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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Who Bought the General Motors Penguin?

“Who bought the General Motors [GM] penguin when they had those painted penguins in Youngstown about 7 years ago?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff recalls the fiberglass Youngstown penguins which were painted by local artists.

Online searching was required for this question. We typed the words “Youngstown painted penguin sculptures” into a popular search engine. On the website of the Business Journal Daily we found that the GM penguin was named Cobalt. It was the first of the 31 completed penguins to be previewed and “was designed by Todd P. Fowler of Youngstown, a 2002 YSU graduate . . . he developed the design in honor of his father, Robert, who painted cars at GM for 35 years . . . Fowler used the same automobile paint that GM workers use to paint cars to craft his penguin, saying it was his goal to capture the luminosity, depth, finish and shine of a new car in his design.

Information in the article cited Youngstown State University’s [YSU] involvement in the program, so we expanded the search to include YSU.  YSU student newspaper, the Jambar, says that Cobalt was revealed on May 13, 2004. has photographs of each of the sculptures. The YSU pages about the penguin parade say the auction was to be held on October 29, 2004.

The list of purchaser was located on the 2005 Annual Report of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. Cobalt was bought by Dick & Marlene Hill.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Signed Old Book

The caller said to the Newton Falls Public Library staff, “I have an old book that says it was given to Clyde Howes by Ada Alderman, teacher. It was dated Feb. 24 1893. I was wondering if this could be true, that these people really existed.”

Library users in Ohio can access through the library’s databases on OhioWebLibrary. We typed in both Ada Alderman and Clyde Howes. Looking at the dates and locations given, we found some compatible people in the 1930 census. There was an Ada Alderman born about 1867 who lived in Windsor, Ashtabula County, Ohio. This would make her about 26 years old in 1893. The same census says that Clyde A. Howes was born about 1884, so he would have been about 9 years old when the book was signed. In 1930 he lived in Mesopotamia, Trumbull County, Ohio. These communities are not far from each other.

Extending the search to the birth, marriage, and death indexes at the aforementioned site, we found that Clyde Howes was born on January 21, 1886 in Windsor, Ohio. The death records for Ada Alderman were inconclusive, so we extended our online search using a popular search engine. Using the words, Ada Alderman teacher Windsor Ohio, we found a link to which has a photograph of “Ada Alderman, teacher at the Alderman School in Windsor, was photographed in her sleigh in front of the school . . . “

We next searched for the Alderman School in Windsor. History of the Western Reserve, Volume 2 by Harriet Taylor Upton, Harry Gardner Cutler digitally stored at, included the history of the Alderman family. Ada was the eldest of the children, born March 13, 1867. She began teaching at 16 years of age, and taught in Windsor, Huntsburg, Trumbull, Mesopotamia, and New Lyme. She was also the first woman to be elected to the Windsor School Board. The Upton History also includes a photograph of Ada, her parents and her brothers.

Searching using the words Clyde Howes 1886 Ohio, we found a link to the site  The information there said that Clyde was born in 1883 and died in 1971. He is buried in the Windsor Township Cemetery.  We were able to inform our caller that the information in the front of the book seemed to match actual people during this time period.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread and Sauerkraut

The winter holidays are coming. This week we received two interesting seasonal food questions. “I’m looking for a gingerbread recipe which uses flour, eggs, milk, baking soda, and yeast.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff thought this sounded like a ordinary gingerbread recipe until the caller got to the last ingredient; yeast is not a commonly used ingredient for this item. She was from out of town and unable to come into the library and did not own a computer, so we searched online for recipes. had a recipe for yeast-raised orange gingerbread and had an assortment of gingerbread recipes for Christmas and winter. We gave the caller the recipes we found for her which fit your ingredients list.

The second interesting question was “I’m making sauerkraut in a crock pot and am concerned about mold-like stuff growing on the top. Is this normal?”  Alton Brown of the states “Check cabbage every other day for approximately 2 weeks and skim the surface of scum, if necessary.” Since this stated in his recipe, apparently our patron’s concern was a common one. The book, The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live it: the complete back-to-basics guide by John Seymour also had information about making sauerkraut and our patron took home this resource.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Questions Needing Simple Answers

The librarians of the Newton Falls Public Library enjoy finding the answers to the questions asked by our patrons. During the day, many of the questions asked are of a similar type needing simple answers.

