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Friday, November 29, 2013

How do I hem blue jeans?

"I need a book with instructions on hemming blue jeans; it is getting too costly to have someone else hem them for me.  I would also like them to still look as finished as they were before I shortened them."  The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library has their own memories of children complaining about the appearance of clothing after shortening or alterations, and can understand a mother wanting to be frugal.

We found a variety of instructions for hemming different types of clothing and fabrics in sewing books on our shelves, such as the "Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing." However, none seemed to deal specifically with blue jeans or denim.  From our shared CLEVNET catalog, our patron placed a hold on the book "How to Make Pants and Jeans That Really Fit."

In the event this book does not deal with alterations, we searched online for the words "hemming blue jeans."  There were many video tutorials available, but our patron wanted to have printed sheets to which she could refer. had instructions which included cutting off the bottom of the jeans to shorten them, adding a decorative backstitch with gold thread, and roughing up the edges with sandpaper to give them a more commercially manufactured look.  The websites Make It and Love It and Just Something I Made had similar instructions for hemming the jeans while maintaining the original bottom edge.  Our patron liked the option of folding up some fabric and stitching closely to the original finished edge.  As her children grew, she could let down the hem and make the jeans longer.  If the hem does not need to be re-let down, the excess fabric can be cut off and the edges finished.  Many websites also suggested using a denim needle in the machine to make sewing easier and to reduce the risk of a broken needle.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How Do You Get Rid Of A Woodpecker?

"How do you get rid of a woodpecker?" One of our Newton Falls Public Library patrons was being pestered by a  woodpecker, and was hoping to chase it away before it caused damage to their barn. Fortunately, there are several methods they can try.

According to the Audubon Society, woodpeckers peck for three reasons: to mark territory, to search for insects, and to make a hole in which to nest. If it looks like the bird is making a hole big enough to go into, Audubon suggests covering the hole with netting or metal flashing, though that may not be enough to deter a woodpecker looking to make your house its home. If it persists, the best solution may be to install a nest box near the hole in the hopes that the bird will stop pecking and choose to nest there instead.

If the woodpecker doesn't look like it's drilling out a place to roost, then it might be looking for food. It's important to make sure there aren't any insects in the wood, such as carpenter bees or termites, that the bird might be noshing on. Otherwise, placing suet nearby may be enough to distract it.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology suggests attaching netting to the building, keeping at least three inches between the building and the net to keep birds from getting through.

Plastic owls may scare woodpeckers off for a few days, but the birds quickly get used to them. Instead, try auditory deterrents, such as playing the sound of a predator or a woodpecker in distress, or hanging wind chimes. Reflective strips, pie pans, streamers, wind socks, and flags can also be hung to scare away birds.

For more information on woodpeckers, Paul Bannick's The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with North America's Most Iconic Birds is available through CLEVNET. If our patron is interested in identifying exactly what kind of woodpecker is drumming on their barn - or for anyone who'd like to identify the birds near their house - James S. McCormac and Gregory Kennedy's Birds of Ohio is available for checkout here at the Newton Falls Public Library.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Can You Help Me Find A Sausage Recipe?

"I'm looking for a recipe for homemade sausage."  To the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library this seemed to be a simple request.  The library owns a copy of  "The Sausage-making Cookbook"  by Jerry Predika.  However, our patron already had their own copy of this title and it did not include a recipe quite to their liking.  At this time, she did not wish to get a recipe off the Internet; she preferred something from a book.

In our extensive collection of cookbooks, we found several books that we thought might have what she wanted including "The Complete Meat Cookbook: A Juicy and Authoritative Guide to Selecting, Seasoning, and Cooking Today's Beef, Pork, Lamb, and Veal" by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly, "The Way to Cook" by Julia Child, and "Lidia's Italian Table" by Lidia Bastianich.  These all contained recipes either too heavily spiced or with ingredients our patron did not wish to use.

Continuing our discussion, our patron explained that they were looking to make a lightly seasoned old-fashioned country sausage. The recipe in Mary Emma Showalter's "Mennonite Community Cookbook: Favorite Family Recipes" still wasn't exactly the recipe she wanted.  

