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Thursday, September 26, 2013

If I Have Trouble Reading Small Print, Is There Anything That Can Help Me Keep Reading?

"As I get older, I am having difficulty reading small print.  Do you know of anything that would help me to keep reading?"  As we all age, the Newton Falls Public Library staff has become aware of vision difficulties faced by our patrons and ourselves. 

The first step for many readers is to borrow the larger print paperbacks and the large print books available at our library and through the shared Clevnet catalog.  There over 20,000 fiction and nonfiction items from which our patrons can make their selections. Unfortunately, large print materials were no longer big enough for our patron.  We then searched online for tools to more greatly magnify the text.  The terms "lighted page magnifier for visually impaired' brought up many unusual ones and the article "Guide to Buying Low Vision Magnifiers" by Marilyn Haddrill, with contributions and review by Mary Lou Jackson, MD. We gave these ideas to our patron for her consideration.

While at the Newton Falls Public Library patrons may use the TeleSensory machine.  It magnifies, and also has the capability to make a positive image negative.  This is useful for individuals who find it easier to read white letters on a black background.  It can also be used to closely examine small items such as stamps and coins.

Individuals who enjoy the technology of eBooks can download titles from Clevnet's eMedia collection to their computers, tablets, and eReaders. Once downloaded, the user can select the font and page brightness which are best for them.

If the needs of the reader have become greater, the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is available. "Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS administers a free library program of Braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail."  The website,, has the application to apply for the service. Local contact information and instructions for this network can be picked up at the Newton Falls Public Library.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What Can You Tell Me About an Antique Bugler Thrift Kit?

"I have an antique Bugler Thrift Kit cigarette roller. Could you give me some more information about it?" No one working at the Newton Falls Public Library that day was familiar with the thrift kit, but we were all eager to learn something new.

The Bugler Thrift Kit is mentioned in Sold on Radio: Advertisers in the Golden Age of Broadcasting by Jim Cox. Cox writes that the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company purchased the Bugler brand in the 1930's, and went on to develop the thrift kit as the first roll-your-own package made in America. According to a National Library of Medicine display called "Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions," the Bugler Thrift Kit was marketed during the Great Depression as a more affordable alternative to pre-made cigarettes. 

By typing "Bugler Thrift Kit" into an online search engine, we found an advertisement from the archived October 8, 1952, edition of the Spokane Daily Chronicle, pricing the kit at seventy-five cents. 

To find how much the Bugler Thrift Kit is worth today, we used one of our new databases here at the Newton Falls Public Library: Price It! Antiques and Collectibles. Accessible from the library website, Price It! allows library cardholders to see how much items are currently selling for online and at select auction houses.

For more information, Sold on Radio is available through the shared CLEVNET catalogue, along with Tobacco in History and Culture: An Encyclopedia. Anyone interested in pricing their own antiques needs only a Newton Falls Public Library card to be able to access the Price It! database

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I Need a Recipe for Making Buttermilk

"Help," our caller said "I need a recipe for making buttermilk.  Not the one that uses vinegar or lemon juice; the one that uses cream of tartar."  While the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library was more familiar with the latter, they had heard of the former.

We  were successful with an online search using the terms "buttermilk cream of tartar substitute."  The website had three options for creating buttermilk. They included the familiar one using lemon juice, the one requested using cream of tartar, and a recipe with yogurt.  Of the three, the recipe our patron needed said to "Mix 1 cup of milk with 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.  To ensure that the mixture doesn’t get lumpy, mix the cream of tartar with 2 Tablespoons of milk. Once mixed, add the rest of the cup of milk."

If you do not have Internet access or the library is closed, when you run short of certain recipe ingredients while preparing a meal, emergency substitutions can be found in many home cookbooks.  Substitutions and measurement equivalents can often be located on the inside covers of books like "New Cook Book" by Better Homes and Gardens.

Friday, September 6, 2013

What kind of spider is this?

"I found a spider in my shed. It's got black-and-grey striped legs and a big yellow body about the size of a jellybean. It has four holes on its back, like someone poked it with a pin. Could you tell me what it is and if it's dangerous?" Fortunately, none of us at the desk that day were too terribly arachnophobic, so we were happy to help.

After looking through the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders by Lorus and Margery Milne, we realized that there are quite a few spiders with striped legs and large yellow bodies. The patron offered to bring in the spider so we could compare it to the pictures. By the time they arrived, the spider had already started spinning a web in its jar.

Putting "Ohio spider identification" into an online search engine brought up a PDF of the Common Spiders of Ohio Field Guide, written by Richard A. Bradley, and provided by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. We determined that the spider in question was most likely a variable orb weaver, which are active in Ohio from July to September. We had been calling the spider a "he," but its large size indicated that it was probably a female.

Searching “orb weaver dangerous” brought up and, both of which assured us that orb weavers are not aggressive and, though they may bite if they feel threatened, the bite is comparable to a bee sting and, for most people, is nothing serious.

Famous orb weavers include Charlotte from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. The clue is in her full name, Charlotte A. Cavatica. According to, Araneus Cavaticus is the scientific name for a certain kind of orb weaver more commonly known as a barn spider.   

For more information, our patron could check out Adrienne Mason’s The World of the Spider, Richard Alan Bradley’s Common Spiders of North America, or Spiders: Learning to Love Them by Lynne Kelly, a self-proclaimed arachnophobe who decided to overcome her fear by becoming a spider-watcher. The World of the Spider is available here at Newton Falls Public Library, and both other books are available through the shared CLEVNET catalogue.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Is the United States Selling Water to China?

"I heard that the United States is selling water to China.  Is that correct?"  The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library was unfamiliar with this, but always enjoys discovering answers and learning something new.

Putting the terms "US selling water to China" into a popular search engine brought up a variety of website links. One took us to the article Sell China water from Great Lakes?  by Kathleen Story of Green Living Examiner.  According to the article, "a loophole in the 2006 Great Lakes Compact allows the water to be called a product and sold off outside the [Great Lakes] basin."  It seems that while the water is from the Great Lakes, it is not actually being sold by the United States but rather by private companies accessing the resource.

The article, There Will Be Water by Susan Berfield on June 11, 2008 in the online Bloomberg Business Week Magazine, refers to water as blue gold and as the new oil.  In reading the article, it does not appear that the United States government is selling water to China.  However, foreign companies such as Canadian River Municipal Water Authority,  Royal Dutch Shell, and multi-national water bottlers like NestlĂ© are purchasing land, water or ground water rights in the water rich areas of the United States and are selling the water.

If our patron wished more information, he could borrow the documentary Blue Gold: World Water Wars and the book, Blue Gold: The Battle against Corporate Theft of the World's Water by Maude Barlow.  Both of these are available through the shared Clevnet catalog.