Some examples of these questions are:
           “What is the phone number for AT&T corporate headquarters?” The page for investor relations includes their main telephone number and a note explaining that “while corporate headquarters are in Dallas, the main telephone number uses a San Antonio area code.
           “I need the plus 4 numbers following the 44444 zip code for my address.” The postal service website,, has a link to Look Up a Zip Code. Typing in the full street address with the 5 digit zip code brings up the additional 4 numbers specific to that address. The library’s full code is 44444-1608.

·         “I’m writing a paper and I need journal articles about substance and drug abuse.” The library has access to a wonderful online database which patrons can use to find a wealth of print resources stored electronically. This patron was directed to the library’s homepage, Selecting the Ohio Web Library link, the patron next needs to select Resources; then in the section Magazines and Newspapers choose MasterFile Premier (EBSCOhost). By typing in the needed topic, expanding the search to related words and within the full text of the articles, and limiting the results to full text only the patron should be find all she needs. When citing information for papers, the bibliographic citations are also included. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Have a Hand Sewn American Flag

“I have a hand sewn, 16’ X 22’ wool American flag with 48 stars. I know it is pre-1959. I’m looking for any information you can find about it.” The Newton Falls Public Library staff was fascinated by this, considering the size of the flag.

Flag: an American biography by Marc Leepson [p.223] confirmed that the flag was indeed from before 1959 as the 48th state, Arizona, joined the Union on February 14, 1912 and Alaska, the 49th joined by proclamation on January 3, 1959. The 49 star flag become official on July 4.

According to the book, Saga of the American Flag: an illustrated history by Candice M. DeBarr and Jack A. Bonkowske [p.50], a survey taken in 1912 “revealed that governmental agencies were using flags of 66 different sizes, most of varying proportions. Nongovernmental flags were even more widespread in the irregularities.” Several websites have information about the dimensions of American flags.  gives the ratio of hoist [width] X 1.9 = fly [length]. Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established the proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward. This flag was official for 47 years, longer than any other flag.” The blog, The Daily Flag states “Flags today come in easy to remember sizes, 3X5, 4X6, 5X8, but the flag code clearly indicates that the size ratio for the US Flag is 1:1.9.” According to the flag code our patron’s flag should actually be 16’ X 30.4’ or by common standards, 16’ X 24’. This would indicate that it was indeed handmade. has an entry about Collecting Historical American Flags by Tom Carrier which we suggested our patron read to learn more.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Old are the Buildings at Transco Railway Products?

Patrons visit, phone, and email the Newton Falls Public Library with their questions. One recent phone request was “How old are the buildings at Transco Railway Products, 2310 S. Canal Street in Newton Falls?”

The library staff first went to the Trumbull County Auditor’s website. We compared that map with the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps from March 1928 [this database may be accessed through the Ohio Web Library on our homepage]. The business located there at that time was Ohio Structural Steel Company.

Searching online for this company, we found information on page 609 of the History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Ohio, Volume 1 by James G. Butler, Jr. This book may be accessed online through Google books or in our Local History Room. According to Butler, “The Newton Falls Boiler Works was started in 1917 and transferred later to Hetzel Form and Iron Company. This constituted the nucleus of the Ohio Structural Steel Company, organized in 1919, that has constructed a plant of greatly increased size.” The History of Newton Falls compiled by Ella Woodward [Revised 1977 edition, pg. 85] stated that this company took over the Newton Falls Construction Company Plant.”

While background history is interesting, it hadn’t answered our patron’s question; so we contacted the Trumbull County Auditor. His office informed us that the newest building was constructed in 1995, the office in 1924, Parts & Storage (20’ X 57’, 1 story) in 1968, Building 2A (72’ X 160’) in 1955 and the Fab building in 1926.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Where Was the Stevens Level Company Located?

“We recently purchased a Stevens level made in Newton Falls, Ohio. Where was this company located in town?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff is familiar with Stevens levels; there are several in the library’s Local History Room.

