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Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

by on September 2nd, 2014
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper Cover Image

Two-time Coretta Scott King Award winning author, Sharon M. Draper, has written a stunning novel for upper-elementary school children that opens like this:  “Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes–each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.  Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts.  Mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas.  Clever expressions.  Jokes.  Love songs …. But only in my head.  I have never spoken one single word.  I am almost eleven years old.”  So begins the story of fifth grader Melody Brooks who has cerebral palsy but doesn’t want to be defined by it.  Although she can’t walk, talk, feed herself, or go to the bathroom without help, she can read, think, remember, and feel.  She is a brilliant girl trapped in her own weak body and confined to a wheelchair.  Melody learns of a computer with technology that will allow her to communicate to others and her world changes big time!  But there are still ignorant doctors, thoughtless teachers, and cruel classmates to deal with.  Fortunately, Melody has a fierce advocate in her mother, not unlike the author whose own daughter has cerebral palsy, thus providing great authenticity and accuracy in the writing.  This book is a compelling read that will hopefully make all readers more compassionate and understanding toward those with disabilities and the misconceptions that go with them.  I especially loved Melody’s sense of humor and fortitude despite her many challenges.  This is one book you won’t be able to put down until you come to the final page.

Iowa City Public Library Lowers Overdue Fines, Increases Hold Limits

by on September 2nd, 2014

 

Effective Tuesday, Sept. 2, patrons will be charged 25-cents per item per day for materials returned past their due date. This is effective for all items, except Express DVDs and circulating equipment, which will remain $1 per item per day, and circulating game consoles which remain at $5 per day.hold shelf 3

The Iowa City Public Library Board of Trustees approved a policy change Thursday.

Library patrons also will be able to have 10 free holds in the system, an increase from eight. Holds may be placed for all types of circulating materials, except for the Express Collections. Patrons are notified when an item is ready for pickup.

Additional holds, beyond the limit of 10, may be placed for the patron by a Library staff member for 50-cents each.

“The purpose of fines is to provide an incentive for on-time return of Library materials. Our overarching goal is to assure materials are available for the community. One fine rate at 25 cents per day, with a couple exceptions, will be easy for our community to remember,” says Kara Logsden, Community and Access Services Coordinator.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

 

Carcosa and The Yellow King

by on August 30th, 2014

King In Yellow

Fans of True Detective have heard of Carcosa and The Yellow King but might not know where they are originally from. I did not until Candice pointed it out to me.

Carcosa was first mentioned in the short story “An Inhabitant of Carcosa” by Ambrose Bierce in 1891. A few years later Robert W. Chambers used Carcosa, and a few other locations that Bierce mentions. It was in a collection of connected short gothic horror stories, “The King in Yellow”, published in 1895. Four of the stories are connected by references to a work of fiction also titled “The King in Yellow”. In the stories anyone who reads the this meta-book is purported to go completely insane.

The stories have a very gothic, Lovecraftian feel to them. They are tales of supernatural powers which are just out of sight and the madness that it brings. This little known book has influenced a lot of authors (as well as RPG game developers). Many authors have either mentioned Carcosa or expanded upon the Carcosa mythos. It has been used by H.P. Lovecraft and many writers of the Cthulhu  Mythos. Other writers like Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and George R. R. Martin have locations named Carcosa in their works.

Here is a short excerpt from the book within the book, hopefully it will not drive you mad. You may recognize it from the journal of Dora Lange, one of the characters from True Detective.

“Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.”

