Libraries defend against funding cut in Kasich budget

By DAVID DUPONT & JAN McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Libraries as trying head off funding cuts before they pass the state legislature. Action on Gov. John Kasich’s budget is months away, and as State Sen. Randy Gardner said during an open forum Saturday, that much can change while the proposal is being worked over in the Legislature. Gardner was speaking in the Wood County Library, which like all libraries in the state could stand to lose money under the governor’s budget. The budget calls for a reduction in the percentage of the state revenue fund devoted to libraries. The general revenue fund consists of sources including income and sales taxes. Libraries have received state aid amounting to 1.7 percent. That was a temporary increase in the last budget intended to make up for drastic cuts suffered by libraries dating back to 2008. That included a mid-year cut in funding in 2009 during the Strickland Administration, just as the recession was starting. In a letter to the community (, Wood County Library Director Michael Penrod, said that the increase to 1.7 percent in the last budget “allowed for some modest growth in dollars distributed to public libraries.” With no action from the legislature that percentage would roll back to 1.66 percent, a $7 million cut in state funding for libraries, according to Michelle Francis, , director of government and legal services for the Ohio Library Council. Gardner indicated he is not inclined to see that happen. “I have gravitated to the library cause over the years,” seeing all the services they provide in communities, he said. Because the amount libraries receive monthly is determined by the revenues the state is receiving, figuring out how much the cut would cost the Wood County Library is difficult, Penrod said. He did point out that the state’s projections have been falling short. This year libraries were expected to get $389.5 million, but received $377.6 million. Back in 2008 before the recession, Francis said, the state’s libraries received $418.2 million. Given the economic realities, she said, libraries are simply asking that funding not be cut. She noted that 58 of the state’s 251 libraries rely only on state funding. The Wood County library is not one of those. It has a local property tax levy as well. Gardner said that…

Local readers pick their choice as best picture book (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News And the winner is… “What To Do With a Box” by Jane Yolen. That was the book selected about a dozen folks, kids through grandparents, who gathered to consider what should win the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book of 2016. The winner of the actual Caldecott Medal announced Monday morning at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting is “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat” by Javaka Steptoe. Kathy East, retired children’s librarian at Wood County District Public Library, said Sunday during the Mock Caldecott Election that the real committee has already made its choice. The press release was being drafted, and first thing in the morning the winner of the medal and honor books will get a telephone call. East has been through this before. She served  on the committee in 1987 when Richard Egielski won for “Hey, Al” and chaired the committee in 1998 when Paul Zelinsky won for “Rapunzel.” The award goes to the illustrator. The committee that awards the prize can start with a field of as many as 500 books. By the time they gather in January that’s been whittled down to 100 or so. Then each of those books must get a simple majority to stay in contention. East said usually 30 make the final draw. From there the best books rise to the top. The eventual winner, she said, must have more than a simple majority. It must have a significant margin of victory. That requires a number of rounds of balloting. “You want to make sure everyone on the committee is able to go out and say ‘this is the most distinguished children’s book,’” East said. Not that there aren’t those who later who will later kvetch about the choice. “There’s conversation,” she said. The rewards for having the image of the Caldecott Medal affixed to the front of the book are significant. “The guarantee for the artist is the book will always stay in print.” Those gathered at the public library Sunday had a much abbreviated version of the selection process. Library staff had pulled 49 picture books published in 2016. They split into two groups, each looking at a random sample of half the books. Each group picked their four favorites from what they…

Library to host vote for the best picture book of 2016

Submitted by the WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY Teachers, book enthusiasts, parents, and readers of all ages are invited to participate in a 2017 Mock Caldecott Election on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. in the Wood County District Public Library Children’s Place Programming Room. The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. At the Wood County District Public Library’s Mock Election, everyone will take a close look at some carefully selected, beautifully illustrated picture books from the past year, then help select a “most distinguished” picture book. Kathy East, retired Children’s Librarian, will share her experiences serving on the Caldecott committee in 1987 and chairing it in 2004. For the full mock election with final results, the Children’s Place suggests planning to stay until about 4 p.m. The 49 books we will be considering for our Mock Election are currently on display in the Children’s Place Quiet Study. Everyone is invited to read and look at the books on closed reserve status. The Caldecott award winner, along with the Newbery award winner and many others will be officially announced on Monday, Jan. 23 at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta. For more information, contact the Children’s Place at 419-352-8253.

