Author Archive for Beth Fisher



A Murder of Crows

by Beth Fisher on February 11th, 2018
A Murder of Crows Cover Image

One thing I like most about Facebook is how one comment can lead to a great discussion.  A few days ago a friend commented that she loved seeing “wheeling flocks of birds in the sky.”  Someone then mentioned seeing a murmuration of Starlings on a recent drive from Muscatine to Iowa City. Another friend then asked if a murmuration refers only to Starlings (it does) and what a group of Pigeons would be called?  (Pigeons can be a flight, a flock or a kit.)

British artist, illustrator and author Matt Sewell’s newest book A Charm of Goldfinches And Other Wild Gatherings is a wonderfully illustrated guide to many of the group names humans give to members of the animal kingdom.

In the introduction, Sewell states that many of the phrases he has included in his book are hundreds of years old or older,  many found in The Book of Saint Albans (The Boke of Seynt Albans.) Printed originally in 1486, versions of The Book of Saint Albans were reprinted many times, under many names, over the next 400 years.  The original was reproduced as The Boke of St Albans, with an introduction by William Blades, in 1881.

A Charm of Goldfinches contains more than 50 animal groups, each with Sewell’s beautiful watercolor illustrations and a half-page discussion of how the names came to be.  Sewell lives in Great Britain, so a few of the species listed, such as Lapwings, are not found in North America.

There are some groups that most people are familiar with – a pod of dolphins, a pride of lions, or a murder of crows.  Here are few to test your knowledge:

 

A shiver of ________.

A _______ of crocodiles.

A parliament of ______.

A ________ of foxes.

A cloud of ________.

 

To find the answers you’ll have to check out the book!

 

Help for those suffering gardening withdrawal: Houseplants

by Beth Fisher on February 8th, 2018
Help for those suffering gardening withdrawal: Houseplants Cover Image

February. Even the word is cold. Winter can seem awfully long in the Midwest.  Especially when we get teased by a January thaw.  But there’s no getting around it – it’s still winter, and I’m starting to go through gardening withdrawal.  I’m ready for spring. After 25 years in Iowa however,  I’ve finally learned not to jump the season and just ignore the January thaw. I know I have to wait until at least April or early May for spring and gardening season.  But my hands are still itching to get back in the dirt.

Thankfully there is a way I can curb that itch: Houseplants.  Caring for my indoor plants – including dividing or repotting gives me a little taste of gardening to hold me over.  ICPL has quite a few new houseplant books to help me (and others) get through the winter.  So many in fact, that I’m going to break this into two posts:  Houseplants and Cacti & Succulents.

Houseplants: the complete guide to choosing, growing, and caring for indoor plants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf.   This is a great book for anyone with houseplants. A well written easy to follow guide, it begins with a section on the basics of houseplant care.  What I liked most about this book is how the 150+ plant profiles in the second half of the book. She has grouped them into 3 categories: Easy to Grow Moderately Easy and Challenging. Each category starts with multiple pages of thumbnail images to help you figure out what plant you have.  Each plant profile has the common as well as botanical Latin name, a description, the plant’s light and water requirements, propagation methods and cultivars.

 

Happy Houseplants: 30 lovely varieties to brighten up your home written and illustrated by Angela Staehling.  Combining her love of houseplants and illustration, Staehling has created a great beginners guide to 30  of her favorite easy to find and easy-to-grow houseplants. She starts with the tools and materials you’ll need to work with houseplants and follows with plant profiles. From African Violets to Zebra Cactus the 30 plants she as included give beginners a great place to start.

