by Candice Smith on April 10th, 2015
For 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-887-6031.
by Candice Smith on April 1st, 2015
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.
by Candice Smith on March 7th, 2015
It’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 email@example.com or 319-887-6031.
Check out our Digital History Project, then become part of it.
by Candice Smith on February 3rd, 2015
It was a dark and stormy night…well, I don’t actually recall the weather, but I do remember my surprise when I found out that the IRS had drastically cut the types of tax forms they would supply the Library with through their form outlet program . We’ve been having access to fewer forms for the last several years now, but this year we were informed that, in addition to receiving only the 1040, 1040 A and 1040 EZ forms, we would not be able to get any instruction booklets. As many patrons have pointed out to me upon hearing this, not having easy access to the instructions makes it awfully hard to fill out those forms the IRS is so eager to get. I know. We are with you on that.
The Library can help in a couple ways.
Federal forms and state forms–and the instructions–are all available on the internet. We can print out forms you need, or we can provide you with the internet access and printer to do so yourself. Prints are 10 cents a page. The booklets are longer than forms, and you might not want to print them; instead, you can bring them up on a computer and read them there if you like.
We also have some general tax guides that might be of use to you: JK Lasser’s Your Income Tax and the Ernst & Young Tax Guide. There are copies that you can check out, and we also keep a copy in the Reference area on the second floor.
If you need assistance getting to the forms and booklets you need, stop at the Info Desk on the second floor, or give us a call at 356-5200. We will try and help you get the info you need, in the least taxing way possible.
by Candice Smith on December 18th, 2014
We recently received this book that I’ve been pretty excited about since I ordered it almost two months ago, and I wanted to recommend it to anyone looking for something to read during the holidays. Be warned, it’s not your usual holiday read; on the other hand, it does take place in December, so the setting is timely.
On December 3, 1957, in a small town in Illinois, seven-year-old Maria Ridulph disappeared from the front yard she was playing in; her body was discovered five months later. The case quickly gained a lot of attention and was investigated thoroughly, but there were very few clues to go on. The case remained unsolved for 55 years, until new evidence came to light in 2011. And now, the book is here.
I wonder if any of our patrons remember this happening? Just the next state over, a small girl taken from her family during the holiday season…surely not something you forget hearing about. I imagine this could be a very interesting, if not powerful book for some readers who spent time wondering just what happened. Here’s your chance to find out.
Right now, the book is still being processed…but did you know that putting a hold on a book will speed up the processing? Get to it before I do!
by Candice Smith on November 6th, 2014
It’s always interesting and thought-provoking to read or hear about someone receiving the Medal of Honor, but especially so when it’s 150 years have passed since the act of service took place. Today, Alonzo Cushing was awarded the Medal for his actions on the field at Gettysburg; you can read about it here.
I looked in our catalog to see if we had any books about him, and we don’t. However, there is a new book about his brother, Commander Will Cushing: Daredevil Hero of the Civil War, that is just about ready to go on the shelves. Will also played an important role in the Civil War, in the Navy, and led a distinguished military career for several years afterwards.
If you’re a fan of military nonfiction, or looking for an interesting biography, this book might be a good choice for you. Put a hold on it and get to it first!
by Candice Smith on November 4th, 2014
If you’re heading out to vote today, you’ll need to go to your polling station.
You can find your polling station with the Johnson County Auditor’s nifty locator!
This is a new version of their locator, and it utilizes their awesome GIS viewer, which is itself a fantastic tool for viewing maps and information about the area. This locator also gives you directions on how to get to your polling place from your street address.
Of course, you can call us at 356-5200, and we’ll look up your polling place for you!
by Candice Smith on October 17th, 2014
The final round of judging for the 2014 Art Purchase Prize took place on Tuesday, and seven new works of original art were selected.
