Libraries create millions in value for their communities

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The libraries in Wood County generated $35.5 million in economic value in 2017. Wood County District Public Library Director Michael Penrod presented those figures to trustees at their meeting Monday morning. That figure was a local update of a report originally commissioned by the Ohio Library Council in 2016. The update was done by Woodlink, which brings together the county’s the eight library systems. Those libraries provided just over $8 million worth of services in the year, and the direct return on investment was $3.44 for every dollar’s worth of services, or $27.7 million in direct return on investment. The multiplier reflects the impact of the money patrons save by using library services and how that flows through the economy. That brings the amount to $35.5 million. The report looks only at the impact of services provided, not money spent, such as salaries. The eight library systems in the county, in addition to Wood County District, which has a branch in Walbridge, are: Pemberville Public, which operates branches in Luckey and Stony Ridge; Kaubisch Memorial in Fostoria; North Baltimore Public; Rossford Public; Way Public in Perrysburg; and Weston, which operates a branch in Grand Rapids. Penrod said it is important that the library seek donations as well as tax dollars. The Library Foundation provides a large financial boost with the money it raises at a summer benefit held at Schedel Arboretum & Gardens. Penrod encouraged the trustees to promote the event in the community. The 10th Annual Library Benefit will be held Thursday, July 19. Tickets are $100. Last year it raised $100,000. That money is used to purchase books – in all forms, Penrod said. He said that the money does not replace money from the state or raised by the library’s levy, but supplements those dollars, allowing the library to spend more than the average amount on materials. The event features a live and silent auction. It is not, Penrod said, an event where people come expecting to find a bargain at auction, but rather expect to pay a premium as a way to show their support for the library. Trustees John Fawcett said he’ heard from a couple people that they wished there were lesser priced fundraising options included, such as a lottery where everyone who buys a ticket has an equal chance. Board President Brian Paskvan said that could be taken under advisement for next year. Also Penrod said that he’s seen no noticeable change in the state support checks, he’s received. The state support for public libraries is based on a percentage of tax receipts, and those have been increasing.

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Sometimes patrons’ requests tax librarians’ desire to serve

By DAVID  DUPONT BG Independent News Librarians love to say “yes.” Service is the name of the game. But they have their limits. Michael Penrod, Wood County District Public Library director, shared some of those limits with the Board of Trustees Monday. He said he wanted to start giving the trustees some insight into the professional lives of librarians. And tax season, when folks flock to the library for forms and information, is an apt time to talk about limits. The Internal Revenue Service has been supplying fewer and fewer paper forms to libraries as it pushes taxpayers to file online. Some folks are resisting, Penrod said. A librarian can show a patron where the form they ask for is, or where to find I online and even help them print out the form from the IRS website. They cannot, however, tell the taxpayer whether that really is the form they need, or whether they are filling it out properly. For that, Penrod said, they need to consult a tax professional. That’s what he does. The library staff can direct patrons to non-profit services that can give help them do their taxes. It’s not only taxes. Michele Raine, the assistant library director, says the advent of DYI divorces can be a strain on library staff. The library again can point the way to where a patron can find legal information, but not tell them what information they should be searching for. They can show them how to use Ohio Revised Code, but can’t advise them what section applies to whatever problem they have. “People are looking for reassurance we can’t give them,” Raine said. “That’s the bottomline.” Penrod said a woman came in who had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He brought her reliable sources and lent an ear. But could not give medical advice. Raine said that the staff who are notaries public recently went through a training during which they were cautioned that because of librarians’ reputation for helpfulness that they may be targeted to sign questionable papers. They were warned to be vigilant. Penrod said he once was helping a man copy pages from an out-of-print reference book until he realized the man’s intent was to copy the entire book, have it bound, and then sell it. The staff in the Children’s Place love to have young patrons come in looking for books or taking part in the numerous programs the library offers. However, they draw the line at babysitting a child while the parent is at work. And if someone’s looking for a painting contractor, library staff can help find a list of all the local businesses. That staff member, though, is forbidden from recommending an uncle, even if that uncle is the best in town. That would be a serious ethical breach, Penrod said….

