The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

Local Author Profile - The Curious Case of Richard O Jones

For most of his journalism career Hamilton, Ohio, author Richard O Jones was the go-to guy for arts and entertainment news.

richard o jones.jpg

He “covered the whole gamut of the arts, locally and regionally, and had a national music review column for several years,” he recalls.

In 2011 the Ohio Associated Press named him Feature Writer of the Year for his profiles, based on personal interviews, of rock star David Crosby, famed primatologist Jane Goodall and two local persons.

With his “heart” in all things theater, Jones joined the American Theatre Critics Association. In 2004 he was named a Fellow of the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre and Musical Theatre program, at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles. He spent two weeks there in an “intensive educational program” with other critics from around the country.

But Richard O Jones is a writer with many interests. Two of them are murder and history.

He’s become a master at combining both.

As the self-described “True Crime Historian,” Jones has written two books published by The History Press and self-published ten novella-length e-books. He currently produces and hosts podcasts about real-life crime to a global audience.

With a reporter’s instincts, the former writer/editor of the "Hamilton Journal-News" knows a good story when he sees or hears one -- even if it’s over a century old.

He’ll tell such a tale on Monday, September 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the MidPointe Library Middletown, 125 South Broad Street.  His topic will be a page right out of Butler County True Crime: “The Sleepwalking Slasher : A Spate of Bluebeards (1902 to 1904).

Free and open to the public, Jones’s appearance is part of the History and Genealogy Speakers Series at the MidPointe Library Middletown.

Local villainy makes up the bulk of Jones’s print material.

klumpp.JPG

His book, “Cincinnati’s Savage Seamstress : The Shocking Edythe Klumpp Murder Scandal,” was published in 2014 by the History Press. It’s a tale about the murder of a woman for which Klumpp was convicted and sentenced to death in the electric chair, and the woman’s husband with whom Klumpp had been living.

The sensational case led to public discourse on the death penalty for women (Klumpp was eventually paroled) and the use of “truth serum” on convicts. *

Jones’s next book, published in 2015, was “The First Celebrity Serial Killer in Southwest Ohio : Confessions of the Strangler Alfred Knapp,” also published by History Press. It features a villain with a charming personality and the ignominious title of the “Hamilton Strangler.”

knapp.JPG

Hamilton, Ohio, “has a rich, dark history that I love digging into,” says Jones, a native and current resident. But crime has no geographical limits. As a result Jones has “branched out to cases all across the country.”

For Jones, a creative writing graduate of Miami University, true-crime writing became “Plan B” after he left his job at the "Journal-News" in 2013.

“I floated several different options for a second career,” he recalls. “One of them was writing a book about the Ruppert mass murder that took place in Hamilton in 1975.”

The horrific crime involved a man who murdered eleven family members on Easter Sunday.

“I had done a ton of research on it a few years previously when I was hired by a movie producer to do a treatment on the case for a documentary. The film never got off the ground, but I was sitting on all this research and I had inherited the photos from the photographers at the paper who worked on the case.”

“I got a lot of interest in the book,” Jones says, adding “I’m still sitting on it, waiting for the right publisher.”

Jones pores over old newspaper archives looking for material for his books. “Most of my stories take place 100 years ago or more,” he says. That requires mostly archival research.

“Because I work on historic cases, there typically isn’t anyone still alive who still knows anything. But for the Ruppert case I did interview the journalists who worked on the stories and friends of the Ruppert family,” he recalls.

“Edythe Klumpp’s children are still living so I reached out to them,” he says. “They met with me, but weren’t especially happy that I was dredging up old dirt. I did make contact with some of her grandchildren who were very interested in the story but didn’t know much because it was never talked about.”

Podcasting has opened up Jones’s world -- literally.

In 2016 Jones launched a twice-weekly podcast entitled “True Crime Historian” ( www.truecrimehistorian.com )

in which he “tells stories of the scoundrels, scandals and scourges of the past through historic newspaper accounts in the golden age of yellow journalism.”

His listeners hail from all over the United States and English-speaking parts of the world. “Since I began podcasting I have researched over 250 murders, mostly in the United States,” he continues. “But since I have an international following, I try to work in a British, Canadian or Australian case every once in a while.”

“I’m working on episode 267 now, and only a fraction of them take place in Southwest Ohio,” Jones says.

