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Author Archive for Candice Smith

2015 Art Purchase Prize winners

by Candice Smith on October 16th, 2015

This year’s Art Purchase Prize contest has resulted in the purchase of eight new works of original art. During the annual contest, the Library solicits art from artists who live, work, or exhibit in the Iowa City area; the art is then judged by the Library’s Art Advisory Committee, made up of six local residents who are involved with, and have an interest in, the arts. Iowa City has a very vibrant and active arts community, and the contest always brings in a wonderful variety of entries.

The art will be on display during the months of December and January, and then will be added to the Library’s Art-To-Go collection of framed artwork. Works from this collection can be checked out for two months by anyone with an ICPL library card.

The winning entries are: Calliope (water soluble oil on paper, monotype) by Pamela Read; Contact (oil on canvas) by John Tiffany; Ghosts of the Mississippi: Blackhawk Bridge (photograph) by Rebecca Miller; It’s Almost 1997 (oil on paper) by Phil Ochs; Red Barn & Winter Trees (acrylic on canvas) by Lianne Westcot; Still Life with Metal Pitcher & Pears (watercolor and pastel on paper) by David Noyes; and View From Overpass I & II  (charcoal on paper) by Joe McKenna.

Calliope1 contact1 GhostsOfTheMississippi1 ItsAlmost19971

StillLifeWithMetalPitcherAndPears1 ViewFromOverpass1a ViewFromOverpass2a

I’m heading back to school.

by Candice Smith on October 9th, 2015

pieblogPie School, that is.

Several years ago, a friend of mine confided in me that she was really nervous to bake a pie that she would be sharing with other, more accomplished pie bakers. She was, in particular, worried about the crust–she’d heard rumors that one of these other pie bakers could make the perfect crust. Now, I know from experience (okay, experiences…) that my friend is no slouch in terms of baking–or cooking in general, for that matter–so I was perplexed and dismissive of her worry. I didn’t get why she would be concerned about it when, in the end, we all knew the pie would be good enough.

After baking my first two pies, I get it.

With me, it’s not so much worry, since I’m sharing the baked goods with a captive audience who is 1) fond of dessert, 2) often hungry, and 3) legally bound by marriage to me and therefore must eat what I bake (it was in the vows). It’s more of a strong desire to keep making pies–better pies–and that means better crusts. I’m finding it’s not so simple as I previously thought; there are any number of pie crust recipes, using mostly the same ingredients but with small differences in the amounts, some additions, some substitutions. All of those little differences make for crusts that have varying characteristics. Theoretically, these recipes should make for pie crusts that are perfectly good. It’s not just the recipe you have to worry about, though, it’s how you put the ingredients together. How cold is your water, and how do you add it to the dry mix? Mixing by hand, or in a mixer? How are you adding your butter into the mix–literally, how are you rubbing the butter and dry ingredients together, and for how long? Chilling the dough, rolling the dough–there are so many variations on this process and the techniques. Yes, most of these crusts will taste good. BUT–will they be perfectly browned, with the right amount of bite? Will they have tender layers and not crumble apart, but still have nice flakiness?

I’m just a newbie at this. First crust was a bust, second was much better (not beautiful, but tasty). Both have been apple. I’m going to do a couple more tries on a basic crust and fruit pie, then maybe move on to something slightly more adventurous…I’m thinking the gouda and pear pie in Kate Lebo’s Pie School. If you want your own piece of the action, head to the 641.8652s, find a book, and get in the kitchen.

Artists–get your entries in for this year’s Art Purchase Prize contest!

by Candice Smith on September 22nd, 2015


There’s just a little over one week left to get your submissions in for this year’s Art Purchase Prize contest! We’re accepting entries through Sunday, October 4, and the first round of judging is on Tuesday, October 6.

Find the full criteria on our website; if you have any questions please contact Candice Smith at or 319-887-6031.

Winning works of art are added to the Library’s Art To Go collection, located on the first floor, on the wall separating the adult fiction collection and the Children’s Room. Cardholders can check out two works at a time, for two months. The collection is made up of original art from the contest, along with reproductions of well-known works of art. So, if you’ve still got some bare apartment walls to decorate, or want to try out a new kind of art in your home, stop by the Library!

First Presbyterian Church on ICPL’s Digital History Project

by Candice Smith on September 12th, 2015


This weekend culminates a year-long celebration of First Presbyterian Church’s 175th anniversary, with events planned at the Church and at their previous location at Old Brick. Here at the Library, we are very excited to unveil a new collection of items in our Digital History Project–materials from the Church’s extensive archive of items from throughout its history!

