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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ask The Librarian

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“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...

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

“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...

“I don’t understand everything that goes into Ohio’s school ranking system. Could you help?”

Up until the 2013-2013 school year, Ohio public schools and school districts were given one of six ratings: Excellent with Distinction, Excellent, Effective, Continuous Improvement, Academic Watch, and Academic Emergency. The ratings were based on attendance, high school graduation rates, how many students passed the state tests and how well they scored, and the value-added calculation, which is meant...

“I inherited a Chandler pastel painting. Could you give me more information on the artist?”

If you’d like to see a Chandler painting in person, the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown has “Scene in the Adirondacks” in its collection.

“What makes potatoes start sprouting? Are they okay to eat?”

If you’ve left a bag of potatoes sitting around for a while, you might have noticed them starting to grow green, white, or somewhat purple sprouts. That’s the potato trying to grow into a new plant. The sprouts themselves, as well as any green part of the potato, are home to a toxic alkaloid called solanine and must be removed....

“What used to be built near the falls in Newton Falls? Was there a mill or anything like that?” 

We were able to find a lot of information in “Fragments of History of Newton Falls and Newton Township, Ohio,” compiled, edited, and annotated by Wendell F. Lauth and the Friends of the Newton Falls Public Library and “History of Newton Falls,” compiled by Ella A. Woodward. “Fragments of History” even included a picture of the falls, circa 1900, with the Hoyle Woolen Mill on one side and part of the Eagle Mills on the left.

“I have a pregnant stray cat hanging around my house. How long until she has her babies? When can I get her fixed?”

Sources vary on how old they need to be, anywhere from eight weeks to twelve, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian and see what they recommend.

“I’m planning a trip. Is there a way to find out beforehand how much the tolls will cost?”

If you’re planning a trip in this last stretch of summer and you want to plan ahead and find out how much cash you’ll need to pay the tolls, you’re in luck... For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.

“Where did Lake Milton get its name?”

We checked the Milton Township website , which includes information on its history. From the website, we learned that Milton Township was originally home to the Erie Indians until the Iroquois Confederacy went to war with them in 1653. Settlers, including Nathaniel Stanley, Aaron Porter, and John Van Netten, arrived in 1803. The town was one of the most...

“What’s the soda Pepsi introduced to compete with TaB?”

Royal Crown Cola’s Diet-Rite, introduced in 1958, was one of the first diet sodas on the market. Once the nation started watching its weight and Royal Crown Cola started advertising Diet-Rite as a soda rather than a specialized diet product, the Coca-Cola company knew they had to do something to compete. In 1963, Coca-Cola introduced TaB, their first diet soda....

“How do deer make it through the winter?”

Even as hot as it’s been lately, one of our patrons is looking ahead to colder months, concerned for the deer that have to weather them. We found our answers in Leonard Lee Rue III’s “The Deer of North America” and “Way of the Whitetail” and the websites of New Brunswick’s Natural Resources Department , the Vermont Fish and...

“Why are wedding showers and baby showers called ‘showers’?”

It’s a good question. We couldn’t find a definitive answer in either R. Brasch’s “How Did It Begin?” or William S. Walsh’s “Curiosities of Popular Customs.” However, we’ve always heard the explanation that showers are so-called because the guest-of-honor is “showered” with gifts. Several websites second the theory, including BrideAndGroom.com. (It also gives the legend for the origin of...

“My daughter’s hair is straight, but my hair and her father’s hair are both curly. Isn’t curly hair dominant?”

According to “Ask a Geneticist” on The Tech Museum of Innovation’s website and “What causes people to have straight or curly hair?” by Robert Jones on www.howitworksdaily.com, curly hair is a dominant trait. However, if both parents actually have wavy hair, it’s possible for them to have a straight-haired daughter. Remember doing Punnett squares in biology class? CC represents...

“An old friend moved to France and sent me her address. Could you show me her town on a map?”

All of the computers here at the Newton Falls Public Library are installed with Google Earth, a program that allows users to take a virtual tour of almost anywhere in the world. We were able to type in our patron’s friend’s address and, from the comfort of a library computer in Ohio, take a virtual walk down her street,...

“I stocked my pond with bluegill a few years ago and I’d like to know how long they live.”

Our extensive collection of gardening books at the Newton Falls Public Library includes several on water gardening, such as Helen Nash’s “The Pond Doctor,” Richard Bird’s “Water Gardens,” and Peter Robinson’s “Complete Guide to Water Gardening.” However, these books all dealt more with the ornamental kinds of fish such as goldfish and koi. We couldn’t find any mention of...

“Which monks take a vow of silence?”