“But one of my favorites is the seven-part series, ‘Crane Neck Nugent : Prohibition Trigger,’ about a man who beat a murder rap in Hamilton and later went on to become one of the machine gunners in the infamous Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Jones has done episodes on Lizzie Borden, The Black Dahlia and other famous true-crime cases.

“But I really like finding the obscure cases that might have been national front page stories for months at the time but are nearly forgotten today -- people like ‘Jolly Jane’ Toppan, a nurse who poisoned several patients, or Winnie Ruth Judd, who murdered and dismembered her roommates in Phoenix and shipped their bodies by railway to Los Angeles.”

Jones has also created the “Two-Dollar Terror” series of  novella-length e-books about historical crimes. “Half of the Two-Dollar Terrors take place outside of the Hamilton-Cincinnati area,” he says.

Grade school : A writer is born...

“I knew I was a writer as early as the second grade,” Jones recalls. “I read well above my age group and began writing poems and humorous personal essays while still in elementary school.

“I plowed through dozens of Hardy Boys mysteries and true crime and adventure magazines and my earliest writing impulses were along those lines...In high school I wrote several plays for the drama department and humorous op-ed pieces for the school newspaper, but I was never on the staff or anything like that...

“I really had no interest in becoming a journalist until I actually became one because I needed a job,” he admits. “What I really wanted was to be the next Kurt Vonnegut.” Hence the creative writing degree.

On writing…

“I’m a night owl,” says Jones, “so a lot of my writing is done in the wee hours. But when I’m working on a book, I’m usually writing from the time I wake up until I fall asleep at the keyboard.”

These days Jones’s time “is divided between freelance writing for hire and true-crime podcasting. I do have a list of about six or seven big historical true crime stories that I would like to write a book on but I don’t have the time to dive into that process.”

“I have been writing a series of non-crime history for a local magazine, mostly biographies of notable people in Hamilton’s history,” he continues. “Once the podcast is earning enough to support me and the process of creating it, I plan to cut back on the other stuff and get back into writing more books.”

Jones’s advice for writers...

“Writers should always be writing, so write constantly unless you’re doing other chores related to writing. If you’re not writing new stuff, edit the old. Writer’s block is an excuse for the undisciplined amateur. A real writer doesn’t have to be inspired or in the mood to write. Writers write.”

On publishing…

“The publishing business isn’t what it used to be, so when you get a book published be prepared to wear the marketer’s hat and distributor’s hat as well as the writer’s unless you can afford to hire a publicist.”

A love of history....

When he’s not writing or podcasting, Jones serves as a board member of the Butler County Historical Society, a member of the History Speakers Bureau and a regular presenter in a program titled “Yesterday’s News” at Miami University.

The Michael J. Colligan History Project of Miami University presented Jones with a Special Recognition for Contributions to Public History for his coverage of the Centennial Commemoration of the Great Flood of 1913.

...even without the crime.

* From “Edythe Klumpp and the ‘Case of the Century’” by Janice Schulz, University of Cincinnati Libraries LiBlog

https://libapps.libraries.uc.edu/liblog

MidPointe Library welcomes local authors who need a place to write, do research, and-or meet as a group in any of its locations: Middletown, West Chester, Trenton and Monroe. A new branch will open this fall at Liberty Center in Liberty Township. Contact MidPointe Library for information.

Local independently published (“Indie”) authors looking for a forum to meet the public are invited to register for the “ReadLOCAL Indie Author Fair”  Saturday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to noon at MidPointe Library, 9363 Centre Pointe Drive, West Chester, Ohio.

The popular program gives readers a chance to meet authors and ask about their writing processes and backgrounds. Visitors can also buy books and have them signed by the authors. There is no admission fee.

Authors of adult, teen and children’s literature should contact Martha Matthews, Information/Reference/ Programming Librarian at MidPointe Library West Chester, 513-777-3131 if interested.

 

Local History #tbt Blog - Its Walls May Perish, But the Words Will Linger

 

Reportedly, its time is almost up.

color picture postcard of MHS.png

The stately old building on Girard Avenue that once housed Middletown High School and other grades soon will be reduced to a mound of bricks and mortar.

As it awaits a date with a demolition crew, the grand structure stands shuttered behind metal fencing.

But there’s still time to pay your respects.

