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Looking for a short-term volunteer opportunity?

by on May 21st, 2015

srp2Want to share your love for our Summer Reading Program and help families sign up?  Volunteers are needed for the Summer Reading Program registration table in the library.  We have many shifts to fill from June 1 to June 14, at 10:00-12:30, 12:30-3:00, and 3:00-5:00. You’ll be trained on how to 1) explain how the program works, 2) put individuals’ information into a simple online form, and 3) hand out game cards!

We’re looking for adult and teen volunteers who are friendly, patient, and enjoy working with the public.  Previous experience is not required.  Computer skills necessary.  A State of Iowa Criminal History Record Check is required for this position.

If interested, please turn in a Volunteer Application to the Help Desk soon!  Training will be held on Wednesday, May 27.

childrensdayAnother (messier) option is Children’s Day on Saturday, June 6!  We need volunteers to help with colored hairspray, our giant Bookmark chalkboard, Paint the Town, and our Silly Props photo booth.  There are 5 openings for the 9:30am-12:30pm shift and 7 spots left for 12:15-3:30pm.

I’ve put myself down for the afternoon shift — join me!  Sign up at http://summerofthearts.volunteerlocal.com as part of the 2015 Iowa Arts Festival.  For assistance registering, contact Jenna Isaacson at 319-337-7944 or jenna@summerofthearts.org.

Making Cents of Your Investments (with Databases!)

by on May 20th, 2015

Investing on your own can seem like a daunting task. Creating a portfolio or picking stocks may not be for everyone, but for those that do take an active role in their asset management the library has tools to help you. With the library’s subscription to Value Line and Morningstar*, two of the leading investment tools on the market, you can make informed choices on your investments.

With Value Line you have access to analysis and ratings for over 1,700 widely-followed companies and 1,800 small and mid-cap companies. It provides specialized ratings that help investors know how to evaluate a stock’s performance in relationship to industry indicators. For newer investors, the subscription also offers sample portfolios that can help point you in the right direction presenting a variety of investment strategies.

Morningstar provides access to over 21,000 stocks, 29,000 funds, and 1,758 ETFs, and like Value Line, provides its own set of criteria for analyzing investments. One of the best tools available in Morningstar is the “Xray a Portfolio” tool. Here you can input an actual or hypothetical portfolio and find out how risky it is, in what areas of the market your profolio is exposed, and much more!

Both Value Line and Morningstar offer screener tools. A screener is a stock comparison tool which allows you to choose from a long list of customizable criteria to compare stocks. While each database has its own system for rating investments,  you can check up on your current investments  and get a printable report with current information on the company’s sales, earnings, and other industry indicators.

To learn how to use the Morningstar or Value Line database, click here.

If you would like more information about Morningstar, Value Line or the other databases the library subscribes to, please go to www.icpl.org/resources call the library at 356-5200 or speak with a librarian.

* Access to Morningstar is limited. Only  one person can access the database at a time.

**** Please note that only residents of Iowa City or rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights can access databases from home.

 

RRR U Ready for Summer?

by on May 20th, 2015

2013 Summer Library BusSchool’s out in a couple weeks so it’s a good time to take inventory and make sure you are ready for summer. Your Library Card is your ticket to the “Three R’s of Summer” – Reading, Riding and Relaxing.

Today is a great day to make sure you know where your card is and assure it is ready for the 3-R’s of summer.

If you need to apply for a Library Card, it’s easy to do online at icpl.org/cards. Simply apply for a card online and then head to the Library’s Help Desk with a picture ID and something with your current address (a piece of mail, a checkbook, a current lease). If your Driver’s License has your current address on it, it works for both the picture ID and proof of address.

Astute readers may be thinking, “I understand reading and relaxing, but what does Riding have to do with a Library Card?”

The Library offers two great programs for riding Iowa City Transit buses to and from the Library.

Ride and Read: Your Iowa City Public Library Card is your ticket to ride an Iowa City Transit Bus FREE two times each week all year long. Present your Library Card at the Help Desk, Information Desk or Children’s Desk to receive your free pass. There’s a limit of two free passes each week and a Library Card must be presented to receive a pass.

Summer Library Bus: An Iowa City Public Library card is your child’s ticket to ride an Iowa City Transit bus free this summer. The Library will provide free bus rides to children through 12th grade, and the adult caregivers who are with them, on any Iowa City Transit bus route, from the day after Iowa City Schools dismiss (Wednesday June 3, 2015) until the weekday before school starts (Friday August 21), on weekdays between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. Eligible bus riders should show their Iowa City Public Library card to the bus driver to gain free access to the bus.

