Author Archive for Alyssa Hanson

Our calendar got an upgrade!

by Alyssa Hanson on January 30th, 2019
Screenshot of new calendar

Screenshot of the new calendar

You’ll notice our calendar looks quite a bit different than it used to. Today we integrated it into the rest of our site to streamline your event finding experience with the rest of our site. Along with the integration, you’ll find some (hopefully!) good improvements.

Now the default view to see events is a list. If you’re browsing for events, you can quickly scan the list and see what’s happening at the library either today, this week, or this month. If you’re looking to request a meeting room, we also still have the grid view available to spatially see when our meeting rooms are available.

We’ve also re-categorized all of our events to make it easier to narrow down to events you’re interested in. See all the events in a single age category or type of event when looking at a month’s worth of events and you can easily see what’s coming up and mark your calendar accordingly.

Add to calendar buttonSpeaking of marking your calendar, you can also now add events directly from the event page to your personal calendar by clicking the calendar icon next to the date. There are several calendars available including Google Calendar, iCalendar, and Outlook Calendar.

Each event also has a list of related events so if you find one you like, you can find more upcoming events like it.

You might have also noticed the homepage changed today as well. Along with upgrading the calendar, we also took the opportunity to update our homepage to a simpler layout. We’re still making improvements and you’ll continue to see more changes throughout the year as we continue working to make our website easy to use.

Have comments or feedback? Feel free to contact us through email or chat, or leave us a note through our Website Feedback form.

Got a new device?

by Alyssa Hanson on December 21st, 2018

Did you recently get a new device, or have you had one that you haven’t had time to set up?

One of the most fun parts of getting a new device is learning about all the things you can do with it. Whether that’s a new phone, tablet, or other device, you’re likely able to get digital content from ICPL on it.

There are a variety of apps you could use and it’s hard to know where to start. So here’s a quick guide to digital content you can access with your device and your library card.

New phone or tablet? Try these apps:

For TV or streaming devices, look for the Kanopy app on these devices:

  • Roku
  • AndroidTV
  • AppleTV
  • FireTV

Didn’t get any new devices but still have access to the internet? All of the above digital content can be accessed through your internet browser as well. Try out access to:

Stuck on getting something set up or need some help getting started? Call us or stop by Drop In Tech Help and we can help.

So put that new (or old) device to work and get access to our digital library!


Note: Some of our digital content – like ebooks, digital magazines, and digital movies – is limited to our service area which includes Iowa City, Hills, University Heights, Lone Tree, and rural Johnson County. Check the Digital Library page for more information.

Internet cookies…nom,nom,nom

by Alyssa Hanson on October 1st, 2018

Have you ever wondered why you see ads for items you’ve previously looked at online? Those shoes you looked at on Amazon follow you around like a bad Halloween stalker appearing on site after site that you visit. This is the result of cookies. Not cookies you can eat, unfortunately, but ones that websites leave on your computer.

Internet cookies are small little files that can contain a variety of information with each site leaving different types of information. Shopping sites for example will leave information about what you looked at which can be accessed by other sites who may then pull in that information and show you similar items in the ad portions of their page. They will then get a small amount of money if you click on that item. It’s a way for some sites to make money.

But cookies are also left on your computer for things like your username and password for a site. Next you time you visit a site that has saved a cookie for its login, the site will have autofilled in your username and maybe your password so you don’t have to remember it. So there are also ways when it can be convenient to have the site remember you.

What to do if you don’t want cookies to be saved from a website? Most browsers have a mode that will automatically delete your browsing history and all cookies after you close it. In Firefox and Safari it’s called Private browsing, in Chrome it’s Incognito, and in Microsoft Edge it’s InPrivate.Browser settings with private window highlighted I use this a lot when shopping for items online whether I’m just looking up prices for something I’m really going to go pick up from a store, or for things that I’m going to buy online but don’t want to see ads for afterwards.

You can also delete cookies manually by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Delete on a PC and Command + Shift + Delete on a Mac in most browsers.

Of course, private browsing also has its limitations. If you log into any online account while in a private browsing mode, you can still be linked back to sites that you’ve visited even after clearing the cookies from your computer. So while your computer may not know you’ve been there, the site you visited will.

