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Friday, December 30, 2016

What does it mean that Mercury is retrograde?

One of our patrons heard someone blame their bad luck on Mercury being retrograde. They’d heard the expression before, but had never stopped to think about what it meant.

We found our answer in The Total Skywatcher’s Manual by Linda Shore, David Prosper, and Vivian White, Wonders of the Solar System by Brian Cox, and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Amateur Astronomy by Michael E. Bakich. Retrograde motion is when a planet appears to move backyard in the sky, going from east to west. (The opposite – the normal, west-to-east movement -- is called prograde motion.) When a planet is  retrograde, it isn’t actually moving backwards. It has to do with that planet’s orbit around the sun relative to Earth’s. When Earth catches up to a planet and overtakes it, the other planet appears to move in the opposite direction, like when a fast car passes a slower one on the highway.

Susan Miller, writing for, explains what astrologists think about Mercury retrograde. Mercury is said to rule communication as well as formal contracts and agreements, and when it is in retrograde, it is in a “resting” state, so problems might arise in those areas. This is why some people don’t like making big decisions or signing contracts during Mercury retrograde periods. However, it’s also said to be a very intuitive period, and a good time to reflect on the past.

According to the 2017 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Mercury will be retrograde from January 1-9, April 9-May 3, August 13-September 5, and December 3-23 in 2017.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Why do my air plants keep dying?

“I thought air plants were supposed to be low-maintenance, but mine keep dying. What am I doing wrong?”

Tillandsias, commonly known as air plants, are often marketed as needing no care. However, they are still living plants (part of the bromeliad family, which also includes pineapples), and, as such, they need light and water to survive. We have a copy of Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias by Zenaida Sengo, which has good information on tillandsia care and gives some hints about what our patron may have been doing wrong.

Our patron’s plants may not have been getting enough water. Sengo recommends either misting them 3-7 times a week, dunking them in water for a few minutes 2-4 times a week or every 7-10 days, depending on the variety of plant, or submerging them for an hour or two each week. An under-watered plant with begin to brown and crisp up at the tips, or its leaves may curl in on themselves.

However, air plants are also prone to rot, so if they weren’t aired out properly, that may have been what did them in. Sengo recommends shaking the water out of tillandsias, and making sure to place them on top of rocks or branches as opposed to something that retains water like soil or moss. Also, while tillandsias look good in terrariums, gardeners need to be especially careful not to overwater them – air in terrariums doesn’t circulate well, so it takes longer for the plant to dry out.

A tillandsia that isn’t getting enough light may have discolored leaves, or it may show no signs of distress until a thorough watering causes it to abruptly fall apart. While the gardener may think that watering was the cause of death, the lack of light was the real problem, preventing the plant from performing its normal functions. Tillandsias need as much bright, indirect light as possible, and Sengo suggests a few hours of gentle direct sunlight as well, such as the morning light from an east-facing window. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Why did we domesticate ferrets? What are they for?

It’s generally believed that humans domesticated cats to help us with pest control and dogs to provide protection and help with hunting and herding. One of our patrons has two pet ferrets, and he wanted to know when people began bringing ferrets into their homes, and what purpose they originally served.

We found some information in Ferrets for Dummies by Kim Schilling and Susan A. Brown’s article “History of the Ferret” on Today’s pet ferret is assumed to be a domesticated form of either the Western or Eastern European polecat, and they have been in our lives for about 2,500 years. It’s not certain who first tamed them. While some sources say Egypt, citing hieroglyphs depicting weasel-like creatures, Schilling believes that the hieroglyphs were probably depicting native mongooses, which were kept as pets to kill snakes and small rodents. While mongooses look similar to ferrets and weasels, they are not part of the same family. Ferrets, weasels, otters, wolverines, badgers, martens, stoats, and minks are all Mustelids.

Ferrets seem to have been first domesticated for hunting and pest control. Between 63 BC and 24 AD, Caesar Augustus was requested to sail ferrets out to the Balearic Islands where an overpopulation of rabbits was causing a famine. They assisted hunters in catching the rabbits. (The practice of hunting with ferrets, called “ferreting,” involves releasing the ferrets near a burrow. The ferret is not meant to catch the game, just drive it out of its burrow to where the hunter is waiting. The ferrets would often have bells on their collars so that the hunters could keep track of them, and sometimes they would also be tethered.)

Like cats, ferrets were considered very useful on ships for the ability to keep the rodent population down. The Colonial Navy of Massachusetts named the ferret their official mascot in 1986, saying that, in the days of wooden ships, ferrets were even better than cats, as they could fit into all the tiny nooks and crannies where mice tried to hide.

Ferrets were once even used to transport wires and cables through narrow pipes. According to Brown and Schilling, oilmen, telephone companies, camera crews, and sailors have used them in this way. People would tie the wire or cable to the ferret or its harness and the ferret would run through the pipe on its own.

They are still raised for their fur, although this is less common than it once was, and they’re often used in biomedical research. However, most people today know them as companion animals.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Where can I find information on mental health?

“I’m doing research for school and I need to find information on mental health.”