Drive by. Take some photos. Reminisce. And ponder the words carved into its imposing structure, high above the street so that all could see:

“For Physical and Moral Education As Well As Education of the Mind”

physical.JPG

“For the Development of a Wiser and Nobler Type of Citizenship”

“That All Our Youth May Have a Broader and Richer Personal Life”

richer.jpg

“Religion and Education Are The Safeguards of Our Nation”

“Let Music, Art, and Oratory Abound Within”

oratory.jpg

Completed in 1923 at a cost of over one million dollars, the magnificent building was hailed as “one of the most expensive and finest schools in the state at that time.” (*)

It’s reported to be the oldest school building in Butler County.

Throughout the decades it’s housed high schoolers and freshman-only and middle school-only classes. It’s seen its share of scholarship, athletic glory, grand theater, stirring music, works of art and, most importantly, impressive young citizens.

Today middle and high school students in Middletown, Ohio, attend a modern school/athletic complex on Breiel Boulevard.

The “Middie Magic” lives on.

Source:

* A Brief History of the Middletown City School  District 1800 to 1987” by Norman M. Hayes

 

Back to School with MidPointe

Dear Parents,

Let MidPointe Library help you help your young children make a smooth transition into the 2018-2019 school year!

Here are a couple of back-to-school tips from Ally Doliboa, former schoolteacher and current Youth Services Team Leader at MidPointe’s Middletown location :

1. “Routines are key! Start getting back on a bedtime/wake up schedule that the kids will have when school starts back up again. It will make mornings easier when school does start again.”

Indeed, transitioning from summer to school can be a challenge for many students, especially incoming kindergarteners. At MidPointe, we’re up to the challenge of making sure there’s an abundance of age-appropriate educational material ready for your young scholar!

With kid-sized furnishings, computer stations and displays in a colorful and age-appropriate environment, all MidPointe libraries strive to be inviting places children will want to visit again and again.

At MidPointe Library Middletown, for example, future kindergarteners are welcome to visit the “Kindergarten Readiness Center” to get ready for their first day at the Big Kids School.

kindergarten shelf.jpg

This colorful, appealing inviting corner is stocked with games, puzzles and other learning activities “that kids can do on their own,” preferably with their adult, while visiting the library, says Ms. Doliboa.

While items in the Kindergarten Readiness Center are not available for check-out, a wealth of material is available for borrowing, including:

  • Phonics boxed sets in the Easy Reader Collection that help young students sound out letters and words.

playaway shelf.jpg
  • Playaway Launchpads for ages 5 to 7 that make learning easy and just plain fun. Titles range from “It’s Sweet to Spell” and “Welcome to Letter Land!” to “Make! Bake! Create!” and “Kingdom of Numbers.”

 

 

2. “Even though our Summer Reading Program is over, it doesn’t mean the reading should stop! Having kids read daily is still highly important.”

All MidPointe Library locations (West Chester, Trenton and Monroe in addition to Middletown) offer a mega-load of books available for check-out. Just about every fiction and non-fiction subject imaginable-- at the proper grade level-- can be found on MidPointe shelves.

In this computer age, MidPointe librarians know online education is also important. That’s why MidPointe offers the popular ABCmouse.com digital education program (in-library use only) and other student databases available via ww.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Research Databases > Homework Help.

Whether in-house or online, MidPointe Library stands ready to help launch your young scholar into a successful academic year!

Here’s a fun, free way for kids and all ages to welcome the upcoming school year:

All children are invited to display their reading skills at the “Read to a Therapy Dog” program Monday, August 27, at 5 p.m. at the MidPointe-Middletown location, 125 South Broad Street. Register in person or by calling 513-424-1251.

Best of Luck in the Coming School Year!

Sincerely,

Your Friends at MidPointe Library

At MidPointe Middletown, kids can hone their reading skills by reading to a Therapy Dog! The four-legged guest will be there Monday, August 27, at 5 p.m. to listen to whatever a child wishes to read. Please call 513-424-1251 or stop by the MidPointe Middletown Children’s Department to register.  There is no cost to participate in this program.

For a calendar of events for all ages at MidPointe’s Middletown, West Chester, Trenton and Monroe branches click on www.midpointelibrary.com > Events.

 

 

 

Local History #tbt Blog - Young Jerry Lucas Fills a Tall Order at Wade E. Miller Gym

Listen closely as you walk past the shuttered Wade E. Miller Gymnasium on Curtis Street in Middletown, Ohio.

You might hear the squeak of shoes on the hardboard, the whistle of a referee, the call of an announcer...

