Off The Board

Tomorrow I attend my last meeting as a regular member of the Board of Trustees of the Ohioana Library Association.  I’ve been a member of the Board for more than 20 years.

During that time Ohioana has morphed from an obscure archival organization crammed into ridiculously inadequate space into a vibrant, active member of the central Ohio and state arts community.  We’ve navigated the rocky waters of budgeting, mounted a first-ever capital campaign, partnered with WOSU TV and radio to develop some very cool programming, introduced and changed a website, and rolled out great new events like the Ohioana Book Festival.  It’s been very satisfying to see this wonderful piece of Ohio culture and history grow and evolve as it has, and to play a small part in that process.

I thought having long-time Board members was a good thing that showed commitment, but my perception was jarred a bit during a Board retreat some months ago.  (And after all, isn’t the purpose of a retreat to challenge perceptions?)  Our facilitator, who was terrific, noted that many Boards have term limits to make sure that new ideas and viewpoints are always represented.  That concept made sense to me, and I told Board leadership that it was time for me to step aside — and now that time has come.

I was recruited to the Ohioana Board by a female partner at our firm who was one of a long line of Vorys lawyers who had served.  I’m glad she reached out to me, because otherwise I probably never would have heard of Ohioana, or had a chance to get to know the great people who have worked so hard at Ohioana, my fellow Board members from across the Buckeye State, and the volunteers, authors, and artists who have helped to make Ohioana events such memorable ones.  Being a Board member on a charitable organization requires dedication and hard work, but it is rewarding.  I’m glad I did it.

Our firm will continue to be represented on the Ohioana Board by a new, energetic lawyer whom I’ll call Young Buck.  He’ll be a great addition.

Books, Books, Authors, Food Trucks, Books

Get out your calendars, your book bags, and your wallets. The 2014 Ohioana Book Festival is less than a month away.

IMG_3700This year’s festival will be held on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in downtown Columbus. The doors will open at 10 a.m. and close at 4:30, and in between the readers among us will be able to browse through a wide array of books, meet authors, listen to writers talk about their craft, and enjoy an interesting assortment of food trucks when their physical hunger overwhelms their intellectual curiosity. You can keep track of the authors, and the Festival schedule, here.

If you’re interested in volunteering at the Festival, you can information about available positions and activities here. Book festival volunteers will receive a cool Ohioana Book Festival t-shirt, as well as the undying gratitude of Ohioana staffers and Board members.

Learning About The House That Chic (And Howard) Built

Ohio Stadium, also known as the Horseshoe, is one of the most famous football stadiums in the land.  But who built that cavernous concrete edifice on the banks of the Olentangy River — literally and figuratively?

IMG_1827If you are a Buckeyes fan, you probably know the name of the figurative architect.  It’s Charles William “Chic” Harley, the great player who put Ohio State on the national gridiron map and started the quasi-religion that is Ohio State football.  Harley could run, pass, punt, and kick field goals and extra points, and he led Ohio State to its first undefeated season in 1916.  With Harley leading the way, Ohio State football became so popular that the Buckeyes outgrew their existing field and needed to look at a new — and much larger — home.

Which brings us to the literal architect, whose name was Howard Dwight Smith.  He not only designed Ohio Stadium, and won a gold medal for public building design from the American Institute of Architects in the process, he also oversaw the construction of St. John Arena and French Field House, which are other, well-known campus landmarks.

Want to learn more about these two legends of the Ohio State campus?  You can get ready for the Ohio State football season by signing up for a timely On the Road with Ohioana presentation on August 17.  The program will feature a tour of these and other campus landmarks, including the newly restored William Oxley Thompson Library, as well as remarks from OSU professor emeritus Raimond Goerler and Columbus Dispatch sportswriter Bob Hunter, the author of Chic and other books about Ohio State.  I’m pumped about the chance to learn a little bit more about my alma mater and my team and to support the Ohioana Library Association in the process.  If you’re interested in joining me, you can sign up here.  At only $35 for a four-hour tour and program, it’s a real Buckeye Bargain!

