Columbus Metropolitan Library – #newmain

#newmain library cake

Libraries. Are. The. Best.

I love libraries! Some of my earliest memories are of going to the library for storytime or the summer reading program in Piqua. I love reading and the best place to get new material to read (or books to reread) is the library. Everywhere that I’ve lived I’ve had a library card. For me, that’s eight library cards!

For a wonderful period of eight glorious months – I worked at a library! ? Shout out to my favorite library ladies at the Miami Township Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County – you rock! ?

#newmain media preview

Since I love libraries – I was stoked to be invited to the Media Preview of the re-opening of the Main Library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library! When I lived in Columbus I frequented this library and a few other branches often.

I started reading my #1 favorite series: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith while a patron of the Columbus library. I also borrowed a ton of educational materials for work. I’d request as many books on a topic as I could find online, then wait for them all to arrive and go pick them up in one fell swoop. I’d almost instantly regret requesting that many books at once, though, because I had to carry them to my car and then up to my apartment or to my desk at work. #booknerdproblems

#newmain tour

The Media Preview was held last week, just a few days before the library’s grand reopening this past Saturday, June 25th. After a quick introduction, and a request to share our photos and tweets with the #newmain hashtag, we were off to tour!

We were split into groups based on different literature genres. I was in the poetry group with lots of other bloggers.

#newmain view topiary park

I liked the main library before the renovation – but post-renovation library is impressive. The new layout is bright and open to encourage a sense of community and togetherness.

Some of my favorite features of the library are the gorgeous vistas seen throughout the building. The new floor plan is so open – you can see across the atrium to other parts of the library from all floors and at many spots you can look from one end to the other and see downtown Columbus. There are also lovely views of the new park plaza which connects to Topiary Park.

Another favorite is the library’s focus on sustainability. They’re working to achieve LEED gold certification and will be able to use the building to teach sustainable practices to the Columbus community. Nature Smilies

There’s a big focus on technology and making it accessible to all library users. Each floor of the library, near the elevators and highlighted with bright orange walls (the only bright colors used in the building to make them stand out) are interactive discovery boards. The huge touchscreen boards can be used to find out what events are going on at the library and where meetings are being held. It can even help you find a new book to read! Expressive Smilies

#newmain views

My group kept getting held up at the many windows, since we were all bloggers we were all stopping for photos! There are so many nice spots to stop and enjoy the view!

#newmain tour group

An area of libraries that I love to visit are the local history and genealogy departments. I dabble in genealogy from time to time and I love learning about history, whether it’s history of my home town, where I live or when I’m travelling.

The genealogy and history department at the #newmain has some awesome new features: a digital lab (with one of the largest scanners in the US), a discovery board for local history and genealogy and an all digital microfilm with some full text searching! The department is a digital hub for Ohio libraries and institutes and is able to put scanned materials online.

#newmain genealogy

The Atrium, the center of the library, is also very open and well-lit. I imagine I could spend an entire afternoon perched on one of the many chairs along the railings on any floor, just watching people come and go.

#newmain atrium

The library has a new area for teens – the theme of openness and community togetherness continues in this part of the building too. Our library guide told us the computers are oriented so the teens using them face downtown Columbus. The hope is that this view will help teens imagine themselves working in one of the buildings downtown. Study areas overlook the board room, another aspirational view for teens.

#newmain teen area

The library is also making an effort to showcase their collection of books. Displays feature front facing books with stacks of the same title available behind them. I love this look! I know the old adage is that we shouldn’t judge books by their covers — but there are so many gorgeous book covers and they can really draw you in. I read so many books when I worked at the library (and took home more than I could ever read before they were due back) mostly because I saw all of these lovely books every day at work. One of my favorite things to do at work was come up with new ways to display our teen collection — the cover artwork makes a big difference in whether or not the book will be picked up! ?