And feel the Middie Magic of basketball royalty from long ago.

wade gym.jpeg

 

Soon the old gym, once the pride of the Middletown High School basketball program, will be demolished. So, too, will the stately structure just around the corner on Girard Avenue that once housed Middletown High school and other grade levels. Its last identity was Middletown Middle School.

With time comes change. Next month middle schoolers will join high school students at a modern, sprawling school and sports complex on Breiel Boulevard. Among the amenities : the new Wade E. Miller Arena.

Meanwhile, back on Curtis Street, the spirits of Middie Magic still revel in the glory of games and players past.

wade miller.jpg

They fondly remember Wade E. Miller, the Middletown High School principal (1917-1944) and Middletown schools superintendent after whom the gym was named. (1)

They proudly recall when the gym opened in 1952 as “one of the top basketball courts in the state.” (2)

basketball team and jerry lucas photo from 1958 Middletown High School Optimist Yearbook.jpg

And they certainly won’t forget tall, lanky Middie Magic-maker, Jerry Lucas. The future National Basketball Association Hall of Famer became the school’s “No. 1 scorer with 2,460 points in three seasons” and led the Middies to a 76-1 record and two state titles.” (3)

Lucas not only excelled on the basketball court. He also served as senior class president, junior class president and was involved with Boys’ State, National Honor Society, Glee Club, Hi-Y,  the Middie Manor Board and track. (*).

jerry lucas grad 1958.jpg

In time, Lucas rocketed into hoopster stratosphere as “one of the few players ever to win titles in high school, college (Ohio State), the Olympics (in Rome, 1960) and the National Basketball Association (1972-1973 with the New York Knicks).” (4)

“As a pro, Lucas was named All-NBA First Team three times, NBA All-Star seven times, was 1964 NBA Rookie of the Year, and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1965 NBA All-Star Game.” (4)

“At the All-Star Game in Cleveland in 1997, he was introduced as one of The 50 Greatest NBA Players.” (4).

As of early 2017, the former Middie remained “the only three-time Big Ten Player of the Year.” He was also twice-named NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Player of the Year.” (4)

Perhaps the most heart-warming basketball honor Lucas received came in 2013 when the Middletown school system officially named the floor of Wade E. Miller gym the “Jerry Lucas Court” (5).

Coach Paul Walker (from 1955 Optimist).jpg

That same weekend a banner hailing another Middletown legend was unveiled. It proclaimed the late legendary basketball Coach Paul Walker as “Hall of Fame Middie Coach” in recognition of his 30 years of coaching, leading them to five state championships and his being named Ohio Coach of the Year (three times) and National Coach of the Year. (5)

May the memories of Wade E. Miller Gymnasium live on in the hearts and minds of all who entered.
 

1. “A Brief History of the Middletown City School District 1800-1987” by Norman M. Hayes

 2. “Middies to host Big Blue in gym farewell” by Rick McCrabb, Journal-News, December 21, 2016

  3. “The List: Middletown High School’s greatest basketball players” by Rick McCrabb, Journal-News, December 3, 2017    

 4. “5 Middletown athletes everyone should know” by Rick McCrabb, Journal News, February 11, 2017

5. “Lucas ‘very humbled’ by court dedication” by Rick McCrabb, Journal News, February 16, 2013

* PHOTOS AND INFORMATION ABOUT JERRY LUCAS AND THE MIDDIES BASKETBALL TEAM APPEAR IN THE 1958 MIDDLETOWN HIGH SCHOOL “OPTIMIST” YEARBOOK.

THE PHOTO OF BASKETBALL COACH PAUL WALKER APPEARS IN THE 1958 OPTIMIST.

THE PHOTO OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT WADE E. MILLER APPEARS IN THE 1947 OPTIMIST.

MIDDLETOWN OPTIMISTS AND MANY OTHER LOCAL HISTORICAL PHOTOS AND INFORMATION ARE AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING ON THE MIDPOINTE LIBRARY DIGITAL ARCHIVES: www.MidPointeDigitalArchives.org

 

 

 

 

Summer Lunch Program in Middletown Continues Through August 31

Children and teens 18-years-of-age and younger are invited to enjoy a free lunch on weekdays now through  August 31 in the Community Room at MidPointe Library, Middletown. No registration is necessary.

The lunches are an extension of the library’s traditional summer programming, said Ally Doliboa, Youth Services Team Leader at MidPointe Middletown.

