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  • UPDATE – Provincial announcement regarding public libraries and pickups


    We greatly appreciate the Province’s announcement that as part of the first phase of reopening libraries can begin to offer pick-up or delivery of materials. 

    There is a lot of work to do be able to offer these services while ensuring the safety of our employees and our customers. Our plan to resume our physical services needs to account for physical distancing requirements, provision of personal protective equipment, enhanced sanitary controls, and new protocols for employees and customers. We are working on offering holds pick-ups as soon as we can safely do so.  

    We will be communicating all new developments in our service offering to you on all our platforms, as soon as we have updates. 

    Thank you for your patience as we move through this rapidly evolving situation. 


    OPL branches, Bookmobile stops and Homebound delivery services are closed until June 30, 2020. The closure is in response to advice from Ottawa Public Health (OPH) with regards to COVID-19 (coronavirus) for the health and safety of our community. We will continue to monitor the situation and reassess as the situation evolves. Currently, please note:  

    • Due dates for all currently checked out materials have been extended and late fees suspended.
    • Book drops are not available since branches are closed. Hold on to OPL items and return them when branches reopen. 
    • Holds are suspended, and pick up expiry dates extended. This includes interlibrary loans (ILL).
    • Meeting room rentals are cancelled, and fees are being refunded; and
    • Computer bookings, programs, events and outreach activities are cancelled.
    • Expired cards, or those about to expire, have been extended. 

    You can use the Library online:

    We thank you for your patience and support, and we look forward to seeing you online and in person again soon.

Still Life: re-creating nature at Natural History museums


Recently, I have been watching a new video webseries called the Brain Scoop. It's hosted by Emily Graslie from the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at The University of Montana. The aim of the videos is to see what happens behind the scenes at a natural history museum which I find absolutely fascinating having worked with taxidermied animals during my undergraduate degree.

One of the videos mentioned several books about natural history museums and taxidermy, many of which I found in our collection.  The Authentic Animal by Dave Madden explores the world of taxidermy and follows the life of Carl Akeley, perhaps the man most responsible for how taxidermy is done in museums and beyond today. Madden is a little obsessive over the topic, but is fully aware of his strange interest in taxidermy.  I quite enjoyed this book with its grounding in history, and I learned much about the International Taxidermy Championships, held each year, as well as the current state of taxidermy in museums.

I also read Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom. This book takes more of a journalistic approach to the subject so it’s a different tone from the slightly obsessive awe of Madden. You do meet quite a cast of characters from Canadian taxidermy champions to the woman who works with Damien Hirst to preserve hyper-realistic animals for his art. You too can follow along as she attempts to mount a squirrel for competition at the Taxidermy Championships.

A more light-hearted look at museums can be found in Dry Storeroom No.1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum by Richard A. Fortey. This book is a “biography” of the Natural History Museum in London, England and it is an affectionate portrait of a building, its people and the work that is done behind the scenes to present and preserve the natural world. Fortey used to work there as one of the resident paleontologists, and he tells many stories from the museum, but also explains much of the science that goes on behind the scenes to help further our understanding of the natural world.


All three books are very enjoyable reads, so next time you are at a Natural History museum (like our local Museum of Nature), you'll know even more about what they do and how important they are. And don't forget to watch the Brain Scoop!