 

 

 

 

 

How Not To Kill Your Houseplant: Survival Tips for the Horticulturally Challenged by Vernoica Peerless. The title is not just a hook – Peerless has written a great guide for those of us who for one reason or another have no luck with houseplants.  Too much of the wrong kind of love or not enough of the right kind of light – there are many things that lead to plant demise. This book is helpful even If you’re not sure what type of plant you have.  The book begins with close to 200 plant thumbnails to help you figure out what you have.  But what if you’re thinking about buying your first plant?  Read the first few pages of this book first.  She’ll give you things to look for in your potential new plant – plant size, soil and root condition, pests – all the things you should consider before buying a plant.  Then you’ll find quick information about the basics: water, food, light, repotting and pests to watch out for.  Then you get to the wonderful main section of the book – the plant profiles  She breaks it down into the basic care “How Not to Kill It” things to watch out for, and what she calls “Share the Care:” suggestions for one or two other houseplants that have very similar requirements.

 

 

Renovation of the Computer Lab

by Beth Fisher on November 28th, 2017

Starting this week ICPL’s second floor Computer Lab will be closed for renovation. The Lab was originally designed as a computer classroom, and it served us well. Over time technology and community needs change, so we are reconfiguring the space to allow for more flexibility and innovation.

The new space will support training and programs and provide access to technology to assist in digital media creation. The footprint of the room will grow, as walls are being moved. The furniture will be movable, and a new large screen monitor will add additional options for display. Some activities (Minecraft, tax assistance) will continue to use the entire space, but at other times the room can be used for multiple activities at once. The new space will be open in late February.

While the room is under construction, we’ve had to relocate all of the regularly scheduled classes and events that happen in that room. The majority of events, like our Drop-in Tech Help sessions (Monday-Thursday) the Community Writing Center (Tuesdays) will be moved down the hall to Meeting Room E, while other events (VITA Tax Help) have relocated to other places in the building. The Library’s Calendar will list the updated locations, and Staff at the Help or Information Desks can help you find the right rooms.

We look forward to our new Computer Lab and hope you do to.

All Iowa Reads Program is now for All Ages

by Beth Fisher on November 5th, 2017

 

Begun in 2003 by the Iowa Center For The Book, the All Iowa Reads program was created to build a sense of community through reading.  Once a year adults across the state were encouraged to read and talk about the same book. The All Iowa Reads titles are selected by a committee of ten rotating members representing public libraries, academic libraries, a publisher or bookstore, a state government agency, and the State Library Commission.  They read a variety of books to come up with each years selection.  A list of the runners up can also be found at the All Iowa Reads website.

In October at the annual Iowa Library Association state conference the AIR selection for the next year is announced.   This year there was an even bigger announcement: the all All Iowa Reads Program is no longer just aimed at adults.  There are now three All Iowa Reads selection each year: one for Kids (ages 8-12),  for Young Adults (ages 13-18), and for Adults (18+).

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Orionid Meteor Shower reaches it’s peak this weekend!

by Beth Fisher on October 20th, 2017

 

orionidsIf you’re not often outside late at night, you might not be aware that something pretty special has been going on this week.  The 2017 Orionid Meteor Shower began on October 15 and ends October 29th.  Peak nights for viewing the meteor shower are tonight and tomorrow night  – with prime viewing time around around 2:00a.m Saturday and Sunday.

 

 

 

haleysThe Orionids happen every year in late October when the earth passes through the stream of ice particles and rocks trailing Haley’s Comet. Haley’s Comet has a highly elliptical 75.5 year orbit around the Sun. It last passed through the inner part of the solar system in 1986.  Each time it passes the Sun a bit of the ice on the comet melts and rocks and larger chunks of ice break off and join the stream of debris following the comet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Get your craft on to support ICPL.

by Beth Fisher on October 19th, 2017

2017-craft-bazaarAttention all crafters!   Donations are now being accepted for the Annual ICPL Friends Foundation Fundraising Arts & Crafts Bazaar.  This year the bazaar will be on Saturday, December 2nd, so you still have time to get let your craftiness fly to support ICPL.   Information about the Bazaar is available online and you can download a donation form or pick one up here at the Library.  Donations can be dropped off at the Help Desk up until November 30th.