Library budget reflects need to address wear and tear

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Wood County District Public Library trustees Monday approved a permanent budget for operations. The $3,079,738 budget is 8.7 percent less than what was spent in 2017, but that budget reflected costs for adding onto and renovating the Walbridge branch library. Library Director Michael Penrod said he tends to include a bit more money in some lines, so he doesn’t have keep coming back to the trustees to make transfers from one budget line to another. The largest chunk of the library’s expenditures is for personnel-related costs at 52.41 percent. He said he can’t really predict what will happen in personnel for the year. He did note that the library saved money by changing one vacant full-time position to two 20-hour-a-week positions. This will enable the library to better cover its seven-day a week schedule, he said. Also, it saves on health insurance. Much of the discussion focused on the $200,000 budgeted for property maintenance. The library’s own new addition and renovation will turn 15 this year. “This building will be old enough to get its learner’s permit,” Penrod said. And, as noted by Brian Paskvan, president of the board, the building gets used by the public. “That’s what we want.” But that also means wear and tear. The library has had persistent leaks in the roof, with buckets strategically placed to catch the water above the ceiling tiles. That will be addressed… again. Also, the library’s windows need to be cleaned this year. That takes a power lift. While the lift is on site, Penrod said, it can be used to check other exterior features. The lights in the atrium will be replaced. The bulb type in the fixture are no longer manufactured, so they will be replaced with LED lights. That will save money in the long run, Penrod said. He said that custodian JJ Hofner has been replacing incandescent bulbs with LED throughout the building. The initial cost is higher but it will result in future savings because they last longer and use less electricity. The library grounds also need another application of mulch in its various gardens, and its parking lot near the Carter House needs paving. Penrod also noted that this budget includes a separate line item for ebooks, $120,000, which distinct from the purchase other electronic materials. Ebooks are an increasing share of what people borrow from the library, said Michele Raine, assistant director. This means fewer people may be coming into the library to borrow books. However, as Penrod showed in his year-end figures for 2017 that decline in traffic is made up for by people coming to the library for programming. On the revenue side, the budget anticipates bringing in $50,000 through various fees, that despite an anticipated loss of $20,000 because it stopped collecting fines…

Humorous & soulful sounds on tap as BGSU pianists take center stage at library atrium

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Laughter is not the usual response to music performed at a piano recital, but that’s the reaction Varis Vatcharanukul has gotten when he’s performed “The Body of Your Dreams.” The composition by Dutch contemporary composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis, known as JacobTV, will close the piano concert in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library Monday March 19 at 7 p.m. The rest of the program will features classics by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, and Chopin. Vatcharanukul said he wanted to tackle some contemporary music and his teacher Thomas Rosenkranz suggested “The Body of Your Dreams” for piano and boom box. JacobTV is an apt stage name for someone who uses fragments of TV dialogue to build his compositions around. In the case of “Body” he has sampled an advertisement for a body conditioning device. He shaped music lines inspired by the rhythms of the hyperbolic sales pitch. The pianist performs these in counterpoint to cut-and-pasted shards of male and female voices. The result is music easy to understand even for listeners new to contemporary music. “It’s not like that kind of new music,” Vatcharanukul said. It’s tonal and not particularly dissonant, with rhythms that evoke jazz rock. “That can catch audience,” he said. “Body” is also highly rhythmic, and it grows in intensity as the sales pitch continues. The piece is not simple though. Vatcharanukul said he’s not able to pay too much attention to the audience’s reaction because he has to concentrate, listening both what he’s playing and making sure it locks in with the voices on the tape. Vatcharanukul, who comes from Bangkok, Thailand, is in his last semester as an undergraduate piano performance major. He came to study with Rosenkranz. Over his five years at Bowling Green State University, he has played numerous times in the library’s atrium. He likes the mix of listeners. Some are knowledgeable about music, others aren’t. “It’s really nice I can do something for those people,” he said. Rosenkranz, who organizes the library recitals, said the students enjoy playing for their peers, in a less stressful situation. A pianist can feel isolated spending so many hours a day in the practice room. This gives them a chance to get out and share the music they have worked so long on. “They see it as a chance to grow,” Rosenkranz said. Ioanna Nikou came from Greece to study with Robert Satterlee after she met him when he presented a seminar in her native land. She knew she wanted to go abroad for graduate school, and Satterlee put Bowling Green on the map for her. She will open the concert with a piece that does not elicit laughter, J.S. Bach’s “Chromatic Fantasy.” She loves the spiritual qualities of the piece and the challenge of bringing out each…

