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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is the Sun Closer to the Earth in the Summer or the Winter?

“We have a bet riding on this question. Is the sun closer to the earth in the summer or the winter?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff found this to be an interesting question, considering how much snow we have been getting this December.
Our staff member Googled “sun closer to earth in winter or summer” and found several websites which seemed to supply the information we needed. The Library of Congress’ site has a section called Everyday Mysteries [] where the question “Why is it hot in summer and cold in winter?” is answered. The sun is closest to the earth in January and furthest in July. It explains though the sun is closer in the winter than the summer, because of the tilt on its axis, the sun’s rays hit the earth at a shallower angle with more atmosphere to go through.This causes less energy to hit any given spot on the surface and factoring in the shorter days and longer nights the earth does not stay as warm. Our staff informed the patron, who was happy that he was going to be a little richer.

Researching further for this article, we went to the website There we discovered that while the information given in the Library of Congress article was correct, in relationship to the seasons, it is only true for us living in the Northern Hemisphere. As explained, the seasons are determined by the tilt of the earth’s axis, not the distance from the sun. Hopefully this will not void our patron’s winning since in December the earth is always closer to the sun than in July, no matter what the season or hemisphere.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Can You Help Me Figure Out Who This Person Is?

The lady on the phone asked, “Can you help me? I got a Christmas card, I can’t read the signature, and I don’t recognize the return address. I tore off the label and my dog ate it. All I can remember was her first name was Ruth, and she lived on [names changed to insure privacy] Clinton Avenue in Paddle, Oklahoma. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t figure out who this person is.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff was not sure if they could find the answer to this woman’s question.

We began our online search, at Using the reverse address search, we typed in the street name, city, and state. There was only one Ruth living on Clinton Avenue in Paddle. Our patron was still confused as why she would be getting a card from her. Our staff said the site gives approximate ages and the names of household members, including a man’s unusual name which was familiar to our patron. We also gave the caller some of the other information listed on the site; mentioning a middle name and a maiden name. Now, the card sender was sounding more familiar. Our caller went and got the card to reexamine the almost illegible signature. She happily realized that the card had been addressed and labeled by the out-of-state daughter of a close friend who has Parkinson’s disease

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What is a Pie Bird?

“I was looking at a magazine and I saw this little ceramic bird stuck in the middle of a pie. Can you tell me anything about it?”  Some members of the Newton Falls Public Library staff were familiar with this cute item known as a pie bird, but having some personal understanding about a topic does not always supply the complete information needed by a patron.

We were successful in discovering information in the first two items we examined.  Warman's Flea Market Price Guide, 2nd edition by Don Johnson & Ellen T. Schroy describes them as “little birds with their beaks wide open . . . designed to act as a vent for a pie with a top crust. . .” [p.265]. Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Pie and Pastry Bible, seems to have very strong feelings about pie birds. Beranbaum states on page 670, “The purpose . . . is to create and maintain a fanciful opening in the upper crust of the pie for the steam and bubbling juices to vent.  I find they are impractical, as they displace too much of the pie’s filling . . .”  Both resources said that many people considered them to be collectibles.

There are also websites dedicated to this interesting piece of kitchen equipment. shows the birds as one of a type of pie funnel, which have been used since Victorian times. Besides pie birds, the funnels include people and other animals.  The June 8, 2010 posting Brief History of Pies and Pie Birds on the blog Civil War Reenacting and Cooking [] also refers to these birds as whistles and chimneys.

Our patron thought that these would make delightful Christmas gifts for her family members who bake.  Her next question concerned where she may purchase them and how much they cost.  Searching online, we discovered multiple sites offering pie birds for sale, listing of local stores which had them, and prices ranging from $1 to almost $135.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Do I Clean a Hartco Floor?

“I’m cleaning for the holidays, and I need to know how to clean a Hartco floor.” The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library was not familiar with this type of floor. The patron did not know if it was hardwood or laminate flooring.

We began our investigation online since this question was about a specific brand. The Internet search revealed that Hartco is a hardwood flooring product of Armstrong World Industries, Inc. Their website,, has a section titled Flooring 101: Floor Care. Our patron was able to watch a short online video about the flooring, as well as see the products available to care for it. There was also an extensive section on Easy Care Steps for Cleaning Hardwood Floors. It included DOs and DON’Ts; Quick Fix Tips covering spills & dirt, spots caused by food, water or animals, grease/lipstick/crayon/ink and heel marks, chewing gum and candle wax, minor abrasions/scratches, and deep scratches/gouges; and Initial and Periodic Hardwood Floor Care and Maintenance.

Our patron had all the information she needed to prepare for properly cleaning her floor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Is There a Wiring Diagram for a 21 foot 1976 Starcraft Boat?

The Newton Falls Public Library recently received the following email query. “We have a patron who needs a wiring diagram for a 21 foot 1976 Starcraft boat. Is there a library that has this information?” Libraries are very good with sharing information and on occasion the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library gets requests such as this one from another library.

We contacted the librarian making the inquiry and discovered that her patron did not need information about the Holiday outboard motor attached to the boat, but rather the diagrams for the boat itself. Searching our catalog, we found Outboard Motor and Inboard/Outdrive: wiring diagrams, 1956-1989 and Outboard Motor Service Manual. Since neither had the information needed, we expanded our search online.

Typing in took us to the Small Engine Repair Reference Center database. It includes manuals for All Terrain Vehicles, Generators & Other Small Engines, Marine/Boat Motors, Motorcycles, Outdoor Power Equipment, Personal Water Craft, Snow Machines/Snow Mobiles, and Tractors. Selecting Marine/Boat Motors, we looked at the Electrical System section of Powerboat Maintenance Overview & Information. From there we were able to send on information about auxiliary power plants, battery systems, bonding, lighting, making a wiring diagram, power plant lay-up, and shore power. We were also able to send the Intertec Wiring Diagrams: Outboard Motors & Inboard/Outdrives 1956-1989. Hopefully this information will meet the need of the patron. Newton Falls Public Library card holders can access this website from any Internet access computer.

If the patron is interested in more information there are websites such as This website had a page which gave more details about the 1976 Starcraft Holiday 22, a 21.42 foot outboard boat and how to purchase a manual.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why is Turkey the Traditional Thanksgiving Meat?”

“Why is turkey the traditional Thanksgiving meat?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff does not often get asked about commonly accepted customs such as this.  Discovering the answers to questions like this is always interesting.

The Folklore of American Holidays has an extensive section about Thanksgiving and harvest celebrations including the origins and customs.  Under Thanksgiving Dinner and What it Means [p.466], the basic menu of turkey, dressing, cranberries, potatoes, and pumpkin pie are listed, but not the reasons for the selections.  We extended our search online and found with information about Historic American Thanksgiving dinner menus.  In 1621, a contemporary description of the three day Plymouth Colony celebration lists waterfowl, turkey, and venison as the meals’ meats. It appears that until the mid 1900’s, a variety of meats were commonly served for this dinner.

Searching the we found an article which appeared in Highlights for Children [Nov2010, Vol. 65 Issue 11, p6-7, 2p] A Turkey at the White House! author, Jeannine Q. Norris, relates the story of the pardoning of the turkey by President Lincoln.  His son, Tad liked a turkey that was given to the president for Christmas dinner and begged his father to pardon the bird.  Thus began the custom of pardoning the White House turkey.