Children can catch a ride home anytime the same day with a Ride & Read bus pass, issued by showing a Library Card at any public service desk at the Library.

Three cheeRRRs for summer! See you at the Library!

Bringing a Nebraskan to the Farmer’s Market

by on May 19th, 2015

When I moved from Nebraska to Iowa City a couple of summers ago, my friends and family couldn’t understand wNebraskahy I was leaving the “Good Life” for Iowa. It has since become my personal goal to educate
Nebraskans (as well as other non-Iowans) about how great life is on the other side of the Missouri! To achieve this goal, I jump at the opportunity to show guests some of the best spots in the community.

My family came into town last weekend for my Friday evening graduation ceremony, which was well and good, but I was really excited to show off the Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I knew that I was facing some pretty steep competition, because my mom enjoys visiting the Farmers Market in Omaha’s Old Market. We arrived early to avoid the crowd and took our time touring the stalls. My mom loved looking through the photos of the dairy goats at one stall and was especially interested in the bat houses made by another vendor. We both went home with some great looking (and smelling!) produce, which was cause enough for satisfaction, but I couldn’t hide my delight when she declared the Iowa City Farmers Market to be better than Omaha’s! Another win for Iowa City!

Though I do enjoy the sweet taste of success, nothing can compare to our hearty soup made with Farmers Market ingredients that we enjoyed for dinner last weekend!

I love looking up the farm where my produce was grown!

I love looking up the farm where my produce was grown!

Hampton Sides

by on May 18th, 2015

A friend recommended Blood and Thunder: an epic of the American West to me awhile back, but I was reluctant to read it.  It had been some time since I had read a history and had unreservedly enjoyed it.  Take Charles Mann’s 1491 and 1493, for example.  They’re both great.  You will be enlightened, and you will learn all sorts of fascinating things if you read them.  I’ll go ahead and say that you will be a better person.  But I’d guess that you’ll also find the level of detail tedious at times.blood_and_thunder

My experience with Hampton Sides has been different.  He is a master storyteller.

In Blood and Thunder, Sides focuses on the American Southwest from the 1840s to the 1860s and on the life of Kit Carson in particular. Carson participated in the conquest of the West and gave his loyalty to the American military and government. He also married two Indian women and spoke many Indian languages. Popular westerns of the time – blood and thunders they were called – portrayed Carson as a swashbuckling hero protecting settlers from marauding Indians. More contemporary histories have tended to the reverse these roles. Sides is more interested in telling stories about human beings whose actions and motivations are complex and develop over time. The story of the Navajo people and their land is particularly interesting.hellhound

Hellhound on his Trail is both history and true crime, and it’s riveting. Martin Luther King, Jr’s last days are chronicled and details of his assassin’s life and flight from justice are doled out at a measured pace. The manhunt for King’s killer, who had been living under an alias or two, was massive, and it eventually reached overseas. Please note that Sides gives no credence to the government conspiracy theory of the assassination, so you’ll have to look elsewhere (one-star Amazon reviews) if you’re inclined that way.

kingdom_of_iceI’ll give his latest, In the Kingdom of Ice, another thumbs up. I’m about a third of the way into it, and I’ve never looked forward more to hearing about shivering, miserable sailors in the Arctic. The mission was operating on the notion that there might very well be an open polar sea. There was a current in the Pacific Ocean, it was thought, similar to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, and that current was flowing through the Bering Strait and warming the Arctic Ocean at the Pole. They imagined the wonders.

Staff Picks: Kara Road Trips

by on May 18th, 2015

Planning a long road trip this summer? Kara introduces a few audio books that are sure to make the time fly by!

Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life

by on May 16th, 2015
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life Cover Image

