BGSU library acquires trove of Great Lakes research materials

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The University Libraries at Bowling Green State University has greatly expanded its collection of Great Lakes research materials thanks to a significant donation from the National Museum of the Great Lakes, which is owned and operated by the Great Lakes Historical Society. More than 160 cubic feet of photos, pamphlets, slides, bound materials, postcards and archival materials have found a new home in the Libraries’ Historical Collections of the Great Lakes (HCGL), housed within the Center for Archival Collection. “We are grateful to the National Museum of the Great Lakes for entrusting us with their extensive collection, and we are excited that the consolidation of their materials with our existing Great Lakes archives has now created the largest collection of its kind on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes,” said Mary Ellen Mazey, Ph.D., president of Bowling Green State University. “Thank you to the Museum, its board of directors, the Great Lakes Historical Society and the University Libraries staff who helped to facilitate this exciting and symbiotic new alliance in the name of historic preservation.” These additional materials bolster the already robust offering of Great Lakes-related research and artifacts curated by the University Libraries at BGSU. “The Great Lakes materials recently donated to HCGL is a wonderful addition to our holdings and provides many opportunities for collaboration between BGSU, the National Museum of the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Historical Society,” said University Libraries Dean Sara A. Bushong. The addition of these materials to BGSU also will make University Libraries a major research destination in the U.S. for Great Lakes history. “The added scope and depth of the HCGL collection expands research opportunities for BGSU students and faculty, National Museum of the Great Lakes staff and patrons, as well as researchers from beyond campus,” said retired HCGL archivist Bob Graham, who played an instrumental role in bringing the collection to BGSU. “Both organizations view this donation as the first step in an evolving partnership involving students, faculty and museum staff.” Potential areas of collaboration include internships, lectures series, exhibits, new courses and digital galleries. “The merging of these incredible archival collections is just the beginning of a long, synergistic journey between our two organizations that will both preserve Great Lakes history, but more important, elevate the perception of Great Lakes history in our national culture,” said Christopher Gillcrist, National Museum of the Great Lakes Executive Director. “This collaboration will help ensure the understanding of the role Great Lake history has played in our national story.” Founded…

BGSU taps state grant to get ideas flowing at Collab-Lab

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A state Third Frontier grant will help Bowling Green State University launch new research, teaching and commercial ideas. The money comes part of $8.7 million in funding that’s half state money and half matching funds from the institutions. The money was awarded  to NextTech, a collaborative organization comprised of BGSU, Mercy Health, ProMedica, and the University of Toledo, which is the Entrepreneurial Service Provider for Northwest Ohio. Michael Ogawa, BGSU vice president for research and economic engagement, said the university’s share is about $707,000, half from the state, half from BGSU. That money will help to create the Collab-Lab, a new initiative to help faculty staff, and students work together to create new ideas. The lab will be in the first floor of Jerome Library, across from the elevators. Now there’s a technical support lab and a classroom in the space. That area, said Jerry Schnepp, the lab director, will be gutted to create a 2,000-square foot lab. Work begins May 10 and the lab will open of the start of the fall semester. The library as the intellectual heart of campus is the right place for the lab, Ogawa said. Though the space itself isn’t open, the initiative is already getting the ideas flowing. Schnepp said he’s been approached by faculty members who have ideas but need other skills to bring it to fruition. Workshops have been held to bring together faculty members, who have ideas to share, with other colleagues. One of the matches was someone from Women’s Study who has a store of oral histories with a librarian who had a knowledge of metadata that can be used to make the information in the interviews more accessible. Schnepp said he hopes the lab draws in people from a wide range of academic areas. The lab will be intended to get ideas started, not necessarily bring them to fruition. If a product needs further development that work can be done at the University of Toledo’s Launch Pad or Pro Medica’s business incubator. Together all the partners form an ecosystem for innovation, Schnepp said. The Collab-Lab is a good fit for BGSU, Ogawa said. BGSU has neither an engineering nor medical school. Those fields typically generate a lot of ideas for technology. What BGSU offers is “not as natural a link to the business sector,” he said. “The question is how do we begin to start activities in an entrepreneurial space? BGSU has strengths education, visual communications technology, data science, and computer science. “That could be our tech…