In The Making of the Domestic Occasion: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States by Elizabeth Pleck [Journal of Social History; Summer99, Vol. 32 Issue 4, p773, 17p].  Ms. Pleck states, “In early nineteenth century New England Thanksgiving day might begin with a morning church service, followed by the large meal in the afternoon.  Before or after attending church, men, musket in hand, might take aim at a wild turkey in the fields, or at paper targets.  The winner usually won a turkey as his prize for good marksmanship.”  In the 1920s, teachers began teaching about the holiday and decorated their classrooms with . . . pictures of Pilgrims and turkeys.  One wonders if this early childhood association with the holiday and turkeys helped to cement a lasting connection between the holiday and the menu.

We informed our patron, while we could not find a definitive reason it seems to have become customary to serve turkey due to common practice.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Will My Fish Die If I Carry Them Through the Security Gates?

“I had never heard this before, but someone I know was purchasing a fish at Wal-Mart and the cashier told her that the security gates would cause the fish to die. It was suggested that she lift it over her head while walking through.” While the fish in the patron’s story survived she and the Newton Falls Public Library wondered if it has that ever happened.

The HeraldTimesOnline Bloomington, Indiana [] addressed this very question in Rebecca M.Troyer’s article, Hotline favorites: Can I eat my Crocs? Exploding fish at Wal-Mart? “Lift up your fish through ye mighty gates” (March 25, 2009). The Hotline investigated by contacting Wal-Mart and the scanner manufacturer. Both corporations reported that there had been no “documented instances” or reported problems in relationship to the health and well being of fish. We informed our patron that this seemed to be well researched and it appeared to be safe to carry a fish through security and out of the store.

Urban legends such as these are good for storytelling. As our patron enjoyed this tale, we directed them to library materials with additional amazing stories, such as Alligators in the Sewer: and 222 other urban legends by Thomas J. Craughwell, Spiders in the Hairdo: modern urban legends collected and retold by David Holt & Bill Mooney, Too Good to be True: the colossal book of urban legends by Jan Harold Brunvand, Urban Legends: the as-complete-as-one-could-be guide to modern myths by N.E. Genge and the DVD MythBusters. Mega movie myths.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why is a New Ship Christened with a Bottle of Champagne?

The caller on phone line number two wanted to know, “Why is a new ship christened with a bottle of champagne?” This is one of those practices that the Newton Falls Public Library staff is aware of, but never really thought of the reason behind it.

Page 791 of Popular Beliefs and Superstitions: a compendium of American folklore: from the Ohio Collection of Newbell Niles Puckett, under the heading Christening of a Ship; The Name of a Ship includes the following beliefs: “Christening a ship with champagne will bring it and its crew good luck” and “It is bad luck to christen a boat with anything but champagne.” The section also one that said “A ship must be christened with the breaking of a bottle of wine . . . to be safe and lucky.”

Library staff members remembered hearing of bottles containing fluids other than champagne being used. To discover if this was so, we looked online and found that the Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Center has a website dedicated to Naval History and Heritage with frequently asked questions. Christening, Launching, and Commissioning of U.S. Navy Ships by John C. Reilly (Head, Ships History Branch)[] relates the history of this practice back to 3rd millennium BCE Babylon. Later, Jews and Christians used water or wine to ask God to protect the ship. Ottoman Empire residents prayed to Allah and sacrificed a sheep and then feasted. Beginning in the 19th century in the United States of America, women began to customarily “sponsor” or christen ships. It was during this time that champagne began to be used, perhaps for its elegance, and has continued except for during Prohibition. Over the years, wine, cider, holy water, sea water, spring water, river water, whiskey, and brandy have been used.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What Are Ground Cherries and What Do I Do With Them?

Sometimes the employees at the Newton Falls Public Library have questions of their own. A staff member brought in recently harvested ground cherries; a small light brown, papery covered fruit about the size of a nickel. Inside the husk was a little yellow ball. Most of the staff was unfamiliar with it. Our more knowledgeable member said you could use them in pies and cobblers. The rest of us wanted to know more about this fruit and how to prepare it.

We began our search browsing through the gardening section of the library. In Botanica's Annuals & Perennials: over 1000 pages & over 2000 plants listed we located the ground cherry (Physalis peruviana) which is also known as a cape gooseberry [pp.677-678]. It is related to the Chinese lantern or winter cherry, a plant often used in floral arrangements. According to Botanica's, it is a South American “perennial . . . often treated as an annual and is grown for its crop of bright yellow to purple edible berries.” refers to another variety, an Eastern European cousin of the Mexican tomatillo (Physalis pruinosa) as a ground cherry or cossack pineapple.

The staff had little success while looking through the library’s large collection of cookbooks, including How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Not until we examined the index of Mary Emma Showalter’s 1950 edition of Mennonite Community Cookbook; favorite family recipes did we find a listing for Ground Cherry Pie. The recipe [p.370] requires ripe ground cherries, brown sugar, flour, water, and two pie crusts or one crust and a crumb topping.

The website of Trade Winds Fruit [] compares the taste to a tomato/pineapple like blend. It recommends using them in salads, desserts, jams, and jellies. The fruit can also be dried or dipped in chocolate. The blog Cook Local [] has a recipe for Ground Cherry Salsa. has 117 recipes for us to peruse for ideas of what to do with ground cherries.

Curious about how to grow our own ground cherries for next year, we searched through the library’s collection of books about seed saving. Seed to Seed: seed saving and growing techniques for vegetable gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth has a chapter on Physalis spp .- Ground Cherries, Husk Tomatoes, Tomatillos, etc. (pp. 159-162). It includes step by step instructions on seed production [p.160], harvesting, processing, planting, transplantation, and care. To ensure we have seeds, we need to remove the paper husks and blend the berries in a processor or blender with enough water to cover them. When blending is complete, the mixture is put into a large bowl and more water is added to double the amount. The mixture is then stirred vigorously, and the good seeds are allowed to sink to the bottom of the bowl. Pour off what remains on top, add more water, and repeat the process until the seeds and water are clean. They are then put into a strainer fine so that the seeds to do not pass through. Wipe the bottom of the strainer to remove moisture, and place the seeds onto a glass or ceramic dish to dry. In this area of Ohio the seeds can be started inside around April 1 in .25 inches of soil, and moved outside around May 15. Ashworth’s book calls the fruit we sampled Downy Ground Cherry (Yellow Husk Tomato).

Friday, October 22, 2010

What is a Cake Walk?

“I’m new in town and I keep seeing articles about the Halloween Cake Walk. What is a cake walk?” This is one of Newton Falls’ most interesting community events, and one in which some of the Newton Falls Public staff have enjoyed participating.

We were able to inform the new resident that the cake walk is sponsored every year by the Kiwanis Club, it follows the community Trick or Treat, and is held on Broad Street between Canal and Center Streets. Participants purchase tickets and then walk through arches while music is playing. When the horn blows, those under an arch may select a cake from the many donated. The cakes are supplied by community groups who receive a percentage per cake of the evening’s proceeds for their organization. During the event, the Newton Falls High School Tiger Marching Band entertains and prizes donated by businesses and groups are awarded for costumes.

This question intrigued the library staff who began to wonder more about a cake walk. According to A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles (pg. 241), a cakewalk was “Orig. a parade or walk-around, poss. by Negroes, in which the reward for the fanciest steps was a cake. Now a walk in which those participating pay for the privilege of walking to music on a numbered floor, each one hoping that when the music stops he will be on a lucky number and thus receive a cake as a prize.” There is also more historical information online on the subject, but not much is readily available about specific community cakewalks.

