A Porcupine in a Pine Tree: a Canadian 12 days of Christmas – Helaine Becker
  • God Gave Us Christmas – Lisa Tawn Bergren
  • The Night Before Christmas – Clement Moore
  • The Legend of the Christmas Tree – Rick Osborne
  • The Christmas Shoe Box – Francine Rivers


  • The Twelve Voices of Christmas – Woodrow Kroll (232.9)
  • All is Calm All is Bright: true stories of Christmas (242 Kir)
  • The biggest day of the year : the old-time school Christmas concert - John C. Charyk (394.2)
  • The Ideals Christmas Treasury (394.26 Ide)
  • The Guideposts Christmas Treasury (394.268 Gui)

These are just a few samplings of what you will find on our shelves out of the hundreds of Christmas books we have for your enjoyment.

All the staff of the Jake Epp Library would like to wish all our patrons a very Joyous Christmas and a bright and happy New Year!

Take Some Time for Yourself

With Christmas once again fast approaching, which camp do you stand in? Are you in the vicinity of “I’ve done all my shopping and most of my baking” or “Good grief, I’d better get moving”! Wherever you are in the stages of planning and preparing, perhaps we can be of some help.

If you enjoy all manner of crafts, home-made gifts, and decorating your home, but need some new inspiration, you can find a wealth of ideas here at the library. Head for the adult non-fiction section and look for 745.594 – and there we have 84 books of Christmas crafts and gifts that you can make.

For the bakers the section for you is 641.568 and there we have eleven cookbooks that are specifically for Christmas. However if you check out the entire 641 section you will find many, many more cookbooks for tasty treats and meals.

To inspire and encourage your soul check the titles in the 200’s and 300s and in the 800’s section, are books of readings, poems, and short stories dedicated to Christmas.

You can peruse the collection from the comfort of home if you go to our website and click on the button Search Catalogue. Beside the word Search select Keyword, then choose Any Match and type in the word Christmas. The next line is Sort Results by – if you select Call No. the items will be order so that all the cookbooks are listed one after another, the craft books will be listed on after the other, etc. The last line is Collection Type – here you want to select Adult non-fiction. That will narrow things down – but still give you 159 matches. Below there is a picture demonstrating these selections. You can also perform this search at the library on our search stations.

For those who love reading Christmas themed fiction during the holiday season, then simply change the Sort Results by to Author, and for Collection Type, you can choose Adult Fiction, Christian Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Easy, or YA Fiction. And, don’t forget the CD audio books, and DVDs to see what we have for your listening and viewing pleasure.

In the busy-ness of preparing for your Christmas, plan to spend some time with a cup of warm apple cider and a good book (or two).

Remembrance Day - Sunday November 11th

I believe that it is a good thing to take time to think, remember and honour the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf in the past and also in the present. We have Canadians who are soldiers right now in various parts of the world who miss their families and friends while they are away. Knowing that a sacrifice might be required of them did not stop them from following their personal choice to defend our country and what we stand for.

The famous poem “In Flanders Fields” was penned by a Canadian surgeon who was attached to an artillery unit. In the spring of 1915, after a brutal battle at Ypres, he presided over the funeral of a friend. After the funeral he wrote this poem and it obviously struck a universal chord. Read it again, slowly, thoughtfully, and then take a moment to remember those who gave the supreme sacrifice. And take a moment to pray for those who are currently representing Canada.

In Flanders Fields

By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Choosing Books - New Options This February

Hello internet world! It’s been awhile, and things have changed a tad, so let me catch you up. Life at the library has been exciting, especially for our previous Head Librarian who, you may have heard, won the lottery and ran off into the sunset to enjoy it. We miss her, but when our Assistant Librarian put on her Head Librarian hat we knew that we’d enjoy our new leader just as much. In the whirlwind of excitement, we forgot about this little corner of the world, our blog, where we talk to you. We’ve settled in now though, and we’re excited to be back on our feet blog-wise. Let me introduce myself, I’m Aubrey, the Assistant Librarian. Now. Down to business.

How do you pick your books? Do you wander aimlessly down the genre aisle of your choice, waiting for something to catch your eye? Do you keep a hawk-eye out for anything new by your (extensive) list of favourite authors, even though they never write fast enough to keep you sated? Do you come armed with a list of suggestions from friends, ever trusting in their literary tastes? Or do you perhaps take your advice from the vast expanse of the internet, with their “best books of 2016” lists? Some of you may even ask a librarian, “Hey, I really liked this one book, can you tell me others that are similar?”

I’m curious. I myself, am an emotional chooser. I have the benefit of seeing many books come across my desk at work, and when I see one that my heart leaps at, I read that one. Of course I’ve got my favorite authors but I read plenty of new ones. Sometimes I’ll take a book home and realize that’s not the one I’m feeling today, so I go back and try again with a different one, until I find the one that my heart wants to snuggle up to with a warm cup of tea. This gives me what I believe to be a relatively diverse range of books, as my emotional book moods are as varied as my general moods. There is a beautiful rainbow spectrum in both that keeps my life interesting.