The History of Newton Falls compiled by Ella Woodward (1942 edition) devotes page 100 to Stevens’ Levels. Ernest A Stevens Sr. developed the idea, patented, and placed a level on the market in 1914. In 1921, he and his son, E.A. Stevens Jr. formed a partnership to specialize in the manufacture of only levels. Woodward states that this “. . . novel invention . . . is destined to become of tremendous national as well as international importance . . . Though only pocket size  . . . proves to be just as effective as the larger ones, and more readily applied any place. Since 1914 Mr. Stevens developed two new models, the ‘Pocket Surface Level’ and the ‘Lino and Surface Level’ both being completed and placed on the market in December 1922.” As of 1942, the latest location of the factory was at the corner of Milton Blvd. & Arlington Rd.  The article mentioned that they had been made at different locations but the aforementioned was the present and permanent one.

The History of Newton Falls [Revised edition 1977, p. 216] notes that original building location was at the site of the present Home Oil Company on North Canal Street.  Following the death of E.A. Stevens Sr. “in 1925, his son continued the business with a location in Detroit, Michigan. The main facility was  . . . at [the southeast corner] of Milton Boulevard and Arlington Road from 1941 through 1952 . . . business was sold in 1952 to Columbian Vise of Cleveland, and later to the Warren Tool Corporation of Warren, Ohio, in 1966.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

Can You Help Me Find a Vegetarian Indian Cookbook?

“I was watching a TV show with Gordon Ramsey featuring best restaurants. The episode was about vegetarian Indian food. I was hoping you could help me find a cookbook for it.” In order for the Newton Falls Public Library staff to assist our patron, our first step was to find what restaurant was on the show.

We discovered information about the show online by searching for ‘Gordon Ramsay best restaurants.” There is a BBC program titled Ramsay’s Best Restaurant. On the episode guide we found two Indian restaurants competing against each other. “With two generations of family behind the food, Prashad specializes in vegetarian dishes and the chefs use their hands to prepare the food, believing that love will be passed through each dish.” This was the one which our patron viewed.

Searching online for “Prashad vegetarian cookbook” we found two books, Prashad-Cooking with Indian Masters by J.Indersingh Kalra and Indian Vegetarian Cooking from an American Kitchen by Vasantha Prasad. Our patron thought she might like the latter, so we placed a hold on it through our new shared Clevnet catalog,, and will notify her when it arrives at our library.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is There Another Portable Way to Listen to Books?

Our caller said, “I really enjoy audio books, but my CD player broke. I would like to try something other than a CD one. Is there another portable way to listen to books?” Many members of the Newton Falls Public Library staff also enjoy listening to works by their favorite authors while driving or doing chores.

Many of us listen to books on Playaways, each holding just one title. The more popular choices are MP3 players and iPods. Our patron asked for a recommendation. Since we felt that her choice needed to be dependent on her personal preferences of product capabilities, price, etc., we recommended that she either talk to others who own them, visit local stores that carry them, or view online reviews.

Consumer Reports last reviewed MP3 players in December of 2010. Technology changes so quickly and our patron wanted newer information, so we looked online. We typed in “MP3 players reviews” and found several sites for her including and  We recommended that she duplicate our search to learn more about what was available.

Once our patron decides which player she would like; she can download free audio books from the library’s catalog. Newton Falls Public Library is presently part of the Ohio eBook Project.  Beginning November 1st, titles can be downloaded from our new Clevnet catalog

Friday, October 7, 2011

Who is Norma Shearer?

“We were going through things belonging to deceased relative, and came across an autographed photo of Norma Shearer. Can you help me find out who she was?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff confessed that they had never heard of Norma either, but would be happy to see what information we could find for our patron.

Our search began online and we discovered the Internet Movie Database website,, had a great deal of information about this actress from the 1920s through 1940s. Edith Norma Shearer was born on August 10, 1902 in Montréal, Québec, Canada. The 5’1” actress’ most famous roles were in the movies: The Divorcee  (1930) for which she won an Oscar, The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), and Romeo and Juliet (1936). She was offered the parts of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), the starring role in Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (1950). According to the book, AmericanNational Biography, she also turned down the lead role in Pride and Prejudice. She died on June 12, 1983. The IMDb website offers some interesting sidelights about her including her noticing a photo of the daughter of a ski lodge receptionist’s daughter and recommending her to MGM. The girl in the photo became famous and known as Janet Leigh. “F. Scott Fitzgerald based one of his most famous stories, ‘Crazy Sunday,’ on a party hosted by Shearer, who also inspired the story's main character, Stella Calman  . . . She is one of the celebrities whose picture Anne Frank placed on the wall of her bedroom in the ‘Secret Annex’ while in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.”