State ends tax form distribution through library

Ohio tax forms will no longer be available at the Wood County District Public Library. Library Director Michael Penrod said the state has informed him, it will no longer be distributing the paper forms. The Department of Taxation’s letter said “only 10 percent of printed personal  income tax returns end up being filed.” The notice continues: “To eliminate this waste of paper, we are ending bulk distributions.” Taxpayers can still request paper forms by visiting, by calling 1-800-282-1782 or by mail from Ohio Department of Taxation P.O. Box 2472 Columbus OHIO 43216-2476. Penrod said library staff will be available to help patrons access the forms they need. Penrod said: “Years ago, particularly after many post offices stopped distributing tax forms, people came to depend on getting forms at their local public library. Libraries are proud to help citizens connect to government information. I am guessing that this end of form distribution will catch some by surprise, even though the metrics indicate that paper forms are no longer in demand.” A limited number of state i8nstruction booklets will be available. Also, he said, the library will continue to have “very limited quantities” of federal tax forms, Penrod said.  

O Tannenbaum! BG’s community tree a festive downtown fixture (Update)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Usually a trip to the library is a good way to answer a question. That should be especially true when the query at hand has to do with a 50-foot tall tree on the library’s own property. But despite Library Director Michael Penrod’s scouring his memory and reference librarian Marnie Pratt mining the archives, and my searching the newspaper archives we were stumped: When was community Christmas tree planted? The local newspaper reported on tree lightings in 1985, and in 1986 when they reported that the tree had been recently planted. It took a call to former Library Director Elaine McEwen to get the scoop. She knows exactly when that tree was planted. She was hired in 1987. There was a drought that year, and “the community Christmas tree died on my watch.” Joan Gordon,  then executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, had a donor lined up who paid for new tree. (Rick Van Vorhis tells Bg Independent: “The Community tree was a donation from Isaac and Marian Loose (both deceased), the founders of Bee Gee Rental and Sales.”) That’s when the current tree was planted in its place of honor in the square on the corner of north Main and Court streets. The previous tree had been planted to the north in the space now devoted to the Shakespeare Garden. McEwen said that when Gordon first approached then Library Director Marian Parker about locating a community Christmas tree at the library, Parker did not want it on the square. She was afraid it would block the library’s sign. McEwen, however, saw the advantage of the present location. And at the time there was no danger of that it would block anything – it only took two people with a stepladder to decorate it. Now it takes a bucket truck from the city to string the lights. Planting the tree in the square “was the start of the new tradition,” she said. “It allowed many more people to come and enjoy the tree, and many more people to come and celebrate that event.” Over time more and more elements were added to the tree lighting. Cocoa and cookies, the mayor’s arrival on a fire truck, and performances by the high school’s Madrigal Singers, both outside and inside the…

Library sets holiday hours; Ukulele Club meets, Dec. 18

Submitted by WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY WCDPL (Bowling Green and Walbridge libraries and the Bookmobile) will be closed in observance of Christmas from Friday, December 23 through Monday December 26. Regular hours resume on Tuesday, December 27. The library will also be closed system-wide to observe the New Year’s holiday on Sunday, January 1 and Monday, January 2, 2017. Regular hours resume Tuesday, January 3. Enjoy the holidays with family and friends. Sunday, December 18 at 3 pm: Calling all ukulele enthusiasts looking for a friendly and helpful group to play ukulele with. Look no further–to participate in our Ukulele Club’s jam session, all you need is a ukulele and sense of adventure. Song books and music provided at the jam. RSVP appreciated (419-352-5050), but not required. 1st Floor Meeting Room. For more information, contact WCDPL at 419-352-5104.

