Where community connects

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Sowing ideas and harvesting experiences

85G-Fall 2019-Collage1-Use-Blog

Senior Library Assistant and Children’s Programmer

As summer comes to a close, so does our Green Thumbs program. We waded through the garden beds and harvested what was ready, wrote in our journals, and packed up the wagon one last time.

But oh what fun we’ve had: from finding caterpillars at our very first session to visiting our honey bees to engineering our own weathering tools to learning from our incredibly knowledgeable and passionate guest speakers.  We’ve been so lucky to have Bridgette and Randy from Ontario Seed Company lend their expertise along with Rachel our very passionate and dedicated volunteer.

This program let us go outside, get some sun, and appreciate how nature nourishes us and how we need to protect it. We made some incredible tasty finds: the beautiful aroma of basil, the peppery taste of nasturtium flowers, the fruity smell of ripe tomatoes, and the enormous size of zucchinis.

Our honey bees helped out too!  Our garden was covered in honey bees and native bees pollinating our veggies and herbs.  Their favourite plant was the purple basil and purple coneflowers!  Our bees have had a great summer and have flourished beautifully in their new home.  We are hoping to taste some of their honey in the very near future!


In a time where technology captures our attention for most of the day, it was great watching children leap from one end of the garden bed to the other, gasping at what they had found.

So what’s next for 85 Green?  Well, our bee keeper Erica, will, be coming in late to early October to extract some honey and prepare the hives for the winter.  At the end of October, we’ll put the garden to bed and wait patiently for spring to arrive so we can do it all over again next summer.  Over the winter, we’ll try our hand at some indoor gardening projects—stay tuned for more information!  And we’ll launch our Tween Scene Foodies initiative which has us partnering with a local chef to offer menu planning and free afterschool snacks!

From the generous donations to the diligent caretaking to the hands-on special workshops, the 85 Green project has been a place where community truly does connect.

85G-Fall 2019-Collage2-Use-Blog


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Where seedlings are planted and conversations bloom

kids garden collage 1

Senior Library Assistant and Children’s Programmer

This spring, tweens in our Maker Club got their hands dirty, joyously scooping soil into containers, diligently marking holes, carefully placing seeds down, and meticulously watering to start our 85 Green Learning Garden project. With each new cell they started, the participants eagerly chose the next package to plant, looking at the picture, reading the name, and asking questions like “What is a loofah sponge?”

These seeds not only rooted a course for blooming incredible plants, but also created a space for conversation and connection. As the weeks went on, the tweens came into Maker Club and asked, “Have the plants been watered yet?” Luckily beans grow really quickly, and the kids saw the fruit of their labour early on. They also compared plants and wondered why others weren’t sprouting as quickly.

A corner of the Programming Room was filled with carts of our seedlings, and during one session, a participant asked, “Can we move the tables?” I said yes, thinking they were going to do some more observing, but when I looked back a minute later, two participants had pulled up chairs in front of the carts and sat down to just look at the seed garden and eat their granola bars.

The following week, another participant and I were watering the seeds, and she began to tell me about her grandmother’s garden and how excited she was to see how this garden turned out. We talked about the different things her grandmother had growing in her garden, and I even asked if her grandmother sang to her plants. She said no, but I didn’t tell her that I sang to these plants when I watered them alone. It’s an old thing my own grandmother did.

This garden has become something that we care for and bond over, and I can’t wait to see what else it grows in the summer months.

Here’s what’s been happening in the 85 Green Learning Garden

  • existing vegetation and soil in the courtyard beds have been replaced with fresh soil and compost
  • We will be planting our seedlings and transplants on Tuesday
  • Started seedlings inside for tomatoes, red and green peppers, jalapeno, nasturtium, chilies, and squash, then transplanted them to the courtyard beds
  • Purchased:  sage, lemon grass, oregano, rosemary, and thyme and planted them
  • Sowed beets, spinach, lettuce, chard, parsley, and mint directly into the beds
  • One garden will be a Sensory Garden, and the other will be a Rainbow Garden

Children can participate in the Green Thumbs program and work in the garden each week. They’ll get their hands dirty, learn about plants, and journal their gardening discoveries on Monday mornings. Starts July 8th, registration required.
Grades 4-8

Thanks for following along with the 85 Green Learning Garden. Watch for updates later this summer!

kids garden collage 2

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Pride Month at Kitchener Public Library

Here at Kitchener Public Library we are utterly festooned with rainbows for the month of June to celebrate Pride. Case in point:


Photo by Sonja Friedrich

Historically libraries have been an important place for LGBTQ+ individuals to find information about coming out, health, family topics and to see themselves reflected in media and books. With the emergence of the internet, the library has evolved into a community space for LGBTQ+ to meet, socialize, create and learn together. A 2017 OutLook Study carried out by the Waterloo Region Rainbow Coalition found that libraries are one of the places LGBTQ+ people feel safest, with 64% of cisgender people and 57% of trans people reporting they feel safe in the library. This is a huge victory for us, and we are always striving to do better.