—”Cassilda’s Song” in The King in Yellow Act 1, Scene 2

 

Hungry Dragon Game

by on August 29th, 2014

Mabel the Table, the Children’s Room’s interactive touch table made her debut at the beginning of the summer and has gotten lots of use since then.  The library recently teamed up with Dev/Iowa Bootcamp to produce some new games for Mabel.  Part of the U of I’s entrepreneurial efforts, the Bootcamp is an intensive nine-week hands-on program where participants learn web development skills and industry practices.  As part of the program, members of the community can pitch a project to have the bootcampers take them on as a client.  We presented the idea of creating games for the interactive table in the children’s room and two students stepped forward.  One game is called Hungry Dragon and allows several kids to play at the same time controlling their dragon to grab balls moving around in the center.  The other is a creative painting game where kids can paint a picture and post it for others to see.  If you are visiting the Children’s Room, have your kids give these local games a try and give us feedback.  If you are a programmer or game developer and want to help us improve these games or create new ones, please contact me at the library.

Video Staff Picks: with Terri

by on August 29th, 2014

Terri’s back to talk about some great biographies from musicians and sports heroes.

Plant by Number: Use ICPL to plan your fall and spring gardens

by on August 29th, 2014

Last week on Talk of Iowa’s Horticulture Day, Charity Nebbe interviewed Ryan Adams, turf grass specialist, on the best time to reseed a lawn. Lawn and garden care is something I need to learn a lot about, being a newbie homeowner. Our garden spaces are in much need of attention and care as well, but where to start? Lucky for me, I have been immersed in our nonfiction catalog and have been getting to know where to find the books that will help me make my lawn and garden beautiful again.

To inform my lawn and garden needs this fall and next spring, I will be using a “Plant by Number” system, inspired by the numbers in ICPL’s nonfiction collection. The Dewey Decimal numbers will guide me to the best information in the library’s collection for each part of my lawn and garden planning. Keep reading for the best numbers for perennials, trees, and specialty gardening topics.

Iowa Garden

Photo by Bobby Jett. Gardening by Beth Beasley, Maeve Clark, and friends. Photoshopping of the identification signs by Melody.

 

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Books on the brain

by on August 29th, 2014
Books on the brain Cover Image

Literally.

I was just perusing the most recent NYT Sunday Book Review, and I noticed that The Shortlist (brief reviews of current books on a specific topic) contains titles about ‘the mind.’ That is kind of exciting to me, because I am responsible for ordering books in the subject areas that would most likely contain books about the brain and thought processes. So, I went to order the books that had good reviews, and lo and behold, we already have them all! I must have been thinking ahead. Not only do we have them, but as I am writing this, four of the five books reviewed are on the shelf. Hot new books, ready for you, right now!

So, without further ado, I exhort you, thoughtful reader, to put on your thinking cap and come to the Library to check these books out–your mind will expand, you will build new neural pathways, and your brain will thank you!

Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception by Joseph T. Hamilton

History Lessons: A Memoir of Madness, Memory, and the Brain by Clifton Crais

Struck By Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel by Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg

Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self by Jennifer Ouellette

The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic by Jonathan Rottenberg

*edited to add that, by the time I published this, another book was checked out…so hurry!

Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park by Matthew Gilbert

by on August 29th, 2014
Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park by Matthew Gilbert Cover Image

I loved “Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park” by Matthew Gilbert.  As a former dog park person and now a neighborhood dog walker, I found myself relating to so much of what Gilbert describes in his book. Everyone knows all of the dogs’ names and we refer to owners as Jack’s mom or Nellie’s mom.  Eventually you get to know the other dog park peoples’ names and then their stories.  Gilbert’s book is his story of his first year with Toby and how Toby helps him come out of his relatively introverted shell. Toby makes him  make friendships with folks he would meet no where else but at the dog park.  Gilbert, a television critic for The Boston Globe, wasn’t even a dog person until he and his husband, Tom,  decided to get an absolutely gorgeous yellow Labrador puppy.  Gilbert worked at home and soon learned that a puppy needed exercise, a lot of exercise, so much exercise that walking on the sidewalks just wasn’t enough for a very energetic puppy.