This collection of items is the product of many hours of work in the Church’s library with archivist Dwight Miller, as well as behind the scenes at the Library, finalizing images and adding data. In these documents you’ll find the story of the early Church and its founding as well as its changes throughout the years, details about the construction of the first church building along with that of Old Brick and the current structure, and a lot of information about various people who have been part of the Church. You’ll also find part of the story of Iowa City; the Church was formed while Iowa was still a territory, Iowa City had only been settled for about ten years, and prominent people, business owners, politicians, and every day people from that time are all represented in some of the items here.

We hope you enjoy browsing through these pieces of history. If you have any information or historical material you’d like to add to the collection, feel free to use the comments box on the Digital History website, or contact Candice Smith at or Melody Dworak at

Get access to Consumer Reports online!

by Candice Smith on July 15th, 2015

CRThe Library has recently subscribed to what I think is one of the most useful online resources out there–Consumer Reports. We’ve had the actual magazine for years, as well as access to the print articles in digital format through our magazine database EbscoHost (if you actually jumped through the hoops required to do that, you’ll love this!).  Consumer Reports online has all of the ratings and reviews that you see in the magazine, plus video content. It’s easy to use, very up-to-date, and looks great.

You can get access to it from the Library’s Online Resources page; scroll down the list until you find Consumer Reports, then enter your library card number and password (if you need help with your password, contact the Information Desk). Once you’ve accessed the site, you can use the search bar to search for items, or you can browse categories in the grey ‘Find Ratings’ box on the left side of the page.

Note: to access this resource from outside the Library, you must be a library card holder who lives in Iowa City, rural Johnson county, Hills, or University Heights. If you live outside these areas, contact your local public library to see if they subscribe to the site.

Anyone can access Consumer Reports online if you’re actually at the Iowa City Public Library; we have four database computers on the second floor that do not require signing in and have no time-limit, so you can read product reviews to your heart’s content!

Go for a run!

by Candice Smith on June 3rd, 2015
Go for a run! Cover Image

June 3rd is National Running Day!

Why on Earth, you might ask? Why celebrate an activity that, among other things:

  • is insanely hard for many (I’ve run for years, and it’s still really hard most of the time. People tell you it gets easier. People lie.);
  • can make you feel uncoordinated and inferior to others (I’m really slow…my pace doesn’t qualify me as a ‘real’ runner in certain circles;
  • doesn’t always seem to bring positive benefits or change (running makes he hungry, I eat more, I don’t lose weight. And, after all that running I always end up…back home, where I started);
  • makes you look pretty awful during and after (I not only have a shorts tan line, but also a lovely one from my headband. Nice.);
  • hurts. During, it can hard to breathe, my right knee sometimes aches, I roll my left ankle, and I get chafed. After, my muscles are sore and sometimes swollen, my hips are unyielding, and if you’re really good, you might lose some toenails).

But don’t get me wrong. Running can be a fantastic activity–it must be, if I continue to do it, right?. It relieves stress, helps increase bone density and strengthen muscles, improves your cardiovascular system, causes the release of endorphins, gives you the opportunity to meet people in your community (other runners, race organizers and spectators, EMTs), and gets you outside and on the trails, on the sidewalks, into nature. You get to set goals and achieve them on your own schedule, for your own reasons. Running can make you stronger, healthier, and happier. Honest.

So go on, give it a try. If you’ve ever driven past a runner and wondered briefly ‘hmmm…would I like that?’, today is your day to find out! Get out for a quick jog, do a run-walk, run some sprints, or go long. Run down to the Library and grab a book about running that will help you get started, train for a race or improve your form, or give you some insight into runners and why they do it.


Dig out your photos! Bring your IC-related pics to ScanIt@ICPL–May 9, 2-5 p.m.

by Candice Smith on May 1st, 2015

tbt42315I was digging through some boxes of photos the other day, and found this one that made me especially happy for two reasons. The first is because of the carousel–the Drollinger carousel in City Park. This is one of the rides that is still in the park, but when this picture was taken (I think in 1997 or 1998?) there were other rides that are no longer there. I like to think of all the times I was in the park, all the kids and families enjoying Iowa City’s very own amusement park that used to be just a little bit bigger.

