The Big Reveal ….

posted in: Ohioana Book Festival | 0

Welcome to the official poster of the 2018 Ohioana Book Festival!

This wonderful and whimsical depiction of book-loving animals in a spring-green landscape is the work of artist Christina Wald. You can also find Christina on Twitter at @yellokat_cwald.

Christina very graciously accepted the challenge of creating a festival poster that that would both inspire and delight. And so she did, with a reading rabbit, a book-bearing giraffe, and a happy bird with a volume clutched in its claws. There’s even a unicorn!

However, unlike unicorns, the authors and artists who will attend this year’s book festival are hardly rare or mythological. You can walk right up to one and shake her hand at the upcoming festival if you want to!

You can also read more about our poster artist  in the next issue of the Ohioana Quarterly, which will be published shortly before the festival, to learn about her creative process. Christina loaned us one of her preliminary sketches for the poster to illustrate the story. It’s always exciting to learn about an artist’s creative process and even to see the steps they take to get to the end!

The woman who loved books

posted in: Remembering | 0

Ohioana lost a very dear friend this week: former librarian Barbara Meister. She loved books as much as any human on the planet.

Barb starting working at Ohioana back when it was downtown on the river. And because Ohioana moved during her tenure, Barb is the one who moved the books. She personally handled each and every volume in the collection and prepared them for their journey.

Those books could not have had a better caretaker because Barb loved books. She loved them for what’s between the covers and for the covers themselves. She had a grand fondness for beautiful leather and gold-leaf volumes from the early 1900s. It was probably because of her love of the Victorians. As she once told me, her grandparents were Victorians. I think Barb loved the surface orderliness of that era.

Barb also loved Russian authors (who wrote about a world that was anything but orderly) and presented the cats in her care with names like Sasha and Vanya.

She loved the work of our friend and Ohio author Michael Dirda, and was so happy when he would come in for a chat or a program.

Barb was a great mentor and caregiver for our interns, teaching them everything she could about the joys of books and the proper care and feeding of same.

The last time that I saw her, she was talking to Courtney Brown, our Library Specialist. These two professionals were comparing notes about books and all things libraries.

“Isn’t it the best?” said Barb, “Isn’t it great?!”

Truly, Barbara Meister was the right person in the right job. She loved books. And she will be missed.


Mystery writers D.M. Pulley and Andrew Welsh-Huggins are two of the 120 authors you’ll meet at the 2018 Ohioana Book Festival. (Photo by Mary Rathke)


Ohioana is proud and excited to announce the author list for our 12th annual Ohioana Book Festival!

Library Mouse and friends, 2017 Book Festival


You can read all about it in Ohioana’s latest newsletter.

This year’s event will return to the Sheraton Columbus Capital Square on April 14. It’s an all-day extravaganza that features panel discussions, activities for kids, and books for sale. It’s also a great opportunity to meet authors and talk to them about their books. You’ll come away with autographed copies and an appreciation for what goes into your favorite fiction, nonfiction, and picture books. With over 100 authors, you’re sure to meet your favorites and also find new ones.

And plenty of your old  favorites will return, like our friend Library Mouse — and FOOD TRUCKS! We’re hoping for a return visit from Schmidt’s (mmmm …. puff pastry!) as well as other TBA food trucks.

The Book Festival is always a good time for everyone. We hope you’ll make room on your calendar for your first visit or for your 12th (or somewhere in between). The energy that YOU bring makes all the difference!

See you soon!



And the laurel crown goes to ….

posted in: David's Blog | 0

Poet Dave Lucas!

For the second time in Ohio’s history, a poet laureate has been named. Serving a two year term is Dave Lucas, a native of Cleveland, award-winner (including an award from Ohioana in 2012), published writer and teacher.

It is of course a great honor to the individual, but it’s also a great benefit to the people of Ohio. We will be able to learn from this creative writer who will share his love of words during his tenure.“Our state’s poet laureate has an opportunity to engage Ohioans of every age in unique and challenging ways,” said Governor Kasich. “I’m confident Mr. Lucas will fulfill the special calling that comes with this honor, to help us look at our world from a new perspective and I wish him the best in his new role.”

During his time as poet laureate, Lucas said he wants to help Ohioans use poetry to understand and enhance their lives. He is planning a multimedia project involving people from diverse places and backgrounds allowing them to experience a variety of opinions about poetry.

Dave Lucas is the author of Weather (Georgia, 2011), which received the 2012 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. Named by Rita Dove as one of thirteen “young poets to watch,” he has also received a “Discovery/The Nation Prize and a Cleveland Arts Prize. A co-founder of Brews + Prose at Market Garden Brewery and Cleveland Book Week, he teaches at Case Western Reserve University.