All in all though, private browsing can be an extremely useful tool when you want to look up something and not have it follow you around the internet.

Have fun road tripping this summer

by Alyssa Hanson on June 19th, 2018

I’ve got two weddings to go to this summer and it’s a long drive to both. Since I’ve got a little wiggle room in between when I leave and when I need to be there, I’ve been looking into pit stops to make along the way. There’s a few sites I like to check before taking a drive in case I can add some fun into what would otherwise be a long and boring drive.

Roadtrippers is a phenomenal source for finding lesser-known things along your travel path. You can put in your departure and destination cities and find neat things to check out on the way. Read the rest of this entry »

Brushing up on my French

by Alyssa Hanson on April 13th, 2018

I sing in a local choir which is doing several French pieces for our next concert and it made me realize I’ve lost much of the French I learned in high school and college. I love the French language and while I could pick out the general sense of the songs we’re working on in choir, I came across many words I was unfamiliar with and I had to do some look ups to see what they meant.

For this I used Google Translate which is great for translating words between languages. It has its own site but you can use the same tool from a Google search if you pair it with the word ‘translate’. One of the songs we’re singing is called “Valse avec choeur” by George Bizet and while I knew the second part of the title was ‘with choir’ I didn’t recognize the first word. I used ‘translate valse’ and in recognizing it as French it translated as ‘waltz’. “Waltz with choir” definitely fits the style of the piece.

After I had finished looking up words I didn’t know from our songs, I started thinking about other ways that I could refresh my French. Since I haven’t heard it spoken in awhile I started looking up movies in French so that I could start listening to how words were pronounced. I found that my memory has Americanized the French I still remembered so that was helpful in getting French sounds back in my brain. Since French dialog in movies is still pretty fast for my level of understanding (and I had to use the English subtitles to understand what was going on), I wanted to get something that was more my speed.

So I signed up for Mango Languages and Transparent Languages which are both language learning tools the library offers. Both have lessons based around specific categories like shopping or eating out. This makes it easier to learn new vocabulary since word clustering is helpful in memorizing foreign languages. Past this basic similarity, their methods are a fairly different. While initially I was going to try them out and choose my favorite to stick with, I ended up liking them both, but for different reasons.

Transparent Languages focuses on vocabulary by always showing a count of the words you’ve learned and even though I’ve known many of the basic French words I was reviewing since high school, it’s still exciting to see it go up. In addition, it has a built in system for reviewing words that you haven’t revisited in the past few days. Since reviewing words overtime is super important in remembering vocab, this is a very helpful feature. When first introducing new vocab, each word has an image with it so you can picture it as more than just the written word. Sometimes there are even notes giving context for the word, like for ‘Bonjour’ which it’s noted that it can be used for saying ‘Good day’ and ‘Good afternoon’.

I also like that each of the vocab lessons has multiple ways of testing if you remember the vocab because you’re likely to come across it in various ways, and while  testing right away helps point out which words you need to spend more time memorizing, it’s good practice as well. Then, if you find you have a preferred way to review (or a way you want to work on reviewing) vocab between listening, reading, speaking, or writing, you can choose that method in the future for reviewing words.

Mango Languages is like a teaching set of flash cards. You learn a vocab word and then it immediately asks you to remember it and after a few times of remembering it between learning other words, it asks you to think about it in a different context. Like learning the words for good morning (Bonjour) and how are you (Ça va?) separately but then putting them together in a sentence like Bonjour, ça va?. While a simple compound, this changes it from just a word to a word with context.

Another great part about Mango is it gives cultural notes on words as you go along. For example, ça va literally translates as ‘it is going’ so you’re really asking ‘It’s going?’ when you ask someone how they are in French. In addition it does color coding for words so you can always see what English words match up to the French ones. So you’re learning words and phrases at the same time.

Since starting to review my French it’s becoming easier to translate again and occasionally I’ll have French words pop into my head for things I’m doing or saying. I’m already thinking about starting another language but there’s so many to choose from it might take me a little while to decide. Though, my choir sings a lot of German, so that might be next on my list.