The Newton Falls Public Library has a section devoted to mental health, including books on the history of mental illness, memoirs, and books to help people and their families understand, treat, and live with their mental illness. DSM-5 Made Easy: The Clinician’s Guide to Diagnosis, written by James Morrison, and Mental Health Disorders Sourcebook, edited by Amy L. Sutton, provide basic information on a variety of different disorders.

We also looked online. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, founded in 1979, has a lot of information on their website, They provide information on symptoms, treatment, and support on everything from anxiety to schizophrenia. Database resources are available as well. The Ohio Web Library provides access to Consumer Health Complete, a database of health information including videos, diagrams, magazine articles, fact sheets, and scholarly reports.

Our patron was specifically looking for information on illnesses similar to schizophrenia. We found schizoaffective disorder, who involves a person having some of the symptoms of schizophrenia (including delusions, disorganized thoughts or speech, hallucinations, and reduced emotions or behavior, such as a flat voice and expression or a lack of pleasure in life) for at least a month, along with symptoms of depression of bipolar disorder. Morrison also mentions schizophreniform disorder, which might be diagnosed when a person has only been showing symptoms of schizophrenia for less than six months. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

When should I prune my roses?

No one here at the Newton Falls Public Library grows roses, but we do have access to a lot of gardening books. We checked Lewis Hill’s Pruning Made Easy, Rayford Clayton Reddell’s The Rose Bible, and to find answers for our patron. As it turned out, the subject was more contentious than we expected.

Some gardeners like to prune in the fall so that the rosebushes don’t need to carry the extra wood through the winter. Cutting off spindly canes will prevent them from whipping against their neighbors, and shortening long canes will reduce the likelihood of them being loosened by the winter weather.

However, other gardeners believe that fall pruning makes it more difficult for the rose to survive the winter, because they’re losing food stored in their branches. Also, pruning also tends to jumpstart new growth, which is then killed by the cold. They prefer to prune in spring, clearing away dead and damaged wood from the winter and previous season.

Julie Washington, a writer for the Plain Dealer, interviewed a few of Northeastern Ohio’s rose experts in October 2013, and they were very firm: don’t prune until the spring in Ohio. They also recommend that gardeners clear dead leaves from around their roses, and perhaps treat them with a commercially available dormant oil or spray.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Where do I go to vote?

Several of our patrons have been unsure of where to go to cast their ballot on November 8. Fortunately, the Ohio Secretary of State website has made that information easy to find.

To find out where to vote, go to, type in your first name and last name, and select your county. It will bring up your polling location, precinct, and congressional, Senate, and State Representative districts., also part of the Secretary of State’s website, is another option. It uses a slightly different method to determine your polling place – it links to your county’s board of elections website and goes from there – but the end result is the same. A wealth of information is available on the website, and you can do things like view a sample ballot, get information on early, provisional, and absentee voting, and track your absentee ballot.

For more information on the election, the League of Women Voters of Trumbull County have put out their voter information guide, copies of which are available here at the Newton Falls Public Library. According to the League’s website, they have been working to distribute 10,000 copies not only to all the libraries, senior centers, and high schools in Trumbull County, but to area businesses as well. The League of Women Voters of Kent, covering southern Portage County, has put their guide online here.

If you would like us to help look up your polling place, please call or visit us here at the library.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Whatever happened to colored toilet paper?

One of our patrons remembered the days when toilet paper came in pastel shades of pink, yellow, green, and blue to match the bathroom d├ęcor. One day, though, he noticed that it had disappeared from the shelves. According to the blog on, Scott was one of the last holdouts, and it produced its last beige, blue, and pink rolls in 2004.

People have a few different explanations for why companies stopped making the pastel paper. Jenny Achiam on the style blog Into the Gloss remembers her doctor telling her that some of the cheaper dyes caused allergic reactions. Larry Waldbillig on the blog History’s Dumpster remembers hearing that the dyes were harming the environment, though he never heard of any proof. (Indeed, in the question-and-answer column “The Last Word” in a 2004 issue of New Scientist, someone wrote in to ask if colored toilet paper was less environmentally-friendly than the white. The answer was no, because such small amounts of dye were used, and because the dye bonded to the paper, preventing it from accumulating in the environment and from rubbing off on people’s skin.) Finally, it may simply have gone out of style. The color-matched bathroom was trendiest from the 1950’s to the 1970s, which was also when the pastel paper was most popular.

Don’t despair, though, because colored toilet paper is still around! Though it may not be on supermarket shelves, it can be ordered from several places online. Cabela’s offers toilet paper in camo patterns, and Mill’s Fleet Farm has it in hunter’s orange. Renova produces colored toilet paper favored by exclusive night clubs, upscale boutiques, and, according to gossip magazines and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, celebrities like Beyonce and Kris Jenner. Its black roll even received a write-up in the New York Times in 2006.

On a final note, we found an article in a 2012 issue of Library Journal about a New York library that was using toilet paper with advertisements printed on it. Unfortunately, Star Toilet Paper, the company that provided the paper, is now closed down.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Where can I find a place that publishes poetry?

At a recent meeting of the Newton Falls Writers’ Club, one of our writers was wondering how to find a home for their poems. While it’s impossible to find a full list of all the contests and publications accepting submissions, we found a few resources that could be helpful.