“Living With Earl” finds its voice in reading by author & new audio edition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Some people were surprised when Tom Lambert wrote a book. Some people even took umbrage at what they saw his literary pretensions. After all, didn’t he flunk English? And Lambert, a cabinet maker by trade, admits he didn’t spend much time in the library either, though he did tend bar at Howard’s Club H when it was located where the Wood County Library now sits. Yet talking to Lambert, it’s clear the man loves a story, and he put the effort into writing some of them down. The result was the book “Living With Earl” which he self-published a year ago. It’s available at Grounds for Thought and Finders downtown as well as online from Amazon or at his website The book recounts Lambert’s interactions with a mysterious visitor, Earl, who claims to be Mark Twain. Though he’s a spectral presence, he still has mortal needs like food, coffee and getting his laundry done. Lambert will revisit the site of his old haunts, when he reads from “Living With Earl” Saturday, Dec. 10, at 1 p.m. in the atrium of the Wood County Library. The reading comes in conjunction with the completion of an audio version of the book, which will be available on Amazon.  Professional actor Brian Schell, who Lambert said has a voice similar to Motel 6 pitchman Tom Bodett’s, gives voice to Lambert’s adventures with his quirky visitor. Lambert, 70, said the book grew out of daily Facebook posts in which he attributed sundry witticisms to Earl, a name he pulled out of thin air. “On this date, according to Earl, the first Dalmatian was spotted” was a typical one.  Lambert would put the posts together in the 40 minutes he had in the morning before heading off to work. The posts garnered the stray like or two.  Disappointed by the seeming lack of reaction, Lambert announced, that he would cease posting the Earl jokes. He was flooded with protests, and the suggestion he pull some of these stories together into a book. Along the way Earl had decided he was Mark Twain. The book is a series of vignettes that have Lambert and the strong-willed Earl, talking, disputing, eating, shooting pool, visiting various area locales. Some of the stories about Lambert are true, others…

Mr. Lemoncello author has soft spot for Bowling Green & its library

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maria Simon first reaction when she found her name in “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics” was to call out to her husband. The next was to order a cake. Cake after all is the celebratory food of choice at Mr. Lemoncello’s amazing library. “I just about jumped off my chair,” said Simon, children’s librarian at the Wood County Public Library. The author, Chris Grabenstein, didn’t only name the reference librarian at the fictional Alexandriaville Public Library after Simon, he buried another reference to Bowling Green in the book. The GPS coordinates for Blue Jay Extended Stay Motel where the book’s young heroes find a vital clue are those of the Wood County District Public Library. That makes it a stop for those who do geocaching. A few people have already visited the library because of that. Simon said she didn’t realize that connection until after she contacted the author to thank him for using her name. “He enjoys making his books interactive.” Grabenstein has been known to drop references to places he’s been and people he’s met, as well as other books.  One of the challenges the heroes of the book face is a contest to see who can eat pizza and read at the same time, and then pass a comprehension test. The winning team read Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Shlemiel Went to Warsaw and Other Stories.” Another character’s favorite book is “Bud, Not Buddy” by Michigan writer Christopher Paul Curtis. The villains in the Mr. Lemoncello books are those who have precious, overly protective attitude toward libraries and books; the heroes are those who want to share their love of reading widely. Grabenstein is no stranger to Bowling Green. Last year on his way to Michigan on a family visit, he visited to promote his book “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.” He gave a presentation at the middle school, where his skills as a standup comedian were on full display, Simon said. He loved the town, Simon said, asking if it was used in any movies. “When I saw the town, it looked just like I imagined my fictional Ohio town of Alexandriaville might look,” the author wrote in a recent email. “So I now use photos of BG for reference when I am writing Mr. Lemoncello stories.” “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library…

