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Author Archive for Brent Palmer



Summer Relief at the Library

by Brent Palmer on July 28th, 2015

I was recently at a cookout and met a guy who grew up in Iowa City.  He has since moved on and lived in many places around the country but he was home visiting his parents.  He never had central A/C as a kid and had fond memories of spending the long hot days of summer at ICPL.  He talked about watching movies at the A/V stations in the children’s room including the first time he saw TRON.   He also remembered the exact location in the stacks where he could find all TinTin books .  Even though he no longer lives in Iowa City, he still carries his ICPL library card that he received in 1982 and whipped it out to show me.  libcard2Are the dog days of summer getting you down?  Come on down, there is always plenty to do here at the library.

Express Scanner

by Brent Palmer on June 22nd, 2015

New Express Scanner

We have a new express scanning service at ICPL. You don’t have to have a library card, get a guest pass, log in to a computer or learn how to use software. Simply step up and get started. You can scan a document and send it to yourself (or someone else) via email, save it to a flash drive or upload it to dropbox. It is quick and painless. The flatbed scanner handles up to 11×17 sized pages and makes scanning pages from books easy. There is a also a fast document scanner if you need to scan a stack of papers for some reason. The express scanner is on the second floor. We hope you get a chance to try it out.

Overdrive Tips: Holds

by Brent Palmer on May 28th, 2015

I’ve gotten several calls recently about users who were confused when they where notified of available holds but could not find them on their bookshelf.

When you place holds for eBooks and eAudioBooks, you have the option of being notified via email and to have Overdrive check the book out automatically when it becomes available.  We learned in a previous Overdrive Tips post that there are actually two bookshelves.  The ebook will be checked out to  your library bookshelf waiting to be downloaded.  See this article on how to find these items that have been checked out.

If you did not select the “automatically borrow this item when it becomes available” then the items will be found on your holds list.  You have 3 days to retrieve the hold before it moves on to the next patron.  Here is how to find that list.  You can then manually check out the held title.

If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.  Once again, good luck and enjoy your eBooks!

Overdrive Tips: How to return a title

by Brent Palmer on May 1st, 2015

A question we get quite often about Overdrive is “How do I return a title”.   Just as a reminder, you don’t have to return an item checked out from Overdrive.  After the loan period is over the item you borrowed will be returned automatically and you never receive late fees for them.  But there are a couple of reasons why you might want to.  First if  you are at your five-item limit, then you will have to return something in order to check out new items.  The other reason is just to be a good citizen.  If you are done with the book, returning it allows others to check it out sooner.

Now, how you return an item depends a little bit on what format  you chose and how you checked it out.   In most cases, you have to

  1. find the item in your device bookshelf.  (see the previous tip on two bookshelves)
  2. Tap and Hold the item until another menu appears with the options to return or delete the item.
  3. Select return.  (If you select delete, it will only remove it from your device without actually returning it to the library).

There are exceptions to this method (e.g. using the Overdrive Windows desktop version or Kindle eBooks).  For more information about all the different ways to return an item see Overdrive Help.

There can be situations where there is no way to return the item or where you just can’t figure it out.  If that happens, please call the library and ask for help in manually returning an Overdrive item.  We can always do it for you if necessary.  If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

Overdrive Tips: Checking Items Out From the Catalog

by Brent Palmer on March 31st, 2015

You can check items out and place holds on eBooks and audio books directly from out catalog.

Many of you enjoy the convenience of our “paging” service for traditional items like books, videos and other resources.  You can request the item from the catalog and then stop by the library when it’s more convenient to pick it up.  We have that functionality for eBooks and eAudioBooks too.  While searching through our catalog, you may happen upon an eBook that you would like to read.  Or perhaps the book you are looking for is only available in an electronic format.  You can either reserve or check the item out without having to go through the steps to open up the Overdrive app on your mobile device, log in to your account and find it again.  It will just show up on your online bookshelf the next time you use Overdrive.

Although this is an added convenience, it can also lead to confusion.  There isn’t at this time a way to automatically download the item right from the catalog.  For users who have not set themselves up on our Overdrive service, this can be confusing: “I checked it out, so where is it?”  This is just due to current limitations in the technology for eBook platforms.  We hope that in the future you will be able to push the item right to your device.

Overdrive Tips: Two Accounts

by Brent Palmer on February 27th, 2015

In case you are new to our eBook and eAudio service called Overdrive, you may want to get help from us to get things set up for the first time.  One of the confusing aspects of setting it up is the fact that there are two accounts that you need to use.  One is your ICPL Account.  This account corresponds to your library card number and allows you to check out books from our eBook and eAudioBook collection in Overdrive.  The second account is an “Overdrive Account” and serves as a way for Overdrive to keep track of who has what items digitally checked out and when the loan period is over.  Previously patrons used an Adobe ID for this purpose.  Both still work but the Overdrive Account gives you extra features which I outline below.

It is often confusing for new users to understand the difference during the setup process.  The first time you set up the Overdrive Media Console (OMC) on a device, it prompts you to sign in or register.  This is the Overdrive Account and you can register by supplying an email address and picking a password.  (Note: you may also use your Facebook account instead of an email address).

Later in the process, after you have specified ICPL as your library, you will have to sign in again using your library card barcode number and password. In both cases, after you sign in the first time, it will typically remember your passwords for both accounts.

The Overdrive Account has some features that some of you may take advantage of.  If you have several devices that you use for eBooks or eAudioBook, the Overdrive account will sync your progress and bookmarks between your different devices.  For example, if you listen to the same eAudioBook at home on an iPad and also on your Android phone on the way to home from work, it will keep track of where you are on both devices.  However, please note that you do have to actually download the eAudioBook to both devices;  In other words, it doesn’t automatically push your checkouts to all your devices.