A nonprofit organization called Poets & Writers has an online database of literary journal publishing everything from poetry and fiction to book reviews, essays, and visual art. Each journal has its own particular voice. Some focus on particular topics and others are devoted exclusively to certain forms (such as flash fiction or haiku). To help writers find the journal that fits them best, Poets & Writers lists whether each one is looking for poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction, which subgenres most interest them, what time of year they accept submissions. Each journal also has a brief description and a link to their website. The database can be found here. NewPages provides a similar list.

The Ohio Poetry Association, another nonprofit organization, provides a supportive network for poets and poetry-lovers. They have their own newsletter, poetry workshops, and members-only journal, and they also sponsor contests, including one for students in grades 9-12.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul company publishes anthologies of poetry and nonfiction centered around particular topics, and they accept submissions on their website. They publish stories as well as poems that tell stories, and are currently looking for stories about cats, dogs, dreams and premonitions, military families, and teachers. Their admissions page can be found here

We also have a copy of the most recent Writer’s Market here at the library which includes, along with its listings of literary agents, publishing companies, and magazines, a section on poetry contests. Many of the contests offer publication of the writer’s completed manuscript as their prize.

Again, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to stop by the library and we can help you find more resources.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Why are Gone with the Wind and The Lovely Bones on the banned books display?

The American Library Association launched Banned Books Week in 1982. It typically runs the last week of September, with the aim of educating Americans about censorship. Many libraries, including the Newton Falls Public Library, mark the occasion with displays that highlight famously banned or challenged books in their collections. We used lists such as “Frequently Challenged Classics,” “Top Ten Challenged Books by Year,” and “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books by Decade” on and for inspiration.

Though it’s called “Banned Books Week,” not all the books highlighted have been banned on a country-wide level (although some have been - for example, Salman Rushdie’s controversial 1988 book The Satanic Verses, banned in several countries including India and Iran, and James Joyce’s Ulysses, which drew complaints when it was being published as a serial in a literary magazine and was subsequently banned from the United States for more than ten years). More often, they are challenged in schools, where they are sometimes removed from reading lists or curricula, or libraries, where they can be removed from the shelves altogether. It’s worth noting that even if a book shows up on one of the banned or challenged book lists, it may have never escalated past the challenge phase. Sometimes a compromise is reached – teachers providing alternate book selections for a particular assignment, for example.

According to the American Library Association, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind has come under fire for its language and its portrayal of slavery. cites two specific examples: a 1978 ban in a California school district and a 1984 challenge in an Illinois school district. In 2008, Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones was moved to the faculty section of a Massachusetts school library after it was deemed too frightening for middle school students.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Where did the cannon in the park come from?

“Is that an authentic cannon in the park? Did they use it in the Civil War?”

One of our patrons wanted to know more about the cannon in the Newton Falls Veteran’s Memorial Park. One of our librarians took a picture of the engraved stone sign beside the cannon, and another found a few stories about it in Ella A. Woodward’s History of Newton Falls.

The cannon is not a replica, although the wheel carriage it sits on has been rebuilt several times. It was cast in Pittsburgh and then shipped to Warren via the canal. Woodward writes that Andy Carlisle and Warren Patterson went to pick it up from Warren, and that they fired it several times in excitement on the way back.

The cannon in the park is one half of a set. Both parties had one, the Democrats and the Republicans, and they were said to set them off to celebrate elections. According to lore, the Republican cannon came closest to seeing action in the Civil War. During Morgan’s Raid in the summer of 1863, the citizens of Newton Township heard that General John Hunt Morgan and his men had crossed the Ohio River. They loaded up the cannon and went to protect Warren. By the time they reached Leavittsburg, news came that Morgan had already been defeated, so they turned back toward home.

Where is the Republican cannon now? According to one of Woodward’s stories, it injured two people during a celebration and was never used after that. It was stored for a while at the Butts’ home and seems to have disappeared after being taken in to the blacksmith for repairs.

The Democrat cannon in the park was originally mounted on a carriage. When its first carriage rotted away, it was placed on a cement base. The Jaycees restored the carriage in 1975, and it was rebuilt by the Amvets Post 112 in 2003. The Amvets also provided the engraved stone, which they donated in 2006.

Friday, September 9, 2016

How do I find a specific gravesite?

“I’m looking for the grave of a family member. I know they’re buried in Newton Falls West but I’m not sure where. I also don’t remember when they died, but I think it was the early 2000s.”

There are a few popular websites for locating a specific gravesite, and The information is provided by volunteers and can include photographs and transcriptions of the headstones, family photographs, and genealogical information. BillionGraves also uses GPS tagging to pinpoint the exact location of a grave within a cemetery, but the cemeteries in Newton Falls have not been added to that site.

Fortunately, however, they have almost all been added to FindAGrave by the dedicated volunteers of the Newton Township Cemetery Association. We selected Newton Falls West and typed in the name of our patron’s relative, which brought up a picture of their headstone along with information about their parents, spouse, and place of birth and death. (If our patron had not known the cemetery, we could have searched by name alone.)

Now that we had a little more information, we called the cemetery sexton and asked if he could look up where the grave was located. He was able to give us the lot number and grave number.

Our volunteer in the local history room can also access some cemetery records going back to the 1800s (though the records aren't comprehensive, and she does not have access to deeds). She is available most Wednesdays by appointment.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Can you grow a plum tree from a pit?

