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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Not something a librarian would be asked to do in a career......

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 23, 2014


Recently, it was time to begin the process of moving the Steelworker Statue from its home for the past 25 years at the intersection of SR 7 & US 22 to its new home across the street from the Main Library building.


As I was planning the process of the move, and working on developing the funding for the Project, I couldn’t help but think that this is another of those “not something a librarian would be asked to do in a career.”


Nothing in my library education prepared me for handling the move of a 3 ton statue, or the development of a new area for the Statue.


With the gracious donation of men and equipment by the Howard L. Bowers Co. Inc., and Fort Steuben Maintenance, Inc., the day was chosen and I went to the site at the appointed hour.


Everyone seemed to know what they were doing.  I simply watched and tried to stay out-of-the-way to observe the process.  How many other library directors in Ohio have ever been involved in a “statue move?”


After the heads of the bolts had been cut off, the crane began tugging gently on the Statue with no result.  Maybe 25 years had caused it to become “stuck” to the concrete base?


I then began to wonder what we would do if the Statue wouldn’t come off its base, after all we were already committed since the bolts had been cut off.


The workers seemed to accept the challenge, and retrieved wedges from their trucks and went to work with sledge hammers to try and loosen the Steelworker from his perch.


With continued tugging from the crane, combined with whacks from the hammers, the Steelworker Statue slowly began to separate from the base and eventually lifted free to swing in the air for the first time in two and a half decades.


This reminded me of a couple other “not something a librarian would be asked to do in a career.”


In 1989, the new Toronto Branch Library building was under construction on the site of the former Roosevelt School, which had already been demolished.  Contractors were excavating the school’s debris in preparation for the new library.


The north end of the site contained an area that had been the boiler room for the school, and once the 8 feet of debris was removed there was the old copper boiler (still full of water) and the concrete basement floor.


To one side of the boiler was a manhole cover in the floor that, when lifted, revealed a water well some 78 ft. deep that at one time provided water for the boiler and heating system.


The contractors and engineers were concerned at what to do with this well which was about 3 ft in diameter, and several phone calls brought the answer that it should be filled in with bricks by simply tossing them helter-skelter into the hole.


That job didn’t seem to belong to anyone on the site, so yours truly was assigned the task of tossing old bricks one-by-one into the well until full, so that a a solid cap could be placed over it and covered with compacted fill for the floor of the new library.


My other “not something a librarian would be asked to do in a career” was in the winter of 1985 when the Schiappa Branch Library construction had just begun.


The first day the bulldozer began scraping the site on Mall Drive I stood outside in 15 degree weather to watch the process, bundled in multiple layers of clothing and my rubber boots.


After the third pass of the bulldozer, the operator stopped as water was shooting up from the ground and freezing on the dirt.  “Oh no, he exclaimed, we must have broken a water line!”


I tried to calm him and noting that there were no utilities on this portion of the property.  Three workers gathered with shovels and found a natural spring on the site which would have to be “captured” into a storm sewer.


The workers finished and moved to another part of the site.  It was then that I realized that I couldn’t move as my rubber boots had sunk into the muck of the site, and despite my best efforts I could not move either leg.


After about an hour, the workers stopped for a break and one man walked my direction until he was close enough to say, “you‘re stuck, aren’t you?”  I nodded yes.  All three men came over and tugged and pulled until I was free from the muck.


Probably the first and only time they had ever rescued a librarian stuck in the muck.  One man quietly commented, “You should stand on a rock.”


Today that site is commemorated with a manhole grate in one of the handicapped parking spaces at the Schiappa Branch Library where a spring feeds into the storm sewer, right where the librarian was stuck in the muck.


Not something a librarian would be asked to do in a career.