Gilbert, (actually Toby), finds Armory Park and then the dogs and their human companions at the park.  At first he just lets Toby play and doesn’t interact with the others. But as anyone who goes to a dog park knows that if you come come to a park with a puppy others will be drawn to you like a magnet and want to talk.  And talk leads to learning everyone’s names and eventually their stories.  Gilbert aptly describes the dog park denizens, including an older gentleman, Saul,  who doesn’t have a dog anymore but loves dogs and tries so hard to connect with the dogs and their owners. One of the most poignant parts of “Off the Leash” is when Saul no longer comes to the park. Saul was in the early states of Alzheimer’s and had a minor car accident and had to move in with his brother. The dog park people track down Saul’s brother and find out that he needs more care than his brother can give and that he is moved to a retirement home.  There are other stories that tug at the heart. Stories of when a dog dies.  The dog park family rallies around the companion and brings food and tells stories and witnesses with the bereaved about the loss.

At other times “Off the Leash” is laugh out loud funny; dog people have stories to tell and if you are at a park, you have time to hear their stories.  You also learn who follows the rules, and who doesn’t, who joins in and who doesn’t, and how the dog park people use their dogs to express feelings they would never normally share with Nellie benchanyone else. Gilbert calls this sharing dog ventriloquism.

If  you have a dog or had a dog or want a dog, you will enjoy “Off the Leash”.  Your dog might too, Nellie did, I read numerous passages to her.  She did not pass judgment, she is a dog, I did, I am am a dog park person.

What teens read this summer

by on August 28th, 2014

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Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, is almost here, so I thought I would share what books teens read this summer.  For our Summer Reading Program, teens read five books in order to be entered into a prize drawing.  The most read book was, unsurprisingly, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  The book was already wildly popular, but the film adaptation starring Shailene Woodley, which came in June, put it over the top.  If you haven’t read it yet, we’ve finally made it through the massive hold list and there are copies on the shelf as I type this.  The second most read book was Divergent by Veronica Roth.  Divergent also had a recent film adaptation (now available on DVD), which also starred Shailene Woodley (busy girl).

The Hunger Games was the third most read book, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was still going strong in 4th.  I think a lot of teens (and adults) make a point of re-reading Harry Potter during the summer.  Other stand out titles were Insurgent by Veronica Roth, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.

What did you read this summer?

Raise a Reader

by on August 28th, 2014

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Do you have a child just learning to read? Congratulations! Your child is on the verge of exploring a whole new world! The path to becoming an independent reader can seem slow and arduous at times, but here are some tips to help your child stay the course and discover the joy of reading.

Let your child choose books he wants to read. This sounds simple, but so often we get derailed by two little words—“reading level.” Kids need to read “easy” books to build fluency and comprehension, so let them choose books below reading level. Just like practicing an instrument, reading an easy book or an old favorite will refine skills. Kids need to read what they’re interested in—even if it’s hard. So let them choose books above “reading level,” and they’ll tackle challenging vocabulary just because they care. And if they need help, you’ll be there to ease the way.

Which brings up the next tidbit of advice- kids need you to read to them. Don’t abandon reading aloud once your child begins reading. Your reading models skills they need—cadence, speed, inflection, pronunciation, vocabulary. Even more, your read-alouds remind them why they’re working so hard—for the love of story and information! So the next time they choose a book that’s above their reading level, help them meet the challenge—share the reading, model for them, and let them echo you.

The mechanics of learning to read can be hard work, but be careful about making it a “chore.” Your child’s motivation to read is a huge indicator of how accomplished he’ll become. And, let’s face it, how motivated are we by our chores? Beginning readers are encouraged to practice their skills at least 20 minutes a day, but it’s important to not become clock-watchers. Keeping track of time is fine, but shift the focus away from that in hopes that your child will one day completely lose track of how long he’s been reading.

While your child is practicing, be a great listener. Don’t correct mistakes unless it changes the meaning. Help your child when he needs it. Be patient and nonjudgmental. Find fun and alternate ways your child can practice—with siblings or family pets, or even leading a stuffed animal storytime. Soon, you’ll discover that you’ve raised a reader!





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