Facebook – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

by on March 21st, 2018

Facebook is fun and a great way to share information and stay connected with friends and family. Right? Right. However, after the Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal you might be ready to just say goodbye to Facebook.  Before you close your account, consider your options.  David Nield , writing for Gizmodo, walks you through steps on how to stay on Facebook but not share anymore information than necessary.  Start by making your profile sparse, keep your activity to a minimum, disconnect from third-part apps, (those puzzles, games and quizzes), and continue to pay attention to your privacy settings.  Nield has links to even more ways to secure your Facebook account.

Gennie Gebhart , a research and advocacy writer on consumer privacy, surveillance, and security issues for  the Electronic Frontier Foundation, informs Facebook members how to control your privacy settings.  She also details how Cambridge Analytica was able to access more than 50 million Facebook users’ data in 2014.  The Guardian gives an even more sobering look at the Cambridge Analytica scandal in a piece by Paul Lewis on Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012. Parkilas had repeatedly warned Facebook that its lax approach to data protection would leave users vulnerable.  And if you still want to go, Facebook details the steps to either deactivate or delete your account.



Confidentiality and Privacy and Teens

by on March 20th, 2018

In an effort to raise awareness about confidentiality and privacy issues related to teens, and at the direction of the Library Board, we are mailing letters each month to teens with active Library Cards who are turning 16 and 18 years old during that month. The letters discuss confidentiality and privacy issues teens should think about when using the Library. Teens are encouraged to talk to their parents or other adults if they have questions, or to contact the Library.

The first batch of letters was mailed yesterday. We chose the ages of 16 and 18 because they are milestone years for teens when they take on more responsibilities in their journey to adulthood.

Recently the Library Board reviewed our Confidentiality and Privacy Policy. The Library also added a new Confidentiality and Privacy webpage we hope will raise awareness about confidentiality and privacy issues related to Library use. We want to be transparent and share information about information we collect and maintain in order to improve service and protect the safety of patrons, the building, collections and other assets.

We live in a world where confidentiality and privacy issues surround us. Yesterday’s announcement about Cambridge Analytica’s use of data from 50 million Facebook users is a stark reminder that we need to be eternally vigilant when it comes to these issues. Hopefully our new webpage will help raise awareness and the letters sent to teens will be a catalyst for teens to thoughtfully manage their personal privacy and be aware of confidentiality issues.

Free access to the New York Times!

by on March 16th, 2018

New York Times Digital AccessNever hit a paywall again with your Iowa City Public Library card! We are pleased to announce that residents now have free access to the New York Times website anywhere, anytime. From quick news updates to deep dives into a topic, The New York Times keeps you up-to-date on what you need to know.

You will need an access code to use this resource. You must also live in Iowa City, Hills, Lone Tree, University Heights, or rural Johnson County. Further details can be found on the New York Times resource page on the ICPL website. Happy reading!

Edit: This access is available through the Digital Johnson County collections we share with the Coralville Public Library and the North Liberty Community Library. That means that Coralville residents can get free access through the CPL website, using their CPL card, and North Liberty residents use the NLCL website with their NLCL card.

Transportation Resources in Johnson County

by on March 7th, 2018

I recently learned about a great resource for finding information about transportation services in Johnson County. Kelly Schneider is Johnson County’s Mobility Coordinator. She works in the Johnson County Social Services office and her job is funded by the Iowa DOT, Johnson County, City of Iowa City and City of Coralville. Anyone can contact Kelly and the services of our Mobility Coordinator are free-of-charge.

Information about transportation resources in Johnson County is available on the Mobility Coordinator’s webpage. This includes a Transportation Resource Guide. The Guide is a comprehensive list of transportation options including Transit systems, taxi cabs, rides to medical appointments provided by local social service agencies, and (my favorite) information about the Library’s Ride & Read and Summer Library Bus programs.

It’s Book Madness Time at ICPL!

by on March 5th, 2018

It’s Book Madness time at ICPL!