Sherman Alexie’s Community Reads talk sold out

With only a little under three weeks to go until Community Reads author Sherman Alexie visits Bowling Green, the author’s free event on April 6 at 7 p.m. in the Bowling Green City Schools Performing Arts Center  is “sold” out. A limited number waiting list has been started for the event. Community Reads is asking that current ticket holders whose circumstances change and find they are no longer able to attend the April 6 talk by Alexie, call Wood County District Public Library’s Information Desk at 419-352-5050, or stop by the Bowling Green library , so that tickets which are no longer needed may be cancelled and made available to those on the waiting list. As tickets become available, people on the waiting list will be contacted in the order in which they joined the list. “The Community Reads planners knew Mr. Alexie would be a big draw, but have been astounded at how quickly tickets for his talk were grabbed up,” said library spokesperson Mary Callahan Boone. “We were hopeful we’d match the number of people who came to see Community Reads authors like Homer Hickam (Rocket Boys) and John Grogan (Marley and Me). Roughly 650 were in attendance for each of those programs. To have exceeded those numbers –the PAC accommodates 740 –is wonderful. As problems go, having a “sold” out event for Sherman Alexie is a great one to have.” Boone said half the free tickets for the Alexie event were snapped up within days of their becoming available on Feb. 14. Because the Hickam and Grogan talks were held in the gymnasium which is a larger and more flexible space, those were not ticketed events. For more information, contact the library at 419-352-5104.

Home history & ukes on tap at library

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY Ukulele enthusiasts return to the Wood County District Public Library on Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m. Anyone who is looking for a lively group to play ukulele with is invited to join in the fun in the library’s firstt floor Meeting Room. Sheet music and songbooks will be provided; all you need is a sense of adventure and a ukulele. Have you ever wondered about your home’s history? Or about the stories it could tell of its past inhabitants? The library’s program “If These Walls Could Talk: Researching Your House History” on March 21 at 6:30 pm, will teach you to use library and community resources to discover the stories hidden within the walls of your home. The program will be led by Local History librarian Marnie Pratt in the second floor Meeting Room. For more information, contact the library at 419-352-5050.

Library closed for Presidents’ Day; ukulele jam, Feb. 19

From THE WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY The Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green and Walbridge, and the library Bookmobile will be closed Monday, February 20 in observance of Presidents’ Day. Calling all ukulele enthusiasts looking for a friendly and helpful group to play ukulele with. Look no further: the popular Ukulele Club, led by members of the Grand Royale Ukulelists of the Great Black Swamp (GRUBS), returns to Wood County District Public Library Sunday, February 19 at 3 pm. To participate in the group’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.

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 he believes if he polled local residents about what they value most in their communities that libraries would rank at or near the top. Library provide a range of services, and demand for those services increases when the economy falters,…

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 had. Then they cast ballots. “What To Do With a Box” and Terry Fan’s “The Night Gardener” were locked in a virtual tie. After another ballot, Yolen’s book was the clear winner. The book shows the wonders a simple box…

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. Hosting that event is just one more way in which the library sees itself as central to the life of the community, Penrod said. The library offers a warm corridor for the festivities, restrooms and the atrium for 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 about Earl are made up, and much of the material lies in the netherworld between fact and fancy. Lambert caps off each one with a quotation from Twain that may or may not relate to the story. Lambert sold nearly…

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 Olympics” is a sequel to “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.” Simon, he added, has been a fan dating back to his days writing mysteries for adults. Grabenstein has had a varied career, including writing books with James Patterson. “I had…

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 starting to breathe down his neck, and he saw even engineers getting call up. So he decided student deferment would be a good idea. Through a friend he met a young woman who attended BGSU. They hit it off. Schurk…