Author: Linda

Books about Books!

If you’re a book lover -and we know you are- you’ll love getting lost in a good book all about…B O O K S !

Check out some of our favorite Books About Books and be sure to check out of Lists page for more reading suggestions and resource guides.

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Thirteenth Virtual Installment of Meet a Tree from Bayne Park

Ginkgo – Ginkgo biloba

Our Ginkgo tree with its narrow pyramidal form stands like a sentry at the at the edge of Bayne Park near the Skate Plaza. The upward angled branches are engulfed by an abundance of foliage.

Ginkgo trees are one of the oldest living tree species dating back to over 150 million years. You may have noticed a Ginkgo tree near the Camptosaurus in the Dinosaurs in their Time exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, because dinosaurs lived alongside Ginkgo trees! 

Ginkgo trees are sometimes called Maidenhair trees due to the similarity of the leaf to maidenhair fern leaflets shown in the above image on the right.

The elegant fan-shaped leaves appear in clusters held close to the branch. They feel waxy and have long flexible petioles which allow the them to flutter in even the slightest breeze. Meaning two lobes, the Latin species name ‘biloba’ refers to the leaf shape which is sometimes entire, but typically has a cleft in the middle creating two lobes.

Look closely at the image above to see the radiating venation on the leaf. The thin veins branch outward from the stem repeatedly diverging into two, until they ultimately terminate at the wide ruffled edge.

The columnar trunk features grey-brown ridged bark with fissures.

Ginkgo trees are dioecious, which means each tree is either male or female. The reproductive structures of the Ginkgo are not considered flowers.

Ginkgo leaves and the tree’s reproductive structures emerge from woody spur shoots which consist of a series of stacked leaf scars.

After successive stacking over the years, the longer spur shoots can be mistaken for thick thorns when observed from the ground looking up into the canopy.

The female reproductive structures are called ovules. In early Spring as leaves are emerging, the female trees grow slender stalks which support paired ovules that appear as green tiny pointed orbs. The ovules secrete a mucilaginous pollen droplet which increases the likelihood that windswept pollen from male trees will reach its target.

Male trees produce pendulous pollen-bearing reproductive structures called strobili that grow from the spur shoots beneath the leaves. They become yellowish when laden with pollen.

Our Ginkgo tree in Bayne Park is a female tree as evidenced by the the prolific layer of fleshy covered seeds found on the ground beneath the tree.

Typically dropping before the leaves fall, the fleshy part splits open and begins to decay, emitting a strong putrid odor due to the chemical compound butyric acid. The foul smell may attract carnivores like coyotes and badgers by mimicking the scent of rotting flesh. Animal consume and transport the seeds, dispersing them elsewhere in their scat. 

Ginkgo trees can have impressively long lifespans. This robust tree is rarely affected by insects and disease. It can endure pollution, confined soil space, extreme heat, and drought.

Although we are not advocating the consumption of any part of the tree, Ginkgoes have long been valued for their medicinal properties, and the roasted seeds and are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. The lightweight brittle wood is occasionally used to create chess sets, and chopping blocks.

The leaves turn an astonishing vivid saffron-yellow color in Autumn.

Most deciduous trees gradually shed their leaves, but Ginkgo leaves tend to fall quickly, dramatically carpeting the ground beneath the tree.

Why would leaves of different tree species fall at different rates? Before dropping their leaves, deciduous trees form a protective scar between their leaves and stems. Most trees form the scars gradually as the temperature decreases, first forming scars at the most exposed exterior leaves. Once those leaves drop, more leaf scars are formed on other newly exposed portions of the tree. This sequential process causes the leaves to gradually drop over a longer period of time. Ginkgoes rapidly form the scars on all of the stems on the entire tree, and the first hard frost causes the leaves to abruptly drop to the ground together over a shorter period of time.

Pittsburgh’s largest known Ginkgo Biloba tree is located at Highland Park with a trunk circumference of roughly eighteen feet, branches spreading one-hundred-and-forty feet from one side to the other, and height over one-hundred feet tall.

For a spectacular display of golden Autumn foliage, visit Allegheny Commons Park in the Northside to take in the vista of rows of Ginkgo trees lining the railroad tracks by Lake Elizabeth.

Book Recommendations:

Ginkgo: The Tree that Time Forgot by renowned Botanist Peter R. Crane is an engaging informative book that explores the history of Ginkgo trees and highlights their cultural and social significance.

The Overstory by Richard Powers is an impassioned novel about the value and wonder of trees. Olivia, a main character adopts the pseudonym “Maidenhair” when she joins an environmental group dedicated to the protection of trees.

The Happiest Tree: A Story of Growing Up by Hyeon-Ju Lee is narrated by a Ginkgo tree! It features expressive artwork and shares an emotional story of time passing.

Interactive Map:

Learn more about additional Trees of Bayne Park and explore our Interactive Bayne Park Tree Map to see the locations, photographs, and names of over a dozen different species of trees.

Thank you for joining us and virtually meeting our Ginkgo tree at Bayne Park today. We hope this virtual experience helps you to feel connected to the trees, and we encourage you to visit all of the beautiful trees at Bayne Park.

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Bayne Library Haunted Virtual Escape Room

It is rumored that Bayne Library is haunted, are you brave enough to enter our virtual escape room to find out for yourself? Click here to begin!

Share this virtual escape room experience with friends:

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Happy Earth Day!

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!

Earth Day Imaginative Play

You are a news reporter on television, can you report on some good things that are happening in nature here on Earth?  