To discover more about our local cakewalk, we contacted a member of our local Kiwanis Club and our Local History Room volunteer. The member informed us that the Newton Falls club began in 1924 and he thought their cake walk began around 1930. In searching the old volumes of the Newton Falls Herald, no mention was found before 1926. The headline on the front page of the October 28, 1926 edition announced Big Community Hallowe’en Celebration Saturday. That event was to be held on October 30, 1926, making this year’s celebration the 85th one. The article announced that there would be music by the Newton Falls Band under the direction of L. E. Price, cakes, costumes and “fine” prizes. Besides cash awards of $1-$3 for the best of certain costume types, there were also product prizes. This list included: Best George Washington, 1st prize – vacuum windshield cleaner and 2nd prize - rear view mirror donated by W. C. Liber and Son; Fattest Man, 1st prize - 25 lb. sack of sugar and 2nd prize - 24 lb. Occident Flour donated by O. C. Bedell; and Best Made-Up Man, 1st prize - 24 lb. sack of flour and 2nd prize - 6 bottles of catsup donated by Jack Davis.

In the October 16, 1930 Newton Falls Herald, the Kiwanis decided to hold their annual cake walk on the evening of October 31 at the location where the event is presently still enjoyed. Proceeds were to be donated to the Kiwanis Club fund for the care of underprivileged children. In the October 30 paper, one would assume due to the effects of the Depression, the club decided to devote the monies raised for the relief of the needy in the community. The cakes would be on display at the Bate Brothers real estate office on Broad Street.

For individuals interested in participating in this year’s event, the library has some wonderful resources to inspire a cake baker. Fantastic party cakes: 20 fun cakes to make and decorate by Allison Wilkinson has the Masquerade cake and A Walk on the Wild Side which has tiger stripes draped over it. If decorating a large cake seems daunting, try The Artful Cupcake: baking & decorating delicious indulgences by Marcianne Miller. For those wishing to encourage children to participate, the book Birthday cakes for kids: dozens of fun & creative cakes has Boo the Ghost, Jack-O-Lantern, and Webster’s Web, all which are sure to be Halloween crowd pleasers.

To have a chance to win a prize, Cake Walk participants might wish to investigate the library’s collection of Halloween costume books. Adults can be creative with The Halloween Handbook: 447 costumes by Bridie Clark and Ashley Dodd, teens might find the perfect one in The Original Duct Tape Halloween Book by Jim and Tim, the duct tape guys, and parents will find a variety of easy children’s’ costumes in FamilyFun Tricks and Treats by Deanna F. Cook

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Was the Website Mentioned on Dr. Oz?

“I was watching Dr. Oz the other day, and he was talking about saving money at the grocery store with a website named Shop Smart. I can’t seem to locate it online; can you help me?” This was a question we enjoyed researching as the Newton Falls Public Library staff members also look for ways to save money.

We began with an online search for the words “Dr. Oz smart shop.” The first item listed was “Dr Oz was joined by Lisa Lee, editor in chief of ShopSmart magazine.” We then looked for their website and found ShopSmart;) is a new Consumer Reports magazine to which a subscription may be purchased. The website does have interesting articles which may be viewed online such as Hidden Discounts, Save on Groceries, How to Buy Clothes That Fit and Flatter and Get More for Less. There is also news, advice, smart ideas and a newsletter. This was the information our patron needed.

Searching websites with the words “shop smart” also brought up an interesting list of other sites for our patron to consider. One that intrigued us the most was which will deliver healthy recipes and coupons directly to your email address.

The library also has numerous resources to assist those trying to watch their spending. On Saturday, October 16 from 11 noon attend the Coupon Clipper – How to Save $ presented by Michelle McMahon. Michelle was recently featured in the article Clipping Costs: Residents share coupon secrets by Larry Ringler (Tribune Chronicle, September 12, 2010). Discover ways to save money and to have more in your pockets for the holidays. Register today and bring your extra coupons to the event.

Unable to attend our program? The library has a multitude of materials which can help you save. The Frugal Shopper Checklist Book: what you need to know to win in the marketplace, The Frugal Senior: hundreds of creative ways to stretch a dollar! by Rich Gray and Master Your Debt: slash your monthly payments and become debt free by Jordan E. Goodman with Bill Westrom are a small selection of what can be borrowed to help save.

Careful planning for meals at home can be a great money saver. The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook: 200 recipes for quick, delicious, and nourishing meals that are easy on the budget and a snap to prepare by Erin Chase, Good Housekeeping Dinner for a Dollar: 50 family friendly recipes under $, and Chef on a Shoestring: more than 120 delicious, easy-on-the-budget recipes from America's best chefs have recipes sure to tempt.

Besides finance information, cookbooks, repair manuals, “do-it-yourself” and “make your own” books, the library has purchased two databases to help make engine repairs less expensive. The Small Engine Repair Reference Center can be accessed from any Internet computer and has manuals for all terrain vehicles, generators and other small engines, marine/boat motors, motorcycles, outdoor power equipment, personal water craft, snow machines/snow mobiles, and tractors. For those individuals working on their cars, the library has AllData, the world's most comprehensive resource for automotive diagnostic and repair information, including Technical Service Bulletins, items of Customer Interest, and wiring diagrams. Vehicles from 1982 to present may be searched, and the information is specific down to engine size. This database can be accessed only at the library.

Remember that the library is filled with great resources for those who are frugal.

Friday, October 8, 2010

How Do I Take Care of My Boston Fern?

“I’m getting ready to bring my houseplants back inside for the winter, and I’m not sure how to take care of a large Boston fern. Do you have any books that will help me?” The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library enjoys plants, as can be seen by the ones arranged throughout the library, and understands how important it is to know how to properly care for them.

Our search began in the section filled with books about houseplants. The Pitiful Gardener’s Handbook: successful gardening in spite of yourself by Connie Eden & Tracy Cheney had an appealing title, but did not deal with the problem at hand. In many of the books the Boston fern is listed not by its common name but as Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis.’ Ortho’s Guide to Successful Houseplants and The Complete Guide to Indoor Gardening by Jenny Rawforth and Val Bradley respectively have sections about the care of this type of fern. It requires indirect sunlight or moderate light, and normal room temperature and humidity. The two differ in reference to how wet to keep the soil. Ortho’s Guide to Successful Houseplants [p.270] recommends allowing the “plant to approach dryness before watering, then water thoroughly and discard drainage.” The Complete Guide to Indoor Gardening [p. 134] says to “keep moist at all times.” The RHS Encyclopedia of House Plants Including Greenhouse Plants [p. 359] by Kenneth A. Beckett seems to take a slightly different perspective with the admonition to “allow the surface of rooting medium to dry out between watering.”

The Ortho’s Guide also advises the home gardener to groom the fern by picking off the yellowed fronds and to shape the plant with “light pruning or clipping at any time.” When moving the plant back into the house after a summer spent outdoors, the owner may notice that its leaves are dropping or it becomes spindly because of low light. The Complete Guide to Indoor Gardening notes that dry air can cause browning. If that happens it is suggested that the plant owner set the pot “on a tray of moist pebbles to increase humidity.”

Armed with this information our patron seems prepared to maintain a healthy fern until it can be returned to the outdoors.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'm Looking for a Job

“I’m looking for a job. I’m afraid my cover letter isn’t very good; do you have anything to help me write a better one?” The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library is aware that a well written cover can catch the attention of a prospective employer. The library has a variety of resources to assist this patron.

Our patron was uncomfortable using the computer, so we suggested browsing titles such as The Everything Cover Letter Book by Burton Jay Nadler, Vault Guide to Resumes, Cover Letters & Interviews by Howard Leifman, Marcy Lerner and the staff of Vault, Gallery of Best Cover Letters: a collection of quality cover letters by professional resume writers by David F. Noble and 7 Minute Cover Letters by Dana Morgan.