On page 25 of the book 60 Years of the Oscar: the official history of the Academy Awards  by Robert Osborne, in the 1929-1930 awards Shearer was actually nominated for best actress in two films, The Divorcee and Their Own Desire. The following year the rule was changed so this situation could not again occur. The website, lists Shearer’s six Academy Award Best Actress nominations.

Our patron was surprised to learn how well known she was, and wondered how much the photograph might be worth. A variety of online sites offer Norma Shearer signed photographs for sale, ranging from $14.99 to several hundred dollars. Realizing that it is really only worth what someone is willing to pay; hoping to increase the value, our patron decided to see if she could locate a photograph which is the same as hers, discover if it is related to a particular film, and date the picture.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Is it True that No Republican Voted for the Social Security or Medicare Acts?

“I wanted to confirm some information. I have been told on more than one occasion that no Republican voted for the Social Security Act in the 1930s or the Medicare Act under President Lyndon Johnson. Is that correct?” The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library enjoys answering such straightforward questions.

Typing the keywords “republicans voted social security 1930s” in a Google search we found the website for Social Security Online History which includes archival documents. “Final Congressional action on the bill took place when the Conference Report was passed by voice vote on August 8, 1935 in the House and on August 9th in the Senate. On August 14, 1935 President Roosevelt signed the bill into law at a ceremony in the White House Cabinet Room.” Vote tallies by party are:
v  House
Ø  Yes – 284 Democrats, 81 Republicans, 1 Farm Labor, 6 Progressive/Other
Ø  No – 15 Democrats, 15 Republicans, 2 Farm Labor, 1 Progressive/Other
Ø  Not Voting – 20 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 0 Farm Labor, 1 Progressive/Other
Ø  Present - – 0 Democrats, 2 Republicans, 0 Farm Labor, 0 Progressive/Other
v  Senate
Ø  Yes -– 60 Democrats, 16 Republicans, 1 Farm Labor, 0 Progressive/Other
Ø  No  – 1 Democrats, 5 Republicans, 0 Farm Labor, 0 Progressive/Other
Ø  Not Voting – 8 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 0 Farm Labor, 0 Progressive/Other

We did a similar keyword search for medicare resulting in the appropriate information also being found at Social Security Online History. “The reconciled version . . . went to final passage in the House on July 27th and final passage in the Senate the following day. President Johnson signed the bill into law at a special ceremony in Independence, Missouri on July 30, 1965.” Vote tallies by party are:
v  House
Ø  Yes – 237 Democrats, 70 Republicans
Ø  No – 48 Democrats, 68 Republicans
Ø  Not Voting – 8 Democrats, 2 Republicans
v  Senate
Ø  Yes – 57 Democrats, 13 Republicans
Ø  No – 7 Democrats, 17 Republicans
ØNot Voting – 4 Democrats, 2 Republicans

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Does Anyone Pick Up Old Refrigerators?

“I’m assisting a relative in going through some things, and we need to know if anyone picks up old refrigerators?”  The Newton Falls Public Library staff understands the need for finding ways to dispose of old household items. Our patron remembered that an advertisement on television mentioned that the Green Team recycled appliances. Unfortunately, we discovered that the it is part of the Mahoning County Solid Waste Management District and the relative’s home is in Trumbull County.

Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District is our local recycling agency. It has appliance collection dates and a listing of local scrap metal dealers on their website While their listing did not include Falls Recycling in Newton Falls, we found that this business also accept appliances.

FirstEnergy has an appliance turn-in program for their customers through October 31, 2011. The program accepts empty and working refrigerators and freezers. The same conditions would apply to local charities receiving appliance donations. For patrons wishing to repair their non-working appliances before donating them, the library has a copy of Chilton's Guide to Large Appliance Repair and Maintenance by Gene B. Williams available for borrowing.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why Do We Use the Term Czar for Someone Involved in American Government?

