by Kerry Skiff
29 hours ago
The Robot Zoo at the Boone County Public Library's main branch
I must confess, driving by a library and seeing a silhouette of a rhino
through a window is pretty cool. But that was nothing compared to the large
giraffe that nodded its head at me just a few feet inside the entrance of the main
branch of the Boone County Public Library, in Burlington, Kentucky. Both are part
of the 18-station Robot Zoo that moved into the library just six weeks ago, and
will be staying for the next five months.The Robot Zoo, a 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibit, displays a variety of huge
robot animals including a giant squid, bat, platypus, rhino, chameleon,
grasshopper and giraffe. Finding all the stations takes a bit of exploring
since they’re scattered around the library, but after watching the large
creatures move, I have to say it’s pretty cool. As I walked around I marveled
at how each exhibit showed the unique traits of the animal, highlighting fun
facts about their anatomy. “You kind of watch and see everything going on and
then read how that ties in,” says Shawn Fry, assistant director of the Boone
County Public Library. “That’s where the kind of learning is snuck in.”Becky Kempf, Public Relations Coordinator, says the exhibit provides a lot of
fun for kids. “It’s not going to be quiet here for the next few months,” she
jokes after handing me the list of stations. Fry says the library is always
trying new ways to engage the community. “[We’re] always looking for new ways
to use our space, to bring people in, to excite people,” he says. “Right now
STEM programming — the science, technologies, engineering [and math] — is the
thing, a very exciting thing. This is a way to incorporate that.”According to Kempf, the Robot Zoo exceeds the library’s wish list for a new
program. “Our mission is to provide life-long learning opportunities for all
ages,” she says, “so whether it’s through books or the research help that we
provide or bringing something like this in…it’s right down our alley. It fits
perfectly with what we’re trying to do.” Fry says the branch is lucky it’s big
enough to house the exhibit, and describes the challenges of moving the parts
inside. “The giraffe, I think, was the hardest,” he laughs, “and it’s kind of
the entrance for the whole thing.”“It’s been really interesting… seeing, in all kinds of ages, the enthusiasm in
watching them build it,” adds Fry. “There were kids that came in today [Monday]
that were all excited; they’d been waiting…and they were excited.” I don’t
blame them; it was almost like walking through a quiet, indoor zoo, without
having to dodge wayward geese or worry about sunburn. I observed the
grasshopper twitching its antennae and peeked in its open side at the glowing
innards, revealing the 10 sections of the abdomen. The rhino, a declared
work-in-progress, pursed its large lips, emphasized to show how their texture
helps trim its grassy food while the bat creaks from its upside-down perch in
the corner.Fry may say the exhibit is geared toward kids, but he and I both saw adults
exploring too. “We kind of didn’t know it would be this cool,” Fry says,
laughing. “Regardless of age, we’ve gotten lots of positive feedback.” The Robot Zoo will be at the Burlington branch through Feb. 28, 2016. Admission
is free, thanks to community sponsors, and the exhibit is open during library
hours. Other Boone County Public Library Events:Ghosts of Rabbit Hash: Oct. 10 – Get a tour through the tiny town and hear
about its haunts. Herbs and Supplements: What’s right for you?: Oct. 13 – Learn about what
natural healers and supplements are healthy or harmful. Concert at the Library: Oct. 23 – Whiskeybent Valley performs at the Main
by Kerry Skiff
15 days ago
Posted In: Literary
at 11:26 AM | Permalink
Signature Series at the Campbell County Public Library's Fort Thomas Branch
Writing can be so frustrating. As I sit here trying to spit out a catchy
introduction, I struggle to make sense of anything in my brain, which seems to
cause an even greater muddle. Most of the time writing is simple; you put a
thought into words on a page. But the more I write the more I realize there’s
more to crafting a paragraph than simply ordering the words correctly and
sticking a period at the end. To be a good writer you must capture the heart of
the message, sending it from inside yourself and into the reader. And if you’re
a great writer, you’ll get something back. On Friday night I was settled in a chair at the Fort Thomas branch of the
Campbell County Public Library, waiting for the first author visit of the
Signature Series to begin. I watched the crowd of middle-aged women around me fidget
impatiently in their seats, waiting for the nationally-acclaimed author,
Beverly Lewis, to appear. As I, too, waited, I caught snippets of conversations
as ladies swapped stories of reading Lewis’ novels, describing what her writing
meant to them. I listened, wondering why Lewis didn’t write about her audience,
for their stories seemed as touching as the books they seemed to adore.
