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Author Archive for Beth Fisher



Art Quilts of the Midwest: Tuesday April 13th

by Beth Fisher on April 13th, 2015

art quiltsAccording to Wikipedia, Art Quilts are an art form that uses both modern and traditional quilting techniques to create art objects.

Local author, magazine writer, blogger, and quilter Linzee Kull McCray’s new book “Art Quilts of the Midwest” showcases the work of 20 artists whose works were inspired by life in the Midwest.

Tuesday evening, April 13th, Linzee will be here at ICPL to discuss the research and creation of her book.  Astrid Hilger Bennet, who wrote the forward, will talk about art quilts and the fabrics used in them. Erick Wolfmeyer, the only Iowa artists included in the book, will show a 10 minute film about his work.   Both Astrid and Erick will have quilts on display at the event.    This event begins at 7:00 pm in Meeting Room A and is cosponsored by ICPL and Prairie Lights Books.

Poetry Month events at ICPL

by Beth Fisher on April 8th, 2015

.poetry

April is National Poetry Month

ICPL is hosting a variety of programs to celebrate:

 

cawelti

Landscape Iowa:

Poems of James Hearst, Sung.

Wednesday, April 8th  7:00 p.m.

Meeting Room A

Dr. Scott Cawelti explores the life and poetry of Iowa farmer-poet James Hearst.  Dr Cawelti puts the poetry of James Hearst to music, accompanying himself on accoustic steel-string guitar.   *This event is sponsored in party by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

TweenPoetryWorkshop

Totally Tweens: Poetry Workshop

Saturday, April 11th 2:00 p.m.

Meeting Room A

Tweens are invited to write their own peoms and learn about various poetic forms from haiku, concrete poems, acrostic poems, limericks, etc. Participants may share their poems aloud with the group if they wish. All mateirals will be provided. Refreshemnts will be served.  A poetry slam will take place the last 15 minutes of the workshop, with parents invited.  Registration is required, click here  or  call the library at 319-356-5200 to register.

 

Poetry Month Open Mic Night

Monday, April 13th 7:00 p.m.

Meeting Room A

Read your favorite poem.  It can be your own work or the work of another poet you admire.  Limit of 5 minutes per reader.

Where in the World:  Places in Poetry

Tuesday, April 28th, Noon

Meeting Room A

Members of the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center group “Reading Aloud” will be reading poems about places.  * This event is cosponsored by the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center.

Stop by and check out the Library’s Poetry Month displays on the first and second floors,  or express yourself with our giant magnetic poetry game on the 2nd floor.

 

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

by Beth Fisher on February 27th, 2015

Even though you wouldn’t know it by looking outside Spring really is on the way.  Which means many of us have started thinking and dreaming about our gardens.

As most people know, there are two baisc types of garen plants:  annuals and perennials.  Annuals live fast and die pretty.  They last for only one growing season, and you have to replant them again next year.  Perennials are the mainstays in the garden. They come back year after year.  Many don’t hit their prime for two or three years, making year-round care of the plant important.   One of the most important things to consider before purchasing a perennial for your garden is what its hardiness zone rating is, to know if it will survive the winter in your garden.

The US Dept. of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map is now the standard device used to label plants in the US. zone map

It represents the average annual minimum temperatures in 11 zones which vary in ten-degree differences.  Each main zone is further divided into two sections, A and B, based on 5-degree differences.   The map is now interactive.   You can enter your zip code or state and it will tell you which zone you are in.  You can also click on a state on the map and a popup map will appear showing the zones as well as county lines, major cities and rivers.    Click here to try it out.

A bit of history:

The earliest versions of national hardiness maps were developed in the 1920′s and 1930′s by a variety of groups, most notably the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University.  The first USDA Hardiness Zone map was published in 1960 and updated in 1965.  Because it used a different temperature scale for its divisions than the Arnold Arboretum map, it often led to confusion for gardeners rather than clarity.  The USDA map would not be updated again until 1990 when it underwent a huge overhaul, using data collected between 1974 and 1986.  Additional zones were added to include Canada and Northern Mexico as well as Alaska and Hawaii.  Th 1990 map standardized its division s into the well-known 10 and 5 degree division, and became the default hardiness zone map in the US.