“Former Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams just went to Washington D.C. as the Auto Czar. Czar seems to be an odd term to use for someone involved in American government; I thought it was a Russian ruler. When did this become used by our presidents?” Recently, _________ czar has been a phrase that seems to have worked itself into our common language. The Newton Falls Public Library staff found the question to be intriguing.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines czar in three ways: the first is a ruler or monarch; the second is an autocrat; the final one is considered an informal usage: “An appointed official having special powers to regulate or supervise an activity: . . . an energy czar.” [p. 455]. This seems to fulfill part of our patron’s request. 

The aforementioned book was published in 2000, so we know that the term was in use in this context prior to that year. Continuing our search online, we found that the Los Angeles Times' article (March 5, 2009) President Obama's czar system concerns some by Tom Hamburger and Christi Parsons. "President Nixon may have named the first 'czar' with his appointment of William E. Simon to handle the 1970s energy crisis."

According to Czar Struck: Sorting Through the Misconceptions and Understanding the Implications of an Expanding ‘Czar’ Phenomenon by Kathryn J. Murphy, United States Military Academy, "President Franklin D. Roosevelt originated the concept of the policy czar in American politics. Under his administration, Roosevelt created a 'brain trust' of advisors whom he relied upon for policy-related advice . . . In 1942, political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman depicted Roosevelt's advisors as czars . . . The Nixon administration was the first to actually use the term 'czar' with specific reference to the appointment of a 'Drug Czar' in 1971. This was subsequently followed by a highly controversial 'Energy Czar.' (pp. 1-2)" Murphy cites 32 Obama czars as of January 2010. We were not able to locate a difinitive czar listing from United States Government websites. Others, such as Wikipedia, did list the numbers of U.S. Executive Branch czars for each president from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama. According to their listing Ronald Reagan had the least, one.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Do You Have to be a Citizen of Canada to Receive Public Health Benefits?

“Do you have to be a citizen of Canada to receive health benefits or can you just be a resident?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff knows that many individuals are unable to afford health insurance. We are sure that many people will find the answer to this question to be interesting.

Searching online, we typed in the question: “Do you need to be a Canadian citizen to have health care?” Eliminating the websites which discussed the pros and cons of socialized medicine, we found the site for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The page Live in Canada links to About being a permanent resident of Canada. Permanent residents and their dependents are able to receive most of the social benefits that Canadian citizens receive, including health care coverage. There is also information about immigrating and applying for permanent status. If our patron would choose to move there, they would have to live in Canada for at least two years within a five-year period to keep their status as a permanent resident.

The public health insurance in Canada is paid for through taxes. It is different in each province and territory and, depending on your coverage you may also require temporary private health insurance. This will also be necessary while waiting on your permanent resident status to be approved. “You must buy this private insurance within five days of arriving in your province or territory or insurance companies may not provide coverage for you. Refugee claimants who cannot afford private health insurance and refugee claimants living in provinces that have a three-month waiting period can receive emergency and essential health services at no cost”. Some of the public plans do not cover dental expenses, private hospital rooms, prescription drugs, ambulance services and prescription eyeglasses.

We were surprised to find that the Canadian health care system seems to be a combination of public and private coverage. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Do Buttons Have Lead in Them?

“Do buttons have lead in them? I’m concerned about my child chewing on them.” The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library can understand parents worrying about the items little children put in their mouths, especially small items which may also be accidently swallowed.

While browsing through the book, About Buttons: a collector's guide: 150 A.D. to the present by Peggy Ann Osborne, the author describes 18th century buttons made of “embroidered fabrics, assorted metals, mother-of-pearl, glass, porcelain, and pottery”; some with “paintings on ivory, vellum, or paper (pg. 9).” In the chapter there was no mention of the types of metal with the exception of silver and copper. Some materials used in the 19th century were silver, brass, pewter, glass, and pearl. As we continued looking we also noticed buttons made of wood, steel, vegetable ivory, plastic, and nylon. This book is organized by years, styles, and countries but unfortunately, not by materials. Button, Button: identification and price guide by Peggy Ann Osborne has a chapter, Materials from A – Z. Almost 60 different materials are listed as being used in button making. Some of the more unusual are alligator skin, bamboo, linoleum, rubber, snakeskin, and straw. The Collector's Encyclopedia of Buttons: now with values by Sally C. Luscomb is set up alphabetically. There is no listing for lead between Le Chic (a trade name) and League of American Wheelman (Bicycle Buttons).