Perhaps one of the most touching tales came from the row right behind me. Paul
and Janet Devotto were telling the woman seated beside them about Janet’s twin
sister, Joan Braun, who passed away last October. Joan had a stroke several
years ago that left her partially paralyzed. Because she couldn’t move her left
arm or left leg, Joan came to live with Paul and Janet, so they could take care
of her. “She was the greatest person,” Janet said when I caught up with her
later, her voice catching slightly.
“She loved to read more than anything else,” Paul explained to me. “Reading was
a passion for her.” According to the couple, Joan’s favorite author was Beverly
Lewis. “Joan loved her,” said Paul. Although Joan was an avid reader, her
partial paralysis kept her from holding a book, so Janet and her husband bought
Joan a Nook. “We got all her books to read, and we would sit and read until
four in the morning,” Janet recalled. The couple eagerly relayed their story to Lewis as she signed their book, thanking
her for the way her novels touch lives. As Paul later told me, “Not many people
know they’ve made a difference, but this woman has. Joan needed something and
this woman gave it to her.”
The Devottos’ story is one of many Lewis has heard over the years. “I love to
meet [my readers] and hear their stories, because they always tell me little
tidbits about how the stories touched their hearts in a particular way,” she
confided to me. “They say, ‘I know you, Beverly, I’ve read your heart. I’ve
read your heart in all the books you’ve written.’ ”
As I talked with Lewis about her audience, it’s evident from the softness of
her voice that she has a very personal connection with her fans. “There’s some
sort of a bond between me and my readers I think, now, from all the years and
all the books, which I think is important,” Lewis said. “I always call them my reader friends
because, for all these many years, it seems like they have been so faithful to
continue to show up for my new books, which is awesome.”
Even as a self-proclaimed compulsive writer with more than 80 published works, Lewis
has not lost the heart of her message, that very core that has inspired
thousands across the globe. As I walked out the door at the end of the night, I
realized all these people came because of a story. They each had one story that
in turn influenced their life, providing comfort or peace or inspiration. These
women came not to hear a story, but to share their stories, sequels that began
in the pages of a book. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s good writing.
by German Lopez
Voters elect anti-streetcar majority, pension privatization rejected, turnout at record low
Voters last night elected an anti-streetcar City Council majority and mayor,
which raises questions about the $133 million project’s future even as
construction remains underway. Ex-Councilman John Cranley, who ran
largely on his opposition to the project, easily defeated streetcar
supporter Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls 58-42 percent, while non-incumbents
Democrat David Mann, Charterite Kevin Flynn and Republican Amy Murray
replaced Qualls, Laure Quinlivan and Pam Thomas on council to create a
6-3 anti-streetcar majority with Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld, Republican
Charlie Winburn and Independent Chris Smitherman. Democrats Chris
Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young — all supporters of the
project — also won re-election. It remains unclear if the new government
will actually cancel the project once it takes power in December, given concerns about contractual obligations and sunk costs that could make canceling the project costly in terms of dollars and Cincinnati’s business reputation.
Other election results: Cincinnati voters rejected Issue
4, which would have privatized Cincinnati’s pension system for city
employees, in a 78-22 percent vote. Hamilton County voters
overwhelmingly approved property tax levies for the Cincinnati Zoo and
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in 80-20 percent votes.
In the Cincinnati Public Schools board election, Melanie Bates, Ericka
Copeland-Dansby, Elisa Hoffman and Daniel Minera won the four available
At 28 percent, citywide voter turnout was at the lowest since 1975, Hamilton County Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke told The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ohio Libertarians are threatening to sue
if Republican Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-controlled Ohio
legislature pass a bill that would limit ballot access for minor
parties. Although many of the new requirements for signatures and votes were
relaxed in the Ohio House, minor parties claim the standards are still
too much. Critics, who call the bill the “John Kasich Re-election
Protection Act,” claim the proposal exists to protect Republicans,
particularly Kasich, from third-party challengers who are unhappy with
the approval of the federally funded Medicaid expansion. CityBeat covered the Ohio Senate proposal in further detail here.
Meanwhile, the Kasich administration stands by its decision to bypass the legislature
and go through the Controlling Board, a seven-member legislative panel,
to enact the federally funded Medicaid expansion despite resistance in
the Ohio House and Senate. The Ohio Supreme Court recently expedited hearings over the constitutional conflict,
presumably so it can make a decision before the expansion goes into
effect in January. Opponents of the expansion, particularly Republicans,
argue the federal government can’t afford to pay for 90 to 100 percent
of the expansion through Obamacare as currently planned, while
supporters, particularly Kasich and Democrats, say it’s a great deal for
the state that helps cover nearly half a million Ohioans over the next
Across the state, voters approved most school levy renewals but rejected new property taxes.