#newmain children's area

A very noticeable change at the #newmain library is the children’s area. Called Ready for Kindergarten, this new set-up is meant to help preschoolers, parents and families get ready for kindergarten. The storytime areas, book shelves and play areas mimic a kindergarten classroom — there’s even a few classroom fish in a large tank built into a bookshelf! Animal Smilies

The children of Columbus are a top priority and the library is making sure that all building renovations reflect this commitment.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library is renovating or building 10 of their locations. You can read more about each project here.

#newmain lunch

After our tour, we were treated to a lunch buffet, catered by Two Caterers. We had a taco bar with beef, chicken, taco toppings, a corn salad and some sweet treats! It was all delicious and the little cupcakes were adorable!

#newmain cake

Lunch was delicious, but the fondant cake of #newmain really stole the show! The cake, made by Queen Anne’s Lace Cakes, was both the library and a stack of popular books. It was gorgeous and smelled so sweet! The cake wasn’t meant for eating, which is probably for the best — who would have wanted to cut up such a lovely creation?


I’m so glad I was able to tour the #newmain Columbus Metropolitan Library last week! I was really impressed with the renovations and more than a little jealous that this library is no longer a short fifteen minute drive from home for me.

The #newmain library officially opened on Saturday, June 25th with a dedication and ribbon cutting at noon. In the afternoon there were activities, entertainment and patrons could sign up for a commemorative library card. The festivities concluded with a special PBJ & Jazz concert in Topiary Park featuring the Caribbean Jazz Sextet.

Now through August 27th, the Carnegie Gallery will feature an exhibit called art unbound. Local artists were challenged to transform worn library books that would have been recycled into works of art. I’m planning to stop in and see this awesome sounding exhibit later this summer.

To learn more about the library renovation and to see more photos, check out this article in The Columbus Dispatch: Main Library Reopening. And be sure to visit the library yourself!

#newmain view downtown

Columbus Metropolitan Library
– Columbus

Address: 96 South Grant Avenue, Columbus Ohio 43215

Phone Number: 614-645-2275

Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 9pm. Friday – Saturday 9am – 6pm. Sunday 1pm – 5pm.

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, PinterestTwitter, YouTube

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – Photoblog


Kenneth and I were both lucky enough to be off work on the same weekday earlier this week so we decided to spend our day at the Cincinnati Zoo! We both hate crowds and wanted as much time in the sunshine before it got too warm outside so we arrived at the zoo as soon as it opened.

Our early morning trek was rewarded with a very quiet and peaceful zoo experience! We fed the giraffes, who share something in common with our cats (Emma especially) in that they love to lick everything! I asked one of the zoo staff who helped us feed the giraffes about it and her response was that “giraffes are weird.” Pretty much the same conclusion we’ve come to regarding Emma. 🙂 She did tell us that the giraffes may get a small amount of minerals from what they lick or that they like the textures, but they aren’t positive.

You can see my favorite photos below, including one of the gorgeous fossa. This lovely creature held my gaze for what felt like an eternity, but was probably a couple of minutes. It was one of several cool and intense moments I shared with zoo animals that day, including when the orangutan sat right up against the glass picking at his food while Kenneth and I watched (he seems to prefer the Cheerios in his snack mix) and a gecko (a Madagascar Giant Day Gecko to be exact) who threw himself at the glass of his aquarium just as I lowered my face to have a closer look at him. His efforts to be seen (or elicit a shocked scream/gurgle) gets him the honored spot as the featured photo of this post.

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ohio-120x120The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Address: 3400 Vine St. Cincinnati, Ohio 45220

Phone Number: 513-281-4700

Hours: The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is open every day of the year, except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Click here to view hours as they vary by month.

Admission: Children 2-12 and Seniors 62+ – $11. Ages 13 – 61 – $15.

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube

1950s: Building the American Dream – Ohio History Center


There’s something oddly appealing to me about the 1940s and 1950s. I understand why I find the 1940s fascinating. It was an exciting time for women, despite the horrors of war. Middle class women went to work and filled roles they had never been permitted to fill before. The lack of young men available to work and the munitions and supplies needed overseas for the war created new opportunities and women working outside of the home was considered patriotic. I love reading books and watching television shows set during this tumultuous time. It’s so very different from my own life.