We looked in The Backyard Orchardist by Stella Otto and How to Grow Food by Richard Gianfrancesco. Both contained information about growing plums, but only about growing trees from saplings or caring for trees that had already matured.

Fortunately, Amy Grant wrote an article for about growing plums from seed. The seed must be kept at temperatures around thirty to forty degrees Fahrenheit for ten to twelve weeks before it will germinate. (Sources vary on whether or not the seed needs to be removed from its protective casing, if the pit simply needs to be cracked, or if the whole pit can be planted as-is.) There are a few ways to accomplish this. Our patron could wrap the pit in a damp paper towel and put it in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator. After it sprouted, they would plant it two inches deep in an even mix of potting soil and vermiculite, keeping it cool and moist. Once there was no chance of frost, they could transplant it outside into the garden.

It’s also possible to simply plant the pit directly outside during the colder months. Grant suggests planting it three inches deep and marking the spot so that it can be found again.

Grant cautions that a plum tree grown from seed may or may not bear fruit, and the fruit may or may not taste the same as the original plum, as plum trees are generally propagated through grafting and not through seed. However, she assures that it is still a rewarding and worthwhile project.

Don’t Throw It, Grow It! by Deborah Peterson and Millicent Selsam, available at the Newton Falls Public Library, has more information on how to save kitchen scraps and grow them into plants, for anyone who is interested. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Do my dogs need special paperwork to travel?

“I’m going camping in Canada and I want to bring my dogs with me. Do they need any special paperwork?”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which regulates the import of food, plants, and animals, has a section on their website for people who are considering bringing their pets to Canada. A healthy pet dog that is over eight months old and accompanied by its owner requires a rabies vaccination certificate, but no other paperwork that we can find. The certificate must state that the dog has been vaccinated. It needs to include the dog’s sex, breed, color, and weight (for identification purposes), the date of the vaccination, the vaccine’s serial number and trade name (also known as a brand name – for example, Tylenol is a trade name for acetaminophen), and it must indicate how long the vaccine will be effective. (If there is uncertainty, the vaccine will be considered effective for one year after it was administered.) This certificate must be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian.

According to the Center for Disease Control website, dogs must also have a rabies certificate to cross the border back into the United States. They require a little more information, including the owner’s name and address and the veterinarian’s name, address, and license number. Otherwise, the requirements are about the same.

The website gives a few more tips. They recommend that, if our patron thinks their dog’s health might be called into question, it’s a good idea for them to get a health certificate from their vet as well, just to prove that their dog is not carrying anything contagious.

GoPetFriendly also calls attention to a law against pit bulls or “a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics substantially similar to any of those dogs” in Ontario. The full law can be read on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website and states that “It is against the law to bring pit bulls into Ontario, even for a short visit” and that no exceptions are made for tourists.

As our patron prepares for their trip, they can also bring up to around 44 pounds of pet food, so long as both the food and the pets it will feed are with them when they enter Canada, and so long as the food is of United States origin, and commercially packaged. (Sources vary as to whether or not the packaging can be opened.)

If our patron would like more information on camping and Canada specifically, they are welcome to check out the Lonely Planet Guide to Canada and Vin T. Sparano’s Complete Guide to Camping and Wilderness Survival, both of which are available here at the library.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How can I find the address for a house?

“Is there a way I can find out the address for a house? I don’t know who owns it, but I know the road it’s located on.”

This information is in the public record and can be found at the county auditor’s office. Often, it can also be found online using the property search function or plat map on the auditor’s website. We used the search function, since our patron knew the intersection where the property was located. (There are also options to search by the address, owner’s name, and parcel number, among others.)

First, we were prompted to choose the community from a drop-down menu. Since we didn’t know if the property was officially in Newton Falls or not, we selected “undefined/rural.” Then, we were given the option to select two roads from drop-down menus. Once we’d done this, a map came up showing parcels of land. Our patron selected one and we clicked through to see a picture of the house (which confirmed that we’d selected the correct parcel, because it was the house our patron had in mind), along with information including the names of the owners and their tax mailing address, the value of the land and annual tax, and the house’s address and school district.

We also have the 2010 Trumbull County Land Atlas and Plat Book available for checkout here at the library.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Can praying mantises change color?

“I saw a white praying mantis in my garden, and a few days later, I saw a praying mantis about the same size, but it was green. Was it the same one? Can they change color?”

It could have been! One of our circulation clerks happens to raise mantis nymphs as a hobby, and she told us that, depending on the species, mantids can change color as they molt. Like caterpillars and many other bugs, their exoskeletons do not grow with their bodies, and must be shed in order for the mantids to grow. Once they are adults, they will no longer need to do this. An adult mantis can be distinguished from a young one by the wings, which only adults have.

Mantids may turn pale for a while immediately after shedding their skin, which may have been what our patron saw. Molting is a delicate time for them and they should not be disturbed. However, if our patron saw the same mantis later, it seems to have survived the process.

Friday, July 22, 2016

How can you tell if a book is a first edition?

When collecting books, first editions are often more valuable than later editions, so it’s helpful to know how to identify them, but the answer is more complicated than we expected.