Maximize your caffeine: The scientifically approved time for coffee drinking is between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
Looking back at 160 years of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
If you wanted to borrow a book from a library in 18th-century America, you might run into some problems. Back then public libraries didn’t exist.
Instead, small private libraries served those who were members — mainly
upper-class citizens who could afford the annual fees.
by German Lopez
Lawmaker wants expanded death penalty, CPS getting 10-year plan, local library stays busy
State Rep. John Becker, a Cincinnati Republican, is pushing to expand the death penalty
to include some sex-related crimes. His proposal, made Friday, would
allow the state to consider execution in cases of rape, sexual battery
and improper sexual contact if the suspect has a previous sex crime
conviction and there are aggravating circumstances. Becker says he was
inspired to propose the death penalty expansion after hearing about three
Cleveland women who were kidnapped, held and raped for years by Ariel Castro before they escaped in May. But
Castro, who was convicted earlier this month, wouldn’t have been
eligible for the death penalty under Becker’s plan because he didn’t have a previous sex crime conviction.
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) officials are developing a 10-year plan for the school district,
following in the footsteps of the Columbus and Cleveland systems and
their unique plans. The school district is asking for more community
support and $29 million from the state to, among other plans, boost its
community learning center initiative, a nationally recognized program
that turns schools into community hubs with extra services such as
dental care and college preparation; expand early education, which is
often heralded as one of the best economic investments; and provide more options through charter schools, which have generally performed worse than public schools but provide more choices for students.
Unlike the other big city systems, CPS has posted decent academic
ratings in the past few years, so the changes might not be as drastic
or require legislative involvement.The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was found to be the busiest central library in the country for the second year in a row
by a report from the Public Library Association. Overall, the report
found the Cincinnati system is the seventh busiest public library system
in the country and second busiest in Ohio right after Cuyahoga County,
which includes Cleveland.The Over-the-Rhine Foundation will use an $8,000 grant
from the Ohio Development Services Agency and Ohio Historic
Preservation Office to help revitalize approximately 13 buildings in the
neighborhood. The grant will allow the Over-the-Rhine Foundation to
research and apply for federal designation on the National Register of
Historic Places, which would unlock more tax credits for the buildings
and area. The rest of the money for the project will come from private
funds. “Exciting things are happening in Over-the-Rhine,” said David
Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, in a
statement. “Helping the neighborhood receive this historic designation
will allow the continued revitalization of this growing community.”With a state ban lifted, Ohio is getting more online schools
for the first time in eight years. Three e-schools were approved to
open this fall, and five more could be approved this year. The
moratorium on new e-schools was held until the state approved e-school
standards, which were drafted by the International Association for K-12
Online Learning, an association funded in part by e-schools, and include
no mention of proper budgeting or attendance tracking. A CityBeat look at e-schools last year found e-schools generally perform much worse but get more state funding than traditional public schools.
Five Miami University students helped install a wheelchair-accessible swing in Hanover Township.
Ohio gas prices are rising but still below the national average.
Ohio is among 24 states asking the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drone manufacturers to test unmanned flying vehicles within state borders.
The Western & Southern Open had record attendance this year, with nearly 200,000 people turning up.
A 12-year-old electronics prodigy and teacher is working on a plan to revamp the U.S. education system to make it more fun.
by German Lopez
Private prison mired in problems, Kentucky libraries threatened, council to pass budget
Since Ohio sold the Lake Erie Correctional Institution to
the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), prisoner accounts and
independent audits have found deteriorating conditions at the minimum- and medium-security facility. In the past few months, prisoners detailed unsanitary conditions and
rising violence at the prison, which were later confirmed by
official incident reports and a surprise inspection from the
Correctional Institution Inspection Committee. Now, the American Civil
Liberties Union of Ohio is calling on the state to do more to hold CCA
accountable. To read the full story, click here.
A Northern Kentucky lawsuit backed by the tea party is threatening library funding across the state.
The problems get into the specifics of Kentucky’s tax code,
potentially unraveling the entire library system by forcing the state’s
libraries to get voter approval before increasing or decreasing taxes.
If the courts rule against the libraries, the libraries could have to
set their tax rates back to levels from decades ago, leading to
considerably less funding for the public institutions.
City Council is set to approve a budget plan today that will avoid laying off cops and firefighters,
but it will make considerable cuts to many other city programs,
increase fees for various services and raise property taxes. The public
safety layoffs were averted despite months of threats from city
officials that such layoffs couldn’t be avoided without the city’s plan
to semi-privatize parking assets. But the parking plan is being held up in court, and City Council managed to avoid the public safety layoffs anyway.
Commentary: “Commissioners’ Proposed Streetcar Cut Ignores the Basics.”