I don’t really understand my fascination with the 1950s. This time period seems more old-fashioned, less exciting and more restrictive to women. The men who came home wanted their old jobs back and women (again, middle class women, lower class women had already been working to support their families) were scooted out of the factories and back into the kitchens. I consider myself a feminist to my very core, so I know this isn’t what I find appealing about this time period.

Maybe it’s the fashion I admire? Or perhaps I just like the image of a small ‘nuclear’ family gathered around a retro laminate top dining room table (like the one my husband and I own), enjoying a home cooked meal of tuna noodle casserole, three bean salad and Chex Mix. Mostly I think I just love history and imaging what life was like for people who lived before me or what the world was like when my grandparents were growing up.

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All of this, of course, is how I imagine the 1940s and 1950s to have been. I certainly wasn’t around then and books, television shows and talking with family can only tell you so much. I’d need a time machine to really know what it was like “back then.” Unfortunately, the Doctor hasn’t pulled me out of my regular life to go exploring all of time and space, but I have found a pretty decent substitute for a time machine to the 1950s.

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The Ohio History Center in Columbus has an awesome exhibit, 1950s: Building the American Dream. It’s as close to a time machine as I expect to find and is on view from July 2013 – 2018. The exhibit includes a full-size prefabricated Lustron house, which was built inside the museum. Lustron homes were enameled steel houses built after World War II in response to a house shortage after American soldiers returned home from the war.

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The Lustron at the Ohio History Center is set up as if a real 1950s central Ohio family were living there, a mother, father, a boy and baby girl. There are recipes in the kitchen with a KitchenAid mixer (made in Troy Ohio), newspapers and children’s books set out in the living room, clothes in the bedroom closets. Walking through the house and peeking in drawers feels a little like snooping and a lot like sleuthing. I enjoyed imagining what life was like in the steel home.

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The exhibit goes beyond the nostalgic and fun, examining the darker side of the 1950s. The exhibit focuses on three themes:

  • Family and Gender Roles: Traditional roles for men and women were redefined by the post-World War II boom and vastly different from previous and later generations.  
  • Social and Political issues: From segregated housing to the Civil Rights movement to the Cold War to McCarthyism, the 1950s was anything but ideal for so many Americans.    
  • Popular Culture: The popular music, literature, art, and design of the 1950s is undeniably alluring and retains devout followers 60+ years later.

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I love learning about history and visiting museums and the 1950s: Building the American Dream is definitely one of my favorites. I had a little extra fun with my photos from our visit, editing them in PicMonkey with Yester-color filter.

The 1950s exhibit is on view now through 2018 – plenty of time to check out the Lustron, a 1957 Chevy Bellaire, 1950s television news and programs and more!


ohio-120x120Ohio History Center

Address: 800 East 17th Avenue Columbus, Ohio 43211

Phone Number: 800-686-6124, 614-297-2300

Hours: Wednesday – Saturday: 10 am – 5pm. Sunday: 12pm – 5pm.

Admission: Adults – $10. Ages 6–12 – $5. Ages 60+ – $9. Members and children under age 5 – Free. Parking is free.

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

Owl Banding at Fernald Preserve


I’ve been interested in birds and bird watching since I was 12 years old. It all started with a school academic team I was on called Science Olympiad. Science Olympiad changed my life in many ways and I could wax and wane about its awesomeness for multiple blog posts (which I may do), but let’s get back to birds.

For the first year I was in Science Olympiad, I exclusively studied birds. I was an alternate on the team and was allowed to participate in trial events only. Feathered Frenzy (back then all the names of the events were delightfully cheesy) was one of the trial events and I spent all my time not devoted to my schoolwork studying birds. I even tried to study in my sleep by listening to bird call CDs in bed. I was, and still am, very competitive and was determined to excel in this study competition. Plus, I realized birds are amazing creatures! For the event, students were quizzed on local bird identification (visually and by sound), bird biology and natural history. We had an official list of birds we could be tested on which grew as we went from local competitions to regional events and eventually to state and nationals. Not to get too braggy, but I was pretty good (and our team was amazing). My sister, who is two years my junior, and I placed sixth in the national competition. At that point I had been studying birds for three years. I was obsessed.


