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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It is Old; is It Valuable?

“I’m going through stuff at our house. Some of the items are old, but I’d like to know if they would be worth selling.” The Newton Falls Public Library has a wealth of material to assist patrons looking to discover if what they own has more value than they may think. We have books that cover the broad topics of antiques and collectibles, such as The Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide by Ralph and Terry Kovel, and Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles. The Antiques Price Guide and Collectibles: Price Guide by Judith Miller, have very useful, color photographs which will assist you in identifying what is owned. If you think what you have may be a bit more humble than an antique or collectible, consider borrowing Official Guide to Flea Market Prices by Harry L. Rinker, Flea Market Trader, or Warman's Flea Market Price Guide by Don Johnson & Ellen T. Schroy.

The library also has books about specific items ranging from The Complete Encyclopedia to GI Joe by Vincent Santelmo to Antique Hardware Price Guide: a comprehensive collector's price and identification guide to vintage doorknobs, door bells, mail slots, hinges, door pulls, shutter hardware and locksets by H. Weber Wilson. It is interesting to see the variety of things that people save and collect.

For items which have been left neglected, before selling an owner may want to examine Care and repair of everyday treasures: a step-by-step guide to cleaning and restoring your antiques and collectibles by Judith Miller. When ready to sell, borrow The Great Garage Sale Book: how to run a garage, tag, attic, barn, or yard sale by Sylvia Simmons. Through our shared TiPL [Trumbull Independent Public Libraries] catalog borrow The Complete idiot's Guide to Starting an E-bay Business by Barbara Weltman.

Out of curiosity we decided to investigate some personal items. We were not able to find the tube-shaped Herb Ox bouillon tin in Antique Tins, Identification & Values by Fred Dodge and shall have to keep investigating. However the pink Diamond Quilted Depression glass cereal bowl was in Warman’s Depression Glass by Ellen T. Schroy and is valued at $8.50.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Questions, Questions, Questions

“I would like the phone number of a cab service. I need to have a ride out of town, so I can send a Western Union money order.” “How do you spell participation?” “Adam Smith is an 18th century economist. What did he die of?” The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library finds the diversity of questions fascinating, and considers no question less important than another.

Before looking for a local taxi service, we offered to see if there was anywhere locally which supplied Western Union money orders. Going to and searching for locations in the 44444 zip code we found two locations within walking distance for the patron. As a result, we never did look for the phone number originally requested.

As we were standing, speaking with the next patron, the second question requiring a correct spelling was easily satisfied by using the Oxford American Dictionary, which sits on the shelving in the reference area.

The final question was a bit more difficult. The patron had looked in the library’s reference materials, including Chambers Biographical Dictionary and Dictionary of World Biography. Both had information about Adam Smith, including the date of his death but nothing about the cause of his death. We looked online in the library’s database Biography Plus Illustrated
. This resource and the reference books revealed that Adam Smith was not only a famous late 1700s Scottish economist, he was also an author. We then searched Gale Literature Resource Center database []. In the biographical information, we located several articles which looked to be helpful. British Philosophers, 1500-1799 by Kurt Norlin (Claremont Graduate University) states that “Smith began to suffer from a real and increasingly severe ailment of the stomach or intestines . . . he died on the night of 17 July 1790.” While it did not list a specific disease, the answer was sufficient for our patron’s needs.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How Do I Get Paint Off of Concrete?

“I had a concrete porch installed. When the painters sprayed a fresh coat of paint on the decorative railing, they got black paint on my new concrete in the outline of a large piece of paper. They and I don’t know how to remove it. Can you find me anything that will take the paint off?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff could see where a clean patch outlined in paint in the center of a new porch would not be appealing.

Clois E. Kicklighter, in Modern Masonry: brick, block, stone, warns that “faulty cleaning techniques or the use of the wrong cleaning agent” can ruin the appearance [p.127]. For brick and concrete block he mentions cleaning with an acid solution or sandblasting, as well as rubbing it with a smaller piece of block. This is especially useful for removing mortar. We weren’t sure if these methods would be effective for removing paint. Masonry Basics, which is part of Ortho’s All About series, deals with removing paint and graffiti stains from brick. It suggests pressure washing, scraping with a wire brush, scrubbing with a mixture of trisodium phosphate (TSP), semi-paste paint remover, spray paint remover, muriatic-acid solution, or the final option sandblasting [p. 91]. Again, we weren’t sure if these would be effective on concrete.

Rodale's Book of Practical Formulas has some formulas for general concrete cleaning, but none for paint removal. Fix It, Clean It, and Make it Last: the ultimate guide to making your household items last forever by Gayle K. Wood addresses the problem of oil and grease stains on concrete. Wood recommends covering the area with mineral spirits or paint thinner. Then spread cat litter, sand, baking soda, or corn meal over the spot. Leave it for at least 12 hours and sweep it up [pp. 251-252]. Since you are removing stains with a substance commonly used for removing paint, this seems to be a possible solution to our patron’s problem.

The expert online at the Paints and Coatings Resource Center [] offered several suggestions for removing paint from a concrete driveway: “scrape or wire brush the paint off the surface . . . maybe a wire wheel brush on the end of a cordless drill . . . would be much easier than scrubbing manually . . . you might be able to use as paint stripper that you can purchase from a hardware store.” These instructions, like all the others previously mentioned recommend testing in a small obscure area first. Our patron is going to take these suggestions to her mason to see if one of them may work for her problem.