Hooray for Hollywood!

posted in: authors, David's Blog | 0
Donald Ogden Stewart


One of the highlights of every holiday season is the release of new films – how many of this year’s crop have you seen? Studios release their biggest and most important films at year’s end not only to draw huge audiences, but also to get the attention of the major awards competitions. Of course the granddaddy of all movie prizes is the Oscar ©, given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Did you know that Oscar and Ohioana share the same birth year? The first Academy Awards © were presented at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood on May 16, 1929 – less than five months before Ohio First Lady Martha Kinney Cooper gathered a committee of volunteers at the Governor’s Residence in Columbus to establish a special library dedicated to collecting, preserving, and celebrating Ohio literature and other creative endeavors.

In our parallel trajectory, many Ohioans have been the recipients of the Oscar, including Clark Gable, George Chakiris, Eileen Heckart, and Paul Newman. Halle Berry made history in 2002 as the first (and thus far only) African American winner of the Best Actress award. Composer Henry Mancini is our state’s all-time winner at the Oscars, receiving four statuettes for his music, including the Best Song of 1961, “Moon River,” one of the classics of the American popular songbook.

An Oscar winner whose name you might not be as familiar with is author and screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart. Stewart was born in Columbus on November 30, 1894 (just twelve days before and two miles away from other future celebrated writer – James Thurber). After graduating from Yale and serving in the Navy in World War I, Stewart settled in New York and began to write. His quick wit soon led him to becoming a member of the Algonquin Round Table, the celebrated literary circle that also included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Ernest Hemingway.

Stewart turned to writing plays, and success on Broadway led him eventually to Hollywood. Among his notable screenplays in the 1930s were The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Marie Antoinette, Holiday, and the 1939 classic, Love Affair (remade in 1957 as An Affair to Remember).

In 1940, M-G-M hired Stewart to adapt Phillip Barry’s play The Philadelphia Story for George Cukor’s film version starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart (who was no relation). The film was a critical and popular smash, and earned six Oscar nominations, including the two Stewarts, both of whom won – James Stewart for Best Actor and Donald Ogden Stewart for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The host at that year’s awards ceremony was comedian Bob Hope (another Ohioan, from Cleveland). Hope would later recall it as “one of those bathos-drenched evenings where winners thanked everyone from their producer, director, and co-stars down to the ‘little people’ – by which I assumed they meant pygmies, dwarves, and elves.” Then Donald Ogden Stewart’s name was called.

Walking to the podium and taking the Oscar in his hand, Stewart said, “There’s been so much niceness here tonight that I’m proud to say I’m totally responsible for the success of The Philadelphia Story. Nobody lifted a damn finger to help me.”

The audience broke up in laughter and gave Stewart a huge ovation. Hope would remember it as one of the favorite moments of his record-breaking nineteen times as the awards host.

Stewart continued writing screenplays throughout the 1940s, working with top-flight directors such as Cukor and Michael Curtiz, and stars such as Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, William Powell, and Lana Turner. Then came the second “Red Scare” of the early 1950s. Stewart, who had been actively involved in the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League during World War II, admitted that at one time he had belonged to the Communist Party. Blacklisted by Hollywood studios, Stewart and his wife moved in 1951 to England, where he remained until his death in 1980 at the age of 85.

While not as well remembered today as some of his contemporaries, many of the films for which Stewart wrote his sparking screenplays continue to entertain. As his biography on the Internet Movie Database states, Stewart was “noted for his satirical observations of American high society, best exemplified by The Philadelphia Story.”

So as this movie-laden holiday season takes us into a new year, and as Hollywood prepares for the 90th anniversary Oscar ceremony on March 4 – Ohioana raises its glass to Donald Ogden Stewart.

And Happy 2018 to you!







Books are the best gifts

posted in: Holidays | 0

It’s never too late to buy Yuletide/Holiday/Christmas presents. Even if you were to be abducted by aliens on December 24 and not released from the Mother Ship until December 26, you can always apologize to those on your Christmas list. They’ll understand, especially if you take a tip from the Wise Men and arrive bearing a gift. And what gift is better than a book?

And you can buy books everywhere — the grocery store, the drug store, large chain stores, at the airport, used book stores, thrift stores, art and craft stores, independent and chain book stores …. can you think of some other places that we missed?

And isn’t it wonderful to unwrap a book on a holiday morning? All of the noise is over and you can sit down and read. And if reading a new book on a holiday makes you happy, you know it will make your family and friends happy too.

Books: The perfect gift!



A Christmas to break your heart

posted in: authors, Holidays | 0
O. Henry in 1909.

If you look up the word “pathos” in the dictionary, you’ll find The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.

Not really. But we consider that an oversight to be corrected.

Some people consider the story comic, what with the twist and all: the married couple each giving up something cherished in an attempt to give one another a significant and meaningful gift — only to wind up weirdly missing the mark.

How is that funny? It’s not. It makes you cry. They’re poor as church mice and at the end of it all, what do they have to show one another? Bupkis. Except for the love between them, of course.