But I’ve been thinking lately that I don’t pick my choices very thoughtfully, or deliberately, and maybe it would be interesting to try a different way. Here at the library we’ve got two different ways for you to try something new for 2016. We’re not saying you have to stick with it, but maybe it would be interesting to see if you like it.

The first is “Blind Date With A Book”, which is running all February in honour of both Valentine’s Day and I Love To Read Month. You can pick a random book, pick by genre, or browse the subject headings for one that sounds interesting, but that’s the most you’ll get. They’re wrapped up prettily with some fantastic doodling on the front, so you can’t see the name of the book. You’ll have to take a chance. If you hate it, you can stop reading it. If you read it all the way through and want to “rate your date”, we’ll give you the chance to win a prize pack from the library. We love this. We think it’s a fun way to potentially branch out of your normal reading habits, and it can be fun to find something new.


blind date

The second option we’ve got going is something I discovered off of the bookriot site ( They’ve posted a “Read Harder Challenge” for 2016. It’s a thing they do every year, releasing different categories that they challenge you to read a book that fits into it. There are 24 challenges, which means 2 books a month if you want to read the whole list, but some are easy like, “read a middle grade novel,” “read a play,”or, “read a book under 100 pages”. Those balance out the ones that may take a little more time, like, “read a book over 500 pages.” I’m going to take this challenge, because with categories like, “read a non-fiction book about science” and “read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia,” I’m going to have to branch out, and pick my books a little more thoughtfully than normal. I’m really excited to see how this goes, and if you’re interested in joining me on my adventure, take a look at our Facebook group, where you can chat with others considering tackling the challenge. I’ve posted the list of challenges there too so you can see the whole thing.

So let me know, how do you pick your books? And if you come by my corner of the world, feel free to stop by my office and chat books, I can help you find some suggestions to fit the list if you’re wanting to tackle it.

Introducing Tracey - Programs Coordinator

As we moved back into the library after our expansion/renovation, we were so pleased to add Tracey Pankratz to our staff. Tracey has wonderful ideas for programs and events that will include all ages. She also has an eye for decorating and you will see some of her touches around the library.

Her first task was the Summer Reading Program which was a huge success! As soon as that was finished, there was no time to rest on her laurels and she plunged into author readings, kids programs, teen events and something special for our seniors. She is a very busy person! I would like to share with you a few of the things that she has on the go.

Monthly Book Display – Tracey will have a regular feature for displaying all kinds of books. Displays may be visual interest, topical, or seasonal, just to name a few themes. The September display was all about Pop-Up books and October was Weird & Wonderfully Decorated books. Each month special books will be in the display case in the foyer in the front of the library. There will also be a couple of dates where Tracey will have these special books in the Multi Purpose Rooms for hands on examination. Dates will be listed on the display case and also on our web page.

In-Service Activities – This is something brand new and will be of interest to students and parents alike. At least once a month on an in-service day, Tracey will have something fun arranged. In October Yoga and treats and a craft were arranged for elementary students, and for teens there was also a Yoga session and some hangout time. In November, kindergarten to grade 8 can have fun with “Mustache Mania” and Junior & Senior High students can create a “Do Your Life” book with a bit of a bucket list theme. We do need advance registration so we know how many to plan for, and the events will either be free or a very small fee to help defray costs. So check out the website or posters around the library.

Of course there will be ongoing Author readings, especially with local authors, a few contests here and there and more.

For November the library is jumping on board with Nation Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and we hope to see many aspiring authors join us. Have you ever thought “maybe I could write a novel”? This is your chance to give it a try. The goal for each participant is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. The national website is and the fun is for all ages. On our website you will find a poster listing the Write-In dates at the library which will provide encouragement for daily writing, and also a party to celebrate your writing accomplishments. If you are an author-in-waiting this just may be your great chance. And of course, it will be fun for all!

As you can see, Tracey has marvelous ideas and we are going to have a lot of great stuff happening around the library.

About the Authors

Hi - my name is Carolyn Graham and I am the Head Librarian and I love my job! One of the best parts of my job is that I am the first one to see all the beautiful new books as they arrive. I have always loved to read and my favorite way to relax is with a good book. I strongly believe that having good reading skills is an integral part of all learning. Being able to share good books and authors that I have enjoyed is great fun. Feel free to come and ask for suggestions.

Hi - I’m Aubrey Walker, Assistant Librarian at the Jake Epp Library. I’m a librarian and coffee guzzler by day, a reader and tea sipper by night. Reading and writing (and talking endlessly about both) are passions of mine, so I’m rather lucky to have a job where those things are relevant and important. I’m also the voice behind our Facebook page, and I love connecting with people about books both online and off. is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.