From time to time, people pack up photographs, poems, names of important people, paper money, and other items to encapsulate in building cornerstones.
Before the Main Library opened in 1940, there was much ado about its time capsule.
The fuss began in March, 1939, as the cornerstone of the old Central High School, demolished to make way for Toledo’s new public library, was opened and contents, stored since 1897 in a copper, lead-sealed box, were inspected by the library board of trustees. Items unveiled included several coins, such as a half-dime of 1841 and an 1852 copper cent, as well as a roster of Masonic officers of Rubicon Lodge and a copy of officers and members of the Toledo Fire Department.
A newspaper editorial noted then that when those items were sealed in a box 42 years earlier, it probably prompted smiles on faces of cornerstone layers because of the surprises they were tucking away.
It noted: “Well, we have a few surprises for them. Since that cornerstone was laid the automobile has been born, and with it thousands of miles of hard road. The electric light has come into common use. The electric interurban cars have come and gone. Millions of radio sets are talking, singing, and playing music in the ears of the nation. Men ride steel birds through the sky. We have miniature ice plants in most homes.”
Ah, yes, the good ’ol days.
On Oct. 16, 1939, Sigmond Sanger, library board president, added more mementos of Toledo life, including publicity clippings on the library construction project, a brochure of the Toledo Hospital Service Association, and — showing that some things never change — a pamphlet on an upcoming 4-mill school levy. The items then were sealed and placed in the Main Library’s cornerstone.
This summer, a cornerstone of a summer reading program at two branch libraries was the creation of modern-day time capsules. Patrons suggested items to include, and then voting was conducted.
Some suggested items: a list of popular stores; a video of a summer day in 2013, and photos of popular clothing. Skinny jeans? You bet, a 2013 fashion must-have.
At the Washington Branch Library, the time capsule won’t be planted into the ground because “the water table is too high in our area for us to expect anything buried to stay dry in any type of container. Therefore I am looking at something more like a safe to lock and put in the attic,” said Washington Branch Manager Hannah Lammie in an email.
At the Sanger Branch Library, patrons (mostly children), voted to include items from their favorite book series, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan; favorite movie series, The Hunger Games, and favorite album, Red by Taylor Swift.
Allison Fiscus, Sanger assistant manager, said other items, suggested by Summer Reading Club participants, included a Toledo Mud Hens T-shirt; a 2013 dollar, quarter, and penny, and a Webkinz frog (paying tribute to Toledo’s Frogtown legacy).
Staff members added such items as reading club prizes, a library card, and a copy of The Blade published Aug. 10, 2013, the day the time capsule was sealed in a fire-safe box.
The time capsule will be secreted away for safe keeping, Mrs. Fiscus said, noting the time capsule project was designed to connect the library system’s 175th anniversary with the Dig Into Reading theme for the Summer Reading Club this year.
Customers, she said, decided what they want people to know about life in 2013 when the capsule is opened in 2038 on the 200th anniversary of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.