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Profile: Meg Harder, visual artist

GUEST BLOG POST BY MEG HARDER, SENIOR LIBRARY ASSISTANT

If you frequent Central Library in Kitchener, you might recognize me as the person at the information desk who helps you find that-book-you-heard-about-on-the-radio-can’t-remember-what-the-title-is-maybe-the-cover-had-a-bird-on-it. I imagine that in our many interactions you have come to believe my life looks something like this:

shes-an-old

What you might not have known is that outside of my job at the library, I am a visual artist. So my life is actually more like this:

oh-i-see-ha50kv

But actually, I am very privileged to say I have the freedom to make art that I love and enough community support to keep it going – including the support of the library.  I am a graduate of the University of Waterloo Fine Arts Program, which included an exchange to the Bezealel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Israel. Inspired by the politically imbued art world I was immersed in while in Israel, I have been interested in understanding the capacity of art to address and affect local communities and issues. Since returning to Canada, I have focused on addressing primarily environmental concerns through sculpture, installation, and collage.

Most recently, I have been pursuing an art practice in alignment with the longstanding animating cultural principal of bio-regionalism, a notion or intuition that we can find our physical and spiritual truth in the local natural systems that we inhabit. The resulting work acts as a point of mediation between individuals and the bio-region and imagines alternative ways of living. This includes resisting artistic practices that require consuming goods that have come from somewhere else.

summer-solstice

Summer Solstice Night Sky from Latitude 45 | 2015

I started by creating some collage work with recycled paper on wood panel which grew in to the work featured in Mediating Nature, my first solo show, which debuted at the Art Gallery at Central Library last winter, supported by The Waterloo Region Arts Fund.

home

Home | 2016, invasive plant material and thread

This past spring I was honoured to be chosen as the first annual artist-in-residence at rare Charitable Research Reserve , an ecological reserve that promotes research, education, and appreciation for local ecology. During my time there, I collaborated with ecologists to create installation and traditional art materials such as paper, pigment, and tools using invasive species or green waste. I hoped this process of art making would not only elevate the local bio-region in the minds of community members but also contribute to restoration of the local environment.

civilization-of-the-wild

Civilization of the Wild | 2016, green waste

Drawing on similar ideas, I created the installation Civilization of the Wild featured in the public art biennial Contemporary Art Forum of Kitchener and Area (CAFKA)  this June. This was a site-specific installation of debris huts on Roos Island in Victoria Park where the community was invited to learn and share knowledge about the local bio-region. A debris hut is four-season human shelter made from foraged natural materials inspired by squirrel’s nests. The occupation of Civilization of the Wild in the region’s urban core was meant remind the community of their fundamental connection to the natural world.

You can see more of my work on my website at www.megharder.com. Feel free to subscribe to my e-mail updates for news about future projects.


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Accessibility: BrowseAloud

macbook-926335_640

GUEST BLOG POST BY GARY BAUMAN, WEB SERVICES LIBRARIAN

baloud

You may have noticed an icon on the Kitchener Public Library website, at the top of every page. This is the icon for BrowseAloud, a service which we have had for some time.

For those unfamiliar with it, BrowseAloud is an accessibility tool which allows users who have difficulty reading text on computer screens to have the content on a web page read aloud to them. Users can control whether the entire page is read, or just selected portions of the text.

Features of BrowseAloud
Clicking on the BrowseAloud icon opens a toolbar, which contains several useful features. These include:

  • Tell BrowseAloud where to start reading by positioning mouse cursor over a word
  • Read an entire page, start to finish
  • Translate a page into another language
  • Select text and convert it into an mp3 file
  • A text magnification tool

RESOURCES

If you have any questions about BrowseAloud or its features, please call 519.743.7502 or TTY 1.877.614.4832.

Learn more about KPL  collections, services, and equipment for people with disabilities.


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Happy Canada Day: Welcoming newcomers

9 A conversation circle

We’d like to wish everyone a happy Canada Day, especially newcomers to Canada who are celebrating with us for the first time.

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve received a grant of $20,470 from the Immigration Partnership Council that we’ll be using to host English conversation circles for Syrian newcomers, beginning this fall. The grant funding will be used to pay for translation services, new resources,  and bus tickets for participants.

On June 24, Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Central Library and met with six local Syrian families for a private conversation circle of their own.

With an Arabic translator on hand, Premier Wynne said “We want you to fell welcome, and we want you to feel that you have opportunities.”