In order to become more comfortable with a computer, we recommended that our patron sign up for the program to assist job-seeking adults. The series of classes will be Fridays, October 22, and November 5 and 19 from 1 – 3 p.m. Registration is required as space is limited. Participants are encouraged to attend all three classes. The program has been made available through a grant from the First Place Bank Community Foundation

• October 22 - The first class is Networking and Job Seeking. In this class attendees will list people to network with and make a plan. The instructor will assist them in creating a 30 second “elevator speech” and go through some websites of interest.

• November 5 - The second will cover writing a resume. It will focus on the content of the resume and will specifically have the participants writing accomplishment statements and summary statements for their resumes.

• November 19 - The final class is Creating a Resume in Microsoft Word. This will include basic instruction that teaches how to create a resume using Word.

The Ohio Career Information System (OCIS) also has guidelines for writing cover letters on their website, To have access to this site, our patron would need to use a library computer to register. Once a portfolio has been created, patrons can use the site from any computer with Internet access. There are Assessment Tools, Education and Training, Occupations and Employment resources, and an Employer Locater.

I Need Information About Giving Massages

“I need some information about giving massages. I would especially like to know if you have any videos about it.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff hoped this search would be a relaxing one and began it with our online catalog.
The library owns several books on massage, including Feet First: a guide to foot reflexology by Laura Norman and The Reflexology Atlas by Bernard C. Kolster and Astrid Waskowiak. Newton Falls Public Library does not own any videos about massage but a selection of videos, including Infant Massage: the power of touch, Reflexology, the Timeless Art of Self Healing and the series Healthy Massage, are available through our shared TiPL (Trumbull Independent Public Libraries) catalog. These items may be requested from the owning library, and borrowed by the patron at our library.

In seeking information about this subject on the Internet, we found numerous links to massage and reflexology videos, but were not sure of the quality of the techniques shown. We also discovered the Holland Reflexology Institute School For Advanced Reflexology [] in Niles and Cortland. The website of this Ohio State Registered School has online videos and a list of other Ohio massage therapy schools and their links.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Does This Odd Mailing Address Mean?

“I work for private agency. We are sending out some inquiries, and a few of them have an odd mailing address. It is a name, followed by a 6-7 digit number, then BCS LS MC Newton Falls, Ohio 44444. We can’t discover what that means. Can you help us?” This question from an out-of-state caller intrigued the Newton Falls Public Library staff.

First we telephoned the local post office and spoke with the Newton Falls postmaster. She informed us that while she didn’t know the meaning of the letters, the mail that came through with that designation was delivered to the Ravenna Arsenal [now named Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center]. Following our conversation with her, we spoke with someone at Camp Ravenna. The series of numbers is the unit designation, but she was not familiar with the meaning of the letters.

We next examined the books in our collection. Neither The Oxford Essential Dictionary of Abbreviations nor Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary gave abbreviations or acronyms which seemed to answer our question.

The search continued online. When the stewardship of the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant was transferred to the Ohio National Guard, it became Camp Ravenna. We looked at their website While informative about the Ohio National Guard, we could find no pertinent information. The Military Postal Service Agency [] has interesting details about the mailing of packages, FAQs, and some commonly used abbreviations. However, we were unable to locate any examples matching ours. has an extensive listing of military abbreviations. There were 4 examples for BCS, 4 for LS, and 13 for MC. MC for Marine Corps or Medical Corps seemed to be only one that may apply as part of a military mailing address. None of the others seemed appropriate for this question.

We informed our caller by email of what we discovered.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can I Register to Vote Here?

“Can I register to vote here?” With registration closing on October 4, 2010 in order to vote in the November 2, 2010 General Election, the Newton Falls Public Library staff views this as a very important and timely question.

The library has voter registration forms for Trumbull, ones that may be used for other counties, and Absentee/Early Voting ballot requests. The latter begins Saturday, September 18, 2010 for Uniformed and Overseas (UOCAVA) Voters. Absentee voting for non-UOCAVA Voters begins Tuesday, September 28, 2010.

According to the Trumbull County Board of Elections’ website []:
“Every voter will be required to provide proof of identity before voting.” Acceptable forms of identification include “your current and valid photo identification card, military identification, copy of utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or government document showing your name and current address. (Note: You cannot use as proof of identification a notice the Board of Elections mailed to you.) If you do not have, or fail or refuse to provide, the required proof of identity, you may cast a provisional ballot.”

The Board of Elections’ site also has other useful information including:

• Where to vote

• Are you registered

• Polling places

• Forms to be downloaded and printed

• Candidates and issues

• How to become a poll worker

• Election results.

Voters are always searching for information about local, state, and national candidates and issues in order to make wise choices. The library subscribes to local newspapers in Mahoning, Portage, and Trumbull counties; newspapers from larger Ohio cities; as well as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA today. Reading the library’s news magazines will also be helpful in making your decisions. The League of Women Voters [], the Ohio LWV [], and the Trumbull County LWV [] all have useful information on their websites. Smart Voter [] is another website sponsored by the LWV.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I'm Curious about Braille

“I’ve always been curious about Braille. Do you have anything for sighted people to look at or to feel?” Over the years others, such as students and scouts, have asked this question of the Newton Falls Public Library staff.

The Braille cell contains six raised dots which are numbered vertically: 1, 2, and 3 are arranged from top to bottom in the first column; 4, 5, and 6 are in the second. Letters, numbers, punctuation, music, and music symbols are created by using various combinations of these cell dots. For example the letter A contains only dot 1, B contains dots 1 and 2, and C is made up of dots 1, 3, and 4. Dot 6 placed before a letter signifies that it is a capital letter. Patrons may borrow sheets of Braille which have these raised cells to both feel and see.

Also available to be taken home are Expectations: a gift for blind children from Braille Institute (The Little Engine That Could in Braille), The Constitution of the United States, and The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faría. This last item encourages readers to imagine living without sight. The illustrations are done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. There are Braille letters with the illustrations and a full alphabet for sighted readers to help them read along with their fingers.

Patrons interested in this subject may also be curious about sign language. There are books, films, and kits available to teach signing to adults, children, and infants. Sign Language Interpreting: a basic resource book by Sharon Neumann Solow would be a good place for adults to begin. Parents might want to consider examining Teach Your Tot to Sign: the parents' guide to American Sign Language by Stacy A. Thompson and Baby Sign Language for Hearing Babies by Karyn Warburton.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How Can My Dog Be Trained To Be A Therapy Dog?

“I’m interested in having my dog be able to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and other places. Where can I find information on how to do this?” Newton Falls Public Library staff members have also wondered if some of their pets would be useful as therapy animals, and looked forward to discovering the answer.

Where the Trail Grows Faint: a year in the life of a therapy dog team by Lynne Hugo is about the experience of having a dog used for therapeutic use, but doesn’t have a list of resources. We continued the search online as our patron needed to know where or how to train his dog.

We found two groups which certify therapy dogs. The Delta Society [] has a local chapter, K9s for Compassion [] in Hubbard, Ohio. “Delta Society registers dogs and cats as well as other domesticated animals such as rabbits, goats, horses, miniature pigs, birds etc.” Therapy Dogs International []. Therapy Dogs International has links to an informational packet and testing dates in our area. The brochure lists eleven steps or tests which the dog must complete:

1. Accepting a friendly stranger

2. Sitting politely for petting

3. Appearance and grooming

4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose leash)

5. Walking through a crowd

6. Sit and down on command/staying in place

7. Coming when called

8. Reaction to another dog

9. Reactions to distractions

10. Supervised separation

11. Say hello

Both of these groups have local contacts listed on their websites.

