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ICPL Teen Anime & Manga Festival Feb. 25

by on February 12th, 2016

The Iowa City Public Library will host its annual Teen Anime & Manga Festival from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25, in Meeting Room A.

Open to students in grades 7-12, this festival is an opportunity for teens to interact with fellow anime and manga enthusiasts, watch anime, discuss manga, win prizes, and eat massive amounts of candy sushi. Cosplay is always welcome and there will be prizes for those who participate.

We will screen episodes from three different anime: Haikyu!!, Golden Time and Steins;Gate.

The Teen Anime & Manga Festival is a free event. For more information, call the Library at 319-356-5200.

Help, I need a word that rhymes with cantilever!

by on February 11th, 2016

He was such an eager beaver

We had to use a cantilever

Off he soared

Oh, way up high

Luckily we had a wide receiver

Don’t you love it when you stumble upon something so much fun you have to share it with everyone?  That happened to me today.  I was looking for the etymology of the word plummet, a lovely word if I don’t say so myself, and I found the answer using the Merriam-Webster online dictionaryplummet Plummet comes from Middle English plomet, from Anglo-French plumet, plomet, from plum lead, lead weight.  That was cool, I had used a plumb bob on an archeological  dig many summers ago and always loved those two words together, but I digress.  On the same page as the origin of the word plum was the heading Other Civil Engineering Terms.  What a grand addition to a dictionary – other civil engineering terms.  I immediately clicked on cantilever to see if I could get even more civil engineering terms, alas, they were all the same, but I did discover another wondrous option – Rhymes with.  Come on, admit it you too have always wanted to know what rhymes with cantilever.  I was so tickled with my new found knowledge, I made up a rhyme. It isn’t very good, but what the heck, I got to use eager beaver, cantilever and wide receiver.  cantileverI hope this post makes you a true believer.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

by on February 11th, 2016
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout Cover Image

I love books that stick with me. I like to ruminate over words, ponder what the author was saying, and think about themes and how the book fits into my bigger world. My Name is Lucy Barton is one of these books. And just like Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, My Name is Lucy Barton is a book to be savored.

Lucy Barton was raised in poverty in Amgash, Illinois. She escapes this poverty by working hard, ignoring ridicule, becoming a writer, and creating an adult life in Manhattan. Unfortunately Lucy cannot escape her past and the the loneliness and insecurities that follow her.

The book is also about family ties and love – wanting love and giving love – and coming to terms with one’s expectations for love vs. the reality of love. The story meanders like a stream, and Strout gives important details quietly, like a whisper in the reader’s ear. As I read I pondered each whisper, and silently hoped for happiness and love for Lucy as she faced her life’s journey.

 

Esquire’s “Hater in Chief”

by on February 10th, 2016

gallery-1451926582-esquire-march-cover-trumpSo Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary last night and racked up 10 delegates. If you love the media frenzy around this unconventional presidential candidate, check out Esquire’s February cover article, “Hater in Chief.” Behind a paywall everywhere else, you can check it out digitally through ICPL’s digital magazine collection Zinio. Have your library card and password ready and go to www.icpl.org/zinio/ to log in and download that grumpy, frowny face.

My Documents by Alejandro Zambra

by on February 10th, 2016

Zambra book cover

What drew me to My Documents (McSweeney’s, 2015) was the cover art: a boy climbing among file cabinets, keyboard, wires, and computer monitors. So appropriate for the title! I wanted to try out a newer short story collection by an author I’ve never read. What I have gained is a sudden appreciation for Alejandro Zambra, a Chilean writer whose stories blend whimsy, dark humor, and general strangeness against the backdrop of Chile’s recent history. Fans of Junot Diaz (author of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her) will definitely enjoy this book – I found they had a similar, honest and to-the-point writing style. Details of what it was like to live under Pinochet’s dictatorship are threaded through the stories. Family, Catholicism, and various types of vice are frequently visited topics in the stories. My favorite was “True or False,” a story about a father and son as they grapple over what to do about an unwanted litter of kittens. The collection was a quick and engaging read, and has me wanting to check out Zambra’s earlier stuff, like Ways of Going Home, his novel that was released in the U.S. in 2013.