While we couldn’t find the answer in our copy of The Religions Book, nor by looking under “monasticism” and “vow” in Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions, searching online turned up a variety of resources. As it turns out, the Christian monks most strongly associated with silence are the Trappists. However, according to www.trappists.org and www.ocso.org (OCSO stands for “Order of...

“I’m writing a story about cowboys, and I’d like to incorporate authentic cowboy slang. Could you help?”

While we have “Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang” and “A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles” available in the reference section here at the Newton Falls Public Library, both are more useful for looking up the origins of specific words and phrases. Putting “cowboy slang” into an online search engine brings up quite a few websites, but we had a...

“I’d like to learn more about using computers, but I can’t make it in to all the classes at the library. Are there online classes I can take?”

The Newton Falls Public Library offers free computer classes and one-on-one times three Mondays and one Saturday every month. However, we understand that everyone has busy schedules. Fortunately, there are online resources available. Cynthia Casterline, our technology educator, recommended LearningExpress Library and GCFLearnFree.org. LearningExpress Library requires that you set up an account first at a participating library (such as Newton...

“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...

“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...

“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...

“How do birds stay warm in the winter?”

One of our patrons stocks several bird feeders year-round. With the cold weather we’ve been having lately, she was worried about how her birds were keeping warm. Putting “how do birds stay warm” into an online search engine showed that this is a popular concern. Some birds will fly south for the winter, especially the species that eat insects rather...

“What happened to the lady who used to sit at the desk?”

We’ve gotten this question a lot in the past few months. The desk everyone’s been talking about is the reference desk, and the lady in question is Carol Baker, who had been our reference and adult services librarian here for quite a while. If you’ve been to the Newton Falls Public Library in the past thirty seven years, chances...

“Can businesses refuse to accept cash?”

While none of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library are lawyers, we have several resources at hand that we could use to help answer our patron’s question. We weren’t able to find the answer in either Nolo’s “Encyclopedia of Everyday Law” or the American Bar Association’s “Complete Personal Legal Guide,” so we took our search to the Internet....

“Do you have any information on cleaning and caring for a cast-iron skillet?”

One of our Newton Falls Public Library patrons had recently inherited a cast-iron skillet and wanted to be sure they were taking care of it properly so that it would perform at its best. We checked Consumer Reports Books’ “How to Clean Practically Anything” and Don Aslett’s “How Do I Clean the Moosehead? and 99 More Tough Questions About Housecleaning,”...

“How can I get my dog therapy-certified?”

Many of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library have seen therapy dogs at work, whether at hospitals, nursing homes, or even colleges. Therapy dogs are different from service dogs such as seeing-eye dogs and seizure-response dogs. While service dogs are specifically trained to assist a person with their documented disability, therapy dogs are pets with the training...

“Can you help me find a short story I read in high school? I want to read it again, but I can’t remember what it’s called or who wrote...

At the Newton Falls Public Library, we understand how discouraging it can be when you can’t find what you’re looking for. Our patron remembered that the story was about a son going through his father’s belongings to discover that he had been a prisoner of war in Vietnam. She also remembered that her high school had used the Language...

“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...

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...

“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...

“Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with tenosynovitis in my hand. Could you find me some more information on it?”

“Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with tenosynovitis in my hand. Could you find me some more information on it?” Though none of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library are doctors, and therefore aren’t qualified to give medical advice, we could certainly provide the resources to help answer our patron’s question. First, we wanted to define tenosynovitis. -Itis...

“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...

“I’ve heard the expression ‘like white on rice,’ but I’m not really sure if I’m correct in understanding what it means. Can you find me the information?”

English has some very unusual phrases that the patrons and staff of the Newton Falls Public Library have found to be interesting. Our search began in the library’s reference collection.  On the cover of Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green, which is, according to Evening Star Standard  reviewer Jonathan Meades says “. . . a terrific piece of work...

“I remember many years ago that there were a pair of pianists who played the song Exodus. Can you find me their names?”

“I remember many years ago that there were a pair of pianists who played the song Exodus. Can you find me their names?”  Some of the more mature library staff also remembered the pair and that their initials were F & T, but nothing more. The online search for the words “dual pianists played Exodus” brought immediate results. The Wikipedia...

“I need a chart of the growing periods of tomatoes. Can you help me?”

The Newton Falls Public Library staff understands the importance of this information to home gardeners, so they can determine the best selection of plants for our growing season. We showed our patron Ortho’s Complete Guide to Vegetables by Jacqueline Hériteau which has several pages of descriptions of various tomatoes with growing periods.  Our patron stated that he wanted a printed...

“Why is Fido a popular name for a dog? Where does it come from?”