Gordon Korman, Youth Community Reads author, to visit BG & area schools

From WOOD COUNTY LIBRARY Families, meet Wood County District Public Library’s 2018 Youth Community Reads author, Gordon Korman. Gordon Korman is the best-selling author of over 90 Middle Grade and Young Adult novels, including Slacker, Restart, Ungifted, and the Swindle series. He is also a contributing author to the popular multi-author series 39 Clues. For more information and a complete list of his titles, please visit his website, He was first published as a 7th grader with a novel he wrote during English Class. Mr. Korman is a much sought-after speaker who spends much of his time traveling to libraries and schools around the country. WCDPL is bringing Mr. Korman to Wood County March 21st and 22nd. His visit is funded through a gift from the estate of Majorie Conrad, and with support of the Bowling Green Community Foundation. Mr. Korman will speak at the Wood County District Public Library on Wednesday, March 21 at 7 p.m., and at the Walbridge Library on Thursday, March 22, at 7 p.m. During the day on Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. Korman will visit Bowling Green, Lake, and Northwood Schools. During his visit to Wood County District Public Library, Mr. Korman will speak, answer questions, and be available to sign books. Two paperback titles will be for sale by the Friends of Library. Several additional copies of his soon-to-be released novel #WhatsHisFace will be raffled off and available for autographing as well. The audience is encouraged to bring any personal copies of Mr. Korman’s books for signing as well. For more information, contact the Children’s Place at 419-352-8253.

Vintage Valentines celebrate the sweet & sour sides of the holiday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Most of the origin stories about Valentine’s Day are not true. There really is no link to any one of the five Valentines who share Feb. 14 as their saint days. And the connection to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia seems tenuous at best. That celebration involved sacrificing dogs and goats, and whipping young women and crops with whips made of the goat’ hides to ensure fertility in the coming year. The more modern belief that Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark holiday,” cooked up by the card company to boost sales is also not true – people were exchanging Valentine’s Day greetings for more than a century before the company was founded in 1910. “Most of what we know is probably wrong,” said Steve Ammidown, manuscripts and outreach archivist for the Browne Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green State University. Ammidown visited the Wood County District Public Library to share a selection of vintage Valentine’s Day cards. The first reference to St. Valentine’s Day being associated with lovers comes in Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century poem “Parlement of Foules (The Parliament of Fowls).” By the 16th century the tradition of exchanging romantic notes on Valentine’s Day took hold, especially in England and Germany. Exchanging cards began early in the Victorian Era. True to the times, Ammidown said, “complicated and fragile” was the way to go. It was a female entrepreneur, Esther Howland, who founded the first Valentine card manufacturer in America in the 1840s. The Worcester, Massachusetts, businesswoman had a staff to create her line of cards, which “were very ornate, very overwrought.” Ammidown showed a Howland card from the archive’s collection with its intricate patterns and fine, lace-like cut paper. It was meant to display, and its excellent condition indicates it was treasured. The Valentine card business proved attractive enough that competitors sprang up. The most prominent, George Whitney, eventually purchased Howland’s business. “He became the biggest name in Valentine’s cards,” Ammidown said. The business flourished at the turn of the 20th century as the post office became more reliable and postcards became more popular, the archivist said. Though they may have flowery, sentimental sayings on them, sometimes what was written on the back was more pedestrian. The inscription on the front of one declared: “My heart’s a posy blooming for you.” On the back is written: “Your boss said you have to come to work on Monday. He told me this morning. Your mother.” In the 1920s, students started exchanging cards in school. That gave rise to simpler cards with more age appropriate messages. Ammidown said that the library’s collection has grown through donations. Many of the cards come from the Armitage family. While the library may be willing to look at collections, Valentine or other, he said, “we’re not really interested…

Library offers help getting the most out of digital devices

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY Two workshops in January at the Wood County District Public Library (251 N. Main St., Bowling Green) will help demystify your tablets, smart phones, and other devices as well as get you ready to borrow free digital content. Kristin Wetzel, who works closely with the library’s digital content providers, will lead both workshops.  The first is Wednesday, January 17 at 10 a.m.  and the second workshop is Monday, January 29 at 6:30 p.m. Both workshops will take place in the second floor meeting room.  “We are offering the workshop at two times so people who are not available during the day can also take advantage of the training and get the most from their devices” said Wetzel.  “There is so much wonderful, free material to download from your library,” said Wetzel. “I have helped people who came straight to the library from the store with their devices still in a box.  When they leave the library they are ready to read, listen, or watch whatever they like,” she said.  Reservations are not required to attend the workshops. Additional personalized help with your technology and computer questions is available Monday through Friday by appointment.  To take advantage of this service, simply call ahead to 419-352-5050 for an appointment with library staff. “We have been asked when the next class on using computers will be offered, but we have found that computer classes leave a lot of people in the dark because the class doesn’t relate to people’s specific needs,” said Michele Raine, Assistant Director at WCDPL. “The appointments allow us to focus on exactly what people would like to learn during their appointment.” Appointments can cover everything from how to format a Microsoft Word document, how to set up basic commands in an Excel spreadsheet, or how to create contacts in your smart phone. For more information on either the workshops or the personal assistance appointments, contact WCDPL’s Information Services Department at 419-352-5050.