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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.

The Steubenville book - a year later

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Steubenville book that Sandy Day and I coauthored is nearly a year old.

 

In that time, the first printing of 1,500 copies have been sold, and Arcadia Publishing Co. is now into the second printing.

 

It has been exciting to talk to people who have purchased the book, hearing their comments, memories, and ideas.

 

Working with the publisher to develop the book was a new experience for both of us.

 

Arcadia Publishing Co. has been producing its "Images of America" local history series since 1993.

 

For the product to be a financial success, they have developed a specific format that consists of a 128-page book developed by local authors.

 

The story is told through a photo-history format with captions.

 

There could be as many as 240 photos if they were all small landscape style.

 

Most of the books in the series average a total of 200 photos once you consider larger sizes and shapes.

 

We worked with an excellent editor in Chicago who continually reviewed our work to be sure it met the criteria of Arcadia for the series.

 

Many times she reviewed draft copies of text, and responded, "What do you really mean by that?  This sentence doesn't make sense."

 

Several times she reminded us that the publisher wants anyone picking up the book to understand the content.

 

The biggest debate related to the front cover photo.

 

Sandy and I had submitted the standard historical photos of buildings to be on the front cover.

 

Arcadia wanted a cover photo that grabbed attention, and provoked the curiosity of a book buyer to "read more about it."

 

The result was a cover photo of school children marking down the street in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Steubenville in 1897.

 

Enlarging and antiquing the photo resulted in a myriad of curiosities for the potential buyer.

 

We are often asked about our favorite photos in the book.

 

Mine is the 1938 photo of children gathered for Story Hour in the library.

 

A diverse group of children, all still bundled in coats and hats, listen to the librarian read from a book; with one child clutching to her doll.

 

I also like the post card photos that depict nighttime scenes, all created by the photographer by darkening a daytime shot, and painting light in the windows and placing an aspirin tablet for the moon.

 

We were fortunate to have several photos from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

 

One in particular shows State Route 7 north of Steubenville in the 1920s when the road was barely a dirt path winding along the hillside.

 

Photo reproductions of newspaper articles have proven popular, including 1820 advertisements and an 1889 news clipping of Andrew Carnegie passing through the city.

 

An 1851 view of the city intrigues many readers.

 

It was a drawing that appeared in Gleason's Companion, and was taped together when we got it.

 

There was debate as whether or not to use it, as the tape appears in the reproduction despite the best efforts to "clean it up" by the publishers.

 

In reality, the image of the tape makes it more interesting, and noteworthy to the reader.

 

We had a great time authoring the book, and hope to do another someday.