Thinking a bit out of the box, we decided to take a look at our collection of Foxfire books. The first Foxfire book was published in 1972.  "The 'Foxfire Book' and its eleven companion volumes stand memorial to the people and the vanishing culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, brought to life for readers through the words of those who were born, lived their lives, and passed away there" [].  The full title of the first book is "The Foxfire Book: HogDressing; Log Cabin Building; Mountain Crafts and Foods; Planting by the Signs;Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing; Moonshining; and Other Affairs of Plain Living." The chapter on Hog Dressing included Slaughtering Hogs, Curing and Smoking Hog, and Recipes for Hog.  She said this sausage recipe might have the right combination of spices.

In the event the recipe did not taste as she imagined, our patron also placed holds on some of the other sausage making books in our shared CLEVNET catalog.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Could You Give Me Some Information About Buffington Island?

"Could you give me some information about Buffington Island?" One of our Newton Falls Public Library patrons who had recently traveled to Buffington Island wanted to know more about it.

The Battle of Buffington Island has the distinction of being the only significant Civil War battle in Ohio. The battlefield is in Meigs County, Ohio, and is owned by the Ohio Historical Society. It's free and open to the public year-round during daylight hours. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Buffington Island took place this past July, and was commemorated with a memorial service and demonstrations by Civil War reenactors.

The battle took place when Confederate Brigadier-General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders made an attempt to ford the Ohio River. They were met by Union soldiers and gunboats under the command of Brigadier-General E.H. Hobson and General H.M. Judah. Morgan and several hundred of his men escaped and headed north in the hopes of finding a better place to cross. They were finally surrounded and taken captive in Columbiana County, thus ending the raiding campaign. 

For more information on John Hunt Morgan's raids, "The Last Night and Last Day of John Hunt Morgan's Raid: Eyewitness Accounts of Morgan's Ohio Raid of 1863" and James A. Ramage's "Rebel Raider: The Life of John Hunt Morgan" are available through CLEVNET. For general information on Ohio's involvement in the Civil War, "Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents" and Robert S. Harper's "Ohio Handbook of the Civil War" are both available at the Newton Falls Public Library.,, and all have information on the Battle of Buffington Island.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Do You Have Anything That Will Help Me Learn Medical Sign Language?

"I work in a clinic and some of our clients are deaf.  I need to learn some basic medical sign language in order to discover the problem and then give them the doctor's instructions.  Do you have anything that  will help me?"  The staff of the Newton Falls Public Library can understand why having this ability would be very important in making sure anyone dealing with medical issues has the correct information.

Searching our shared CLEVNET catalog, we found in our collection "The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary" by Richard A. Tennant for beginning signing and "Intermediate Conversational Sign Language: American Sign Language with English Translations" by Willard J. Madsen.  Madsen's book contained lessons for At the Dentist, In the Hospital, and At the Doctor's Office.  Each lesson included useful medical related signs.

While these were acceptable, our patron expressed a concern that in trying to mimic signs from a book, she would not do them correctly.  Could we find her a DVD with similar information?  The Newton Falls Public Library owns "Common Expressions in American Sign Language" but the this did not seem to have the specifics our patron needed.  In our shared catalog, we located the DVD "Emergency Medical Words & Sentences in American Sign Language" and our patron placed a hold on this item.  While she waits for it to arrive at our library, we searched the Internet and located the websites,, and that she can access for online instructional training.  There are also downloadable e-Books, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Conversational Sign Language Illustrated" by Carole Lazorisak and "Sign Language Made Simple: A Complete Introduction to American Sign Language" by Karen Lewis available in the Clevnet emedia collection that our patron can access using her Newton Falls Public Library card.

UPDATE 11/15/13:

The Newton Falls Public Library reference staff always enjoys receiving comments and input about our Ask The Librarian articles.  The recent column about signing in the medical field elicited a call from a certified sign language instructor.

Our caller wanted our readers to be sure to understand that there is a great difference between conversational signing and what is needed to deal properly with medical issues.  Miscommunication in this type of signing can result in professional liability lawsuits.  It is recommended that clinics requiring assistance in communicating with their hearing impaired clients bring in a professional interpreter.  The cost of the professional can be written off as a business expense by the clinic.  Our caller also said that this may be an issue for clinics dealing with foreign language speakers.

We appreciated receiving this additional information and will be informing the patron who asked the original question.