There is one big drawback to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map however, it deals with only the average minimum temperatures.  It does not take into account summer weather at all.  Heat, humidity and rainfall are also just as important to the survival of a garden plant, and all that information is found on plant tags as well.   But where can you find maps that give you this  information?

One of the best sources of this type of information is the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University.   In fact, the USDA used much of their winter data in the most recent overhaul of the Hardiness Zone Map.     From their web site:  “The PRISM Climate Group gathers climate observations from a wide range of monitoring networks, applies sophisticated quality control measures, and develops spatial climate datasets to reveal short- and long-term climate patterns.”

“PRISMs homepage can be found here.    From this page you can find lots of neat informational maps.PRISM_ppt_30yr_normal_4kmM2_annual

  • The link to 30 Year Normals takes you to a map that compiles the data from 1981-2010, and you can adjust it to see precipitation or temperature and you adjust by month.
  • The link to Gallery of State Maps takes you to a US map that you can then click on state by state to see the average annual precipitation (1981-2010) by state.

Combining information from The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and the PRISM maps, can give you a lot of information about where you live and the types of plants the will probably work best in your area.    Unless you are dealing with a microclimate.  But that’s another topic for another blog post.   Happy Gardening!

Stuck in a crafty rut? How about exploring something new?

by Beth Fisher on January 9th, 2015
Stuck in a crafty rut?  How about exploring something new? Cover Image

Most crafters know the feeling.  You have a favorite craft or hobby, but when you do too much of it for too long you start feeling burned out.  You’re stuck in a crafters rut.  There is a simple way out though.  Spend a day or a week or two experimenting with something new to get your creative juices flowing again.

ICPL has a great collection of craft books.  Just wandering through the New Books on the second floor in the 600′s and 700′s you’ll find all sorts of new things to try:

Big Little Felt Fun: 60+ projects that jump, swim, roll, sprout, and roar by Jeanette Lim.  Are you looking for a craft that doesn’t require a sewing machine?   A bit of fun hand sewing?  Jeanette Lim has put over 70 of her “feltie” patterns in this sequel to Big Little Felt Universe. Divided into 10 fun and unique sets – from cupcakes and dinosaurs, to pets and bowling pins, there is bound to be something here that entertains you.  Everything is hand sewn so really all you need is some felt, scissors, a needle and thread to get started.

sheepishCrochet with One Sheepish Girl by Meredith Crawford.  The 25 cute and colorful crochet projects in this book are divided into three sections:  Living, Giving and Wearing.  The book starts with a 26 page introduction covering the materials and tools needed, well photographed introductions to each of the three basic crochet stitches, as well as other things needed to complete the projects in the book.  Unfortunately, while introduction is full of photographs, each of the projects themselves has only one photograph of the finished product.  The step by step written instruction seem clear, and might be enough for an experienced crochetist, however.

designer cross stitchDesigner Cross Stitch Projects from the editors of CrossStitcher   Sometimes I wonder who chooses the cover art for books.   The feathery image on the cover of this book does not even hint at the collection of fun zany patterns inside.   From mustaches, and scrabble tiles, to Volkswagen buses and instamatic cameras, this is a collection of really great ideas.  Each project contains a materials and treds list, as well as a pattern that contains not only symbols but colors, making them very easy to follow.

cross22cross21

Tiz the Season for Cookies!

by Beth Fisher on December 12th, 2014
Tiz the Season for Cookies! Cover Image

The Holidays are fast approaching – and at least for me that means its time to bake cookies!

On the 2nd floor we have a new pop-up display of Cookie cookbooks, and there are even more in the circulating collection at 641.8654.

I can’t pick my favorite cookie book – there are just too many to choose from.  One of our newest is:

cookies100 Animal Cookies: a super-cute menagerie to decorate step-by-step by Lisa Snyder.    The cover art says it all.  This is a book for those who love to spend time creating decorated cookie masterpieces.