Our search continued online to  which sells Civil War relics and antiquities. The page on buttons has Civil War era or earlier coat weight buttons made of lead,  “said to have served dual purpose.”  Ian Kelly-Military Insignia site notes “From 1830 onwards, Regular Army infantry regiments that had been wearing silver buttons changed to gilt buttons and thereafter, silver buttons were mainly worn by Militia and Volunteer regiments, and sometimes by pipers of regular regiments. Other Ranks buttons were made of lead or pewter until 1855 when brass was introduced.” It would seem that buttons most likely to be made of lead are military.

Desrues, a French company manufactures “the most precious jewellery and buttons for Chanel, its biggest client, as well as for Louis Vuitton and many others.” Their operations focus on ”Moulding and casting metals, glass enamelling, machining wood, remodelling resins, polishing, soldering, lacquering, varnishing, gilding, silver plating, working with lead glass and threading pearls . . .” Apparently, some buttons for modern high end designers do have lead in them.

If their child continues to chew on buttons and our patron is unable to clearly determine what buttons are presently manufactured to have lead, there are lead testing kits available.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Was Taken Out of the Mines in Mineral Ridge?

“What was taken out of the mines in Mineral Ridge? Are any still there? When did they close?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff was not familiar with the information needed as our focus tends to be more on the history of Newton Falls and Newton Township, but we were more than willing to see if we could locate what she needed.

The Davis Genealogy’s section about William Edward Davies, hosted by Rootsweb, states that “. . . Mineral Ridge, Trumbull County, Ohio . . . was a center of coal and iron mining in the early nineteenth century.”  History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches (p.95) has many details about the Mineral Ridge coal and blackband iron belt, and how the deposits were formed.

The Columbus Dispatch article, Old coal mines are risk to homes in eastern Ohio  by Spencer Hunt, dates mining back to the mid-1800s. It addressed the problem of locating old mines, as many were small and undocumented; others were dug into by individuals during the Depression and were extended beyond their map boundaries.

The Abandoned Coal Mines Website, research by Ann Harris of Youngstown State University, lists 26 shaft and slope mines in Weathersfield Township. The last known date of a listed mine closing was 1899.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management has overseen the filling of the abandoned mines. According to the Youngstown Vindicator article, Area in Ridge will be tested for mine subsidence by ODNR by Mary Smith (10/6/2008); there is also the problem of determining the location of “peddler” mines, dug by individuals for the mining of coal for their own use or to sell.  

We gave our patron this information and also suggested that she contact the library located in Weathersfield Township, McKinley Memorial Library in Niles. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Is It Safe to Give Salted Peanuts to Squirrels?

“My husband and I enjoy feeding the squirrels peanuts in the shell. We recently bought salted ones and my niece told me it wasn’t safe to give them salted ones. Is that true?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff understands people wanting to make sure they are giving animals proper foods.

The library’s copy of Squirrels: A Wildlife Handbook by Kim Long had a great deal of interesting information including the favorite foods of different kinds of squirrels. Unfortunately it did not address the issue of salted nuts.

We visited the website of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The section on squirrels did not have the information we needed, so we telephoned them. While waiting we listened to bird sounds and their identification.  When we spoke with an individual, we were told that they “recommend not feeding wildlife.”

Continuing our online search, the website Black Mouth Cur had the following pertaining to gray squirrels: “The amount of salt a squirrel requires can be easily obtained in its diet and the extra amount of salt . . . can affect its heart, raises the blood pressure and increases its pulse. This tends to shorten a squirrel’s lifespan. This is not too dissimilar to salt’s effects on a human.” has an entire section titled Attracting to & Controlling Squirrels in Your Garden. Within are several paragraphs about peanuts. While a good source of protein, the site discourages feeding raw peanuts to animals because it often contains “aflatoxin, a fungal toxin. Aflatoxin is carcinogenic and causes liver damage in birds, squirrels and other animals -- even humans.” Roasting can reduce the toxin but does not eliminate it. “Also, raw peanuts and other legumes contain a . . . substance that inhibits or prevents the pancreas from producing trypsin, an enzyme essential for the absorption of protein by the intestine. . . Squirrels fed a steady diet of raw peanuts, soybeans, other legumes, and sweet potatoes could easily develop severe malnutrition. . . According to the Washington State Cooperative Extension Service, roasting hulled raw peanuts for 20 to 30 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring them frequently, will destroy the trypsin inhibitor and render them suitable for feed. If that sounds like a lot of work, buy roasted peanuts but be sure they aren't salted. (Salted nuts of any kind should never be fed to wild animals.)”