According to the page “Identifying and Collecting First Editions” on, in the publishing industry, “first edition” covers all copies of a book printed from the first setting of type. If revisions are made, the revised book is the second edition, and so on and so forth. The first set of books printed is called the first printing, or first impression. If these all sell out and the publisher decides to make more copies, the second set is the second printing, or the second impression. So something marked a “first edition” may not have necessarily been part of the initial print run – it could be from a later printing, but before any revisions were made. Collectors are generally most interested in the earliest copies published – so, the first printing of the first edition – and that’s often what they use “first edition” to mean.

Official Price Guide to Collecting Books: Sixth Edition, written by Marie Tedford and Pat Goudey, and First Editions: A Guide to Identification: Second Edition, edited by Edward N. Zempel and Linda A. Verkler, both give tips on identifying first editions. Some publishing companies will include information on the copyright page such as “First edition, First printing,” or “First published 2007,” which makes it easy, but some give no indication. Sometimes it’s only possible to tell that something is an early edition because the collector knows what to look for, such as a certain error that was later revised. For example, Tedford and Goudey use one of Laurie R. King’s books as an example. She wrote her dedication in Hebrew and in the first edition, it was printed backwards.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why have I been seeing healthy trees with patches of dead leaves?

This is called flagging! It can be caused by a variety of things, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation website, from weather-damage to insects to fungus and other diseases. At this time of year in this area, the flagging was probably caused by the periodical cicadas.

We checked and In Ohio’s Backyard: Periodical Cicadas by Gene Kritsky for more information. They explained that cicadas don’t eat that leaves, and, while they use their mouthparts to suck sap from the trees, that isn’t what’s causing the flagging. The female cicadas use a pointed appendage called an ovipositor to deposit their eggs in the new growth on the ends of tree branches, preferably deciduous trees along the edge of a forest or otherwise in full sunlight. Sometimes this causes the branches to break and droop down, causing flagging. Small or young trees are at the most risk of permanent damage, but most trees will bounce back once the dead branches drop off. It’s in the best interest of the cicada not to cause permanent harm to the tree, because their young will feed on the juices from its roots for seventeen years as they develop. (The young cicadas do not remain in the tree branches. The eggs hatch after six to eight weeks and tiny nymphs fall to the ground, eventually tunneling a foot or more into the earth.) If you see small lengthwise slits on the branches, these are oviposition scars, a good sign that the flagging was caused by cicadas. Again, it’s likely that the tree will soon be back to normal. Protect it from further stress by making sure it has adequate water and pruning it only very lightly until it’s dormant again in the winter.

For other tree troubles, The Tree Doctor: A Guide to Tree Care and Maintenance by Daniel and Erin Prendergast is available for borrowing at the library.

Friday, July 8, 2016

When was Arlington Elementary built?

A patron interested in Newton Falls history had some pictures of Arlington Elementary School but couldn’t remember exactly when it had been built.

We checked some of the local history books in our reference section. History of Newton Falls, written by Ella Woodward and revised in 1977, mentioned the then-current principal, Sam Cappelino, but didn’t go any farther back. Lima Lyman’s Lyman’s Histories and Stories of Newton Falls named the 1970 principal (Wesley Jonah) and mentioned a school built in 1920, but didn’t say which school or give more information about Arlington that we could find.

The answer was in front of us all along. The Newton Falls Public Library webpage has a History of Newton Falls section, including a paragraph about the history of education in the town. Arlington Elementary was built in 1929. The school built in 1920 was a high school, but it was damaged in the 1985 tornado and a new one was built in 1987. A new middle school was built near the high school in 2006. The old middle school, which had been built in 1971, was remodeled. In 2007, the old middle school became the new elementary school, and Arlington was demolished the following year.

Friday, June 24, 2016

What happened to the catalog?

If you’ve visited the CLEVNET catalog website recently, you’ve probably noticed its new look. CLEVNET has switched over to a new catalog site with a new look and new features. There’s also a corresponding new app – the CLEVNET app will have stopped working, and the new app to download is called BookMyne, available for both iOS and Android.

As with any big move, a few issues have popped up. Anyone having trouble logging into their account is welcome to call or visit the library for help. (Logging in with the barcode on the back of your library card, instead of your username, and capitalizing any letters in your password can sometimes solve the problem.) If you used the lists feature, some of the lists are still migrating over – one of our librarians noticed that their “to-read” list on the new site had everything they’d ever added to it, including books they’d deleted from it years ago – but they should be settling in shortly.

Media and e-media are integrated in the new catalog, so instead of going to a separate site to check out, for example, a book for your e-reader, you can do it on the same site you use to look for books in the physical library. Searches can be narrowed to show only digital materials or only library materials: there’s a green bar under the CLEVNET logo, and next to a little icon of a house, click on the drop-down menu that says “Everything” to choose which collection to search. 

Digital holds and checkouts can be viewed alongside library holds and checkouts under “My Account.”

As always, feel free to call or visit the library with any questions about the new catalog, the new app, or anything else you may be curious about.

Friday, June 17, 2016

What’s wrong with the caterpillars? Why are pieces falling off of them?

If you’ve stopped by the youth services desk in the last two weeks or if you’re following us on Twitter, you may have noticed that the Garden Club is raising painted lady butterflies. Five of them have entered their chrysalis stage, but when they were still caterpillars, we were noticing fuzzy black bits at the bottom of their enclosure. Some patrons wondered if something was wrong.