The certification requires that the dog be very well trained and the library has an extensive collection of dog training books and videos, including Drool School: family dog training [a DVD], The Loved Dog: the playful, nonaggressive way to teach your dog good behavior by Tamar Geller [both the book and DVD] and Cesar's Way: the natural, everyday guide to understanding and correcting common dog problems by Cesar Millan. Our patron was also given the contact information for All-Breed Training in North Jackson, Ohio, a local training facility to see if they had information about therapy training.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Have You Heard of the Obama Phone?

“Have you heard of the Obama phone? It’s a program to give free phones to people who cannot afford them.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff had not heard of this program. We began looking online as this is a question that requires current information.

Our search brought us first to the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau []. The background section states that “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congress recognize that telephone service provides a vital link to emergency services, government services, and surrounding communities.” There are two programs here:
• “Link-Up America helps income-eligible consumers initiate telephone service.
• Lifeline Assistance provides discounts on basic monthly telephone service at the primary residence for qualified telephone subscribers.”

There was no application form at this site, so we kept looking. From the FCC site, we were directed to Lifelines Support deals primarily with landlines and our patron was looking for cell phone assistance. If she had been interested in a phone for her home, she could have completed the application process here.

We continued the search to the website of SafeLink Wireless []. There is a great deal of information at this site, giving the history of the Lifeline program. It is inaccurate to call it the Obama phone, since the program actually began in 1984, during the Reagan Administration. SafeLink has now made this program available for cell phones. “SafeLink Wireless was created by TracFone Wireless, Inc. when the . . . FCC . . . approved the company to offer Lifeline . . . SafeLink Wireless applies the Universal Service Fund subsidy to an allotment of free airtime minutes and TracFone provides the wireless handset at the company’s expense.” Ohio residents who meet the qualifications receive a free wireless phone and a plan which gives them 68 minutes every month. Our patron looked at the application and found it to be simple to complete. Since it required personal information, we checked the Better Business Bureau’s website [] and confirmed that it is legitimate.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Horn & Hardart Spoon

“I found this spoon in a drawer at home. It was gray and I thought it was stainless steel, but after polishing it with silver polish it looks like silver. The front of the handle has PROPERTY OF HORN & HARDART CO pressed into the metal and the back has W and HORN & HARDART CO. Can you help me to find any information about it?” Some of the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library had heard of the Horn & Hardart Automats in New York City, and thought perhaps that the spoon may originally have come from there.

We began searching through the library’s antiques and collectibles books, including Antiques Traders Antiques & Collectibles 2009 & 2010 price guides and The Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2010 by Ralph and Terry Kovel. While these resources have a great deal of interesting information, we were unable to locate any about Horn & Hardart collectibles.

Continuing our investigation online, we first began researching Horn & Hardart Automats. A book, The Automat: the history, the recipes, and allure of Horn & Hardart's masterpiece by Lorraine B. Diehl and Marianne Hardart was found at The restaurants opened in the early twentieth century and were also located in New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Customers received their freshly made food by opening the small doors in self serve vending machines. In the FAQ section of the website someone had posted a question about the value of Horn & Hardart silver spoons, and was followed by the suggestion to check on EBay. Several spoon offerings were listed at that site.

According to National Geographic [], the last Horn & Hardart closed in the 1990s. Internet searching even revealed a blog posting about one of the spoons which was found in yard in Hawaii [].

The Automat: the history, the recipes, and allure of Horn & Hardart's masterpiece is available through our shared TiPL (Trumbull Independent Public Libraries) catalog. Our patron requested the book and is eagerly looking forward to learning more about this early fast food restaurant, which served its food on china with silverware

Friday, July 16, 2010

Can My Dog See Colors?

“My puppy seems to prefer toys that are bright lime green. He goes wild when I hold up his stuffed green elephant; so I was wondering, can dogs see colors?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff enjoys answering these types of questions, as it often helps us to understand more about our own family pets.

The book, Inside of a Dog: what dogs see, smell, and know by Alexandra Horowitz has a chapter, Seen by a Dog with information about dog gazing and attention. Nothing is there about whether or not they suffer from colorblindness. Examining the index, we located pages about color vision. On pages 128-129, in the chapter Dog-Eyed and the section entitled “Go get the green ball!” we found a possible answer to our patron’s question. Because a dog has two kinds of photoreceptors, as compared to the three in humans, it seems that canines may be most sensitive to the colors blue and greenish-yellow, thus they experience color most strongly in the blue and green ranges. According to the author, other colors such as red, yellow and orange might look different to them only in degrees of brightness. For people this would compare to how colors appear at dusk, immediately before nightfall.

A veterinary clinic employee we spoke with said to remind our patron that the feel in the pet’s mouth and the smell have strong effects on their selection of a toy. The clinic employee suggested that we look also at the website of Veterinary Vision Inc. Animal Eye Specialists []. The site has a page titled What Do Dogs and Cats See? Here it says that new behavioral studies reveal that dogs may be able to distinguish the color blue, but have trouble differentiating between red and green.

Though the information from these two sources was somewhat conflicting, our patron found it to be interesting and is planning on presenting different colored toys to her dog to see if he truly has a color preference. Library staff members thought they would have to try this with their own dogs to see if they would respond strongly to specific colors.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Are There Statistics of Shootings by People With Cancealed Carry Permits?

“A group I belong to is discussing whether or not to allow people who have concealed carry permits to carry their weapons in our building. Are there any statistics of shootings by people while carrying concealed?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff is aware that the process and regulations for getting a permit are quite strict; they are not readily familiar with incidences of misuse.

To find the most current information, we began our search online. The MSNBC article, Record numbers licensed to pack heat. Millions obtain permits to carry concealed guns by Mike Stuckey [], says there “are a record 6 million” licensed concealed-gun carriers. The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action’s Fact Sheet Right-to-Carry 2010 [] is filled with information about the right to carry. It includes a link to Florida Division of Licensing, Monthly Statistical Report that states that “Florida has issued more carry permits than any state (1.7 million), but revoked only 167 (0.01 percent) due to gun crimes by permit-holders.”

Further searching took us to the Ohio Attorney General’s website, This site has a wealth of information about the topic including annual and quarterly concealed carry statistics. In 2009 199,423 people had permanent licenses and an additional 11,989 were issued in the first quarter of 2010. Licenses may be suspended if the bearer is arrested or charged with certain offenses or subject to protection orders. The licenses may be reinstated if the charges are dismissed or if the owner is found not guilty. In 2009, 596 were suspended; first quarter 2010, 172 were suspended. Licenses are revoked if the holder moves out of state, dies, decides not to hold the license any longer, commits and is convicted of a disqualifying crime, or becomes subject to the law’s restrictions on mentally ill people or those considered drug or alcohol dependent. In 2009, 378 were revoked; first quarter 2010, 52 were revoked. The reports do not specify if any of the suspensions or revocations were due to incidents of shootings.

The Violence Policy Center’s website,, has statistic and “vignettes describing the circumstances for each killing, listed by state.” Nationwide from May 2007 to June 30, 2010 there were 9 law enforcement officers and 166 private citizens killed by concealed handgun permit holders. There have been 10 cases in Ohio involving the shooting of 16 people. Pending cases include one negligent homicide, one involuntary manslaughter, and two cases of murder. Convictions were given in one voluntary manslaughter, the murder of a police officer and the murder resulting in three deaths and two individuals wounded. There was also one suicide and two murder/suicides.

Our patron felt he had enough information for their group to make an informed decision.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Is My Home a 'Kit' House?