Another “gotcha” to watch out for:  If you have set one device up with an Adobe ID and another device with an Overdrive Account, things can get wonky.  You may not be able to download an eBook to both devices.  We recommend using your Overdrive Account with all devices set up with a library card.  As always, feel free to call the library for help with sorting out problems with Overdrive.  Or even better, bring your device(s) down to our Drop-In Tech Help.  Here are some links you may find helpful:

More about OverDrive Account

More info on “syncing” your devices

Managing your devices

Overdrive Tips: Two Bookshelves

by Brent Palmer on January 28th, 2015

I’ve gotten several comments from enthusiastic Overdrive users recently.  Overdrive is the platform that we use to lend eBooks and eAudiobooks.  There are many patrons who use this service avidly, but even veteran users are sometimes confused about various aspects of the Overdrive Service.  This is the first in a series of posts I hope will help clear up some of those issues.

ODlogo1Overdrive Media Console (OMC) is the mobile app that is needed to use our eBook and eAudiobook service.  One of the most confusing aspects of this app is that there are actually two bookshelves.  One bookshelf is called the “library bookshelf” and the other is the “app bookshelf“.

The library bookshelf (also known as your “account”) shows what titles you currently have checked out.  The app bookshelf shows which titles you have checked out and downloaded to your device.  If you have checked a book out, but not downloaded it to your device, it will show up on the library bookshelf but not the app bookshelf.  This is a common source of confusion for new users.  A key concept for OMC is understanding the difference and  being able to navigate between the two bookshelves.  See these two Overdrive help articles:

Navigating to the library bookshelf

Navigating to the app bookshelf

Stay tuned.  In the future I’ll address other topics such as Understanding eBook Formats, What’s an AdobeID?, and How To Return a Title.  In the meantime, if you have a question you’d like covered in Overdrive Tips (or maybe you want to share one), please email me.  I’ll also remind you that we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

ICPL Tech Help Special Event

by Brent Palmer on December 30th, 2014

Often patrons are surprised to find out that we offer free “Tech Help” sessions every week at the library.  This is a great place to learn how to do something new with your laptop or figure out some feature on your new tablet.  We get all levels of users from people who are trying to learn how to use the mouse for the first time to others who need help with editing a video.  We get a large variety of questions in Drop In Tech Help.

For example, One of our regulars has been working on scanning family photographs going back for years.  She drops in regularly with her box of photos and a thumb drive and has patiently worked through her whole stack.  Periodically she gets stuck or needs help modifying a photo.

Other users have one or two quick questions. One user had trouble finding the flashlight app on his phone.

Sometimes we help people fill out job applications.  If you have never used a computer before it can be intimidating to figure out how to open a browser, much less navigate the multiple steps it takes to first find the online application, register for the site and fill out multiple forms.

One of our users needed help submitting her poems to an online poetry competition.

Another asked for help uploading songs to BandCamp, an online music sharing site.

One of the most common tasks is to help people set up their mobile devices to use our e-Books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines.  These services are pretty user-friendly, but those initials steps can be tricky.  We will be glad to get you started.

Periodically, we get requests to fix a laptop or other device.  Unfortunately we can’t help with requests to repair hardware problems.  For some software problems involving virus or malware removal, we can’t fix them for you, but we usually try to suggest some software for tackling the problem and will even help you get it installed and configured.

In January, we are hosting some special Saturday Editions of ICPL Tech Help.  If you got a new gadget over the Holidays that’s got you perplexed, bring your questions and the gadget down to the Library and we will try to help.  We hope to see you there.

Saturday, January 10 and January 17, 2015
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
ICPL Computer Lab

 

 

Little Dutch Boy Game

by Brent Palmer on November 30th, 2014

If you have kids that regularly visit the Ellen Buchanan Children’s Room, then you have probably met Mabel the Table.  This is a large interactive touch table that immediately draws kids’ attention.  The library has been a long-time host of Coder Dojo Iowa City, the local chapterdutchboy of an international movement to teach and inspire kids in the vocation of computer programming.  Young programmers in this dojo collaboratively designed and built a custom game called Little Dutch Boy that is only found on Mabel the Table.  The game is a race against time as a dike holding back water is starting to fill with holes.  Players around the table try to plug as many holes as they can with their fingers before the water gets too high. I hope you have a chance to try it out next time you are at the library.  The kids of Coder Dojo did a wonderful job of working together to contribute a cool new custom app for our table.  If you are a game designer or involved in a developer group and want to help us improve these games or create new ones, please contact me at the library

The Last Policeman Series

by Brent Palmer on October 31st, 2014
The Last Policeman Series Cover Image

If you enjoy both sci-fi and mysteries, investigate the Last Policemen Series.  The first two books in the three-part series by Ben H. Winters bagged an Edgar and a PKD award respectively.  The third has just come out.  The books follow the movements of Hank Palace, a new young detective in a small New Hampshire police force.  He made detective early not so much because he is a rising star on the force, but because there is an asteroid careening toward Earth and many of the police and detectives are running off to satisfy their bucket lists.  Nonetheless, he takes cases seriously even though the world is coming to an end and his colleagues shake their heads and snicker.  The cases themselves are interesting enough: a missing person’s case, a suspicious death and the disappearance of his sister.  But this is also a pre-apocolyptic look at society slowly becoming unraveled and it is interesting to see Winters vision of it.  Fortunately, it’s not so bleak or terrifying as The Road, partly because our protagonist is so dependable and his pursuit of the truth sustains us as the end nears.  These are quick and enjoyable reads. We have all three.




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