We passed the information on to our patron so she could determine what they would choose to feed their backyard wildlife.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What is the proper way to dispose of an old Bible?

“I know there are guidelines for the disposal of an old, damaged flag, but is there a proper way to dispose of an old Bible? While familiar with those for flags, the Newton Falls Public Library staff was unfamiliar with rules for disposing of Bibles.

An online search brought up a wealth of websites, some particular to different faiths and denominations. The Human Condition website has an information paper on the Handling and Disposal of Sacred Texts, Spiritual Writings and Religious Items by CH (COL) Chet Lanious, Director, Center for World Religions of the Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, SC.  It covers items related to Roman Catholics, the various Protestant denominations, Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islamic sects. The paper also includes links to religious sites.

Our patron informed us that she was interested in what would pertain to the Methodist Church. The information paper connected us to the United Methodist Church, GBOD’s (The General Board of Discipleship) website. The GBOD developed a service for the disposal of old Bibles and devotional books, written by Daniel T. Benedict, Jr. The service concludes with either the burning or burial of the books. A full copy of the service was made for the patron to share with her congregation.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Where Can I . . .? Does the Library Have . . .? Can You Find . . .?

Sometimes the questions asked at the Newton Falls Public Library are not complicated, but are for information people need at that moment.  These include some of the following:

“Where can I dispose of batteries?” The Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District has collection events  which cover a wide variety of household waste from Ammonia to Wood Strippers. Batteries are accepted at the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District's Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Facility, located at 5138 Enterprise Blvd., Warren, Ohio, off Route 422. It is only open to residents of Geauga and Trumbull counties, and identification is required. The facility is open every Wednesday between 10 am and 6 pm, beginning May 4, 2011 through September 28, 2011 and the first Saturday of May, June and August, 9 am to noon for residents of Geauga and Trumbull County..

“Does the library have HEAP forms?”  The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a federally funded program administered by the Ohio Department of Development's Office of Community Service. Those applying must have a total household income at or below 200 percent of the Fiscal Year 2011 federal poverty guidelines. Applications for the 2011-2012 Regular HEAP program are accepted through May 31, 2012. Applications can be printed from the website or picked up at the library.

“Can you find the meaning of near-quart? I’m working a crossword puzzle and it is a clue.” The library staff searched in The American Heritage Crossword Puzzle Dictionary, the 13 volume Oxford English Dictionary, and others. Not being successful, the search was expanded online. The staff was unable to find an answer, and could only suggest the patron try to see if “liter” would fit in the spaces, as it is nearly as large as a quart.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I Want to Find a Death Certificate

“A friend of mine died several years ago and I was trying to find the death certificate. I don’t want to have to pay for a copy; is there any way you can help me find the information?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff began the online search.

The USGenWeb Project had information about how to request documents from the Warren City Health Department and Ohio Department of Health. Both these agencies charge for copies of death certificates.

We were able to do a Records Search at the Trumbull County Clerks of Courts’ site . With the friend’s name inserted into General Index Search Criteria form, we were able to bring up the Coroner’s Summary of the death. Though it included a cause of death, there was not much additional information.

Through State Library of Ohio and, we are now able to offer our patrons Ancestry Library Edition  on the library’s computers. Even though this death was fairly recent, the staff decided to try to see if there was any information available at this website. We typed in his name and birth year and were very surprised to find information from the Social Security Death Index. Also attached to the name was a record for Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007. This seems to contain the information which would appear on a death certificate. The information was given to our patron at no charge.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why Do Dogs Circle Before Lying Down?

“Before lying down my dog circles and circles. Why?”  Many of the Newton Falls Public Library staff members own dogs and have noticed their pets exhibiting this same behavior.