Ohioana Book Festival

I promised to post something about the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival last Saturday, and I’ve been remiss.

IMG_3700The Festival keeps getting bigger and better.  Having stood behind a table at the front entrance to the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center for four hours, giving away Ohioana quarterlies and pencils to visitors and hawking $5 Ohioana coffee mugs and tote bags — and thanks to every book lover who was gracious enough to accept my spiel and pony up a fiver, by the way — I can say with confidence that there were a lot of people there.   Positioned as I was directly across from the book-buying check-out line, I can also say that many books were being sold.

There were families and reading friends, would-be authors and genre fans.  At times, during the interim periods after one set of panel discussions ended and before the next began, the authors’ table area was jammed.  The picture above, taken from my table near the entrance, gives you some idea of the crowd.

Everyone I spoke to was enjoying the Festival and was glad they came.  Next year, maybe you can join us?

The Books, Authors, And Food Trucks Roundelay

If you’re in Columbus on Saturday and looking for something fun to do, why not stop by the Ohioana Book Festival?

The Festival runs from 10 to 4:30 at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in downtown Columbus.  There will be interesting panel discussions, presentations by authors, and a day-long book fair and book sales.  A PDF of the program for the Festival is here.

Oh, yes . . . there will be food trucks, too:  Ajumama, which serves up some very sweet Korean street food; the Green Meanie, which dishes out an ever-changing menu of eclectic choices; Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, with its irresistible and stunningly creative options; Mikeys Late Night Slice, for the devoted pizza aficionados among us (and who isn’t, by the way); and the Short North Bagel Deli, for those craving bagels and deli sandwiches.

The awesome collection of food trucks strongly suggests a rhythm and roundelay to the day.  Grab a bagel, catch a panel discussion provocatively entitled Crime, True Crime, and the Unexplained, browse for books.  Savor some Korean chow, talk to some authors, check out a panel discussion on eating out in Cleveland.  And speaking of eating . . . Repeat, and repeat.  There are great choices on both the panel discussion and food truck fronts.

I’ll be there when the Festival doors open, volunteering for the Ohioana Library Association.  Stop by and say hello!

Big Book Buff Bulletin!

If you’re a bibliophile — and what rational person isn’t? — mark your calendars for Saturday, May 11, 2013, when the Ohioana Book Festival returns to the Fort Hayes campus in downtown Columbus.

IMG_3362This year, the Festival features a great list of featured authors from the Buckeye state, as well as dozens of different festival authors, poets, and artists who will be participating in the activities.  Once again, the Festival will confirm the remarkable depth and breadth of talent to be found in this little corner of the world.  And although the program schedule has yet to be announced, you can be sure that there will be interesting presentations by authors, thought-provoking panel discussions, and some quirky moments leavened with humor — because that’s what you tend to get when you bring together highly creative people.

I’ll be volunteering at the Festival again this year.  Last year, I was an “information volunteer,” which gave me a chance to harangue incoming guests are some of the great events.  If you’re interested in volunteering, you can find more information here.

I hope to see some of our readers and friends at the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival!

In The Statehouse Basement

Tonight the Ohioana Library Association presented the annual Ohioana Awards.  This year the ceremony was in the vaulted basement of the Ohio Statehouse, an interesting old building that is full of nooks and crannies.  The backdrop to our ceremony was the darkened Statehouse Museum, with a very cool backlit depiction of the Great Seal of Ohio.

There was a great crop of Ohioana Award winners this year, and as usual it was particularly interesting to hear writers talk about their craft.  These days our state may be known to the nation as “Battleground Ohio,” but at its soul Ohio is a quirky, creative place that is home to many fine writers, poets, and artists.  It’s nice to see that reality affirmed every once in a while.

Congratulations to all of the winners of this years Ohioana Awards!

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home

If you live in Columbus, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone rave about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams — or, even better, you’ve experienced them yourself.  If you don’t live in Columbus, you really need to stop by just to try some of Jeni’s stunningly good ice cream.