“I believe my home on Broad Street is a ‘kit’ house. I don’t think it is an Aladdin, Craftsman, or Montgomery Ward home. Do you have any information about kit homes built in Newton Falls in the 1920s?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff had also heard that some homes in town were this type.

The books Houses by Mail: a guide to houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company by Katherine Cole Stevenson, H. Ward Jandl and Small Houses of the Twenties: the Sears, Roebuck 1926 house catalog are interesting and may be borrowed through our shared TiPL (Trumbull Independent Public Libraries] catalog, but unfortunately do not list where all the homes were built.

A general online search resulted in listings of some of the numerous companies that manufactured kit homes. The names the library staff found are: Aladdin, Bennett, Brick, E.W. Stillwell, Fenner, Garlinghouse, Gordon-Van Tine, Harris, Henry Wilson, Hodgson, J. W. Lindstrom, Jud Yoho, Lewis/Liberty, Lustron, Montgomery Ward, National, Pacific, Radford, Sears Roebuck, Standard, Sterling, Wardway, and Ye Planry.

Sears Catalog Homes -- Hudson Valley NY How to Identify a Sears Kit House [] has valuable information of what details to look for to determine if it is a Sears Roebuck home. There is also a list of some of the other prominent kit home manufacturers. The Arts and Crafts Society [] has a great deal of information as well, including a forum involving people seeking to identify kit homes and an article Do You Have a Sears Kit Home? Tips for Identifying Sears Catalog Houses. Antique Home [] is also a useful resource featuring some homes which are quite large with beamed ceilings, wainscoting, and built in china cabinets. Examining some of the plans on this website, it appears that the foursquare style is similar to many of the older homes in Newton Falls.

In our Local History Room, where there is an interesting display of home building tools formerly belonging to early 20th century local contractor Mr. Nicholas Risko, we spoke with our volunteer who contacted the Risko family. None of the Newton Falls homes he built were kits. At present we only have information about two kit homes in town, neither of which is on Broad Street and both were manufactured by Montgomery Ward. Anyone having information about kit homes in our community, please contact Carol Baker at the library or by email We would love to assist our patron as well as preserve the history of these homes in Newton Falls.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I need campground information

“We are planning camping trips this summer. Do you have any campground information?” The Newton Falls Public Library has a wealth of information to assist campers. The library has both Woodall's ... North American campground directory and Woodall's camping guide. Great Lakes to assist our patron in locating places for tent and recreational vehicle camping.

Campers who enjoy backpacking will find 50 Hikes in Ohio: day hikes and backpacking trips throughout the Buckeye state and 50 More Hikes in Ohio by Ralph Ramey to be useful. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a wonderful website [] with the most current park information. Explore Ohio State Parks: featuring six scenic tours, 80 state parks by William Hewett and Ohio State Park's Guidebook by Art Weber, Bill Bailey & Jim DuFresne are helpful for finding more park information.

The Camping Sourcebook: your one-stop resource for everything you need for great camping by Steven A. Griffin will be useful for preparing and packing for the trip. The Joy of Family Camping by Herb Gordon and Parents' Guide to Hiking & Camping: a trailside guide by Alice Cary are sure to help make the trip enjoyable for all family members.

Camping is usually a fairly affordable activity but Wilderness Gear You Can Make Yourself by Bradford Angier could help campers save more money. Backpack Gourmet: good hot grub you can make at home, dehydrate, and pack for quick, easy, and healthy eating on the trail by Linda Frederick Yaffe and The Magic of Fire: hearth cooking: one hundred recipes for the fireplace or campfire by William Rubel will help prepare for the hungry appetites brought on by the days spent outdoors.

We don’t know if our patron went on her trips, but in case she became overwhelmed and decided to stay home instead; we recommend a funny ‘camping book,’ They Shoot Canoes, Don't They? by Patrick McManus.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Will Quitting Smoking Cause My Face to Break Out?

“Will quitting smoking cause my face to break out?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff admires patrons who are trying to improve their health and we are happy to try to find the answers to their questions.

The Enlightened Smoker's Guide to Quitting by Bear Jack Gebhardt addresses the common belief that quitting smoking means that you will gain weight in the chapter The Sound of One Hand Eating – I Have to Smoke or I’ll Get Fat! Gebhardt seems to feel that the weight gain is an eating problem, not a nonsmoking one. In Smoking 101: an overview for teens by Margaret O. Hyde and John F. Setaro the effects of smoking on the skin are listed [p.36]. They include robbing the skin of collagen making smokers have more wrinkles and reducing the blood supply to the skin giving the face a grayish pallor.

How to Wash Your Face: America's leading dermatologist reveals the essential secrets for youthful, radiant skin by Barney J. Kenet says that smoking can impair healing of wounds which may also result in larger scars, and “may have an influence on psoriasis [p.168].” The Acne Prescription: the Perricone program for clear and healthy skin at every age by Nicholas Perricone and Breaking out: a woman's guide to coping with acne at any age by Lydia Preston have a great deal of information for those suffering from acne.

There are many websites on the subject of smoking and acne. The September 17, 2007 Daily Mail article, Smoking gives women acne, scientists reveal [] states that “For people who suffered acne as teenagers, the probability of also suffering acne in adulthood is four times higher in smokers than non-smokers.”

This still didn’t answer our patron’s question. The website, Quit Smoking Support [] has a posting "Now that I've quit smoking, why am I getting acne like I'm a danged teenager?!" The site responder states “smoking introduces all kinds of nasty pollutants into our bodies . . . One day, we quit smoking . . . but . . .it throws our bodies into an upheaval. Suddenly the chemical balance is thrown out of whack again while, at the same time, our bodies start the detoxification process. . . drink lots of water to help flush out all the toxins. This is good advice and it helps a great deal. However, it's just not fast enough for your body when [it] begins to excrete the toxins in any way it can . . . recovering heroin addicts have been known to develop raging cases of acne, too.” This last bit of information satisfied our patron.

Twenty One Gun Salute

“After the recent Memorial Day gun salute, I got to thinking. What is the origin of the twenty one gun salute?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff finds questions about customs to be interesting.

We began and ended our search with Brassey’s Encyclopedia of Military History and Biography. The section on Customs and Etiquette addresses the various types of military salutes, which are perhaps the oldest of military customs. “Although most commonly given by hand, a salute can also be rendered by guns, swords, banners, or music [p. 253].” “Friendly foreign naval vessels . . . sometimes saluted with blank cannon fire . . . supposedly started when ships and/or shore batteries would harmlessly discharge their cannon to show that they were unloaded and there was no hostile intention. Usually, the maximum number of rounds is 21 [p. 254].”

Also according to Brassey’s Encyclopedia of Military History and Biography, the final salutes fired over graves of fallen warriors are not tributes, but rather the result of an old superstition to frighten evil spirits away from the graves. “Customarily, three volleys are fired by an honor guard [p. 255].”

Friday, June 4, 2010

Are there any bereavement groups in the area?

“I’m calling from _______________ Insurance Company. We have a client who is looking for bereavement groups in Newton Falls. Do you know of any?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff had not heard of any groups, but we took the individual’s name and number, and began our search. We first contacted several of our local ministers; discovered there were none connected with any of our churches, but ministers are often trained in bereavement counseling and would be happy to assist if the client contacted them. It is also not uncommon for funeral directors to be trained in bereavement counseling, so we included the names and numbers of the funeral homes in Newton Falls.

Searching online we found several options available to residents of Trumbull County.
• Hospice of the Valley 330-399-1992
   Family support up to 13 months after death of family member.

