Author Archive for Heidi Lauritzen



ICPL History and the Archives Crawl

by Heidi Lauritzen on February 13th, 2018

Coming soon is the Iowa City Archives Crawl, and to get you in the mood we have set up a display of objects from the Iowa City Public Library’s archive.  The display is on the second floor near the Information Desk, and has lot of interesting things in it–but first, some details about the Crawl:

The Archives Crawl is on Saturday, February 24, 2018, from 11:00-3:00 and includes special activities at ICPL, the State Historical Society, the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, and the University of Iowa Main Library.  (A bonus fifth site has just been added:  a Dada Futures exhibit at UI Memorial Union.)

The website for the Crawl invites you to “snoop in between the pages of historic diaries, read other people’s mail, hold feathers and fossils, and peer into mysteries revealed by historic artifacts like swords and locks of hair kept in remembrance.”  It is sponsored by the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, and you can see a listing of events here.

Iowa City Public Library has short presentations every half hour, on topics such as genealogy, using our local history resources, and “Iowa City’s Most Famous Athlete You Never Heard Of”.  The full, fun list is here.  We have also invited the Johnson County Historical Society, the Friends of Historic Preservation, and Historic Foodies to join us and display information about their organizations.

But back to the display of ICPL history.  It was both a fascinating and frustrating task to choose items from our archive cupboards to include in the display:  frustrating because it was difficult to put things back when I realized I didn’t have room for everything, fascinating because ICPL is 120 years old and, thank goodness, we have saved a lot of interesting stuff.

The oldest object I found dates from around 1870, a book that has a book plate in it from the “Iowa City Library Association,” a proprietary library that loaned materials to Iowa City residents who purchased memberships in the Association.  It was active from 1870-1873, 25 years before the Iowa City Public Library was founded.

Another special book is ICPL’s first accession book, in which the first purchases for the Public Library were recorded.  You can see what those titles were if you take a look at the display (and, we still have copies in our collection of some of those early acquisitions).

We’ve also included the 1926 rules for borrowing materials, a cast iron property stamp embosser, the 1959 dress code for Library employees, a beer box, and a jar of dirt.  Check out the display and find out why!

We hope the displayed objects provide you with an appreciation of just how old this Iowa City institution is, and that the more recent photos will bring back memories of your past experiences at the Iowa City Public Library.  The display will be up until March 4th–and don’t forget the Iowa City Archives Crawl on February 24th.

 

Left:  Checkout desk in new 1963 Carnegie Library addition.

Right:  Checkout desk in the new library at 123 S. Linn St., 1981.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Like ‘Tis 999

by Heidi Lauritzen on January 5th, 2018

There’s a great display on the second floor, next to the Information Desk.  Maeve has gathered books and DVDs on the Middle Ages from our nonfiction collection, and placed them under a showcase of objects reflecting medieval times.

The “Middle Ages” and the “Medieval Period” often are used interchangeably, and cover roughly the 5th to 15th centuries.  Among other things in the showcase, look for the silver coronet, a dagger, and a pewter spoon.

Walk down almost any aisle in the nonfiction collection, and you can find something of medieval interest:  religion, fashion, art, literature, travel, history, and biography are all represented in the display.  Some of the materials that caught my eye are: The Medieval World:  An Illustrated Atlas, full of colorful illustrations and arranged chronologically; Medieval Dress & Fashion by Margaret Scott and published by the British Library; Life in the Medieval Cloister by Julie Kerr; the DVD Medieval Siege (“catapult yourself into the chaos of medieval battle”); and The Bayeux Tapestry: the Complete Tapestry in Color

All the materials on the display kiosk are available for checkout.  Time travel back a millennium or so, and find out how to party like ’tis 999.

How To Contact Elected Officials

by Heidi Lauritzen on February 9th, 2017

Want to make your views known to the elected officials who represent you?  Here are quick links to the contact information for the elected officials who serve Johnson County residents.  Officials at the federal, state, and county levels are included, as well as city council members in Iowa City, mayors of other towns in Johnson County, and Board members of the Iowa City Community School District.  Click on the level of government you are interested in, and you will find names, addresses, phone numbers, and when available, the official’s website address and contact form.