One of Columbus’ most famous temporary residents was the author of that story.  O. Henry, the best-known pen-name of short story William Sydney Porter, spent three years in the Ohio Penitentiary on a charge of embezzlement. He’d been on the run and  hiding in Honduras, but when he learned his wife was dying of consumption (tuberculosis), he came back to the United States and faced a jury. Some of his stories were even published while he was jailed. The Gift of the Magi wasn’t one of those, but it is unarguable the most famous story written by this popular and prolific writer.

Porter died young, and we’re not sure if ever came back to Ohio after leaving the penitentiary in Columbus. Some folks say that his pen name came from his time behind those walls: “O. H.” from Ohio, and then “enry” from “penitentiary.” We think that’s a bit of s stretch but we’ll also take it.

If the story makes you cry or makes you smile, it is truly about the spirit of giving and really giving until it hurts. May the spirit of the season grow large and bright within you.

Jennifer Chiaverini & Read a New Book Month

posted in: authors, reading | 0
Jennifer Chiaverini at December book-signing.

December is National Read a New Book Month, and there’s still plenty of month left if you haven’t started yet.

We’d like to suggest the latest from Jennifer Chiaverini. The Enchantress of Numbers is the story of Ada Byron Lovelace, the inventor of computer programming.

At a recent sold-out book signing event sponsored by Gramercy Books in Bexley, Jennifer answered questions and read from The Enchantress of Numbers, written as a first-person memoir of an unsung heroine of the modern era. While many in the computer world know about Ada, explained Jennifer, most people have never heard of her.

Born into wealth, privilege, and celebrity as the only legitimate child of nineteenth century super-star poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, Ada seemed to have it all. But despite the advantages, she was no more in control of her life than any other woman. And Ada, a mathematical prodigy, dearly wanted to make a contribution to the world.

Jennifer’s novel is written from the point of view of Ada, from her earliest memories of childhood to the always-looming shadow of the father with whom she never had any relationship. Ada’s mother, a wealthy woman with connections that extended to the royal family’s inner circle, believed in equality for women and directed her daughter’s rigorous education. However,  Ada was never allowed the opportunity to exercise her imagination. It was believed that the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” Byron had bequeathed to his daughter an equally dangerous tendency towards  mental instability and against this specter, the young woman’s mother was always on guard.

At least Ada married someone who believed in her intellectual abilities, and she was able to work with the inventor of the Analytical Engine and the Difference Engine, Charles Babbage. The forerunners of the modern computer would change the world, of course, but it took Ada to create the means by which that would happen.

We hope you will consider this compelling and highly-readable book — and that you will participate in this reader-friendly way to celebrate the season!


Kind of like Christmas: December 5

posted in: David's Blog, History, Holidays | 0
King Gambrinus in Columbus, Ohio

He looks like a certain jolly old elf and he does bring gifts, but he’s not Santa. He’s King Gambrinus and he doesn’t have a special day, but maybe he should. We’d like to suggest December 5 because of its significance in United States History: it’s the day that Prohibition ended.

In 1933, after a less-than-successful run at being alcohol-free, America threw in the towel, effectively saying “Oh to heck with it,” and alcohol was again legal and could be sold, produced, transported, and generally enjoyed.

Our very own King Gambrinus statue in Columbus once adorned a brewery owned by August Wagner, a Bavarian brewer. The statue was saved even though the building is long gone, and his serene highness is now on display in Columbus’ Brewery District.

Beer is back in Columbus and all over Ohio with the rise of independent brewers. The later day beer barons and the fruits of their labors are celebrated in books like Ohio’s Craft Beers by Paul Gaston, published by Kent State University Press.  The latest addition to the genre of Ohio beer book includes Columbus Beer: Recent Brewing & Deep Roots by Curt Schieber.

King Gabrinus himself is less well-documented. He’s not exactly a god and certainly not a historic figure. He’s like Bacchus or any other merry reveler of myth; a personification of good times. With one leg up on a barrel and a foaming flagon held high, he reigns victorious over lesser beverages.

Give the Gift of Ohio Lit

posted in: Support | 0

Happy Giving Tuesday! Now that Thanksgiving is over (it’s OK if you don’t want to eat any more turkey) and we can stick a fork in the unofficial shopping holidays, it’s time to get back to basics: supporting the people, places, and things that we care about.

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.! And we’re asking you to “Give the Gift of Ohio Lit” today by supporting the Ohioana Library.

Every day, because of you, Ohioana connects readers and writers, bringing the joy of literature and storytelling to so many people through our outreach, awards, collections, and publications.

We  want everyone to know about the great work done by so many dedicated artist and writers; creative individuals with a strong Ohio connection. We want everyone to know the stories of Ohio’s people and places. And when you give, you make it happen.

Please help to Give the Gift of Ohio Lit, and put Ohioana on your list for giving today!

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