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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.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Need a Picture of Durward Kirby

“I need to find a picture of Durward Kirby.” That is a name some of the more mature Newton Falls Public Library staff members have not heard in a long time. Since the patron wanted a photograph to take with him, our search started online. While searching, we discovered that two spellings seem to be used, Durward Kirby and Durwood Kirby.

Curious to see if there was some information in the library’s collection, the staff examined the book Television: the first fifty years by Jeff Greenfield. There was no listing for Durward Kirby, but knowing from the Internet search that he was the sidekick of television host Gary Moore, the staff looked at the pages listed for him. Beneath a photograph of Carol Burnett, Kirby, and Moore, Greenfield states the “One of the most successful variety shows of the late 1950s starred Garry Moore, an amiable performer of no particular talent. His announcer, sidekick, and commercial spokesman, Durwood Kirby, was of similar dimensions.” [Television, p.43.]

Total Television by Alex McNeil includes Durward Kirby’s television history. In 1950 he cohosted Sunday at the Bronx Zoo with William Bridges. That year was also the first time he teamed up with Garry Moore, on the radio show Club Matinee. In 1951 he cohosted Guest House with Oscar Levant, and later in the year moved to the Garry Moore Show until 1958. From 1961-1965, he cohosted The New Candid Camera with Alan Funt. 1966 found Kirby again with Moore on his show.

The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows by David Schwartz, Steve Ryan, and Fred Wostbrock lists Durward Kirby as replacing Oscar Levant as host on General Electric Guest House, a celebrity game show. The show lasted about 8 weeks; Kirby hosting the last 6.  In 1955, Kirby was the announcer for the game show, Make the Connection that was on for 3 months.  That year he was also the announcer for Who Said That, a news quiz show.

We located a selection of photographs online for our patron. BookSteve’s Library  not only has a picture of a young Durward Kirby; it includes a photograph of a Kentucky historical marker commemorating Kirby’s August 24, 1911 birthplace in Covington. At the website Find a Grave  there is also a photograph of Kirby with Garry Moore and one of his headstone. Kirby died March 15, 2000. Internet Movie Database gives additional interesting information including his birth name, Homer Durward Kirby and trivia about him, such as “The generally amiable announcer and second banana shocked his fans in November 1961 when he threatened to file suit against the producers of "The Bullwinkle Show" (1961). The moose and squirrel were involved in an epic multi-part adventure involving a search for the elusive Kirwood Derby.”

Why Do I Have Ridges in My Fingernails?

“I have ridges in my fingernails, and when I use polish they are not smooth and shiny looking. What causes it? Can I do anything about it? The Newton Falls Public Library staff hadn’t considered this topic before.

A complete guide to manicure & pedicure by Leigh Toselli was the first place we looked.  On page 26, the author discusses various nail problems and remedies. Vertical ridges, such as our patron was concerned about, are not uncommon and become more prevalent as we age and there is a decrease in moisture and natural oil levels. Toselli also states that it can be due to illness or nutritional deficiencies. She suggests treating them with “regular applications of nourishing and cuticle oil.” Our patron was satisfied with the information. She also borrowed the book which contained additional information about exercises, skin and joint care, and reflexology for hands and feet.

We were curious if medical resources agreed with this information, so we investigated further online.  The MayoClinic’s site  had more information about healthy nails and concurred with Toselli that ridges become more prominent with age. Both Health links, MedlinePlus and NetWellness, on also give information about this and other conditions which can occur with fingernails, and what steps should be taken.