Over the years, the Newton Falls Public Library staff has found that patrons are often interested in the origins of words. We began our search with a selection of print materials including the Oxford English Dictionary and Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang by John Green, and Pet Names by Jean E. Taggart.  In our shared Clevnet catalog we found the title...

“I need a book about chipmunks.”

“I need a book about chipmunks.”  The Newton Falls Public Library staff member wasn’t too surprised by the statement; we have another patron who enjoys books about squirrels.  After careful questioning as to the exact nature of information wanted about chipmunks, it was learned the our patron is having a problem with chipmunks in their garden.  She wished to...

“I am looking for a knitting pattern for a poncho that has cuffs…”

“I am looking for a knitting pattern for a poncho that has cuffs. I saw one online, but now I can’t find it again.”  The Newton Falls Public Library staff had trouble imaging what the garment looked like, so we asked for clarification. “It is a poncho you pull over your head, but along the edge there are cuffs...

“I’m trying to remember the name of a drug store chain from the 1950s, 1960s…”

“I’m trying to remember the name of a drug store chain from the 1950s, 1960s.  There was one near where I lived in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., and I remember there was also one in Youngstown.  The one in Washington was replaced by Gray Drugs. Can you find the name of the store for me?”  Questions such as...

Did You Hear That?

As you hear the echoes of whirling winds throwing leaves and while changes in weather chills your bones, October is a month rich in tradition of ghostly tales and old folklore. Whether it’s idle curiosity, a sense to hear scary stories, or suspenseful intrigue, Portage County District Library has an enormous collection to satisfy any appetite. Here is just...

“I’m interested in railway to bike trails…”

“I’m interested in railway to bike trails; the ones that are constructed along abandoned railways. Can you find me a map of the railroad that used to run north and south through Newton Falls?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff knew that the tracks ran along River St., next to where the former railroad station stands. We searched the Internet,...

“What makes a rock maple table different from a regular maple table?”

“What makes a rock maple table different from a regular maple table?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff began their investigation in the library’s woodworking books. We found a complete list of various woods with photographs and descriptions in The Complete Manual of Woodworking by Albert Jackson, David Dan and Simon Jennings, p. 26. There are two kinds of...

“I really enjoy audio books, but my CD player broke. I would like to try something other than a CD one. Is there another portable way to listen to...

Our caller said, “I really enjoy audio books, but my CD player broke. I would like to try something other than a CD one. Is there another portable way to listen to books?” Many members of the Newton Falls Public Library staff also enjoy listening to works by their favorite authors while driving or doing chores. Many of us listen...

“My husband and I enjoy feeding the squirrels peanuts in the shell…”

“My husband and I enjoy feeding the squirrels peanuts in the shell. We recently bought salted ones and my niece told me it wasn’t safe to give them salted ones. Is that true?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff understands people wanting to make sure they are giving animals proper foods. The library’s copy of Squirrels: a wildlife handbook by...

“A friend of mine died several years ago…”

“A friend of mine died several years ago and I was trying to find the death certificate. I don’t want to have to pay for a copy; is there any way you can help me find the information?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff began the online search. The USGenWeb Project had information about how to request documents from...

“I’m trying to register for unemployment and the site is saying I already have an account. I don’t remember doing this.”

A very frustrated patron approached the Newton Falls Public Library staff, saying “I’m trying to register for unemployment and the site is saying I already have an account. I don’t remember doing this.” Unfortunately, at that time, the staff members were not able...

“I have this shrub growing in my garden…”

“I have this shrub growing in my garden,” said the Newton Falls Public Library patron, as she showed a small branch to the library staff member. “Can you help me figure out what it is?” The branch had small white flowers, about an inch long, growing in pairs from a single stalk. The leaves were opposite of each other,...

“Is there a reason why there is a specific finger for engagement and wedding rings?”

“Is there a reason why there is a specific finger for engagement and wedding rings?” asked the patron, who assured us that he had no immediate plans. The Newton Falls Public Library staff is aware of the custom of wearing these rings on the next to last finger of the left hand, but never considered the reason behind it.Knowing...

“I’m having a problem with my cable company and can’t resolve the issue…”

“I’m having a problem with my cable company and can’t resolve the issue. I was told to contact my local franchise authority, but I can’t seem to locate a contact...

“What happened to the recycling bins which used to be by the Community Center?”

Over the last few weeks this has been a frequent question at the Newton Falls Public Library. “What happened to the recycling bins which used to be by the Community Center?” Our staff confessed we didn’t know, but we would find out. We contacted the Newton Falls City Manager’s office and asked their staff. We were informed that because the...

“Can you help me to find information about a piece of property?”

“Can you help me to find information about a piece of property?” Over the years, this question has been asked of Newton Falls Public Library staff...

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