Beer me!

by on February 10th, 2016

I wrote a newspaper article this month about beer books in the Library’s collection.  There are a lot of resources online for beer enthusiasts too.  So, I guess this is a companion piece.

FuriousIn my article, I mention Beer Advocate, which is a fantastic online community that spawned its own print magazine.  They also host beer festivals across the country.  Anyway, they’re an excellent place to start online.  There’s a very involved user base that post in the forums and write reviews.  The reviews are what brought me to the site.  When I’m at the store, I check BA to see what a particular beer’s score is.  Since there are so many people using the site and posting reviews, I feel like the score is a pretty good indicator of a beer’s quality.  It’s fun to browse their forums too.  I don’t post there personally, but I could see myself doing it someday.

Another great website is Rate Beer.  It has reviews too (you could probably figure that out from the name)hopslam
and includes different information than what Beer Advocate does, such as the best kind of glass to drink each beer in.  I feel like their reviews are pretty trustworthy too.  They also include information about the beer’s availability, but, honestly, I don’t find it very accurate.  It says that many hard to find beers are common, though, it probably is more indicative of national availability.  That said, the website has a Local Beer guide, which tells you the best beers that can be obtained in your area and the best beers brewed in your area.  As you can imagine, when you put in Iowa, the best beers brewed in your area list is dominated by Toppling Goliath.

Beer blogs are abundant, but which are any good?  First on our short tour is Beervana, a blog by the author of hopreviewThe Beer Bible, Jeff Alworth, one of the books from my article.  Jeff writes about the beer industry and his thoughts on it.  If you liked The Beer Bible, then his blog is definitely worth checking out.  The Hop Review is a slick looking website that covers the craft beer scene in Chicago and the Midwest.  The site features well written articles and everyone involved is obviously very passionate about brews.  Finally, there’s the fun site Pints and Panels.  Em, the creator of the site, draws comics where she reviews beers.  I find beer reviews hard to read sometimes, but Em’s reviews are very accessible.  I love what she’s doing and you should check it out too.

There’s a bunch of other stuff out there, like apps that you can use to track what you drink.  I like the idea, untappdand I’ve tried using Untappd.  I was a little confused by it and soon gave up.  It’s something that I want to explore more.  Alright, go out there and enjoy a drink.  Also, be glad that you don’t have auto-brewery syndrome, which gives home-brewing a whole new meaning.

D&D with Teens: Lost Mine of Phandelver part 2

by on February 9th, 2016

dndAfter our intrepid adventurers defeated the four ferocious goblins, they discovered a trail in the woods northwest of the goblin ambush. Hits Stuff and the Wizard Myself used their keen sense of survival skills to noticed that the path was frequented by goblins and that two human-sized items had recently been dragged along the path. Upon closer inspection of the two dead horses (mentioned in my previous account), Duncan aka Meatshield, noticed that one of the horses belonged to his cousin, Gundren Rockseeker. Gundren and his companion Sildar Hallwinter were the very souls that sent our adventurers on their journey to Phandalin. By making a logical leap, our party decided to tread carefully along the goblin path.

Their care paid off! With the fighters Dylan of Dylan and Hits Stuff in the lead, the party handily avoided two goblin traps set for wayward travelers. The path led to a cave with a clear stream flowing out of its mouth. Our clever warriors quieted their movements and crept across the stream to the path into the cave. Hiding in the thicket next to the cave mouth were two dozing goblin guards. The Wizard Myself took care of them by casting Magic Missle before they had a chance to respond!

As our party entered the cave, the Wizard Myself and Meatshield took the lead, as they have darkvision and the troop wanted to maintain their element of surprise. Entering the cave, they came to a room set off the main passage. The Wizard Myself whispered to the rest of party that there were 3 wolves in the room. WIth the aid of his fellow travelers, Meatshield successfully handled the wolves and made them friendly. Out of harms way for the moment, our merry band was able to explore the room, revealing a fissure! The party climbed up and squeezed through the crack in the wall and discovered a Bugbear, his pet wolf, and two goblin henchmen relaxing around the coals of a smouldering fire. After a long battle, our heroes emerged victorious and burdened with loot.

