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Friday, March 28, 2014

Can Groundhogs Climb?

“Can groundhogs climb? I swear I saw one in a tree, but no one believes me.” At the Newton Falls Public Library, we weren't familiar with tree-climbing groundhogs either, but we looked into it and, as it turns out, they’re very capable climbers and they’re also able to swim!

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, land beavers, or whistle pigs, are members of the squirrel family, so their climbing ability shouldn't surprise. They’ll climb to find food and take in the sunshine. However, as their name suggests, they spend most of their time close to the ground. Groundhogs build extensive burrows with secret entrances, multiple chambers, and tunnels that can be up to fifty feet long. They enjoy coming out of their burrows to forage and sunbathe, but will beat a quick retreat when they sense danger, since most predators won’t bother trying to dig them out.

In our research, we also learned that the name “woodchuck” has nothing to do with wood. According to Scientific American, it comes from “wuchak,” the Algonquian word for groundhog. However, according to Native Languages of the Americas, the name may actually have come from the Algonquian word for fisher (which is a type of weasel) or it may have been a corruption of the Narragansett word for groundhog, “ockqutchaun.”

Groundhogs spend several months hibernating. When they hibernate, they curl up into a tight ball with their nose to their belly and their tail wrapped over their head. Their body temperature drops around 50ºF and their heartbeat goes down to about four beats per minute. They’re just starting to emerge now for the mating season, so we can look forward to seeing them out and about!

We found our groundhog information on the National Geographic and Scientific American websites, as well as in several books available here at the Newton Falls Public Library: The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals, edited by Don E. Wilson and Sue Ruff; Guide to the Mammals of Pennsylvania by Joseph F. Merritt; and Mammals of North America: Temperate and Arctic Regions by Adrian Forsyth.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What Do You Do With The Money From The Book Sale?

"What do you do with the money from the book sale?" There are two annual book sales at the Newton Falls Public Library, one in the spring and one in the fall. There's also a small cart in the lobby where people can buy books year-round. All sales are put on by the Friends of the Newton Falls Public Library.

The Friends of the Library is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 dedicated to supporting the library. The money from the book sale, as well as what's brought in from their other fundraisers, pays for supplies, prizes, and special programs during Summer Reading. The money also goes toward projects to improve the library, such as siding the garage, and all of our other speakers and programs throughout the year, including the Harvest Fest.

Along with running the book sales, the Friends also volunteer at the library and sponsor programs like the Annual Poetry and Short Prose contest. Membership is open to anyone, and those interested can pick up an application at the library's circulation desk. The Friends of the Library are currently running a spring membership drive, and any new or renewed memberships between March 3 and May 20 will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire HD, so it's an excellent time to join for anyone who's interested.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How Long Is the Buckeye Trail Little Loop?

"How long is the Buckeye Trail Little Loop? Can you bike it?" One of our patrons, an avid walker and biker, was making plans to spend a few weeks in late spring or early summer going around the Little Loop of the Buckeye Trail.

The Buckeye Trail winds around the interior of Ohio. It's made up of twenty-six sections and covers around 1,444 miles altogether. The Little Loop is comprised of the Akron, Bedford, Burton, and Mogadore sections, as well as part of the Massillon section. According to a post on the Trail Talk forums, the Little Loop covers 229 miles.

The official Buckeye Trail website,, states that 93% of the Akron section, 68% of the Bedford Section, 41% of the Burton section, 32% of the Mogadore section, and 47% of the Massillon section are off-road, suggesting that they may not be ideal for biking. The Trail Talk forums confirmed our suspicions. When a member posted in the forum asking whether it's possible to bike sections of the trail (though not the Little Loop specifically), others discouraged them. The Buckeye Trail is intended for hiking, and biking could actually damage parts of it.

Our patron checked out Robert J. Pond's "Follow the Blue Blazes: A Guide to Hiking Ohio's Buckeye Trail," other copies of which are available through CLEVNET. For more Ohio hiking routes, Diane Stresing's "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles, Cleveland," Ralph Ramey's "50 Hikes in Ohio" and "50 More Hikes in Ohio," and "Ohio Trails and Greenways," edited by Annemarie Kuhn, can be checked out here at Newton Falls Public Library. For bike routes specifically, "Biking Ohio's Rail-Trails" is available through CLEVNET.