The 19 page introduction includes three basic cookie recipes (vanilla, chocolate, or gingerbread) and the recipe for Royal Icing; a explanation of tools and equipment; 8 pages of techniques.  Patterns for 100 animals follow, in six sections:  Farm & Pets; Garden Critters; Woodland Creatures; Ocean & Ice Animals; and Prehistoric Animals.

Each one page pattern contains a full color picture,  list of necessary supplies and step by step instructions for creating the cookie creature.  Tips and tricks are included when needed.

An index and a list of 16 suppliers are included.

 

CookiesOther books you’ll find on our display include:  Cookies!  Favorite recipes for dropped, rolled, and shapped cookies.  By Good Houskeeping.  If you’re a fan of Good Housekeeping’s cookbooks, you’ll have seen many of these before.  All of the recipes in this book come from the many hundreds of recipes in the Good Housekeeping collection. \  The more than 200 cookies here are the best of the best!

COOKIES! is divided in to four sections:  Drop Cookies, Rolled & Cut Out Cookies, Shaped & Icebox Cookies, and Holiday Cookies. Just glancing through the index brings back Holidays past when I see Biscohitos, Pfeffernusse, Browned-butter Shortbread, and Sally Anns.    Seems like every woman in my family knows at least one of these recipes by heart.

 

 

slice and bake cookiesSlice & Bake Cookies: Fast Recipes from your Refrigerator or Freezer by Elinor Klivans.  Refrigerator cookies are my go-too cookies. Cookie connisseur Elinor Klivans once had one of those moments that makes you say ‘doh:  most any kind of cookie can be made using the slice and bake method.  It’s something most experienced cookie bakers have discovered on their own…  you can stash a batch of dough in the fridge and bake them later.

Slice & Bake Cookies contains 47 cookie recipes in four categories:  Chewey cookies; Stuffed & Sandwich cookies; Crisp cookies: and Savory cookies.  She leads off with an 8 page “Ingredients, Equipment, and Techniques” section that is worth a read.   I tend to be more of a “dump it in the bowl and mix” so the mix/chill bo’kind of cookie maker – but I did learn some things by reading her introduction.

It’s obvious Klivans loves her work.  Who wouldnt want to sample more than 1200 cookies wile writing a book?

 

 

 

 

Consumer Reports on line through ICPL.

by Beth Fisher on November 17th, 2014

consumerreportsBegun in 1936, Consumer Reports magazine is the go-to source for unbiased consumer reviews of consumer products – from air conditioners to vacuums and everything in between. Consumer Reports publishes reviews and comparisons of products based on its own  in-house laboratory testing and survey research center.  Published monthly by the not for profit organization Consumer’s Union,  Consumer Reports contains no advertising, and they anonymously purchase every product that they test at retail price, and they accept no free samples for testing.   Consumer Reports forbids the use of its reviews by manufacturers – positive reviews may not be used to help sell merchandise, and CR has gone to court to enforce that rule.

The print version of Consumer Reports is available at ICPL both as a circulating magazine and as a Reference item to be used here in the Library.

If you have an ICPL Library card and live in Iowa City, Hills, Lone Tree, University Heights or rural Johnson County you can access Consumer Reports articles online through ICPL’s online database “EbscoHost Magazine Index” by following these steps:

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To get to the online databases, from the library’s homepage (icpl.org) find the link to Reference and Research on the left hand side, and click to see the dropdown menu.   From there choose Online Resources.

 

 

Capture3From the Online Resources page, choose Magazines & Newspapers.

 

 

 

Capture4On the Magazines & Newspapers page, you need to scroll down to find EbscoHost Magazine Index – and click on the link that says visit now.

 

 

 

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EbscoHost itself is a very large product that provides access to a wide variety of databases.   Consumer Reports is contained in the default search MasterFILE Premier, so simply click on the continue button at this step.

 

 

 

Capture6On the homepage of EbscoHost there is a search box, and you could search for your article here, but you will likely get a wide variety of results from a wide variety of magazines.   To go directly to Consumer Reports, it is faster to do an Advanced Search.