If you’d like to join our merry band of adventurers, we’ll be meeting on February 27th in the Teen Center from 1-3 and I’ll figure out a way to add you to our journey.

ICPL children’s event celebrates George Washington Carver

by on February 9th, 2016

The Iowa City Public Library invites students in kindergarten through third grades to celebrate botanist and inventor George Washington Carver during a special Black History Month event from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, in the Storytime Room.

George Washington Carver was born into slavery in the 1860s. After slavery was abolished, he attended several schools before earning his high school diploma in Minneapolis, Kansas. He studied botany at Iowa State Agriculture College in Ames. He was the college’s first black student and, eventually, its first black faculty member before serving as Director of Agriculture at the upstart Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

Carver is famous for his agricultural discoveries and inventions. He introduced the idea of crop rotation in the rural South, in which farmers would rotate cotton, which depleted the soil of nutrients, with peanuts, which replenished them, from year to year. Carver devised more than 300 uses for peanuts, including dyes, paints, plastics and gasoline.

Using books, music, artifacts and toys, the Library will celebrate the life and accomplishments of George Washington Carver in an engaging program designed to make history fun.

For more information, call the Library at 319-356-5200.

Digitally Preserving your Family History

by on February 8th, 2016

This weekend I had the opportunity to talk with the Daughter’s of the American Revolution Pilgrim Chapter about preserving their families’ histories. Preservation is a daunting task especially  since we must think about not only saving the physical copy but the digital one as well.

In preparing for my talk, I researched  tools to help these women creatively think about sharing their families’ stories, photos, and heirlooms digitally. There are many great online tools, websites, and projects out there; but for me what makes the stuff I’ve inherited so valuable are the stories or memories attached to the items.

rootsmapperFamilySearch.org is one of the search engines that helps you trace your family’s roots. I don’t feel its search capabilities are as good as Ancestry’s (which you can access for free at the library!) but it offers many great tools and apps to help you collect family history and put it into a context your family can appreciate. One such tool is the Rootsmapper app which traces your family’s migration across continents or across the country over time.

Everystory is an app that makes it easy to record a voice over with a group of photos of your choosing. What I like about this app is that its easy to use and it is designed to replicate the experience of flipping through a photo album with a loved one as they tell stories about the photographs.

Storycatcher Pro is an app that allows you to create and share video of a family member telling stories. You can choose themes, design titles, capture screen text, capture audio, and import photos to make a very professional oral history. The app is easy to use and requires limited video editing knowledge. The only downside of the app is that it is only available for iOS.

treelines

Treelines uses your family tree as a starting point so that you can add pictures, tags, stories, and page design to help tell your family history. You can give access to family members so that they can also add their photos, documents, stories, and other information to the timeline as well.

If you are just beginning your genealogy search or digitization project, the library has many tools to help you including an archival quality scanner. There are several classes being offered in the month of May. Sign up soon as classes fill up fast!

 

 

 

Under-the-Radar Read

by on February 8th, 2016
Under-the-Radar Read Cover Image

I can’t stop talking about this memoir of African American life and prison life in the 19th Century. The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed is “the first known prison narrative by an African American writer,” editor Caleb Smith wrote in the Yale Alumni magazine. The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library purchased the manuscript, and Random House published it as a book this winter.

This book is a remarkable find. Perfect for history buffs, rare manuscript nerds, and African American prison researchers, this book was written by an African American man born free in the 1820s but living much of his life in confinement. Reed was a natural storyteller and his memoir reads like a novel. He documents his experiences both in prison and as a free man, the cruelties of the whip and other 19th Century torture tactics as well as adventures and opportunities he encountered while living free.

This book has not received a ton of press at this point. The New York Times highlighted the find in 2013 before the manuscript was edited for publication, and the Smithsonian Magazine picked up the story for its arts and culture section. It doesn’t have a long holds list and we’ll be buying the e-book and e-audio versions soon.

If there is one nonfiction book you read in 2016, make it Austin Reed’s groundbreaking memoir.

 





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