Library CEO Mary Chevreau and Wayne Buchholtz, chair of the library board, led Ms. Wynne on a tour of Central Library. Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile and Dr. Liana Nolan, head of public health for Waterloo Region, were our local hosts. Other dignitaries who attended were Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworski, and Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling.

Librarian Kristin Johnson-Perlock, who leads our multicultural and ESL programming, is still finalising details, but she’ll continue working with our valued community partners on this new initiative.

“So many incredible organizations, agencies, and individuals support refugees and newcomers in this community. It’s really exciting that the library can contribute to these efforts to broaden the scope of programs for refugees and newcomers,” she said.

We’ll be offering English Conversation Circles at Forest Heights Community Library and Grand River Stanley Park Community Library,  and a Women’s Conversation and Social Circle at Central Library.

“Libraries are welcoming spaces that aim to serve everyone in our community. With this grant, KPL has the amazing opportunity to welcome and connect with our newest community members. We hope that these programs will provide refugees and newcomers the chance to practice and learn English in an informal and supportive environment, socialize with others, and feel a part of the community,” Kristin said.

You’ll find more details in our fall issue of In Touch magazine, and on our website later this summer. Please share with your network of friends, family, community organizations and churches to help us reach people who can benefit from these conversation circles.

LEARN MORE

  • More than 28,000 Syrian people have arrived in Canada. Of those, about 1,275 have settled in Waterloo Region, most of them in Kitchener.
  • The Immigration Partnership Fund for Syrian Newcomers continues to accept applications for support from agencies and private sponsors on a rolling basis. The next deadline is July 6, 2016. Community donations up to $400,000 are being matched through The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation.
  • English Conversation Circle: An opportunity to practise speaking English in an informal, safe, and relaxed environment. A chance to improve English language and listening skills; increase confidence in speaking English; learn about Canadian culture and customs; and socialize with others.
  • Women’s Conversation and Social Circle:  For women, with child-minding services provided. An opportunity to practise speaking English in an informal, safe, and relaxed environment, as well as socialize with other mothers. Program content will have a greater focus on topics such as parenting, self-care, women’s issues, etc. Speakers can be invited to discuss relevant topics.
  • Join us for an info session about IELTS (International English Language Testing System) provided by YMCA Immigrant Services

 


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Look, listen, learn: June exhibits & festivals

Be inspired this month as we host a series of art exhibits and demonstrations including sound, photography, history, acrylics, and oils.

We’ve got three new exhibits at Central Library in June, and we’re a partner in two amazing local festivals!
Don’t miss out on:

octave

Credit: New Westminster Media Gallery

OPEN EARS FESTIVAL 
As part of the Open Ears Festival, Central Library is hosting a special sound installation in the Theatre Lobby on the lower level.
Octave by Tristan Perich
Twelve sound panels that project 300 different frequencies; each distributed at equal distances in ascending order over the length of the display. Walking back and forth along the display, listeners get varying perspectives on the different sounds and tones.
Exhibit runs until June 25.

make it kitchener

MAKE IT KITCHENER
As part of Make It Kitchener, an initiative of the City of Kitchener, see the exhibit in the Reading Lounge on the main level.
Dedicated to the makers, hackers, writers, coders, builders, and creators in this city, from 1854 right up to today, the exhibit combines historical and contemporary photos with objects found by Bernie Rohde and curated by Eric Rumble. Be sure to pick up a Make it Kitchener magazine while you’re here.

GRIPS install      June Art Exhibit_GRIPS

GRAND RIVER IMAGING PHOTOGRAPHY SOCIETY (GRIPS)
In the Art Gallery at Central Library, on the lower level.
See this exhibit mounted by members of GRIPS, a club for photographers of all skill levels that strives to increase the enjoyment of photography through workshops, outings, and friendly competition. Exhibit runs until June 30.
Everyone is welcome to attend the Opening Reception on Wednesday, June 8 at 6:30 pm.

 

latitude_logo

LATITUDES STORYTELLING FESTIVAL
As part of the Latitudes festival at Central Library, see these two Artist-at-Work demonstrations:
Saturday, June 11
10 am – noon: Alex van Gaalen, oil painting
1 pm – 3 pm:    Sheila Diemert, acrylics
Feel free to chat with the artists and ask questions as they work.

Learn more about our Artist Program.

 

 

 

 


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Reunited, and it feels so good

PHOTOS BY EMILY MCLAUGHLIN, Senior Library Assistant
and LAURA REED, Manager of Children’s and Teen Services

ducks3We had a flock of adorable visitors in the courtyard at Central Library the other day.