As it turns out, the fuzzy black bits were totally normal. Caterpillars are continuously growing and their exoskeletons don’t grow with them, so they must molt. They shed their head capsules first, followed by the rest of their skin, and are usually very still when preparing for a molt. They’ll often eat their old exoskeleton. We were just seeing the leftover pieces.

For more information, check out Myriam Baran’s Butterflies of the World or Paul Smart’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Butterfly World, both of which are available here are the library. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Can I get a list of local parades?

One of our patrons came in this week looking for a list of local parades. While we couldn’t find one centralized list, we did turn up some information.

The Austintown, Canfield, and Newton Falls Fourth of July celebrations have their own webpages. We found that the Austintown parade is at 2:00 pm, the Canfield parade is at 10:10 am, and the Newton Falls parade is at 10:00 am.

County tourism websites like and are also excellent resources, as are the local papers. We found information on the Harry Stevens Hot Dog parade in Niles, which is at 1:00 pm on Sunday, July 3, and the Cortland Lions Street Fair, which has a parade at 6:00 pm on Saturday, June 18.

Finally, the Ohio Festivals and Events Association has a lot of information on different festivals happening in the state throughout the year. A list of events sorted by month can be found on their website, and they also publish a brochure.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Can I exchange this certificate for gold?

“While cleaning out my mother’s house, I found a twenty-dollar bill that says “twenty dollars in gold coin payable to the bearer on demand.” It’s bigger than a regular twenty-dollar bill and it has George Washington on it. Can I really exchange it for gold?”

Our patron brought in a picture of their find and we were able to identify it as a 1922 series twenty-dollar gold certificate. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve History websites answered our patron’s question. While it can be redeemed for a regular twenty-dollar bill through any financial institution, it can no longer be exchanged for gold. In fact, for thirty years it was illegal to have a gold certificate.

Gold certificates circulated until December 28, 1933, until the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 withdrew all gold certificates, gold coin, and gold bullion from circulation. President Roosevelt gave the order that all privately-owned gold certificated be turned over to the Treasurer of the United States by midnight on January 17, 1934. It was then illegal to hold them until the restrictions were removed in 1964.

However, there is good news! According to the thirty-fourth edition of the Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money, a 1922 series twenty-dollar gold certificate in fine condition can be worth about two hundred dollars.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Is there a way to find out what was happening on a certain day in history, particularly during World War II?

In January, we answered a patron’s question about how to find an obituary that was published years ago, and that information is available on our library blog and is useful in knowing where to look for old local newspapers.

To see what was going on in any given year, we have Timetables of History by Bernard Grun, Chronology of World History by H.E.L. Mellersh, and Chronicle of the World by Jerome Burne and Derrik Mercer. These books are set up like timelines, documenting the important events that happened every year.

History, HistoryNet (publisher of several magazines including Military History), and the New York Times all have a “This Day in History” feature on their websites. The New York Times even includes a picture of the front page of the paper from a particularly significant date.

For World War II-specific information, World War II Database and both have timelines of the war that go day-by-day. We also have VFW’s Pictorial History of the Second World War, which is a chronological collection of captioned photographs.

For further research, the Newton Falls Public Library has an extensive collection of World War II nonfiction, including The Second World War by Antony Beevor, Eyewitness to World War II by Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop, and The War: An Intimate History 1941-1945 by Geoffrey G. Ward and Ken Burns.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Is this a good time to transplant roses?

According to,, The American Horticulture Society Encyclopedia of Gardening, and Rayford Clayton Reddell’s The Rose Bible, the best time to transplant roses is during their dormant season, which generally lasts from late winter until early spring. It’s best to wait until the threat of frost has passed, so early spring, from March to April, tends to be a good bet (though this has been an unusual year for weather, with snow in late April). While roses can be transplanted once they’ve started to bloom and grow, it’s more difficult.

Our resources gave a few tips for successful transplantation. Prune back the rose before moving it. When digging up the rose to move it, dig deep enough to get as much of the root ball as possible. Plant it in a well-prepared bed where no roses have previously grown and make sure to water it well after planting and not to fertilize it until it’s established.

For more information, check out Designing with Roses by Tony Lord, Rose Basics by Amanda Beales, and 365 Days of Gardening by Christine Allison.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Why the donkey and the elephant?

The election season having sparked their curiosity, one of our patrons commented on our Facebook page to ask who chose the donkey and the elephant to represent Democrats and Republicans.

According to Smithsonian Magazine and, it was the famous nineteenth-century political cartoonist Thomas Nast who linked the donkey and elephant to the Democratic and Republican parties, though he was not the first person to use the symbols.

The donkey had been used in reference to Democrat Andrew Jackson during his 1828 campaign. While it was meant as a criticism, Jackson reclaimed it as his own symbol, drawing attention to the donkey’s positive qualities of steadfastness and determination.

The elephant may have been based on the phrase “seeing the elephant,” which soldiers used to refer to having experienced combat. It was first used in an Abraham Lincoln campaign newspaper in 1864, where it was depicted celebrating Union victories.