MID_SummerFoodProgram_Slide.jpg

 

The Middletown Salvation Army is partnering with the library to serve the lunches.

Ms. Doliboa encouraged library visitors who meet the age requirements to stop by and enjoy lunch, which will be served Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The library is located at 125 South Broad Street.

The program is made possible by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Department of Education and the American Dairy Association.

 

 

 

Local History #tbt Blog - The Glorious Life of a Middletown School

When it was completed in 1923 at a cost of over one million dollars, the magnificent building was hailed as “one of the most expensive and finest schools in the state at that time.” (1)

MMS arial.jpg

By approving a 20-year bond issue four years earlier (1), Middletonians got exactly what they paid for : a state-of-the-art edifice “spanning two full blocks,” (2)  that would become the school’s “third home.” (1)

Its name : Middletown High School. And what a grand building it was.

Among its amenities were the first gymnasium in the public school system with permanent spectator benches, shower rooms and an indoor running track. There were  55 classrooms, a greenhouse, the latest heating and air-circulation systems, oak-paneled offices and a board room with a working fireplace. (1)

And who could forget the school system’s first gymnasium with indoor running track, shower rooms and permanent spectator benches?

But the school’s “crown jewel” was its spectacular auditorium for music and oratory. It boasted a lobby with marble walls and floor, a foyer, box office, ornate plaster adorned with gold trim, silk wall tapestries, Tiffany glass chandeliers, black leather seats for nearly 1,300 people, sterling silver plates that numbered the aisles and seats, a huge stage with many sets of drapes, an orchestra pit, and a projection booth with the latest equipment. (1)

In the early 1950s the school site expanded to include the Wade E. Miller gymnasium which faced Curtis Street. Named after the former Middletown High principal, the gym would become the home of basketball legends and never-to-be-forgotten games. (2)

But change was inevitable...

In 1969 the building became the home of the freshman class and was named, appropriately, the Freshman School. In the fall of 1981 younger occupants moved in. With them came another name change -- Vail Middle School in honor of Middletown founder Stephen Vail. (1). Its last and current name, Middletown Middle School, was bestowed several years later.

Today the stately structure, reported to be the oldest school building in Butler County (3), stands vacated yet proud behind metal fencing while its former students prepare for another year in a new Middletown Middle School on the Breiel Boulevard campus of Middletown High School (3).

Meanwhile, back on Girard Avenue, the ghosts of grandeur and glory remain, knowing that they, too, will soon have to leave the premises.

mms exterior.JPG

Their old haunt has a date with a demolition crew.

Sources:

  1. “A Brief History of the Middletown City School District 1800 to 1987” by Norman M. Hayes

  2. Middletown High School Tour” by the Citizens for

Historic and Preservation Services

www.butlerpreservation.org

   3. “How Middletown’s newest school is progressing           and what it will offer students,” by Michael D. Clark, Journal News, March 15, 2018.       www.journal-news.com

 

Share your memories of the former Middletown High, Freshman School, Vail Middle School and Middletown Middle School in our comments section.

 

 

 

 

 

Teen Volunteers Help Make the Summer Great in West Chester

How do you gauge the success of a library program?

At MidPointe Library West Chester, it’s easy. When young participants return as volunteers, ready and willing to assist those who’ve come after them, you know you’ve got a darn good program on your hands.

That’s exactly what’s happened during MidPointe Library’s Summer Reading Program (SRP), a local tradition that encourages citizens of all ages to visit their local library branches, read books, listen to audiobooks and receive prizes for their efforts. Special guests and entertainment are a big part of the program.

This year’s program, which ran from June 1 to July 31 at all MidPointe locations, was sponsored by the Journal News.

West Chester’s highly successful SRP for children and teens was due in large part to its many young volunteers, says Susan Norvell, Information/Reference Teen Librarian.  Some of them participated in the program as young children.

“Our teen volunteers are the backbone of our Summer Reading Program,” she states. “Without them, we would not be able to have the many wonderful children’s programs that we do. The volunteers handle the reading logs and prize distributions so that the Children’s Staff can plan and carry out their amazing programs. Without our teen volunteers, the children’s staff would have to man the tables and that would leave very little time for programs!”

“This year we had 104 teen volunteers to help us run our Summer Reading Program,” Norvell says proudly. “That’s 104 volunteers just during the months of June and July!”

When you delve into those numbers, the volunteers’ work is even more impressive.