• Trumbull 211 330.393.1565 or 211
   Supportive listeners for emotional stress, support, and reassurance.

• Sharing and Caring: Grief and Bereavement Book Club
   Contact the Bereavement Coordinator at 330-770-0502, if you are interested in participating.
   The group meets the third Thursday of the month at noon at Borders Book Café,
   2102 Niles–Cortland Rd., Niles. It is a topical support group, sponsored by Senior Independence            
   Hospice, for those experiencing grief and bereavement issues.
   Senior Independence Hospice is also considering offering a bereavement support group in Newton Falls.   
   Anyone interested in this group should contact the Bereavement Coordinator.

The library has a selection of materials available for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Some of our titles are: After the Death of a Child: living with loss through the years by Ann K. Finkbeiner, After You Lose Someone You Love: advice and insight from the diaries of three kids who've been there as told by Amy, Allie, and David Dennison, Grieving the Death of a Pet by Betty J. Carmack, Guiding Your Child Through Grief by Mary Ann Emswiler & James P. Emswiler, and I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: surviving, coping & healing after the sudden death of a loved one by Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Cat Loves Celery Leaves!

“My cat is doing the oddest thing. Whenever I bring home celery, she acts like it is catnip. I gave her some leaves and she went crazy. I’m wondering why.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff members are all pet lovers and found this question to be intriguing.

Looking for a possible connection between catnip and celery we examined books about cats. The Cat Owner's Manual: operating instructions, troubleshooting tips, and advice on lifetime maintenance by David Brunner and Sam Stall said that the herbs valerian and Canadian honeysuckle can produce a reaction similar to catnip [p. 85]. There is information about growing catnip, which is a member of the mint family, in The Humane Society of the United States Complete Guide to Cat Care by Wendy Christensen. Wild Discovery Guide to Your Cat: understanding and caring for the tiger within [Discovery Channel] looks at how both large wild felines and house cats respond to this herb. “A chemical similar to the pheromones in female cat urine is present in catnip. This likely explains why male cats are generally more responsive to the charms of this vegetation than females. [pp.43-44].”

Unable to discover information about celery in the books about cats, we next tried Larousse Gastronomique: the new American edition of the world's greatest culinary encyclopedia. The entry on celery was very thought provoking and seemed to have the answer we needed for this question. Celery was used “. . . therapeutically, as smelling salts. For a long time, both popular opinion and gastronomic writers considered celery to be an aphrodisiac [p.209].” Staff members owning cats will have to see how their own pets respond the next time they bring home this vegetable.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Who Played at the Piper Rock Festival?

“There was a big rock concert just outside of Newton Falls in 1970. Who played there?” Most of the Newton Falls Public Library staff was surprised to hear that there was a concert here almost 40 years ago. However, one staff member, upon hearing the question, complained “I wasn’t allowed to go!”

Our Local History Room volunteer examined the Newton Falls Heralds, and found that it was held on May 24, 1970 at the Lightner Farm on old State Route 534. There were no articles prior to the event, but there was much controversy afterwards. The May 27, 1970 Herald reported that over 10,000 people came. It was referred to as a “lark in the mud” and that there was “skinny dipping in the Mahoning River [pg. 10].” The June 3 and 17, 1970 editions both had front page articles about concerns of its being repeated and seeking to ban future concerts.

Searching online for concerts in Ohio on that date, we discovered some interesting things. The concert named was the Piper Rock Festival. Originally it was to be held at Peace Park, north of Akron []. The poster listed Rascals, Canned Heat, Cold Blood, Byrds, Smith, Glass Harp, and Marble Cake. We thought that it was possibly moved because of the shootings at Kent State University. Both Dates in Rascals History [] and Sickthingsuk, the largest source of Alice Cooper information on the net said he performed that day at the festival which was held at Nelson Ledges Raceway. Apparently the promoters moved it a second time. We could add Alice Cooper to our list of performers.

The blog, AkroClevKent - January 19, 2005 has The Mystery of Piper Rock. The blog is filled with interesting remembrances of the two day event. Additional bands and performers listed are Barnstorm (or Barnyard), Bob “the Bear” Hyte, Blind Owl, Pig Iron, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and Gayle McCormick. According to the blog article, Canned Heat did not set up because of the wet conditions and the Rascals canceled.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What Does Brake HP Mean?

“You know how you see signs on the highway, and don’t really pay close attention to them? We were going onto route 11 and I saw a sign that said ‘no vehicles smaller than 5 brake HP.’ What does 5 brake HP mean?” The first place the Newton Falls Public Library staff looked for the answer was at the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws on the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ website, Section 4511.01H of the Ohio Revised Code about motorized bicycles specifies that “the helper motor must . . . Produce no more than one-brake horsepower [pg. 25].” No description of brake horsepower is given.

Neither the glossaries of How to Prepare for the CDL Commercial Driver’s License Truck Driver’s Test by Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc. nor Proficient Motorcycling: the ultimate guide to riding well by David L. Hough had the information we needed. Auto Mechanics Fundamentals: how and why of the design, construction, and operation of automotive units by Martin W. Stockel and Martin T. Stockel defines brake horsepower or bhp as “measurement of actual usable horsepower delivered at crankshaft [p. 579].” From the information found, our patron assumed that the sign’s restriction informed driver’s that only vehicles with enough horsepower to maintain safe highway speeds are permitted onto the roadway.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Do I Get Started Creating a Train Garden?

“I’m interested in putting a train garden in my back yard. Do you have anything that can help me to get started?” Seeking more information from our patron, the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library learned that this type of garden is created to feature large or G scale model trains which can be run outdoors.

First the staff checked our shared TiPL [Trumbull Independent Public Libraries] catalog. Unable to find any materials in our local collections, we did a search through the Ohio Shares More catalog []. Both of these catalogs can be reached from our homepage, To place holds on materials from either of these locations, you need to type in the number on your Newton Falls (or TiPL) library card with no spaces, including any letters or punctuation. You also need to use the PIN [personal identification number] you have registered with the library. Be sure to select the Newton Falls Public Library as the site to pick up your selected materials. Our patron chose some items from the Ohio Shares More catalog, but wanted information to take with him.
An online search found some very useful information and websites. We discovered that many of the railway layouts are based upon once existing rail lines such as the Far North Queensland from 1940 to 1990, the Delaware and Chesapeake, the North Pacific Coast Railroad, and the Ohio River Electric Railway [], a trolley line that served the river towns of Meigs County, Ohio from 1900 to 1929. The site allows you to view videos of this garden railroad as if you were a crew member riding the train.

We located many clubs worldwide including the Garden Railway Club, which appears to be located in the United Kingdom and has a great deal of practical information, the Northern Ohio Garden Railway Society [], and the Garden Trains Association [] that has a local branch. The Riverside Railroad Club meets at the SCOPE center in Warren, Ohio. There is also The Western Reserve Model Railroad Museum [] located in Mentor. It is the largest museum of its kind.
Online magazine articles have a wealth of information. Accessing one of Ohio Web Library’s resources, MasterFILE Premier (EBSCOhost), we found numerous articles. There was a citation for one in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, A Railroad Garden: Engineering Togetherness by Paige Porter []. Our patron printed a copy of this article to read at home. We also discovered the Garden Railways Magazine [].

Friday, April 30, 2010

I Need to Repair My . . .

“A friend of mine said you had a manual for working on my Honda ATV.” “Do you have a manual for repairing weed wackers?” “A belt broke on my mower and I need to know how to replace it. Do you have anything that can help me?” Spring weather brings many people to the Newton Falls Public Library looking for information about working on vehicles and outdoor equipment.