Jeni Britton Bauer will be one of the featured authors at the Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, May 12 on the Fort Hayes campus.  She’ll be talking about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home — an ice cream cookbook that my friends say is spectacular, just like Jeni’s ice cream.  And anyone who reads cookbooks knows that a really good cookbook tells you a lot about the cook who wrote it.  From Jeni’s cookbook, I’m guessing that she will be a really interesting person to listen to.  She’ll be one of the authors participating in a panel discussion entitled Food:  The Seduction of Flavor at 11:45 a.m.  (Great title for the panel discussion, isn’t it?)  The YouTube video below tells you a little bit more about Jeni Britton Bauer and her ice cream passions.

What’s summer without a little ice cream?  If the ice cream is something fabulous like Jeni’s salty caramel, made at home, so much the better.  Jeni Britton Bauer alone is a good reason to stop by the Ohioana Book Festival this coming Saturday.

Time To Satisfy Your Summer Reading Jones

Sure, summer is great for activities — but it’s also great for reading.

Get a good book, stretch out on your patio furniture with a cool beverage, and read a little in the bright sunshine.  Or take your current paperback to a nearby park, sprawl on the cool grass under the leafy spread of a tree, and really get into the story.  Enjoy the sultry air as you reread a favorite novel and relish, anew, every beloved word.  Lose track of time and lose track of everyday cares as you lose yourself in a great story.

Central Ohio readers can start to get their summer reading jones on next weekend, when the Ohioana Book Festival rolls into town.  Events will be going on all week, and the Festival itself occurs on Saturday, May 12 at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center.  This year’s Festival will showcase nine featured authors and dozens more who will read from their creations and be available to sign books and talk about their work.

I’ll be there, somewhere, but don’t let that dissuade you!  The Ohioana Book Festival is a great time for Buckeye readers who want to stock up for those long, languid summer reading days — and nights.

Ohioana Day, 2011

Yesterday was Ohioana Day, and we celebrated the occasion with a wonderful reception and awards ceremony.  I was glad to share the event with some of my friends from the firm as well as a hundred of my fellow book-lovers.

Ted Gup accepts his award

This year the Ohioana Award for Fiction went to Anthony Doerr, for Memory Wall: Stories; the Ohioana Award for Non-Fiction was given to Ted Gup for A Secret Gift:  How One Man’s Kindness — and a Trove of Letters — Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression; the Ohioana Award for Poetry was conferred upon David Young for Field of Light and Shadow:  Selected and New Poems; The Ohioana Award for Juvenile Literature went to Tricia Springstubb for What Happened on Fox Street; and the Ohioana Award for Books About Ohio and an Ohioan was presented to Arnold Adoff and Kacy Cook for Virginia Hamilton:  Speeches, Essays, and Conversations.  In addition, Laura Maylene Walter was awarded the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant that is given to a writer under the age of 30.

The evening included some fine food prepared by Metro Cuisine, some fine wine from Valley Vineyards in Morrow, Ohio, and some excellent music by a jazz combo.  The highlight, as always, was listening to the authors as they accepted their awards and then as they spoke candidly, humorously and often movingly about what it is like to live the life of a writer during a panel discussion afterward.  When David Young, in response to a question about a place that was meaningful to him, read a poem about a visit to a family member’s gravestone, I think everyone in the audience and on the stage was deeply touched by the moment.

If you are a book lover who enjoys listening to authors and celebrating their accomplishments, it’s time for you to discover the Ohioana Library Association.

An Ohioana Weekend

Today is Ohioana Day.  The Ohioana Library will host a luncheon today in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium to honor the winners of this year’s awards, and it is an illustrious group indeed.


James McCormac, Dan Chaon, Sharon Draper, Rita Dove, and Michael J. Rosen (left to right) discuss the creative impulse

The weekend began with a bang last night with a reception to honor the award winners.  The evening featured a welcoming speech by Ohio’s gracious First Lady Frances Strickland — who has been a true and faithful friend to the Ohioana Library — good food, a fine selection of Ohio wines from Valley Vineyards, a fascinating and spirited panel discussion by some of the award winners, poetry readings, and a wonderful, moving performance of a song by Jorma Kaukonen, who has won this year’s Ohioana citation for music.