 

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From the advance search page, fill in the subject you’re looking for at the top of the form then scroll down until you find the blank for Publication and put Consumer Reports in that blank. Then hit the green Search button.

 

 

 

Capture8The search results page will show you a list of articles to choose from.   You can either click on the individual article to read more about it, or click directly on one of the full text options – either PDF or HTML to view as a web page.

 

New Crafting Books at ICPL.

by Beth Fisher on September 25th, 2014
New Crafting Books at ICPL. Cover Image

ICPL’s 3rd Annual Arts and Crafts Bazaar is coming up in December, and we’re taking donations now.   If you’d like to make something to donate to the bazaar, but need some suggestions, there are a lot of great new crafting books on the New Book shelves on the 2nd floor.  The books below were on the shelf this morning:

DIY Mason Jars – 35 Creative Crafts & Projects for the Classic Container by Melissa Averinos.  This book actually contains two types of crafts – things you do TO or WITH  a Mason Jar, and novel uses FOR a Mason Jar. From creating a vintage looking ceiling light to planting plants in them, Melisaa Averinos 35 craft ideas will fuel your imagination and your creativity.

beer craftsBeer Crafts: Making the Most of Your Cans, Bottle Caps, and Lables by Shawn Gascoyne-Bowman.   With eight pages of hints on how to work safely with cans and bottle caps, followed by 39 surprise craft projects, this is the book for you if you’re into both crafting and beer.   None of the projects look very complicated – from a string of beer can lights, to bottle cap jewelry, a bird house, fishing lures, and a cowboy hat made from a 12pack box – but they all look like fun.

duct tape discoveryDuct Tape Discovery Workshop by Tonia Jenny.  Duct tape crafts are all the rage, and not just with boys.  Duct tape is now available in all sorts of colors and designs, and crafters have come up with lots of great new ways to use it. From versions of the obligatory wallet, to shopping bags, lunch sacks,  coasters, luggage tags, and paint brush or knitting needle cases this book as lots of great ideas for using one of America’s most popular products.

never been stitchedNever Been Stitched: 45 No-Sew & Low-Sew projects by Amanda Carestio.  Not all fabric or fiber craft projects require owning a sewing machine.  Carestio has put together a collection of fun projects that, if they require sewing at all its a simple and can be done with a needle and thread.  One of her secrets is using fabrics with raw edges that don’t ravel like felt, fleece or vinyl.  And if you combine that with fusing, gluing, braiding, knotting or  tying you’ll have some cute craft projects good for both adults and kids (with some assistance).

 

 

 

August 26 National Dog Day

by Beth Fisher on August 28th, 2014

August 26th is National Dog Day, and to celebrate we have two new displays on the 2nd floor.  There is a photo display of ICPL Staff Dogs and book display of with all kinds of dog books:

dog history  dog ownershipBooks about the history of domesticated dogs and owning ( or being owned by) dogs.

 

 

 

dog new dog adoption   Books about bringing a new dog into your family.

 

 

 

 

 

breeds2  breedsBooks about specific breeds of dogs.

 

 

 

 

dog parks dogs picture books  And books about fun things to do with your dog – from Dog Parks to books about photographing your dog.

School Yearbooks at the Iowa City Public Library

by Beth Fisher on August 20th, 2014

yearbooksRecently I had a conversation with one of the Library’s 2nd floor Information Pages about the yearbook collection at ICPL.  Hannah had become curious about her paternal grandfather and looked through our collection of University of Iowa Hawkeye yearbooks to see if she could find him.

dick kane2Hannah’s grandfather passed away in 1965, leaving a wife and 6 young children – Hannah’s father was four years old at the time.  Her grandmother passed away in 2005.   Hannah found her grandfather  in the 1949 year book, and she made an interesting discovery.  Her grandfather had been a member of Psi Omega Fraternity.  Hannah made a copy of the picture, and took it along to the next family gathering.  Turns out this fact was news to everyone.  The picture is now on Hannah’s refrigerator.