A budget bill from the Ohio Senate would keep social issues at the forefront
and refocus tax reforms on small businesses instead of all Ohioans. The
bill would potentially allow Ohio's health director to shut down
abortion clinics, effectively defund Planned Parenthood, fund
anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and forgo the Medicaid expansion,
while cutting taxes by 50 percent for business owners instead of going
through with a 7-percent across-the-board tax cut for all Ohioans.
The Ohio legislature is moving to take away
the state auditor’s powers to audit private funds that JobsOhio and other taxpayer-funded private entities take in. State Auditor
Dave Yost is looking to do a full audit of JobsOhio that includes
private funds, but other Republicans, led by Gov. John Kasich, have
pushed back, claiming Yost can only check on public funds. JobsOhio is a
privatized development agency that Kasich and Republican legislators
established to eventually replace the Ohio Department of Development.
A teacher who was fired from a Catholic school when she
got pregnant through artificial insemination when she was single is
taking the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati to court, with hearings now underway. The Church’s critics argue that the Vatican’s stance on single pregnant women is
discriminatory, since it makes it much easier to enforce anti-premarital
sex rules against women than men.
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) is facing $14.8 million in deficits
in its next budget — a sign that years of cuts are continuing at the
school district. CPS says the shortfall is driven by state cuts, which CityBeat previously covered in greater detail and how they relate to CPS here.
Hamilton County commissioners are asking Cincinnati to merge its 911 call centers with the county. The change would likely save money for both Cincinnati and Hamilton County, but it remains uncertain how it would affect the effectiveness of 911 services.Scientists are using yogurt to study how food interacts with the brain.
CityBeat is doing a quick survey on texting while driving. Participate here.
To get your questions answered in CityBeat’s Answers Issue, submit your questions here.
Northern Kentucky tea party-backed lawsuit threatens library funding across the state
1 Comment · Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Today, a tea party-backed lawsuit based
on the wording of a 1979 law has Kentuckians wondering what life would
be like with a weakened public library system — or, worse, with no
library at all.
by Jac Kern
at 04:09 PM | Permalink
By now, you’ve
probably seen Isaac Lamb’s masterfully choreographed routine/marriage proposal
to Amy Frankel. The Portland, Ore. couple reached cyber stardom with YouTube
video “Isaac’s Live Lip-Dub Proposal” — just one week after being posted, it's approaching 12 million views.
It is important to
note that despite various website mentions, this is decidedly
not “hipster” (except maybe the dancing Jews, that might be some kind of
underground art trend). The song is a 2010 hit Pop song by “Hawaiian Elvis”
Bruno Mars. A similar performance can be seen on this very popular television show. Nonetheless,
it is really damn cute. I dare you to not get misty-eyed.
It might not be
everyone’s dream proposal, but it’s such a representative 2012 slice of life:
popular music, Glee-esque dancing, technology (Skype, YouTube). Just imagine
their first dance as husband and wife…
If you’re not one
of the couple million people who saw Battleship, don’t waste your money quite
yet. Here’s every line of dialogue Rihanna says in the box office bomb.
usually suck. Although over the years many schools have committed to serving
healthier, more substantial meals, the thought of cafeterias conjures up
memories of greasy sloppy joes, canned fruit and square pizza. Most kids don’t
mind it — who didn’t look forward to grilled cheese day? Kids aren’t concerned
with nutritious content. Kids who aren’t Martha Payne, that is. GOOD shared the blog of
this 9-year-old Scottish girl who became fed up with her inadequate school
lunches. Under the careful supervision of her Dad, Payne created NeverSeconds, a blog of her daily school lunch with
ratings (which adorably calculate number of mouthfuls and pieces of hair in
every meal). The blog hasn’t even been up for two months and Payne is already
getting recognition from the likes of school lunch champion Jamie Oliver. Payne,
under the moniker Veg (as in Veritas Ex Gustu, which is Latin for
Truth in Tasting), also invites children from around the world to send in
photos and analyses of their healthy or sub-par school meals. What a cool
2 is really coming.
had a pretty busy couple weeks. He launched Facebook in the stock market, updated his relationship status
and married a girl that did not
dump him in The Social Network, honeymooned in Italy and
everyone’s pissed about all of it.
Did anyone else
nearly run their car off the road when they hear what sounds like Morgan
Freeman’s sweet, heavenly voice on a … library commercial?
That’s right, a
guy who really sounds like Morgan Freeman voiced a commercial for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
Assembling a Family Media Library
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 20, 2008
If I ever have a fire, I won't worry about my physical possessions. The
family recordings, photos and writings are all I care about -- they're
tangible memories and treasures that never tarnish.