Coretta Scott King kept her husband’s dream alive

by Alyssa Hanson on January 16th, 2018

Who tells your story? For Martin Luther King, Jr., it was his wife Coretta Scott King. I was reminded of this by a tweet on Twitter from one of King’s children:

The reason we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr’s life is due to Mrs. King who continued to advocate for civil rights, even after her husband’s assassination. It’s easy to forget that while we need leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., we also need those who tell their stories and carry on their ideas. Mrs. King devoted her life to telling her husband’s story and became a leader herself, championing the work to promote equality. Read the rest of this entry »

Buying with Consumer Reports Confidence

by Alyssa Hanson on November 22nd, 2017

I recently helped my mom pick out a new printer after her old one died. Not knowing which one she wanted, we headed to the Consumer Reports section on printers to see what models had the best ratings. With a couple of features she knew she wanted like good photo quality prints as well as duplexing in mind, it was helpful to see a quality rating comparison chart of various models as well as a breakdown of each printer’s features.

If you have no idea what type you want or need, the product’s Buying Guide is the best place to start. It gives you a break down of different types as well as various things to consider when buying. For printers there are two types – all-in-one printers or regular printers – and the Buying Guide also recommended keeping in mind how much maintenance costs might be, which for printers includes pricey ink cartridges.
Read the rest of this entry »

Managing your library account? There’s an app for that.

by Alyssa Hanson on September 12th, 2017

Last December we released our mobile app called MyICPL and it has some great functionality for using the library. Here’s a highlight of some of its features.

App interface - shows buttons for accounts, search, scan, social, hours & contact, and eventsApp interface - shows the menu with lines emphasizing Feedback

Manage Your Account(s)

If you’re wanting to keep track of the items you have borrowed, the app will save your account information and you can check it as often as you need to. Have an item that is due soon? Renew it from within the app. Or if you are waiting for an item, see what your position is in the hold line.

Have kids? It’s also handy if you want to keep track of due dates on multiple accounts. Add each account once and see all items in one list. You can make sure they are returning their books on time.

Find Upcoming Events

Check the events in the coming week at the Library. Find one you are interested in? Add it to your phone’s calendar directly from the app.

Check Our Collection

There are a couple of ways to find out if we have something at the library. If you’re looking at books in a bookstore, scan the ISBN barcode on the back of the book to see if we have it. You can also search by title if you don’t have the book in hand. Looking for something we don’t have? It will link you to the form where you can suggest we purchase it or ask to have it sent here from another library.

Problems or suggestions?

Let us know if you have features you’d like to see in the app or if you run into any issues with it. We’re continuing to work on fixing bugs when we find them as well as implementing new functionality. There’s a link to a feedback form in the app so you can easily contact us with app-related comments while you’re using it.

Interested in trying it out? Download it from the Apple Store or from Google Play.

Download our app from the Apple App Store Download our app from the Google Play Store

New Website Coming Soon

by Alyssa Hanson on June 8th, 2017

Look for our new website on the morning of Tuesday, June 13th!

Some changes: New materials and links to digital content will now be highlighted on the front page. A big change will be the navigation menu, which will move from the side to along the top header area. The menu has also been reorganized. Along with this, each page has also been simplified to make it more readable.

We know a lot of people are using mobile devices to visit our site and so responsive design was also a large priority. The content has been designed to look good on phones, tablets, desktops computers, and everything in between.

We will continue working on improvements and will have a feedback form for comments, questions, and concerns as soon as we release. Questions before then? Feel free to contact us either through phone at (319) 356-5200 or online by chat or email on our Ask Us page.

New Website Image Screenshots – Desktop and Mobile versions, respectively:
Image of our New Desktop Version of our WebsiteImage of our New Mobile Version of our Website

MyICPL: Our mobile app is beta testing!

by Alyssa Hanson on December 13th, 2016

Try out our new mobile app! We’ve created an app which allows you to keep track of your library account information including items you have checked out, materials on hold, and fines. You can also renew items directly through the app.

Another great feature is that you can add multiple accounts so if you want to make sure your kids are returning their books on time, you can add their account and see their due dates. Read the rest of this entry »