Silhouettes and Shadows by Sea Beast

by on July 19th, 2017

We’ve had a lot of wonderful special programs so far for the Summer Reading Program, including visits from hissing cochroaches, snakes, lizards, a duck, a tortoise and a fancy rat, not to mention Dan Wardell! However, one of my favorite performers to host at the library is a shadow puppet company from Chicago called Sea Beast. Shadow puppetry is considered the oldest form of puppetry in the world. It originated thousands of years ago in China and India. In Western Europe shadow puppetry became popular in the 19th century when the art of cutting silhouettes out of paper was fashionable. In 1926 German shadow puppeteer Lotte Reiniger made the first full length animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmet. Reiniger hand-cut stunning opaque silhouette figures that were moved on an animation table. Sea Beast embodies the evolving history of shadow puppetry in their artistry with an almost extinct technology—overhead projectors. Read the rest of this entry »

Do you have a historic archive for the Cedar Rapids Gazette? (Part 2)

by on July 19th, 2017

Boy, do we ever! In my last post, I directed you to how you can get to the same archives The Gazette website uses, but for free. But that’s just a text-based archive, what if you want to see what the actual newspaper pages look like? Read the rest of this entry »

Do you have a historic archive for the Cedar Rapids Gazette? (Part 1)

by on July 19th, 2017

Yes! The Iowa City Public Library has a database of Cedar Rapids Gazette articles, covering 1992 to the present. The years match what the newspaper’s archive page on its website says it has. The articles in NewsBank will be text articles (i.e., no images and smaller download sizes). If you have an active ICPL library card and live in our service area, you can research historic Gazette articles for free.

How do you do that? Head over to our Online Resources page and find NewsBank on the list of resources. (If you are starting from, Online Resources is under “Books + More.”) Here are some screenshots of what you will look for. Read the rest of this entry »

Debut fiction a slice of fun

by on July 13th, 2017

bakers-guideEvery other Thursday, I join two other Library staff members to refresh our first floor book displays. It’s a great chance to have fun with puns – you’ve seen our signs; we love ‘em! – and shine the spotlight on various items in our collection. It’s always a rush when a book (or movie or CD) you chose for the display is checked out by a patron.

Another thing I love about Refresh Thursdays is that it gives me a chance to peruse the Library’s collection and find something new for myself. Not that I need help filling out my TBR (To Be Read) pile. It’s not a pile. It’s a bookshelf. A real one at home (I used to buy books before I started working at ICPL) and a virtual one on my Goodreads account.

And yet I still browse.

One of the books I recently checked out after coming across it on the Library’s shelves is The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller. I love books about food, especially dessert, so when the blurb described the story of Olivia Rawlings, a Boston pastry chef who flees to Vermont after setting fire to more than her dessert at a work engagement. Olivia’s weekend away turns into more after she secures a new job as the baker at Sugar Maple Inn. But small towns have their secrets and Olivia learns she wasn’t hired just for her magic with sugar spice and everything nice.

This is the kind of story you expect to be cute and it is, but there’s so much more going on, too. It’s about second chances and family, food and small towns, commitment and fear, expectations and competitions. It was the perfect follow up after a couple of heavier reads that left me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It’s not fluffy, though. There’s layers to this book — but that’s a cake term and Olivia is all about pies.

Speaking of pies, you’re going to want one – or more – while reading this book. You might want to stock up just in case.

Everything’s coming up roses in the Children’s Department…er, petunias, that is.

by on July 7th, 2017

The fun was growing at Earth Friendly Friday on July 7!     img_0015

Children and parents “upcycled” tin cans by covering them with brightly-patterned tape.  Then they planted colorful petunias to enjoy on a windowsill or front porch all summer long.  Teaching children how to plant and care for their flower was Jenni Mettemeyer with Field to Family, an Iowa City organization that works to create a more local, healthy and sustainable regional food system.


Exclamations of “That was fun!” and “This is beautiful!” were overheard.  Join us next Friday, July 14, from 1-2pm to learn about recycling with Iowimg_0004a City Recycling and Landfill representatives.



No Bookmobile Wednesday July 12

by on July 6th, 2017

2017-07-bookmobileAfter driving 420 miles through the streets of Iowa City in June, the Iowa City Public Library’s Bookmobile will be out of service on Wednesday July 12th because of scheduled maintenance and warranty work. A Library staff member will be available at scheduled stops for Holds pickup. Regular service will resume on Thursday July 13th.

Stories in the Park, held at 10:30 AM that day in Wetherby Park, 2398 Taylor Drive, Iowa City, will go on as scheduled with a special guest. Becky with West Music will offer a musical program that teaches fundamentals of rhythm, basic motor function, mental dexterity, healthy emotional expression, sociability, and more.

If you are curious about what’s been happening on the ICPL Bookmobile, visit Shawna’s recent blog post here or my June 22nd blog post here.