Jorma Kaukonen performs

I love Ohioana Day.  It makes me feel good that my home state has produced such creative people and fostered such talent.  I always come away with a deep respect for the thoughtfulness, humor, and discipline of the writers and artists who are recognized.  I also always learn something new about my state — whether it is about the humble insects humorously described by writer James McCormac during last night’s panel discussion, the deep Ohio roots still felt by Rita Dove, or the fact that Jorma Kaukonen, one of the founding members of the Jefferson Airplane and a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, helps to teach guitar to aspiring musicians at the Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp, located on 125 acres in Meigs County.  Who knew?

Congratulations to the Ohioana Library and all of the award winners on this special day!

Come To The Ohioana Book Festival!

It is a brisk and gusty day in Columbus — a perfect day for an indoor activity like the Ohioana Book Festival.  The program begins at 10 a.m., and the schedule for the day’s events is here.

I’ll be spending most of the day at the Board table, welcoming book lovers, answering questions, and handing out tote bags to new members.  I will also have the opportunity to introduce authors who will be giving readings from their works in the main room.  If you’re interested in books and listening to some interesting discussions, stop by at the State Library, 274 East First Street, just north of downtown Columbus.

Ohio Books And Authors

The Ohioana Book Festival is Saturday, May 8 at the Ohioana Library and State Library building at 274 E. First Avenue in Columbus.  It promises to be an exceptional day, beginning at 10 a.m. and running until 4:30 p.m.  There will be readings from authors, a chance to get books signed by authors, the presentation of awards to young writers, and a series of panel presentations.

All of the panel discussions look interesting, but some in particular have caught my eye.  One is Mentors & Muses:  The Writers and Books That Inspired Me, in which David Catrow and Martha Moody will discuss books and writers that inspired them.  In my view, when people start talking about their favorites of anything, it is usually revealing.  Another presentation that looks interesting for the same reason is How We Write, What We Write, in which Lisa Klein and Lucy A. Snyder will discuss their creative processes.

Ohio is full of really good writers, and the Ohioana Book Festival is a good way to get to know some of them.  Information about the 2010 Ohioana Book Festival is available here.

2010 Ohioana Book Festival

The planning for the 2010 Ohioana Book Festival is well underway.  The Festival will be held on Saturday, May 8 at the Ohioana and State Library Building at 274 East First Avenue, just north of downtown Columbus.

Ohioana recently confirmed 10 featured authors for the Festival, and it is a pretty cool and diverse group.  The ten are, in alphabetical order, David Catrow, Dan Chaon, Jennifer Chiaverini, Lori Foster, Nikki Giovanni, Andrew Hudgins, Angela Johnson, Lisa Klein, David Lee Morgan, Jr., and Ted Rall.  So, you have a great mix of poets, novelist, political cartoonists, illustrators, a children’s author, and a sportswriter, all of whom have strong Ohio connections.

The Festival is an excellent opportunity to listen to people who care about writing and books, to browse the works of Ohio writers and poets, and to listen to presentations by individual authors and artists as well as panel discussions on a wide range of topics.  Last year’s Festival was a great success, and this year’s Festival promises to be even better.

Ohioana Book Festival

I’ve been a Board member for the Ohioana Library Association for a long time. Today we had our third Book Festival. It was a smashing success. People from all walks of life came to buy books, listen to readings and lectures, and meet their favorite authors. R.L. Stine, who is a very nice man, was one of the featured authors, and he is like a rock star to his many young fans.

The Festival is free, and it is a wonderful time if you like books. Kish and I listened to a funny reading and talk by Jeff Smith, the creator of the graphic novel BONE and a fan of MAD magazine, I attended a memorable panel discussion by two authors about writing memoirs, listened to a readings by various authors, and had a chance to chat with other writers. It is fascinating to listen to authors talk about their craft, and this kind of event makes me feel good about my home state. Truly creative people have a special energy about them, and it is inspiring to bask a bit in their reflected genius.