“Every hour the library was open during June and July, we needed between 2-4 volunteers to man the SRP tables. That equates to 606 hours,” Norvell explains. “We also needed volunteers to help out with the fantastic children’s programs that are planned all summer long. If you add in the hours they volunteered for the children’s programs, that’s an additional 85-plus hours...

“...That’s almost 700 hours that we needed our teen volunteers just in the months of June and July!”

Other Summer Reading duties included redeeming prizes for online patrons, setting up rooms for programs, taking attendance counts, running craft and/or game stations, providing general supervision of children attending programs, restocking materials, crafts preparations -- even donning the costume of MidPointe’s lion mascot, Shakespurr.

Among the Summer Reading student volunteers this year were Emily Lin and the brother-and-sister team of Munir and Asmaa Zuberi. The trio signed up participants and handed out prizes in the Children’s Department.

Emily, a soon-to-be freshman, recalls “how helpful the volunteers were” when she participated in Summer Reading at a young age. “I just wanted to be a part of” the program, says the fan of realistic and fantasy fiction.

A love of reading motivated the Zuberi siblings to volunteer.

 Asmaa and Munir Zuberi (sister and brother) handing out information about SRP.

Asmaa and Munir Zuberi (sister and brother) handing out information about SRP.

Asmaa, 12, a fan of Hunger Games, says SR “encourages reading” which in turn “opens doors to other things.” Books, she says, “have been a big part of my life.” They “inspire” and help children to “be more creative and think outside the box.”

 Volunteer Emily Lin standing in front of the prize shelves.

Volunteer Emily Lin standing in front of the prize shelves.

Munir, 15, who enjoyed the Beast Quest series at a younger age, states that “Reading is very important,” including “reading for leisure.” It “improves your vocabulary and helps you understand the world around you,” he says, adding that reading also helps “improve the imagination” so that one is better able to comprehend what an author is trying to convey.

Summer Reading isn’t the only opportunity for young people to volunteer at MidPointe West Chester.

“We use volunteers all year long,” says Norvell. “During the school year it is just on a smaller scale. Typically teens volunteer on Saturday mornings/afternoons and Tuesday evenings when they assist with programs…”

Student volunteers hail from various schools. And with Lakota West High School across the street, “We have many teens who come over after school and end up becoming volunteers either to meet a classroom requirement of volunteer service hours or simply because they are interested in learning more about the library and  giving back to the community,” Norvell says.

Student volunteers are always welcome. Applications are available in the West Chester Young Adult Department or on the library website at www.midpointelibrary.org.

Summer, Autumn, Winter, or Spring, young volunteers have been and always will be a vital part of the MidPointe Library system.

“Here at MidPointe WC, we love our amazing teen volunteers and couldn’t succeed without them!” Norvell proudly proclaims.

 

 

 

Local History #tbt blog - I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

Today -- “Throwback Thursday” -- we celebrate the divine dessert that’s satisfied the sweet tooth of our forebears.

ice cream 1.png

Yep, we’re talkin’ ice cream.

Ice cream 2.jpg

We’ve scooped up some old photos and newspaper ads depicting a few local ice cream establishments (Elite candy and confectionery, Gem City Ice Cream, Park Street Ice Cream, the Early Dairy) and an unnamed soda fountain where many a cone and shake were no doubt devoured on a hot day. Hope they bring back delicious memories.

While we’re here we must pay tribute to “The Ice Cream Man,” the late Everett Metzger, known among Middletown kids for driving an ice cream truck around town. Mr. Metzger passed away in May. His interesting story was written by Rick McCrabb of the Journal News.

 

Ice cream 3.jpg

Continue to have a safe and happy summer and…

ice cream 4.jpg

May all your dreams be as sweet as White House cherry ice cream on a steamy summer day.

Sources:

  • Park Street Ice Cream ad from Middletown Journal, July 14, 1960

  • Gem City Ice Cream ad from Middletown Journal,  January 7, 1966

  • Photo and obituary for Everett Metzger from “Longtime Operator of Middletown Ice Cream Truck Dies” by Rick McCrabb, Journal News, May 11, 2018 (via Google)

  • Photos of unnamed drug store counter, Elite 5-cent ice cream cone advertisement and Elite store window (Elite Ice Cream), Early Dairy building, all available via www.midpointelibrary.org  Go to eLibrary > Digital Archives. Keyword : ice cream

Previous articles of the Middletown Journal are available on the MidPointe Library website. Go to eLibrary > Research Databases > Magazines and Newspapers > Newspaper Archive > Middletown Ohio Journal

 

Libraries Replaced by Amazon? We Think Not...

