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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.