You can report from inside your home or do a field report in your yard or along a local trail that is open. Report on the air, birds, trees, insects, and anything growing this spring.

From indoors you can virtually visit the Hays Bald Eagle Nest along the Monongahela River to report on what the eaglets are doing today.

If you record a video of your report and post it online remember to use #baynelibrary when you share!

Check out our Bayne Library Pinterest for our Earth Day board, and our Nature/Science activities and crafts board.

Earth Day Book Recommendations

Miss. Rumphius by Barbara Cooney – The main character is given the task to make the world more beautiful – encourage children to draw an illustration or write about how they will make the world a more beautiful place.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss – Young readers will experience the beauty of the Truffula Trees and the effect of taking our earth for granted in this playful and hopeful story.  Just one small seed, or one small child, can make a big difference. 

Women in Science Rachel Carson by Anne Rooney – From a small town in Pennsylvania came a little girl named Rachel Carson who would one day author the book Silent Spring which documented the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides.

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is recognized as the environmental text that launched the environmental movement. In fact, her voice is one of the main reasons Bald Eagles have returned to our region!  

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Outdoor Exploration for Insects

Today we are sharing tips, activities, and a nature journaling prompt that highlight the theme of our Nature Backpack – Insects!

Spring is a wonderful time to explore for insects in your yard or along a hiking trail. All that’s required is curiosity, and you may already have some things that can enhance your child’s exploration!

Encourage them to make collection containers using materials you have at home like tiny glass jars or yogurt cups. A magnifying glass can be helpful for seeing small details and binoculars can be used to watch insects pollinate flowers from afar.

If you have an old white t-shirt, dish towel, or pillowcase, allow them to take it outside and lay it flat on the ground.  Show them how to collect handfuls of leaf litter (old dried leaves) to place on top of the white material.  As they sort through the leaves they will likely see some small insects against the white background. Perhaps they will even spot springtails!

Help them to safely look beneath stones and under any fallen branches or small logs. Closely investigate the ground and the stone and log surface.

If you are along the edge of a pond, creek, or stream you may see some insects in their larval form like dragonfly nymphs and caddisfly nymphs by looking beneath rocks that are submerged or by sifting through the mud with a mesh pasta strainer.   

If they find something interesting, provide a paper and a pencil to your budding entomologist so they can start their own insect nature journal, one page at a time.  They can include a drawing of what they found, write where they found it, and what it was doing.  It is more important to observe the insect than it is to know its name. Children love having a mystery to solve! Later they can research based on their observations and include its name, a fun fact, and what it likes to eat!  

Please visit our Insects, Spiders, and Worms board on our Bayne Library Pinterest for additional resources and inspiration.  

You can find the insect themed nature backpack in the library catalog. Adding the backpack to your list in the catalog is a great way to remind yourself to put it on hold to check out in the future.  There are eleven different backpacks with various nature themes!

Each backpack contains a collection of materials that help children learn by exploring local parks and natural areas thanks to a collaboration between the Allegheny County Library Association, the Allegheny County Parks, Allegheny Land Trust and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

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Imaginative Play Idea: Hold an Art Show in Your Home!

Ask your child or children to gather 5-10 of their favorite pieces of artwork and explain that they can take the time to create one more final piece as the highlight of their very own Art Show.

Help them to display their work in a special room of the house.  You can tape the items up to the wall, or prop them up on bookcases and furniture.  Show them how to write a title for each piece and list materials used on a notecard displayed next to the piece. Ask them if there is a theme to their artwork collection, or are each of the pieces very different from one another.  

Plan a time for the show opening, and have them design a flier that invites the family to the show opening listing the time and the place (room in your home) and their theme and some information about the artist.  Proudly post the flier on your refrigerator.

When it is time, encourage everyone to put on fun outfits, play some music, and serve special snacks and beverages for the Art Show which is attended by all of the family members living within the home, even pets. Stuffed animals can even attend to add to the crowd!

Encourage the artist to either give a short talk about their overall art show, or they can talk about each piece one at a time.  Family members are encouraged to comment on what they like about each piece, ask questions, and explain how the art makes them feel.

Take photographs at the event and remember to congratulate and applaud for your artist or artists! 

If they enjoyed this activity, this is something you can repeat in the future. 

Visit our Andrew Bayne Pinterest to see our board of Artist Inspired Crafts!

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Create a Scribble Book!

Encourage early literacy by having your young child create their very own scribble book inspired by their favorite fuzzy red friend Elmo! All you need is paper, pipe cleaners, crayons, and imagination!

Click the link below to check out a Sesame Street video of Elmo reading his own scribble book to Doug E. Doug. After watching together, your child will be excited to create and read their book to you, just like Elmo!

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Story Starters

It’s the perfect time to get creative and silly, so grab a pencil and some paper and let your imagination run wild.

You just opened a Bayne Library book and instead of seeing words on the page, you find that the inside of the book is like an open window giving you a view into a whole other world! What do you see, hear, and…wait a minute- what is that smell?  What happens next?

It is Autumn and you notice something large and furry climbing up the tallest tree at Bayne Park, what is it and how did it get there?  You step on a crunchy leaf and it turns and sees you, what is your next move?

You are writing a message in a bottle to put in the Ohio River that will flow into the Mississippi River and eventually all the way into the Gulf of Mexico. Your message isn’t for a human to read, it is for a Bonnethead Shark named Bonnie.  Don’t worry, Bonnie just eats crabs, shrimp, mollusks and small fish!  What does your message say? Be sure to include drawings- sharks love drawings!

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