The winning pieces and artists are: Buffalo Bill, duct tape on wood, artist Jaimie Tucker; Champagne, digital rendered 3d art, artist Jared Williams; Girl In Aqua Top, oil on canvas, artist Bekah Ash; Magma Carta, color lithograph, artist Amanda Johnson; Raven and Untitled, monoprint, artist Cheryl Graham; and Untitled, charcoal, artist Maureen Jennings.
The new artworks will be on display on the North Wall of the second floor during the months of December and January, and then they will go into the Art To Go collection of circulating art. Patrons may place holds on the art while they are on display.
Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all artists who participated in this year’s contest. The Art Purchase Prize is an annual contest to purchase original art by local artists, and is funded by gifts from the Library Board and the Library Friends Foundation.
by Candice Smith on October 16th, 2014
Breaking news: Lots of people who work at ICPL have cats. Crazy, right?? Librarians and bookish people and cats??!!
It’s true, and right now we have a lovely little display of some of our cats on the second floor…well, photos of our cats, not the actual cats. I would NEVER bring a cat to work. No.
Also, today is National Feral Cat Day. This is a day to bring attention to the situation of cats living wild in the outdoors, and a method of controlling cat populations with trap-neuter-return. If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out Alley Cat Allies. You can also learn how to build a nifty outdoor shelter for cats, which I did, and not only was it useful and sturdy, it was also a really nice father-daughter bonding experience — this is something my love for cats does not usually produce. Many of my cats were born feral and socialized at a young age, and became wonderful, loving, (large) indoor cats. It happens.
So, come in to the Library, check out some books on picking out a cat, on understanding your cat, or grab the latest, wonderful addition to our section of poetry by cats, I Knead My Mommy. This is the sequel to the well-reviewed I Could Pee On This, and coincidentally, dedicated to “…all the stray cats that need a loving home.”
by Candice Smith on October 13th, 2014
A couple weeks back the Info Desk received a letter in the mail from someone who had recently purchased a postcard mailed from Iowa City. The card had been sent in 1875, and had a unique stamp that was the postage cancellation mark. This person wanted to know if we were able to determine anything about that mark and what it might mean.
Where to begin, right? I’m not very familiar with the collecting and/or research of letters and stamps, and we had little to go on. The cancel mark itself looked like the letters ‘JIC’ and didn’t appear to be handwritten. I didn’t even know what to call the mark, so I started by looking at some general resources about the postal system. I found that, before the advent of machine-generated stamping and marking, postmasters would cancel postage in various ways, including uniquely-carved stamps that were often made of cork. The marks that these stamps made are often called ‘fancy cancels.’ I then started looking for other postcards that had been recorded or auctioned that were sent from Iowa City, as well as looking though numerous different fancy cancels from Iowa. I eventually did find one other postcard that had been sent from the area that had a very similar cancel, but was unable to find any specific information about it. However, that was enough to make me think that we were indeed dealing with a stamp that was regularly used by one of our postmasters.
Without ever being able to positively identify what the initials stood for, a good guess would be ‘Johnson Iowa City.’ Other fancy cancels served a similar purpose of identifying place of origin. I also wondered that it might be the initials of a postmaster…but how would I find that out? I started browsing some of the resources contained in the database Ancestry, and lo and behold, it contains the aptly titled Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971. I was easily able to view all of the postmasters from Iowa City who had appointments during the time this postcard was sent, and…nothing. No names matched those initials. What I did find, though, was that several of the area’s well-known people were appointed as postmasters, including Samuel Trowbridge, Chauncey Swan, and Edward Lucas, son of Robert Lucas. There were other notable names too, such as landowners Jacob Ricard and George Clark, and store owner John Whetstone. Finding these names in this database tells a little more of the story of Iowa City, of the people who lived here and helped build it.
In the end, I was not able to provide a definitive answer for our patron, but I did enjoy trying. If you have any information or ideas related to old postage marks from Iowa City, please leave a comment.
Want to try out Ancestry Library Edition? Stop by the Info Desk for help!
Want to see some old letters mailed to Iowa City? Check out our Digital History Project!
Want to read an oddly fascinating book about postal systems? Check out The Crying of Lot 49!