I’m sure there are many of you who have similar items tucked away at home–maybe some photos of picnics or ballgames in the parks around town, or of your kids messing about in the old fountain in the ped mall (that old, wonderful, vaguely dangerous, somewhat evocative fountain), of family outings to the Devonian Fossil Gorge right after it was created. Pictures of the floods, of the tornado’s aftermath, of buildings that used to be downtown, old pictures from school, scenes of neighborhoods and homes from a while back. We want to see them! We’re looking for photos and documents related to the history of Iowa City to scan and add to our Digital History Project, and we’re hoping our patrons and community members can help!

The second reason I was happy to find this photo? Because the two tiny little children in it are turning 22 today–happy birthday, Peter and Rachel!

Get involved with ICPL’s Art To Go collection!

by Candice Smith on April 10th, 2015

Caged SistersFor over 30 years, the Iowa City Public Library has maintained the Art To Go collection–maybe you’ve seen it, stored in bins and along the walls that separate the Children’s Room from the rest of the first floor. About half of this collection is made up of framed posters and prints of well-known works of art, and the other half is original works of art by local artists. Anyone with a library card can come in to the Library, browse the collection, and take home with them something beautiful and unique to decorate their walls with.

How do we add the original works of art to the collection? Each year the Library holds the Art Purchase Prize, a contest that invites local artists to submit their original works to be judged for purchase and inclusion in the collection. The budget for this comes from the Library Board of Trustees and the Friends Foundation. What about the artistic consideration and judgment? That comes from the Library’s Art Advisory Committee, and that committee is looking for a few good people!

If you would like to be involved with this collection–to help select and provide art for our community to enjoy, while at the same time providing artists with a chance at some recognition and compensation–please think about serving on the Art Advisory Committee.

If you have questions or would like more details, please contact Candice Smith at or 319-887-6031.

If you liked this (or didn’t), read this–BYOBook edition!

by Candice Smith on April 1st, 2015
If you liked this (or didn’t), read this–BYOBook edition! Cover Image

Our most recent BYOBook event, on March 24 at Brix, focused on Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test: a Journey Through the Madness Industry. The book is a reporter’s journey of investigation that touches upon a few specific characters and events, filled out with some science and theory. It is by no means an overwhelmingly serious, complete look at psychopathy; Ronson places himself at the center of inquiry, and readers follow along as he interviews the people he found to be most interesting or illustrative. I found it to be highly entertaining and informative, and was happy to accept it for what it was. Other readers were left a little frustrated at the lack of depth on the topic or parts of it, at Ronson’s somewhat meandering storytelling and discussion, and at the sort of lack of conclusion (or maybe definitive opinion on his part? a real yes or no answer?) in many of the questions presented. Is Tony a psychopath or not? Is the DSM real and useful, or is it a harmful tool created by a bunch of people who feel the need to label everything? What IS the whole point of the Being and Nothingness book deal??

There were several people who mentioned that they’d been hoping for a more thorough, science-based look at psychopaths and the study of them, as well as other mental disorders. Here are a few recent books that might be of interest:

Confessions of a Psychopath: a life spent hiding in plain sight by M.E. Thomas
Dangerous Personalities: an FBI profiler shows how to identify and protect yourself from harmful people by Joe Navarro
Murderous Minds: exploring the criminal psychopathic brain… by Dean Haycock
Shrinks: the untold story of psychiatry by Jeffrey Lieberman

Up next for B.Y.O.Book is Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, on April 21 from 7-8 p.m. at Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar.

Share your photograph, tell our story.

by Candice Smith on March 7th, 2015

schoolIt’s said that a photograph is worth a thousand words. Photographs can document and show an event, they can convey an idea, they can explain a thought. They can preserve a moment and tell the story that goes with it.

ICPL wants your photographs and your words. We want your stories.

Join us on Saturday, May 9 from 2-5 pm in Meeting Room A for ScanIt@ICPL–Local History, part of the Library’s Weber Days events.

Bring in your photos, letters, documents, and other items related to the history of Iowa City and Johnson county. Share your items and tell the stories that go with them — stories about the people, places, events, and things that are part of our past, but also part of who we are now. Help the Library build a resource about and for our community — help us tell our story.

We will help you scan your items, and then send you home with your originals plus digital copies of them (you can supply your own USB, or we can send you the copies in an email). If you have questions about what you can bring in, or if you’d like to schedule a specific time (not necessary — drop-ins are welcome!), contact Candice Smith at or 319-887-6031.

Check out our Digital History Project, then become part of it.