For more information, the biography Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons by Fiona Deans Halloran is available through CLEVNET

Friday, April 15, 2016

Do you have any information on wood gas?

Wood gas is an alternative fuel created by burning wood (or other biomass) in a machine called a gasifier. During World War II, wood-gas-powered generators and vehicles provided a way to get around the petroleum shortage. According to Richard Freudenberger’s article in Mother Earth News, there were over one million wood gas civilian vehicles in Asia and Europe by the end of the war.

One of our patrons was building their own gasifier and hoped to find some resources at the library. They checked out The Homeowner’s Energy Handbook by Paul Scheckel, which had a small section of information, but they were hoping for building plans. We looked in some of the other books about sustainable and off-the-grid living, including Chris Peterson’s Practical Projects for Self-Sufficiency, and we checked our collection of Foxfires and even some of our history books, but we couldn’t turn up anything.

We moved on to searching our online research databases. Typing “wood gas” into Academic Search Premier, one of the multidisciplinary databases available through CLEVNET, brought up a multitude of articles. Some were from scholarly journals, and one was “Wood Gas Wizard,” Freudenberger’s Mother Earth News article from April 2012. Freudenberger interviewed Wayne Keith, an Alabama farmer who was unwilling to pay more than $1.50 a gallon for gasoline. Keith started powering his vehicles with wood gas in 2004. His website,, provides plans and other resources for others looking to do the same.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Why are my fish disappearing?

One of our patrons was concerned about their home aquarium. They had maintained it for many years, but their older fish were starting to die off. They had started to add new fish, but a few of those fish had disappeared. Was one of the older fish eating them? Was something wrong with the environment?

Assuming that the tank was tightly covered, the water was clean, pH balanced, free of harmful chemicals, and an appropriate temperature, and the fish were not being under- or over-fed, we checked Mary Bailey and Peter Burgess’s Tropical Fishlopaedia, Maddy and Mic Hargrove’s Freshwater Aquariums for Dummies, Dick Mills’s Aquarium Fish, Stuart Thraves’s Setting Up a Tropical Aquarium Week-by-Week, John Davies’s Complete Encyclopedia of the Freshwater Aquarium, and for more information.

Our patron’s aquarium included a Buenos Aires tetra, a rainbow shark, and a rosy barb. They had been attempting to add an otocinclus catfish and a few varieties of platys and tetras.

According to Bailey and Burgess, an omnivorous fish who has never bothered its old tankmates may go after small new fish. If it came into the aquarium at the same time as the old fish, or if it was too small to eat them when they were added, the omnivore seems to recognize them as companions and not food. It’s used to food coming from above – which is also where new fish are introduced. Platys, tetras, and barbs are omnivores, and Thraves mentions that it’s common for larger fish to pick off neon tetras, so that could be a problem. While our patron’s fish are generally known to be peaceful, Buenos Aires tetras can get aggressive as they age, especially the larger ones. Rainbow sharks (which are not actual sharks but are closely related to barbs and danios) are also somewhat aggressive and territorial, especially toward their own kind. Only one should be kept in an aquarium and it should be given plenty of places to hide. (The Buenos Aires tetra and the rosy barb, on the other hand, are schooling fish and are happiest in groups of at least six.)

It’s also possible that the fish were simply unhealthy when our patron purchased them, or that they didn’t take well to the stress of transport, depending on how long they lasted. The otocinclus catfish in particular is known to be delicate and often has trouble acclimating to a new environment.

If our patron is still worried about their fish, Tropical Fishlopaedia and Freshwater Aquariums for Dummies both have information on troubleshooting aquarium problems.

Friday, April 1, 2016

What kind of nickname is Sagehen?

“In the book I’m reading, other characters call the main character the Sagehen. Why do you think they call her that?”

One of our patrons was enjoying The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas, a work of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century Colorado. Gracy Brookens, the main character, is a midwife in a small mining town. Other characters sometimes refer to her as “the Sagehen.”

Our first guess was that it was akin to calling Gracy a mother hen or a mama bird in reference to her maternal nature. “Sagehen” is an informal word for the sage-grouse, a chicken-sized bird that calls the sagebrush of the American West its home. However, after doing more research, we found an interview with Sandra Dallas on the blog Let Them Read Books where she talks about what inspired her to write her novel. Her main inspiration was a poem called “In These Rude Airs” from Belle Turnbull’s book The Tenmile Range. Dallas met Turnbull in 1963 when the poet was an elderly lady living in a Colorado cabin, and remembers her as “a gentle creature” though her poetry had a hard edge to it. “In These Rude Airs” centers around another midwife called the Sagehen and Dallas created Gracy Brookens as a response, though she’s a much gentler character.

For curious readers, The Tenmile Range and The Last Midwife are both available for borrowing through CLEVNET.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Why do the buzzards come to Hinckley?

Spring officially began on March 20, but it unofficially began on March 15 in Hinckley with the annual return of the buzzards (technically known as turkey vultures) to Hinckley Reservation. According to the Hinckley Chamber of Commerce, the buzzards’ return was first pointed out by patrolman Walter Nawalaniec in 1957. He had been noticing them for six years, and his predecessor on the force had seen them fly in every March 15 for twenty-five years prior. Nawalaniec related the story to a Cleveland Press reporter and a local historian in February of 1957. The buzzards came back that year and every year since.