Voting in Round One of our annual literary competition starts today! Stop by the Library before closing time on Sunday, March 11, to see what books are in this year’s competition and submit a vote for your favorite(s). If you want to vote for just one book, you can, or you can choose 32 titles to move forward in the first round; it’s up to you!

Here are the voting dates to remember:

  • First Round: March 5 through March 11
  • Second Round: March 12 through March 18
  • Sweet Sixteen: March 19 through March 25
  • Elite 8: March 26 through April 1
  • Final 4: April 2 through April 8
  • Championship Game: April 9 through April 15

Be sure to check in and vote regularly! The winning book in each bracket will be announced on Monday, April 16.

Kids: Vote at ICPL for the 2018 Children’s Choice Book Award!

by on March 2nd, 2018

Kids, here’s your chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box: vote for the Children’s Choice Award in the ICPL Children’s Department throughout the month of March!

The Children’s Choice Award is the only national book award given only by children and teens. There are five books nominated (also chosen by kids in school libraries around the country) in each of three age group categories: kindergarten to second grade, third to fourth grade, and fifth to sixth grade.

Visit our voting booth and fill out the secret ballot for your age group category. The winners will be announced when voting ends everywhere on May 6!

For a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

Kids can also vote online (instantly and without entering any personal information) by visiting http://everychildareader.net/vote/.







Looking for paper tax forms?

by on February 28th, 2018

Finding a paper tax form can be hard these days. In the past, every tax form used to be readily available in post offices and public libraries. This just isn’t the case anymore. Back in 2015, in order to keep government costs low, the Tax Form Outlet Program, which provides paper federal tax forms, lost their funding due to tax cuts that were made to the IRS. Over the past couple of years, the program has provided fewer and fewer printed tax forms to public entities like libraries as their funding is slowly drying up.

The State of Iowa hasn’t provided tax forms to libraries or any other public institution for more than 5 years. The state expects tax payers to file their taxes online. However, if you still want to use a paper form it is possible, just not easy.

The library currently provides a limited amount of 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms and instructions for individual use and a handful of business forms. We also provide the Individual Iowa State tax form but it costs 10 cents for a two sided copy. At this time, all of our forms have been received from the IRS. Once these forms and instructions run out, the library cannot receive more forms.

If the library doesn’t have the federal income tax form or a set of instructions you need, you can request forms by calling 800-532-1531. The library is happy to print copies of these forms for individuals at 10 cents per page. Printed forms from the computer, except for some business forms which are printed on triplicate paper, are all valid tax forms and can be submitted to the federal and state government without any problem

There are many places that offer free tax preparation help or services. One of those services, VITA, is hosted by the library. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) is run by the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. Please check what is necessary to qualify for their services, as well as the dates they provide this service.

ICPL to host Teen Anime Cosplay Tea Party

by on February 27th, 2018
Cosplay, anime, otaku, chibi: Do these terms mean anything to you? If so, you might already be into “cosplay,” a portmanteau of the words costume and play. Cosplay allows fans to show their enthusiasm to the world for a character through the use of makeup, costumes, and roleplay. Hundreds of thousands of anime and pop-culture fans use cosplay to expess their dedication through creativity, craft, and imagination.
Interested in giving cosplay and anime a try? ICPL’s Teen Services is hosting an anime cosplay event from 2-4pm, Wednesday, February 28th in the Teen Center. Open to students in grades 7-12, “Teen Anime Cosplay Tea Party” is your opportunity to explore cosplay, view anime, and make friends. We will celebrate no school on Wednesday by watching anime, sipping tea, and snacking on Japanese treats, just like those seen in Black Butler and Ouran Host Club. There will be a prize for best cosplay, so be sure to wear your finest anime-inspired cosplay–but you can come as you are, too!
“Teen Anime Cosplay Tea Party” is a free event. For more information, call the Library at 319-356-5200.