The library staff was able to direct these patrons to our extensive collection of print materials ranging from the Air Conditioning Service Manual to Yard and Garden Tractor Service Manual: [single-cylinder models]. We also have a wonderful online resource available to those seeking to work on their All Terrain Vehicles, Generators & Other Small Engines, Marine/Boat Motors, Motorcycles, Outdoor Power Equipment, Personal Water Craft, Snow Machines/Snow Mobiles, and Tractors. The Small Engine Repair Reference Center can be accessed from any Internet computer. Go to and have your Newton Falls Public Library card number available when it is requested. Select: Resources, Locally Purchased Databases and then Small Engine Repair Reference Center EBSCO. Choose the category of equipment needing repair until you reach the manual for the piece of equipment on which you are working. For those who don’t have computer access at home, this information can be retrieved using the library’s public access computers, and the staff is always willing to assist patrons in finding what is needed.

For those individuals working on their cars, the library has a database which can be accessed only at the library. AllData is the world's most comprehensive resource for automotive diagnostic and repair information, including Technical Service Bulletins, items of Customer Interest, and wiring diagrams. Vehicles from 1982 to 2010 may be searched, and the information is specific down to engine size. There are also numerous Chilton and Motor repair guides as well as books of wiring diagrams and auto body repair.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Comparing Dremann and Scoville Heat Scales

“I’m getting ready to order seeds for my garden and I need some information about the heat scales of peppers, specifically comparing the Dremann to Scoville Units.” Now that spring has arrived, getting questions concerning anticipated gardens is not unusual. However, the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library was unfamiliar with this particular topic.

We began with The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible: discover Ed’s high-yield W-O-R-D system for all North American gardening regions by Edward C. Smith. He writes briefly about Scoville Units which measures the degree of ‘heat’ of peppers, but does not compare the two scales. Circa 1902, Wilbur Scoville discovered a way of measuring their spiciness based on how much capsaicin peppers contain. Month-by-month Gardening in Ohio by Denny McKeown and Guide to Ohio Vegetable Gardening by James A. Fizzell had interesting information about gardening in our state, but there was nothing about the heat scale of peppers. We also searched in cookbooks such as Vegetables: the most authoritative guide to buying, preparing, and cooking with more than 300 recipes by James Peterson.

Online we found that Craig C. Dremann of the Redwood Seed Company developed the Dremann Hotness Scale [] which goes from 0-64,000. The list includes various commercial salsas which an unfamiliar pepper eater can use to compare a pepper’s taste to perhaps more familiar ones. Dremann names tepín as the hottest on the scale. An extensive Scoville Heat Scale is available at Uncle Steve’s Hot Stuff []. This site listed Naga Jolokia "Ghost Pepper" as the hottest with 800,000-1,041,000 out of a possible 15-16,000,000 pure capsaicin. Our patron printed a copy of each list in order to compare peppers so he could complete his spring seed order.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Where Have the Books Gone?

“Where have the books gone? I was in the library the other day and noticed some empty shelves.” Keeping available materials current and pertinent are part of the duties of the Newton Falls Public Library staff. The task is called weeding and, as in gardening, it means to remove what is not wanted to make room for what is needed. As in your garden, it also means that you are able to enjoy more items without digging through that which is no longer useful.

Some items may not have been weeded, but transplanted. Before the Internet, libraries kept large collections of reference materials, books which could only be used in the library. We have recently chosen to move many of these items to the circulating collection, where patrons may now borrow them to use at home.

“But how do you decide what to take away and what to leave?” We look at materials which no one has borrowed from the library for at least four to five years and make decisions on the disposition of these materials based on several things.

• Is the information current? This is very important when looking at items concerning medicine, law, science, and the Internet.

• Are there other books available on this subject that people are selecting instead of these?

• Does the library have multiple copies of a title that is no longer in high demand?

“What happens when you are done?” The books withdrawn from the collection are given new life. Some of them are sent to the public schools for use in their libraries and classrooms. Others are placed in the Friends of the Library’s book sales, where people in the community may purchase them. The Friends use the money raised to help support library programs throughout the year. This support allows the library to offer these programs at no cost to those attending. The next book sale will be held on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

As in a garden, the space created by weeding allows us to have space on the shelves for new materials. These new items are purchased to meet the current needs and interests of our community.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I Need a Broccoli Slaw Recipe

“I was visiting family out of state and they served this broccoli slaw from a local grocery store. It was really good, not much dressing on it, and it contained shredded broccoli and florets, raisins, red onion, bacon and sunflower seeds. Can you help me find the recipe?” While not having tasted the slaw, the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library would certainly try to give her some possibilities to try at home.

With the availability of the Internet, searching for recipes online is as simple as typing in the various ingredients, slaw and recipe. had two promising versions of this slaw: Broccoli and Bacon Salad with Equal, a lower calorie version [,1662,139188-245199,00.html] and Little Tree Salad [,1643,152163-235202,00.html].’s Alyson’s Broccoli Salad [] shows the nutritional information for those watching their fat and cholesterol intake. Broccoli Slaw [] at used the smallest amount of mayonnaise or salad dressing of the online recipes we viewed.

Our patron was wondering if the library had any books that might have similar recipes. We have an extensive collection of recipe books. Some, like The Madison County Cookbook by the members of St. Joseph’s Church, Winterset, Iowa includes ramen noodles, not for what she was looking. Taste and See That the Lord is Good by the Ways and Means Committee, Pricetown United Methodist Church, Newton Falls, Ohio includes mozzarella cheese. Interesting, but not exactly what was needed. In Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2007 Superspeedy Broccoli Slaw includes pineapple and uses a commercial dressing for easier preparation. The New Potluck: the best recipes for today's "bring-a-dish" meals Nutty Broccoli Slaw has a dressing which did not include mayonnaise or salad dressing. Another intriguing one was found in Taste of Home Annual Recipes 2008. Their Floret Salad has sour cream, and Worcestershire and hot sauces.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tracks in the Snow

“These are the tracks we saw outside our house following the last snow,” said the Newton Falls Public Library patron as he showed us a photograph of the single file line of small animal tracks. “Can you help me figure out what kind of animal would make them?” Even though it is hard to think of snow and winter now that spring has arrived, the library staff finds the photograph intriguing. The tracks appear to be about 2 ½ inches long and spaced approximately 8 inches apart. The patron had not measured them, so we were estimating based upon their size in comparison to the solar lights.

Tracking & the Art of Seeing: how to read animal tracks & sign by Paul Rezendes includes both photographs and drawings of animal tracks. Browsing through the book, we read that there are different kinds of patterns. The “domestic dog is a double- or indirect-registering animal (p.178).” The red fox has a regular walking pattern, going in almost a straight line. It is a direct-registering animal. The walking gait of the red fox “is usually a straight, precise, narrow line of tracks (p.179),” and the accompanying drawing bears that out. This is because the fox walks with the hind foot directly on top of the track of the front one.

Using the Key to Tracks in The Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks by Olaus J. Murie and Mark Elbroch, the shape resembles those of the weasel, the coyote, and the red fox. The weasel track is a bit small, measuring less than 2 inches. The coyote and red fox are both much closer matches. The coyote has a print of 2 ¼ to 3 ½ inches long. The red fox’s is between 1 7/8 and 2 7/8 inches. The coyote trail through snow (p. 163) shows the tracks in a straight line, but they are spaced 14 to 15 inches apart.

Both coyotes and red foxes have been seen in the area around our patron’s home. Going by the size, spacing, and straight line of the tracks, our patron feels satisfied that they were left by the red fox.