Schurk wraps up BGSU career as librarian of “the cool stuff”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Talking to Bill Schurk is a trip down memory lane, and that lane leads through the byways of Cleveland, especially its libraries and thrift shops, as well as through byways of American popular music. Schurk is set to retire at the end of the year after almost 50 years of service as a librarian and archivist at Bowling Green State University’s storied sound recordings archive and popular culture library. He arrived just as BGSU turned its attention toward popular culture – “the cool stuff,” as he said they called it then. His job interview, he said, revolved more around jazz recordings than any library pursuits. Of course, he was already a known quantity having worked in the library as an undergraduate. And while Schurk career path wasn’t straight, it seems in retrospect to have been pre-ordained, bringing together his love of librarianship and his passion for collecting the arcana of popular culture. If you need information on an obscure popular song, he can find it for you, and then tell you all about the B-side. That all stems back to his childhood. He remembers collecting stuff as far back as age 5. There were magazines, bottle caps, stamps, even cigarette packs. His family had an old wind up record player, and he controlled that. He knew all the gift shops and thrift stores, where he could get the best buys. “I know how to acquire things,” he said. His parents, he said, were supportive, allowing him ample space in the house to store his treasures. Schurk’s first library job was at the Cleveland Public Library when he was in junior high school. Since then he always found himself working in some sort of library. Those ranged from a variety of positions in the Cleveland Public Library, including in the library for the blind. But it also involved working in the tool crib of a General Motors plant during his ill-fated stint as an engineering student. That, too, he said was a kind of library. And later back working in a Cadillac plant in Cleveland, he managed the room that stored the blueprints, yet another kind of library. It was while working at the Cadillac plant that he decided to go back to college. The Vietnam War Era draft was…

Readers click on links to get news & they’re shocked to find…

By AMY FRY   In the last several weeks I have heard more and more often about how people are living in “information bubbles.” As a librarian, this concerns me. One of my chief missions is to make high-quality information sources available so students can engage in critical thought bolstered by the best information. I’m not casting blame: I’ll admit that a few months ago I was getting most of my news through my Facebook feed. But I just got tired of it, so I paid for a subscription to a national newspaper and got more deliberate about reading the weekly magazine I’ve been subscribing to for the last 25 years. I was struck by the time and effort it takes to stay informed. I think it’s funny how in an age when such an overwhelming amount of information is available we need to make more of a concerted effort to seek out and engage with it, because it’s so easy to only see what shows up in our social media feeds. “Facebook is hosting a huge portion of the political conversation in America,” according to an August article in the New York Times Magazine. 61% of respondents to a 2014 survey of 18-33 year olds said they get news about politics from Facebook. My guess is that number would be higher now. And a lot of what we see there is not quality, fact-based journalism but opinion, conjecture, and outright garbage, making it like the carnival claw game in some ways – fishing around the limited options (much of which is junk), you win whatever’s accessible at the moment, if you win at all. Like most people, I immerse myself in information from a wide variety of sources of with a wide range of credibility and authority. Some of my choices are clearly based on how easy they are to get to (Wikipedia) and how entertaining I find them (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver). Others are based on my desire for depth, nuance and realism (books and newspapers). There’s nothing wrong with this approach to getting information – what becomes key is how you a) supplement the most accessible and entertaining information, b) evaluate how each source balances bias and authority, and c) sort opinion from fact. Even legitimate and very factual news sources are filled with instances of opinion: cable news has pundits…