New Urban Fantasy on OverDrive/Libby

by on February 26th, 2018
New Urban Fantasy on OverDrive/Libby Cover Image

Those of us who use Libby regularly may have noticed that there have been some new fantasy books on the “just added” list. I’m happy to spread the news that our fiction buyer has gotten us several Helen Harper books. Helen Harper is an independent author from the UK who writes excellent series books in the urban fantasy genre. I first learned of her through the podcast Smart Podcast Trashy Books, which is hosted by a popular blog that reviews romance books.

Keeping with urban fantasy tradition, Harper’s books have strong female protagonists, as well as more alpha males than you can shake a stick at. I have yet to read her Blood Destiny series but I have made it through the 3 audiobooks for the Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic series. I will warn you that she likes bad jokes and puns, and for me that makes the series more lighthearted and fun. Read the rest of this entry »

Books About Fathers

by on February 21st, 2018

I have just finished two special books about fathers and highly recommend both. I took them home because of the titles: “An Odyssey” (I was a Classics major), and “The Wine Lover’s Daughter” (I do enjoy a glass of wine). While I learned much about Odysseus, and about Clifton Fadiman and wine, mostly I was touched by the relationships between the adult children and their fathers who are the subjects of these memoirs.

Author Daniel Mendelsohn is a classicist who teaches literature at Bard College. “An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and An Epic” is about the semester his 81-year-old research scientist father joins his seminar on Homer’s Odyssey.  The elder Mendelsohn provides commentary in class that often is in stark contrast to that of the young undergraduates–and frequently in opposition to his son’s professorial ideas as well.  After the seminar, the father and son decide to join an educational Mediterranean cruise that traces Odysseus’s homeward journey. The book blends the telling of these two experiences as it takes us through the Odyssey, and is rich in emotion and humor. Their adventure will remind sons and daughters that there likely are many facets of their parents’ lives that are unknown to them, until the circumstances are right to hear the stories. You need not have read the tale of Odysseus to enjoy this book, although if you have studied the Odyssey you will probably come away with some fresh insights about it.

In the book’s introductory chapter, Mendelsohn says “it is a story, after all, about strange and complicated families…about a husband who travels far and a wife who stays behind…about a son who for a long time is unrecognized by and unrecognizable to his father, until late, very late, when they join together for a great adventure…a story, in its final moments, about a man in the middle of his life, who at the end of this story falls down and weeps because he has confronted the spectacle of his father’s old age, the specter of his inevitable passing…”  He is speaking of Odysseus, and his son and father, but we also will learn that it is about something much closer to home.

Anne Fadiman is the wine lover’s daughter, and this is a book about her relationship with her father Clifton Fadiman. Although she is the well-known author of Ex Libris and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, her father perhaps was even more famous in his time: an editor-in-chief at Simon & Schuster, book critic for The New Yorker, a Book of the Month Club judge for forty years, and emcee of the NBC radio quiz show Information Please. And from an early age, he also educated himself about wine and began creating a wine cellar that ultimately reflected his extensive knowledge and savvy acquisitions. He co-authored two editions of The Joys of Wine.

Clifton Fadiman came to all of this through relentless hard work, and a quest for self improvement that would raise him above his humble beginnings in Brooklyn, New York and life with his parents, recent immigrants. He studied how to speak without an accent, how to dress, how to eat, and what to drink. Despite his successes, he never felt entirely comfortable that he had achieved the level of society that he wished for.

The love he showed his children is evident however:  he nurtures the talents in his children, and generously teaches them about wine.  Anne Fadiman’s burden is that she doesn’t really enjoy wine, although she desperately wants to in order to please her father. A fun thread of the book describes her efforts to determine scientifically why she doesn’t like wine. And while there is an element of competition with him in her early writing career, it seems primarily self-imposed and she always credits him with influencing her to be a reader and writer.

And what can be better than books and wine? Fadiman writes “My father had long associated books and wine: they both sparked conversation, they were both a lifetime project, they were both pleasurable to shelve, they were the only things he collected. The Joys of Wine called wine cellars ‘wine libraries’.”

Like Mendelsohn’s book, this also is about an adult child coming to terms with an aging father, learning that father’s full story, and sharing much love and warmth along the way.