For more information about ICPL Bookmobile services and the summer schedule, please navigate to or call the Library during regular business hours at 319-356-5200.

We’ll see you soon on the Bookmobile!


Having a Blast on the Bookmobile!

by on July 3rd, 2017

July has arrived and our first month of Bookmobile service is in the books! We have had a wonderful time getting to know our community even better since Bookmobile service officially beg19533614_482704608745669_8351687546295549952_n1an on June 6th.

Our most frequently asked question this past month has been “Are you getting plenty of visitors?” The answer is, “Yes, and keep on coming!” We are delighted to be getting to know people who are brand new library users as well as seeing existing library users in new settings. If you’ve visited the Bookmobile recently and seen some empty shelves, that is because people have been loving the Bookmobile SO much, they’ve been clearing us out of books. What a wonderful problem to have! We restock our shelves every morning so there is always something new to find on the Bookmobile. Read the rest of this entry »

Themed Book Lists for the Adult Summer Reading Program

by on June 30th, 2017


Are you a fan of book lists?  Are you looking for some book suggestions for the 2nd half of the Adult Summer Reading Program?  One of the neat features of our Summer Reading Program software is that it lets us create book lists on any topic we want.

This year’s Summer Reading Program theme is “Build a Better World” which lends itself to all sorts of lists. Some were created by ICPL staff, and other lists we borrowed from other sources because they were really good lists.

To find the book lists, log into the software at and click on the Recommendations tab at the top.  There you can choose from the Book Lists or the list of  Adult SRP Events.


Here are the book lists you’ll find:

All Iowa Reads – 2003 -2017   (14 books)

Best Summer Reads 2017 from Publishers Weekly  (13 books)

Books Becoming Movies in 2018  (9 books)

Build a Better World: Volunteer!  (8 books)

Can One Book Change Your Life? (7 books)

Environmentalists Trying To Make A Difference  (10 books)

Explore Iowa (17 books)

Gardening with Native Plants (7 books)

National Park Guidebooks (11 books)

NPR’s Book Concierge 2017 Best Biographies & Memoirs (21 books)

Top 10 LGBTQ Books – The 2017 Over the Rainbow List   (10 books)

We Can Build It Better (12 books)

Women in Science (11 books)





2017 music

by on June 30th, 2017
2017 music Cover Image

I was in a bit of a music rut this year, turning down the chance to listen to unfamiliar contemporary artists in favor of revisiting nostalgic albums from 20 years ago and seeking out music genres I either missed the boat on (Britpop) or wasn’t around for (Post-punk). A plethora of recent “Best of 2017 …so far” articles have inspired me and I’ve discovered a few new albums from our collection that I think ICPL users should check out!

Jlin – Black Origami : An electronica album that is full of nervous energy and samples heavily from global music. On first listen I thought it would be too busy to be something I would casually throw on during a work session at my computer, but by the third track I was won over by the busy trance-like beats. Jlin rarely uses party-style electronica driving bass lines, instead she gets your head bobbing to a wide variety of percussion instrument samples (handclaps, drumlines, african drums) woven with repeated vocal snippets. If you’re having trouble connecting to the album, I recommend at least watching the choreography in this video for her song “Carbon 7 (161)”, jaw-dropping.

Big Thief – Capacity : Their 2016 album Masterpiece was one of my favorites last year, nothing new or particularly inventive but it had such passion and the big, dirty guitar countering singer Adrianne Lenker’s warbling hit me just right. There’s not as much of that basement rock sound on Capacity but the melodies and songwriting are terrific. Favorite tracks for me include a Nebraska-style road saga, “Shark Smile” and “Mary” which should be the final track to that mix-tape you make for your friend who is moving away.

Summer is for READING!

by on June 30th, 2017
Summer is for READING! Cover Image


Are you looking for a great book to read this summer? Here’s a list of my favorite books from the last year … and a couple on my “to read” list.

Backman, Fredrik

A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, & Britt-Marie was Here

Swedish writer Fredrik Backman is my new favorite author. A Man Called Ove is a feel-good story that I couldn’t put down. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, is a heartwarming story about a seven year old girl who goes on a journey of discovery after the death of her beloved grandmother. It’s a compelling story that shows there are many good people in the world. Britt-Marie Was Here is a follow-up book that features one of the characters from “My Grandmother …” Backman has a unique way of introducing plot and the result is books that are to be savored. Readers must be patient … Backman will give you the details you need when he’s ready.
Box, C.J.

Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle by C.J. Box takes the reader on a vicarious trip to the Wyoming and the life of Game Warden Joe Pickett. Rodeo star Dallas Cates is out of jail and he wants revenge on Joe. Nate Romanowski, Joe’s falconer friend, is pulled into the drama and trouble always seems to find them. Box’s novels are known for their fast pace, memorable characters and strong sense of place. The reader will be kept on the edge of their seat in the page-turner. I listened to the book and David Chandler’s narration is excellent.
Brockmole, Jessica

Letters from Skye

An older epistolary novel (2013) but a goodie. Two narratives weave together through a series of letters. The drama begins when an American, David, writes a letter to Elspeth, a young Scottish poet who lives on the Isle of Skye. Their friendship blossoms into an unlikely love story just before the start of WWI. Flash forward to just before WWII. Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret is on the cusp of a love story of her own. Through the letters the narratives intertwine and the story unfolds. I listened to the book and the narration was excellent, especially the Scottish dialect that brings the story to life.
Brown, Eleanor

Light of Paris

Weird Sisters author, Eleanor Brown’s Light of Paris is a tale of two women who are bound by the expectations of family and society. Madeleine is in her thirties, stuck in a loveless marriage and volunteering as a docent at an art museum. Youthful dreams of living as an artist are painful. Margie is in her twenties and dispatched to Paris in 1924. Upon her arrival she is abandoned and left to fend for herself. With dreams of becoming a writer she gets a job in a library in Paris and falls in love.
Clayton, Meg Waite

Race for Paris

Wednesday Sisters author, Meg Waite Clayton’s, newest novel captures the fictionalized story of two women who served as journalists during World War II. Clayton layers the story between the brutality of war, determination of the women and the personal toll a war takes on the human spirit. Her research about women journalists in WWII brings their spirit to life and tells a lesser-known story about WWII heroes.
Cleave, Chris

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Chris Cleave artfully crafts a World War II novel based on love letters between his grandparents. With the backdrop of war, bombing, starvation, bravery, society and sacrifice, Cleave weaves together unforgettable characters in a story that requires pondering long after the book is finished. Set in London and Malta, Mary is a socialite, Alistair signs up for service reluctantly and Tom would rather forget the war. Three people, three friends and three wars. Innocence is lost, London is bombed, Malta is devastated, friendship is tested and morals are questioned.
Davis, Fiona

The Dollhouse

Alternating between 1952 and 2016 in the Barbizon Hotel in New York City, the lives of four women are haunted by ghosts. Darby is a Midwesterner who meets Stella who is a model. Darby befriends Esme, who aspires to a singing career. Rose is intrigued by the women of Barbizon’s past and a tragedy that changes all of their lives.
Evanovich, Janet & Phoef Sutton

Curious Minds

Riley Moon is a street-savvy Harvard educated young lady who looks forward to a career in banking. Emerson Knight is an eccentric billionaire who has a facade that indicates more money than sense. He writes a doomsday blog with ideas so outlandish they might be true. Knight and Moon are an unlikely dynamic duo but their chemistry works in a funny, fast paced mystery that keeps the reader guessing.
Rhimes, Shonda

Year of Yes


Year of Yes focuses on a year of transformation for Rhimes when she gave herself permission to start saying YES to life including invitations, healthy lifestyle choices, time with family and happiness. Rhimes’ personal story is remarkable and I enjoyed learning more about her. Plus her story is funny, compelling and made me think.
Shattuck, Jessica

Women in the Castle

I’m currently listening to this book that focuses on the before, during and after WWII experiences of three widows of German resistance leaders. The story is inspired by the experiences of the author’s grandparents. The three women are suffering from their war experiences and seek atonement, redemption and healing for choices made.
Springsteen, Bruce

Born to Run


I listened to Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen and the audiobook is narrated by The Boss himself. I am not typically a biography reader, but this was a great book that revealed intimate details about Springsteen’s childhood and family life. Springsteen’s songs have been bumping around in my head since starting the book and I often took a break to listen to the songs. Born to Run, Born in the USA, Streets of Philadelphia, My Home Town, I’m on Fire … all songs from my youth and just as fun to listen to today.
Strout, Elizabeth

Anything is Possible

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout’s newest book is a story of family, love and redemption. Strout’s writing is complex-she takes a simple story and weaves in layers of emotion, reconciliation, self-discovery and human interaction. I first fell in love with Strout’s writing with her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge. Anything is Possible is a continuation of Strout writing at her best and features a return of the beloved character, Lucy Barton from Strout’s 2016 book, My Name is Lucy Barton.
Towles, Amor

Gentleman in Moscow

This is on my “to read” list after receiving many recommendations from friends, seeing the long hold list, and a starred Kirkus Review that says, “In all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight. This book more than fulfills the promise of Towles’ stylish debut, Rules of Civility.”
Winspear, Jacqueline

In This Grave Hour

Jacqueline Winspear’s newest Maisie Dobbs book. Maisie Dobbs is a trained psychologist and personal investigator. England is once again at War, Scotland Yard is overwhelmed and Maisie is called in to investigate the murders of Belgian refugees from the first World War. The title is foreboding and comes from a quote from King George VI on September 3, 1939: “In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history….for the second time in our lives for most of us, we are at war.”


For more suggestions visit the Bookmobile or Library, or call 319-356-5200.