Library director & others get pay hikes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Wood County Library board handed out praise and pay raises at its meeting earlier this week. Both Library Director Michael Penrod and Fiscal Officer Linda Joseph received 3-percent increases as part of an overall $32,814 merit package for staff salaries. The raise brings Penrod’s salary to $83,338.58. Joseph’s raise brings her hourly rate to $27.51. Joseph works 22.5 hours over three days a week. Trustee Jane Robb said of Joseph, “I don’t know how you pack a full-time job into 22 hours.” Board President Brian Paskvan said her work was so good, “I actually look forward to the auditor’s call.” Trustee Nancy Buchanan told Joseph: “If you need more time, take it.” Trustees also had high praise for Penrod. “You’re always ahead of the game,” Robb said. “We know you’re not paid what you deserve,” Paskvan said. “But we look forward to rectifying that at some point in time.” In approving the merit pool, Paskvan expressed similar sentiments. “We’re still making up for those very difficult times. We’re very careful. We want to give you something to work with to compensate people appropriately.” “They are a great staff,” Penrod said. “I can honestly say of the 40 people we have here, I would rehire all of them.” In another financial matter the board approved the health insurance plan for the coming year. The plan through Paramount will cost the library 8.81 percent more this year. Employees cost will rise to $45 a pay period from $41. This covers almost 22 percent of the $5,380 annual premium. Ben Otley, of First Insurance, explained what the library’s options were. The library has, under current law, one more year in a transitional plan before it has to offer insurance in full compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Such a plan, Otley said, would cost 49 percent more. But, he said, some changes in the ACA are expected and there’s a likelihood the library could at least get another transitional year. “But don’t hold me to that,” he said. For the future the library could consider joining other entities in seeking insurance in an effort to keep costs down.    

Holiday news from Wood County Public Library

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY Thanksgiving Hours WCDPL (Bowling Green and Walbridge libraries and the Bookmobile) closes at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23 and remains closed Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26 in observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Regular hours resume in Bowling Green on Saturday Nov. 26, and the Bookmobile resumes operation Monday, Nov. 28.   Food for Fines WCDPL in Bowling Green and Walbridge and the WCDPL Bookmobile will accept Food for Fines starting Saturday, November 26 through Thursday, December 15. Your donations of non-perishable foods will benefit local food pantries. This offer applies to overdue fines only. Walbridge Library Temporary Home Upon closing at 5 p.m. on Nov. 23, the Walbridge Library will remain closed while it moves into its temporary location, the Walbridge Village Hall, 705 N. Main St., Walbridge, for the completion of the building expansion project’s final stages. Walbridge Library will reopen in the Village Hall on Monday, December 5. The construction on the Walbridge Library building at 108 N. Main St. is expected to be completed by mid-February, 2017.   For more information, contact WCDPL at 419-352-5104.

Library posts photos of BG’s Tomato Festival

Submitted by the WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY With the Bowling Green Holiday parade just a month off, take time to look back at parades from an earlier time. In August of 1938 and 1939, Bowling Green hosted a first and second Tomato Festival. The Wood County District Public Library has just posted 64 photos from the Jim and Joan Gordon Collection of the two festivals at: Photos feature marching units, floats from local businesses and the contestants for the crown of Tomato Queen.  

Library board strategizes about strategic plan

DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Wood County Library Board is starting to consider revamping its strategic plan in hopes that it helps get a levy passed in November, 2020. The plan would set the library’s course through 2019. Three years ago when the library refreshed its plan, it used minimal outside help. A consultant helped do a community assessment. But at this week’s meeting, board members and Library Director Michael Penrod discussed whether they may want to do a more far-reaching process this time. “Now may be the time,” said board member Chet Marcin, “so we can build toward the levy. If we wait until the year of the levy, you don’t have time to implement it.” Becky Bhaer, board vice president, said she often questioned the use of consultants and wondered if the board could handle the job itself. Some of the data collection can be done in house, Penrod said. After all, they are librarians. Still doing a community survey requires skill in what questions to ask and how to pose them. “I don’t ever want to our strategic plan lightly,” said Board Chair Brian Paskvan, “We are doing well, and we want that to continue.” Much change is afoot in the library world, he added. “We need to look at that to make sure we’re moving forward.” Penrod said he’d do further research into who may be available to hire and at what costs. The board also approved a new dental plan for its employees. The cost of the plan is going up 3 percent to $11,734, of which the library will pay $7,292, or $213 more than last year. The library pays 80 percent of the premium for 17 employees. It does not subsidize the premiums for family members. Also, adult services librarian Michele Raine reported that photographs of events surrounding Bowling Green’s 150th and 175th anniversaries are now available on The photos were donated by Jim and Joan Gordon, and most were taken by Jim Gordon. Raine said to make them more accessible, staff is in the process converting them so they can be posted in an album on the library’s Facebook page.