If you’re looking for ideas to get your crafting juices flowing, here are a few new craft books in our collection:

 

 

homemade-holiday

Homemade Holiday: Craft your way through more than 40 festive projects  by Sophie Pester and Catharina Bruns.  Jam packed with fun ideas, from ornaments, wreaths, and small gifts to fun holiday apparel, there is sure to be something for everyone no matter your skill level. Read the rest of this entry »

Most Popular Books from the Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on September 2nd, 2017

 

One of the most interesting parts of the Summer Reading Program comes at the end when we take a look back at at what actually happened during the summer.  While over 1000 people registered for the Adult Summer Reading Program, only 289 avid readers completed our 5 Books in 11 Weeks challenge – reading a total of 1770 books!  Taking out the 82 books that were logged without titles and the 233 duplicate entries, there were 1,455 individual titles read. That’s pretty impressive!

Of the 153 books that were read by more than one person, here are the Top Five Books of the 2017 Adult Summer Reading Program.  How many have you read?

 

into-the-waterInto the Water” by Paula Hawkins

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return. Read the rest of this entry »

One Community One Book 2017: “Butterfly Mosque” by G. Willow Wilson

by Beth Fisher on August 24th, 2017
One Community One Book 2017:  “Butterfly Mosque” by G. Willow Wilson Cover Image

G. Willow Wilson – the award winning graphic novelist and author of the Marvel comic Ms Marvel will be one of the speakers at this year’s Iowa City Book Festival.  Her 2010 memoir “Butterfly Mosque” has been chosen as the 2017 One Community One Book title by the UI Center for Human Rights.

Raised in the US in an atheist family, author G. Willow Wilson surprised everyone, herself included, by converting to Islam in her late 20’s and moving half way around the world to start a new life.  Her memoir “Butterfly Mosque” is the story of her conversion; emigrating to Egypt and immersing herself in the Islamic culture; and the story of how she met, fell in love and married a Muslim man.

The One Community One Book project  is 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 on the One Community One Book project, visit their website here.

ICPL staff will be hosting a Book Discussion of “Butterfly Mosque” on Saturday September 23rd at 10:30am in Meeting Room A.  All are welcome.  *Note: the author will not be at this discussion.

G. Willow Wilson will be in Iowa City in October as part of this year’s Iowa City Book Festival. For details of her event at Hancher Auditorium on Sunday, October 8th click here.

Watch the solar eclipse without viewing glasses.

by Beth Fisher on August 16th, 2017

Many people have been asking us how to safely watch the eclipse on Monday if they don’t have viewing glasses.  There are lots of ways you can watch the eclipse. Here are some DIY ideas.  You’ll need to practice a bit with each of these; just make sure the sun is behind or above you. And if all else fails, check out the last thing on this list.  Have fun!

Two paper plates (or pieces of card stock) about the same size. pinhole-projector

Using a pin or a needle make a very small hole in the center of one plate. Hold that plate in your hand. Put the second plate on the ground but not in your shadow. Hold the first plate in the air over the second one so that its shadow just about covers the plate on the ground. Moving it up and down and changing the angle of your hand, try and make the shadow the same size as the second plate, and you will see the image of the sun on the plate on the ground. Now just watch as the moon’s shadow makes the sun disappear.

 

An empty cereal box:cereal-box-viewer

All you need is an empty cereal box, a piece of tin foil, some tape, a sheet of white paper and a pair of scissors. Trace around one small end of the box on the paper.  Cut out the rectangle cutting just inside your tracing line. Tape this piece on the inside bottom of the cereal box. Cut two holes in the top of the box to look like picture to the right. Place the piece of foil over one hole, covering it completely. Tape it down securely, then poke one small pin hole in the center of the foil.   Stand with your back to the sun. Printable instructions here. Read the rest of this entry »

Themed Book Lists for the Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on June 30th, 2017

booklist-covers-wide

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 srp.icpl.org and click on the Recommendations tab at the top.  There you can choose from the Book Lists or the list of  Adult SRP Events.

booklists

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)