Many of you know that I am a huge Beatrix Potter fan and as a children’s librarian, have been charmed by her 23 small books about Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny and her other animal friends for many years.  I have collected Beatrix Potter books and related merchandise my entire career and have displayed my collection at the Iowa City Public Library and the Coralville Public Library.  So when I accidentally came across Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life:  The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales, needless to say, I was thrilled.  Oh, and did I tell you that I am a flower gardener?  Author Marta McDowell from the New York Botanical Garden gives an account of the famous children’s writer and illustrator’s life.  Included in the book are old photographs, quotes from Potter’s books, letters, book illustrations, journal entrees, and her beautiful watercolor sketches of flowers and book characters. The second part of the book is a seasonal overview of what is blooming in Potter’s gardens at Hill Top Farm and her other properties in the Lake District of England.  The book culminates in a traveler’s guide with information about visiting Potter’s home and gardens today.  Readers may not have known that Beatrix Potter left her privileged life in London to farm, raise sheep, write, garden, and conserve the beautiful landscapes in the north of England.  Most impressive are all the thousands of acres of land she left to the National Trust upon her death.  I’ve read several biographies about Beatrix Potter so I didn’t learn anything new about her life; however, her passion for gardening and the expert information by the author, a consulting horticulturalist, was most informative and a pleasure to read.  Someday I hope to travel to the Lake District and visit Hill Top Farm and before I do, I’ll re-read this fascinating book.

Smoke & Spice Updated

by on May 16th, 2015
Smoke & Spice Updated Cover Image

We have a new smoker/grill at our house, just in time for summer. Our challenge now is to learn how to use it. Have no fear, the Library is here! We’ve had some delicious meals including Slaw Burgers (a family favorite of smoked pork on a bun with traditional cole slaw), marinated smoked vegetables and some great salmon. Now we’re ready to try some new meals.

A quick search of the Library’s catalog shows there are many books to help learn how to use a smoker. Subject headings of “Barbequing” and “Smoked Foods” were most helpful. I found a new book, Smoke and Spice 3rd Edition, that had some great recipes. Two recipes looked especially good – Peabody-Style Stuffed Onions and Deep-Dish Smoked Mozzarella Pizza. Yummy!

If you are ready to relax and enjoy some great summer food, but need some culinary inspiration, give us a call or stop by. The call numbers 641.5784 and 641.61 are a great place to start.

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

by on May 15th, 2015
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver Cover Image

Librarian Ashley Weaver’s debut novel is the kind of cozy mystery I really enjoy.  Set in 1930′s England, wealthy Amory and Milo Ames have been married five years and Amory’s charming playboy husband is still acting like he’s a bachelor.  He’s just returned from the French Riviera when her old fiance, Gil Trent, looks Amory up and asks her to join him at a seaside resort to hopefully dissuade his sister, Emmeline, from marrying a cad, Rupert Howe.  On the second day at the posh Brightwell Hotel, Emory finds Howe’s body, apparently pushed over a railing onto a terrace below.  Lots of friends and acquaintances staying for the week are possible suspects, but Gil is the primary target of the investigation.  Then Milo appears on the scene and things get complicated as Amory wants to clear Gil’s name and figure out if her marriage to Milo is worth saving.  Another murder takes place and the group of secondary characters each have their own secrets and reasons not to be trusted. Red herrings abound and Milo’s reluctant assistance in helping Amory find the killer keeps the readers’ interest.  The sarcastic repartee between Amory and Milo is amusing and the the reader will keep wondering who Amory will end up with, Milo or Gil.  The clues start adding up for the detective, but will the mystery be solved before another murder is committed? The romance aspect of the story adds to a fun light read set in a lavish location and time period.  I recommend this engaging mystery to fans of Agatha Christie’s books.  This first novel would make a great series with Amory Ames as the amateur sleuth.

The Testament of Mary, read by Meryl Streep

by on May 15th, 2015
The Testament of Mary, read by Meryl Streep Cover Image

The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin is a fictionalized account of Mary, mother of Jesus, in her old age.  This well-reviewed novella was published in 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.  I did not read it at the time, but recently checked out the audio version read by Meryl Streep.  It is a fantastic reading, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys listening to books on disc.

Toibin’s novella has Mary being coaxed by the disciples to share the story of her son’s rise in popularity and power, and then his crucifixion.  The disciples have a larger message they want to impart to the world and facts that do not fit that message are conveniently ignored; Mary’s memories are those of a mother who has no agenda other than to raise and love her son.  The clash between the two purposes creates impatience in the disciples and anger in Mary.

Meryl Streep brilliantly expresses the confusion, anger and grief Mary feels as she watches the sacrifice of her son’s life and the manipulation of the story in the years that followed.  Streep delivers Mary’s short and clipped sentences, and bits of sarcasm directed at the disciples, in a way that is fitting to a woman who has little time left to tell her side of the story to an unsympathetic audience.  Streep captures the weariness of the old Mary, still trying to make sense of what happened.

This story is not the Mary in popularly-known Christian theology.  But if you are open to a different interpretation of her, Meryl Streep brings to life an intelligent, strong, flawed and believable Mary whose grief at the loss of her son is inconsolable.





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