The nine ducklings and their mama were wandering around on the main level of the courtyard, with their nest out of reach in a planter above. So Laura and Emily, from Children’s and Teen Services, MacGyver’d a ramp that would allow the feathered family to return home.

When they went back to check on them later, the ducks were gone, having wandered out through the gate. But they heard a few pitiful quacks from below. One little duckling had fallen into the window well, and was calling for help.

Ducking rescueDuck Rescue First Responders from our facilities department were on the scene within minutes, with a ladder and garbage pail, to bail him out.

He was uninjured, but now we had an orphan on our hands. Where was his family? Another staff member, coming back from lunch, had just seen a duck family at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church down the street.

So Emily and Laura took the lonely little guy to St. Peter’s and put him in the grass with the rest of his (we hope?) family, sang a verse of “Reunited,” and left them all to get reacquainted.

 

Duckings 1

We are family, I got all my sisters and me.

Later that same afternoon, we saw this tweet from a little further down Queen Street. It looks like there are 10 ducklings here, so we hope this is our same duck family, being safely escorted to Victoria Park!

As for the Sheriff John Motz Courtyard, it is expected to be open to our non-feathered friends soon. Stay tuned for details.


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And the winners are ….

GUEST BLOG POST FROM THE CITY OF KITCHENER, ARTS & CULTURE

Youth Video Competition 2016

The winners in the 2016 Youth Video Competition have been selected!

We’re excited to offer you and your guests an opportunity to see the winning entries in our 2016 Youth Video Competition. Please  join us on Saturday, April 30 at 2 pm in the Theatre at Central Library for a screening of the top 16 films submitted to this year’s contest.

75 talented young filmmakers responded to the call.  The variety, creativity and technical quality of the videos knocked the selection committee’s socks off!

Videos submitted covered a wide range of topics, including social commentaries, stop-motion adventures, comedies, thrillers and sci-fi fantasy films. The selection committee laughed, cried and struggled to pick their favourites. A big THANK YOU to all of the applicants for putting their creativity and imagination to work for this year’s contest!

Three talented youth in each of two age categories have bragging rights to call themselves ‘top filmmaker’ for this year’s competition (and score a cash prize).  Plus, 10 Honourable Mentions, all of whom had videos deserving of recognition, will receive a prize.

Could you be one of the winners?  Come to the Theatre Showcase on April 30 to find out!

Brought to you by City of Kitchener and Kitchener Public Library.


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National Volunteer Week: Alison Bullock

We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week, April 10 – 16!

Meet Alison Bullock, an integral part of the team that runs French Immersion Tutors at Forest Heights Community Library.

Bilingual volunteers help French immersion students with their homework every Thursday afternoon from 4 – 5:30 pm.

It’s a volunteer position that’s perfectly suited to Alison, who is a Digital Literacy Support Teacher at Waterloo Region District School Board. That means she’s a technology coach for teachers and students, helping them integrate technology into the curriculum. She has a workload of 25 elementary schools, about half of which are French immersion schools.

Alison Bullock

Alison Bullock

“I’ve always been a huge believer in libraries. I’ve always appreciated that it’s there for me, with free books and community events,” she says.

As a child, Alison went to KW Bilingual School, and took French immersion at Elmira District Secondary School. Volunteering is one way she keeps her language ability strong.

“I have to speak and think in French at least once a week, so that’s good to keep my fluency going, too,” she says.

Alison and the other team members help students with specific homework assignments, or use technology to practise French in a more informal way if there’s no homework to be done. And she’s taking a leadership role by training other volunteers in how to use online games, Tumble Books, and apps such as TFO, to help integrate technology into tutoring.

“We’re morphing and changing how we do things,” she says, noting that it’s not always beneficial for a child who just spent all day at school to come to the library and sit at a table for tutoring. That’s why volunteers make an effort to sit on couches or the floor and use interactive learning tools.

Alison notes that French Immersion Tutors can be particularly helpful for families with parents who speak little or no French. For the students, “just to sit and speak, to think and process in that language can be beneficial,” she says.

Alison has also trained to be a shelf reader. During the summer months, she plans to help us keep our French language resources in good shape on days when rain keeps her from the golf course.

Alison, thank you for all you do to contribute to your community!

FRENCH IMMERSION TUTORS
Thursdays at Forest Heights until May 12
1/2 hour sessions
4 pm, 4:30 pm, and 5 pm
Register for each session you wish to attend

Learn more about language resources at KPL
including books and DVDs in French for children and adults