Now you’ve gone and done it.

 

You, Mr. Panos Mourdoukoutas, have roused the ire of public librarians hither and yon.

 

Why all the fuss? Of course, it was the article you wrote in the July "Forbes" magazine titled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries To Save Taxpayers Money.”

 

That certainly got the librarians’ attention here at MidPointe Library system in Southwest Ohio. They’re avid readers, you know.

 

As expected, the librarians were a tad irritated when you impressed upon your readers that libraries are dinosaurs slogging through the Age of Amazon and cozy Wi-Fi coffee shops. But being librarians, their irritation was characteristically understated, in a librarian kind of way.

 

But make no mistake. The outrage is there. After all, about public libraries you wrote : “...they don’t have the same value they used to.” Really, Mr. Mourdoukoutas?

 

First you assert that Amazon, the online colossus, “should open their own bookstores in all local communities.They can replace local libraries and save taxpayers lots of money, while enhancing the value of their stock….”

 

Then, after extolling the services libraries have provided through the years while operating on tax dollars, you say that libraries “don’t have the same value they used to.” What gives?

 

You cite the popularity of coffee cafes and similar establishments with WiFi access as the reason why “some people have started using their loyalty card at Starbucks more than they use their library card.”  Point taken, Mr. Mourdoukoutas.

 

You mention streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, saying they “provide TV and movie content to the masses at an affordable rate…”

 

You refer to digital technology that has “turned physical books into collector’s items, effectively eliminating the need for library borrowing services…”

 

Whew! That’s a lot to respond to.

 

Let’s start with Amazon. Believe it or not, we have nothing against Amazon. In fact, many libraries -- including MidPointe -- are Amazon customers. In fact, we just announced that one of our online media platforms, Hoopla, now supports Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa. That’s music to our patrons’ ears.

 

To shed a little light on this subject, we refer to Patrick “PC” Sweeney, political director of the EveryLibrary Institute, a library support organization. We think he offers the best response to your article : “...libraries and Amazon are simply not in competition.”

 

He explains : “Libraries make significant purchases from Amazon for everything from books to Post-It notes. Many of our services like Overdrive use Amazon as its content delivery system. And, if you want to sign up for Amazon Smile, you can add the EveryLibrary Institute or your local library as one of your recipients when you make purchases from Amazon Smile.”

 

Now...when it comes to Starbucks and other coffee cafes, you maintain they offer the public a “comfortable place to read, surf the web, meet their friends and associates, and enjoy a great drink…”

 

That’s true, Mr. Mourdoukoutas, but you may have forgotten : we also provide those things. However, you’re right about the drink. They’ve got us there.

 

But we digress. Since money’s the big issue here, let’s talk about funding.

 

Over the past two decades Ohio libraries have faced reduced funding. We at MidPointe have adjusted accordingly. Today in our service area the owner of a $100,000 home pays about $22 a year for the library and all of its services. That’s less than the cost of one hardback book.

 

According to Sweeney, “libraries cost the average American taxpayer over 18 years old just $4.50 per month.”

 

He compares that cost to an Amazon Prime subscription which he says “alone is nearly double that price and you get very little for free with that subscription because you still have to buy books or pay more to gain access to premium goods or services.”

 

So what do taxpayers get at MidPointe Library for their hard-earned tax dollars?

 

Let’s start with online access available within the library as well as the comfort of home.

 

Just visit www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary and you may be surprised at the depth and breadth of our offerings in the following categories : eBooks, eMagazines, Research Databases, Music, Movies & TV Shows and Digital Archives (local history).

 

Our vast research database includes the following categories : academic and professional, business and investing, science and technology, art, genealogy and local history, literature and books, test and career preparation, auto repair, government and law, magazines and newspapers, biography and history, health and medical, and reference.

 

One of those databases alone can include thousands of pieces of information.

 

Take Lynda.com, for instance. One of our newer platforms, this site offers 6,000-plus courses in software training, business expertise and creative skills for work, school or personal development. That’s a lot of learning in the comfort of your own home.

 

You’ll also find these popular sites:

 

Hoopla -- Offering hundreds of thousands of free movies, TV shows, full music albums, audiobooks, eBooks, comics and more. (Remember, Hoopla now supports Amazon’s Alexa).