Did you know

We offer all-gender, accessible washrooms at all KPL branches. Check out this excellent map of the locations of all the gender neutral washrooms in the Waterloo Region created by SPECTRUM.

Kitchener Public Library is happy to allow trans customers to use their chosen name on their library card. You don’t need to have ID showing the change, just let us know and we’ll update it.

On June 13 KPL held an event called Queer in KW featuring a panel discussion on what it means to be queer in KW (featuring local LGBTQ+ community members and moderated by queer-identified KPL staff), followed by performances by local LGBTQ+ artists. It was a successful, beautiful and positive event, and one which we hope to repeat!

“If You’re Beautiful and You Know It Shout Hooray!” (photo by Barb Janicek)




This year Kitchener Public Library’s wonderful and creative children’s department  hosted our first (and very successful) Drag Queen Story Time with the incredible Fay Slift and Fluffy Souffle!

Stay tuned for more fabulous story hours in the future.



Whoever you are, you belong at the library, so come out, come often, and come get yourself some of these Prideful Picks from your friendly neighbourhood Lesbrarians:


Or check out the LGBTQ+ Content or YA-LGBTQ tags in our catalogue for more queer content.

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June is Bike Month


June is National Bike Month and Kitchener Public Library is celebrating by bringing out our beautiful Book Pedaler to parks and community events in downtown Kitchener. Check out where she’ll be in Summer 2019!

Looking for more local biking resources? Check out this list of great places to bike near you and access cycling maps and guides for Waterloo Region. Excited for the ION but still wanna cycle? No problem. Each ION passenger can bring one bike on board LRT trains with them!

Interested in local Aboriginal history? Explore important sites and cultural landmarks on your bike using the Local Indigenous History and Culture Map, co-created by Kitchener Public Library and Archaeological Research Associates, Ltd. (ARA) in 2015.Aboriginal Sites Bike Map

Check out these great bike-related titles at Kitchener Public Library:

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Our Ink, Our Stories exhibit at Kitchener Public Library

Two years ago, Kitchener Public Library teamed up with The Community Edition for a very special project entitled Our Ink, Our Stories. Our Ink, as we’ve come to lovingly refer to it, was a story-telling initiative that shed light on the hidden meanings and personal histories of the tattoos that adorn members of our community. These stories were often told in the subject’s own words, or beautifully related by Meg Harder (a former KPL staff member who was the editorial and creative lead on this project), two successive TCE Editors-in-Chief, Megan Nourse and Beth Bowles, and the fabulous photography of Paige Bush.

To date, we have collected sixty tattoo stories in our blog, with topics covering everything from song lyrics and beloved animals to gender, religion, mental health and lost loved ones. Tattoos are such a personal and unique form of self-expression that they are a great way to quickly understand about a person, and understanding each other is a great way to build community.

We are now closing the chapter on Our Ink, Our Stories but in celebration of its life we have launched an exhibit of print and digital photographs from the project, which are on view until May 30th in the Theatre Lobby of Central Library (85 Queen St N).


Entry way to exhibit with photo of Theresa by Paige Bush


Art work by Meg Harder, with photos of Sam and Will by Megan Nourse


Photos of Taylor, Melissa, Anna, Sarah and Ren

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John Waters’ Cry-Baby : a live viewing party at Kitchener Public Library

John Waters pink

Photo of John Waters by Greg Gorman

For a director who has built his career and reputation on being the “King of Bad Taste,” John Waters has surprisingly good (or at least interesting) taste in people. In his book Role Models, Waters gives an expansive survey of his influences, from the good (his love of early gay icons Little Richard and Johnny Mathis), the bad (his 25-year friendship with one of the Manson family murderers) and the ugly (his school librarian telling him he would go to hell if he read Tennessee Williams).

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Amplifying Local Authors

Writing is often a solitary pursuit, and rejections from publishers, emotionally challenging content and the pressure we put on ourselves to succeed can make it a pretty tough slog at the best of times – throw in those long, dark Canadian winters and you’ve got a recipe for too much whiskey and a tear-stained manuscript. Having a community who shares your interests can really help – not only personally, but professionally and creatively.

Kitchener Public Library aims to serve as an amplifier for the creative communities that already exist within our city, and provide them with resources to connect. Over time KPL has blossomed into a space for writers to gain contacts, skills and audiences. Some of the ways we do this are:

We hope local authors think of Kitchener Public Library as a place to create, inspire and connect, and that readers come to us when they want to Read Local.

Check out these great titles from local authors