We began our search by looking at some of the numerous library books about dogs, specifically dog behavior. Closely examining Dogs: a startling new understanding of canine origin, behavior, and evolution by Raymond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger, The truth about dogs: an inquiry into the ancestry, social conventions, mental habits, and moral fiber of Canis familiaris by Stephen Budiansky and Wild discovery guide to your dog: understanding and caring for the wolf within, we found many interesting facts about why they do many of the things they do. Budiansky’s book has a very readable chapter entitled Odd, but (Mostly) Normal Behavior. While very intriguing, it didn’t address our patron’s question.

Continuing the search online, we found there seems to be a general consensus of reasons on many of the websites. The behavior is possibly genetic, stemming from wild ancestors who circled their sleeping areas before lying down. It ensured grassy or snow covered areas were flattened and clear. It also gave an opportunity to examine the area to see if there were any dangerous things such as snakes or poisonous insects which needed driven away. As a pack animal, it also marked this sleeping area as theirs.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Do Birds Take Dust Baths?

“The other day we were outside, and noticed a bird had dug a hole in the ground and was acting like it was taking a bath in the dust. Why did it do that?”  The Newton Falls Public Library has an extensive collection of bird books and the staff is always happy to have an opportunity to examine them.

Doing a keyword search for “bird behavior” in the library’s online catalog, we found several books which looked promising. Bird Behavior by Robert Burton was the first one consulted. The table of contents included an entry titled Dusting, sunning and anting. Burton states that “The value of dusting is not clear . . .” [pg. 33]. The process involves scraping its feet and shuffling its wings until the ruffled feathers are filled with dust.

The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior had detailed information about bird behavior. Birds at Your Feeder: a guide to feeding habits, behavior, distribution, and abundance by Erica H. Dunn and Diane L. Tessaglia-Hymes had interesting statistical information about the birds seen at North American feeders. However, neither of the books seemed to have anything specific about dusting.

We next Google searched the question “Why do birds take dust baths?” We found the question asked and answered in an August 9, 1988 New York Times article. Ornithologist, Dr. Pete Myers, then senior vice president for science and sanctuaries at the National Audubon Society, said birds take dust baths ''to rid themselves of all sorts of parasites that crawl in and between their feathers.'' He compared it to using sand to rid your hands of “grit and grime.” The article also said that “some authorities have suggested that the purpose might be to keep the birds' plumage fluffy by removing excess moisture and oil.” Dr. Myers did not feel that there was convincing evidence to support this theory.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is It True That I Am Responsible For My Renters' Pets?

“I’m thinking of renting my home. I heard that if the renters have pets and something happens, I am responsible. Can you find out if that is true?” While the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library cannot answer legal questions, we can direct the patron to materials which give them some answers.

Every landlord's legal guide by Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner & Janet Portman was a good place to begin. The book covers many questions faced by those planning on becoming landlords and contains a CD-Rom with forms to use. In reference to dangerous pets the authors say [pg. 20], “It’s not common, but you could be liable for the injuries caused by a tenant’s pet . . .” In reference to wild animals, if you become aware or should be aware of its presence “. . . a court will assume that you understood the danger, and you, may be liable if the animal causes injury and you fail to take steps to prevent it.” Leasing to pet owners is not discouraged by the book; only that the landlord be aware of potentially dangerous situations and take proper steps to prevent them, which may require having the tenants remove the animal or face eviction.

A Google search for “ohio landlord liability for tenants' dogs.” found the Injury Board Blog Network  and Attorney Dale Emch's Toledo Blade column,
Is Ohio landlord liable for personal injury resulting from dog bite? He states, “Assuming that we're talking about a single-family home that does not share any common area with other property owners, I don't think you'd be liable for a dog-bite injury caused by your tenant's dog. Under Ohio law, the owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable for any injuries or damages caused by the dog, provided the person who was injured wasn't trespassing, attempting to commit a crime, or teasing the dog. The question is whether a landlord can be construed as a harborer. Almost all of the case law I found says that landlords are not harborers of a dog if the tenant has exclusive possession and control of the property. And, in most situations, tenants are deemed to have possession and control of rental property during the lease period.”

Since the information found for this patron seemed to conflict in some ways, the staff also recommended that the patron contact their insurance company or a legal professional to discuss this matter.