Even when Science Olympiad replaced Feathered Frenzy with Treemendous (a study event about trees which I also came to love and obsess over), to prevent mega-nerds like myself from natural history world domination, I still studied birds.

My mom and I took an Intro to Ornithology class at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm (the best Audubon Center ever) two years in a row. We went on guided birding trips with our naturalist and bird guide, Tom Hissong. We spent Mother’s Day weekend at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Crane Creek State Park several years in a row because that Saturday is International Migratory Day. We met Kenn Kaufman and he autographed my copy of his field guide (we’re Facebook friends now but it’s no big deal 😉 ). For many, many years birdwatching was everything for me.

It was my thing. A hike in the woods was not a hike in the woods, it was a bird walk. My dad and sister got used to leaving my mom and me on the hiking trail because we were birdwatching and they were bored. Unfortunately, that was years ago. I still love birds and find them fascinating (they’re my favorite animal after cats, of course), but I don’t do much birdwatching anymore – at least not actively.


That’s why getting the opportunity to see live owl banding at Fernald Preserve was so special and exciting for me. For one thing, of all the birds I think it’s fair to say owls are the cutest and most badass of the bird family (a lethal birdy combo). Look at those gigantic eyes and fluffy tufts of feathers! They’re nocturnal predators whose specialized wing feathers are serrated, making them as silent as they are deadly to small prey animals.

The two owls that we learned about at the owl banding program were the Northern Saw-whet Owl and the Eastern Screech-Owl. Both species are small (about 6 to 9 inches in height) and feed on small mammals like mice and voles. Before heading out into the night, we looked at images of both owls and listened to their most common vocalizations.


The owl banding event was held at dark, when the owls would be active. We took a short hike with our guide, Penny, stopping along the way to learn more about the preserve, its history as a uranium enrichment site and the natural history of the area. Our path was illuminated only by the moon, stars and the occasional flashlight.

When we reached the tent set up by the Hummer Bird Banding Research Collaborative (HBBC) we met Tim Tolford, the founder of the organization and Becky Crow, Curator of Wildlife at Brukner Nature Center. HBBC was founded in 2007 to study birds and bird migration through banding. So far the organization has banded over 10,000 individual birds, representing 136 species. HBBC primarily focuses on hummingbirds, spring and fall migration and Saw-whet Owls.


While Tim gave us an introduction to HBBC, one of his volunteers went to check the nets used to safely capture the owls for banding. There were no new birds. Lucky for us, this event at Fernald was so popular that additional sessions were added. Tim was able to give us a presentation on owl banding using an Eastern Screech Owl that was caught earlier that evening for an earlier program.

Tim showed us the tools that bird banders use. Large, soft mist nets, which are stretched between trees. A recording of a Saw-whet Owl vocalization is played in the area near the nets. It attracts owls in the area, who fly into the net and gently tumble into a small pocket at the bottom. The owls are not harmed by the net. After the owls have been caught, information about their biology (weight, sex, age, wing measurements) are recorded and each bird is fitted with a small, lightweight aluminum band. A UV light can be used to age owl wings, porphyrin, an organic compound in the owls’ wings cause new feathers to glow bright pink. Each band has a unique number that is now tied to that individual bird. If this particular bird is caught again, the bird bander will be able to get the information that was recorded the first time the owl was captured, and add more data to the record.

Bird banding captures invaluable information about bird migration, lifespans, ecology and even the spread of disease like Lyme disease and the West Nile virus.


I can’t wait to attend the next event at Fernald!


ohio-120x120Fernald Preserve

Address: 7400 Willey Road Harrison, Ohio 45030

Phone Number: 513-648-6000

Hours: Fernald Preserve is open daily from 7am to dusk. The Visitors Center is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

HBRC Hummer/Bird Banding Research Collaborative

Social Media: Facebook