Why do they come to roost in Hinckley? No one’s sure. In a post on the Cleveland Metroparks blog, Foster Brown put forth two possible reasons. According to the first, more likely theory, Hinckley’s river, lake, ledges, and tall trees make it an ideal habitat for the buzzards, with nearby woodlands and farms providing a source of food. The second has the ring of legend to it. As the story goes, an enormous hunt in 1818 resulted in a pile of hundreds of animal carcasses, a veritable buzzard feast. Every year since then, the buzzards have come back in the hopes of finding more food set out for them.

For more information, check out Bruce G. Peterjohn’s The Birds of Ohio or Bill Thompson III’s Ohio Bird Watching: A Year-Round Guide, both available at the Newton Falls Public Library. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Can I use "til" or "till" instead of "until"? Which one is correct?

English is a strange language. Words are easily confused and their meanings aren’t always intuitive. It looks as though “til” is short for “until” and “till” is an entirely separate word, but that’s not exactly the case.

“Till” does have a few different meanings. It can refer to a supply of money or the act of cultivating land. It can also be used interchangeably with “until.” In fact, all three are correct. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, “till” developed from the Old English “til.” The “un-” (meaning “up to”) in “until” was added later. In the 18th century, “’till” was the trendy spelling, as though the word were an abbreviation of “until” and not a word in its own right.

Anyone looking to further their understanding of English grammar is welcome to check out Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, Mary Norris’s Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, or Michael Strumpf and Auriel Douglas’s The Grammar Bible. All of these books are available for borrowing at the Newton Falls Public Library.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Why do my dogs lick each other's ears?

“I have two Labradors and they’re always licking each other’s ears. Why do they do that?”

According to What Dogs Want by Arden Moore, Caring for Your Dog by Bruce Fogle, and the article “Why Do My Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?” by Lisa McQuerry, there are a few possible reasons. Dogs lick to relive stress or just for something to do, so they could be anxious or bored. It’s also a way to show submission – when two dogs meet, the lower-ranking dog will often lick the higher-ranking dog.

However, it’s also just a good-natured show of companionship. From a young age, dogs will lick each other to establish and re-affirm bonds. Mothers will groom their puppies, and the puppies will lick her muzzle to indicate that they’re hungry. If our patron’s Labradors are friendly with one another and otherwise content, they’re likely engaging in friendly allogrooming.

While this is likely a harmless display of canine friendship, McQuerry cautions to keep an eye on the dogs to be sure that moisture from excessive ear-licking doesn’t lead to an infection.

For more information on dogs, Decoding Your Dog and Myrna Milani’s Dogsmart are both available for borrowing here at Newton Falls Public Library.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Can you give me any information on how to clean suede?

Suede boots are particularly popular in the winter, but they’re unfortunately prone to stains and scuffing. We looked through several books and websites and found a collection of suede-cleaning tips.

Commercial suede-cleaning products are available (though be sure to only use cleaners specifically designed for suede, not general leather cleaners, as they can mat down suede’s signature soft nap). A suede brush, soft, dry toothbrush, or soft nailbrush is also useful. Brush against the nap to remove dirt, and then brush it back into place to restore its appearance.

If a stain doesn’t come off with the help of a brush, try an eraser – something called a “suede eraser” can be purchased for this very purpose, though an art gum eraser may also work.

There was one area where our sources disagreed – some recommended using undiluted white vinegar to lift stains and some cautioned against it. Anyone willing to try this method would probably do best to first test it in an inconspicuous area.

We found our information in Fix It, Clean It, and Make It Last and Jeff Bredenberg’s Clean It Fast, Clean It Right, and on the websites One Good Thing by Jillee and HowToCleanStuff.Net. Both of the books are available for checkout here at the library.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Can I get an obituary from 2000?

“I need a copy of an obituary that was in the Plain Dealer in 2000. Is there a way for me to get it?”

Most libraries with a genealogy or local history department have newspapers archived, and there’s often a index to help find exactly which issue to look in. Since our patron was looking for an obituary from the Plain Dealer, we checked Cleveland Public Library.

We searched the Cleveland News Index for the name of our patron’s family member and found the issue, section, and page that their obituary was on. We emailed this information to the Cleveland Public Library Center for Local and Global History, and they were able to email us a scanned copy of the obituary. If our patron had been looking for something older, the Plain Dealer also has an online archive containing all their issues from 1845-1991.

Different libraries have different newspapers. Here at Newton Falls, we keep old copies of the Bridge and bound editions of the Herald in our Local History Room. The Akron-Summit County Public Library has indexed issues of the Akron-Beacon Journal (though only obituaries, not articles, are indexed from 1940-1984). Reed Memorial Library has all of the Record Courier on microfilm. An index for the Tribune Chronicle obituaries can be found at, and the Warren-Trumbull County Library Local History and Genealogy Center can assist with getting copies of the obituaries in question. The Genealogy and Local History Center at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County can access the Vindicator archives, though the pre-1920 indexes are incomplete which makes it more difficult to find information from that era. Finally, the McKinley Memorial Library has digitized local Niles newspapers, and they are available at

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. Any patrons seeking an obituary (or any other information) are welcome to call the library and we will do our best to find it.