ICPL has quite a few yearbooks in our collection.  They are stored at the 2nd floor Page Station, and they do not check out of the library.   Unfortunately we do not have a complete collection of any of them – there are years missing from each title.   For a basic catalog search, click here.  

Yearbooks ICPL owns:

  • The Hawkeye – University of Iowa  1893-1987
  • The Red and White – Iowa City City High School  1917 – 2013
  • The Trojan Epic – Iowa City West High School 1969-2013
  • The Spectrum: Regina Catholic Education Center 1977-1996
  • The Hawkeye – University High School 1961-1971
  • Baby Hawklety – Central Junior High School  1973/74 – 1982/83
  • Reflections – North West Junior High School  1973-1987
  • On Forever More/SE Memories – South East Junior High School  1972/73 – 2002/03
  • St Mary’s High School 1921
  • C.E.C. Yearbook 1990-1992
  • P.S.#4  1978
  • The Elm -Lone Tree Community High School 1978-2008
  • The Spartan – Solon Community High School 1970-1993
  • The Clipper – Clear Creek/Amana Community Schools  1983-2007
  • The Reverie – Iowa Mennonite School 1947-1969

We would love to add missing volumes to our UI, City High and West High year book collections.  If you have a volume you would consider donating to the library, please contact Beth Fisher at beth-fisher@icpl.org to see if that volume is one we need.

 

One Community One Book 2014: The Distance Between Us

by Beth Fisher on August 19th, 2014
One Community One Book 2014:  The Distance Between Us Cover Image

The One Community One Book* selection for 2014 is  The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande.

Born in a small town in Guerrero, Mexico, Reyna Grande Rodriquez was two years old when her father left for the U.S. to find work.   Her mother followed him north two years later, leaving Reyna (4)  her older brother Carlos (7), and her older sister Mago (11) in the care of their paternal grandmother, Abuela Evila (her true name).  Already caring for one grandchild who’s mother had left for America,  Abuela Evila took in Reyna and her siblings out of a sense of duty, but the mistreatment she heaped on them was kept secret from her son.   All the money he sent back for their care was used to buy treats for herself and her other granddaughter, while Reyna, Carlos and Mago suffered severe neglect.  Mago tries to care for her brother and sister the best she can.

Four years later, Reyna’s mother Juana returns with a baby daughter, claiming her husband has abused her and left her for another woman.  She brings Reyna, Carlos, and Mago  to live with her at their maternal grandmother’s, but Juana was not the same caring mother who left years before.  Soon Juana moved out, leaving the children with Abuelita Chinta, a kind and caring woman who, though living in extreme poverty, loved her grandchildren dearly.

In 1985, when Reyna was nine years old, her father returned to Mexico with a new wife.  He borrowed money to pay a Coyote to help him bring his children back across the border.  On their third try they were successful, and Reyna, Carlos and Mago begin life as undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles.

Filled with hope, Reyna soon realizes that life as an immigrant will be very hard.  Her father isn’t the man she dreamed about for all those years in Mexico.  His dreams for his children were what got them across the border, but his own failure to assimilate into an English speaking world and his alcoholic rage slowly undermine all his hard work and good intentions.  Reyna finds solace from a violent home life at school and, with the help of one special teacher, through the Latina voices she beings to read.  She turns to writing as a way to make sense of her own life.  Her father is eventually able to get himself and his children green cards, and then citizenship.  They graduate from High School, and Reyna goes on becomes the first member of her family to graduate from college with degrees in creative writing, film and video from UC Santa Cruz.  She earned an MFA in creative writing at Antioch University.   The Distance Between Us  is her third book.

 

*The One Community One Book project, coordinated by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights.  The goal of the project is to encourage people in our community to read and discuss the selected book in order to develop a greater community awareness of human rights issues locally, nationally and internationally.  For more information go to the One Community One Book Website here.

ICPL will be hosting a Book Discussion  Saturday September 20th at 10:30am in Meeting Room E.  All are welcome.




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