 

Ohio Digital Library - Offering downloadable movies and videos as well as eBooks.

 

cloudLibrary -- Offering hundreds of popular eBooks and eAudiobooks with additional titles added weekly,

 

SearchOhio lending consortium -- An online way to access millions of items from across the state that we do not currently have in our collection. You don’t have to travel many miles to obtain an item we don’t have. Just click on the item you want. It’s delivered to us. We inform you when it’s ready for pickup. Can’t get any easier than that.

 

We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to our online existence, Mr. Mourdoukoutas.

 

Now let’s discuss brick and mortar. If you’re in the area, please stop by any of our four (soon to be five) locations. There you’ll find pleasant environments, comfortable seating and plenty of computers for adults and children. Our patrons deserve no less.

 

You’ll also see :

 

  • The very latest best-selling fiction and non-fiction for all ages, as well as the works of many local authors. Our non-fiction sections cover just about every subject imaginable. We also have reference material, DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, video games, magazines and local and national newspapers. All of these, with the exception of Reference and newspapers, are available for checkout. Just click “Catalog Search,” type a title, phrase or subject and see what we have.

 

  • Study carrels, large work tables, interesting artwork, a community room for guest speakers and programs and, last but not least, convenient parking and easy access for those with mobility issues.

 

  • Programming for all ages and interests. Our last official program count, in 2014, revealed that over 2,000 programs for all ages were presented among all our locations. Guest speakers, entertainers, four-legged visitors, yoga, technology, genealogy, current events, sketching and painting -- the variety never ends. You name it. We’ve probably had a program covering it.

 

  • Our long-running and highly successful Summer Reading program for all ages. This annual event -- now a tradition for many families -- promotes a love of reading.  Prizes are awarded for items read. Special guests, both human and animal, attract kids and adults alike. This year Summer Reading hosted music concerts featuring local talent at each MidPointe location.

 

  • A “Read Local” event at our West Chester branch that introduces the public to local published authors.

 

  • The Ohio Room and Local History and Genealogy Gallery at our Middletown location is a goldmine for history buffs and genealogists. In fact, the complete package of Ancestry.com is available for use on site. History is big around here.

 

  • Meetings rooms that can be reserved online, a service that’s popular with many community and local author groups.

 

  • Access to teacher cards that give educators access to material for their classrooms.

 

  • Proctoring services.

 

  • Passport applications.

 

  • Print, copy, fax and scanning services.

 

  • And last but certainly not least...REAL LIVE LIBRARIANS who can help you find what you’re looking for.

 

But wait, Mr. Mourdoukoutas! There’s more! Did you know that we also serve patrons who are unable to visit our locations? That’s called “Outreach service” and we’re happy to oblige. Our Outreach department includes:

 

  • Our Bookmobile, a new branch that’s literally a “Library on Wheels.” This brightly colored vehicle takes books, DVDs, magazines and more to at least 200,000 children, teens, young adults and adults in our service area (Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe and Madison, Wayne, St. Clair and Liberty townships).

 

  • Librarian visits to schools and community centers to engage young people in the joy of reading.

 

  • Delivery of material to the homes of patrons who are not physically able to visit the library.

 

  • Learn-a-craft visits to residents of assisted and nursing  facilities.

 

Mr. Mourdoukoutas, “to be fair” you do report that “library surveys do not seem to confirm the idea that public libraries don’t have the value they used to.”

 

You cite a Pew Research Center survey that finds that “Millennials are the most likely generations to use public libraries. Though it isn’t clear whether ‘public libraries’ are community libraries or school libraries…And what the trend is among this group.”

 

Continuing, you write : “The survey also finds that ‘In-person library use in the US remains fairly stable’ for the period 2012-16. At least that’s the title of one of their charts. But a reading of the chart is different: Library usage dropped from 53 percent to 46 percent over the same period…”

 

In conclusion you write, “Apparently, more data are needed to confirm a trend. But the opportunity for Amazon to enhance shareholder value remains.”

 

Yes, Mr. Mourdoukoutas, citizens do pay for the local library with their hard-earned taxes. Yes, Amazon is arguably the biggest success story on the planet. And yes, who wouldn’t love a Starbucks espresso right about now?

 

But we respectfully counter that sometimes the local, human touch -- coupled with a good product and good service -- can be just what the consumer ordered.

 

To offer anything less on our part would be folly and just plain wrong.