Not sure which state or federal official represents you?  The Iowa Legislature has an easy-to-use “Find Your Legislator” feature for anywhere in Iowa.  Search by your own street address, by city name or by zip code.  For school officials, you can search by your school district.  It looks like this:
find-your-legislator

 

 

When you search by your street address, your Iowa representative and senator will be shown, with a chance to request info about “Other Elected Officials”.  One more click, and you will see your two U.S. senators and your U.S. representative, all with links to their websites where you will find contact information for letters, phone calls or email messages.

The Johnson County Auditor’s website also has a directory of elected officials.  Their directory includes some of the lesser known levels of local government, such as township officials,  members of the Agricultural Extension Council and the Soil and Water Conservation District, and all the school districts that are situated wholly or in part in Johnson County.

Save a Click

by Heidi Lauritzen on November 10th, 2016

We made a minor change on our website that will be welcomed by many users.  Our webmaster has switched the default search in the search box on our website to the catalog. So, if you land on our homepage first and want to search the catalog, you can simply type in your catalog search term, hit return and you will find yourself in our catalog at the results of that search.

default website search

 

Previously, the default search in the search box was for the website itself, and to search the catalog you had to remember to click on “Catalog” after you typed in your search term.  Now you are saved from making that click.

This update comes as a result of the public survey of website users that the Information Technology staff did recently.  It was the number one comment they got on the survey, and was a change they could make immediately.  Watch for other improvements as the IT staff continue to evaluate the survey responses.

Art to Go!

by Heidi Lauritzen on August 19th, 2016

Art on the wallOne of the Library’s more unusual collections is our circulating art.  Most pieces are framed prints, but a substantial number are original artworks by local artists and include photographs, mixed media, screen prints, watercolors, and oil paintings.

It is a great time to pick out a piece of art to take home–the selection is always a little better during the summer when the University population shrinks.  But that won’t last long now, with students coming back and classes set to begin next week.  We have about 400 pieces to choose from.  Browsing what is available is the easiest way to find what you want, but you can also see images of our original art in the catalog and place a hold for something you like.  Just look up “Art Purchase Prize Collection” and click on the link to “View art work in this collection”.

The loan period for art prints is eight weeks, and each borrower is limited to two at a time.  The collection is located on the first floor, between the Fiction books and the children’s room.  We display as many as we can on the walls there, but many are stacked in the bins as well. Art in a bin

The original art collection has been built up over the years thanks to gift funds.  There is an annual competition from which the Library’s Art Advisory Committee selects and purchases several works to add to our collection.  This year’s competition is a little different, with the theme of “New Covers For Old Classics” (see more information here.)  But hurry–deadline for entries is September 2, 2016.

In the meanwhile, enjoy our remarkable art collection.  I always have two checked out, and these are my current favorites:  “Apples #4” by Yvette Jury, and “In Carol’s Garden” by Susan Coleman.

apples4In carol's garden

Not My Father’s Son

by Heidi Lauritzen on June 30th, 2016
Not My Father’s Son Cover Image

Faced with seven hours of driving in one day, I headed for our collection of nonfiction books on disc and selected a title that has been on my pending list for a while:  Not My Father’s Son, by Alan Cumming.  The print book and the audio version were both published in late 2014, to positive reviews.  I enjoyed it very much, although parts of his story are difficult to listen to (or read, I’m sure).

Cumming weaves together two main story lines in the book.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Summer Before the War

by Heidi Lauritzen on June 14th, 2016
The Summer Before the War Cover Image

Helen Simonson’s new novel is a great summer read, and not just because it has “summer” in the title.  The Summer Before the War takes a number of interesting turns with enough suspense to keep you reading when you really should be doing something else.  There are many likeable characters–and a few not-so–and the historical detail, never heavy-handed, illuminates the impact of social class, the looming Great War, and the limited role in society for a young woman.

This is the story of Beatrice Nash, who has been hired to teach Latin to the village children of Rye, England.  She is in her early 20s and grieving the loss of her beloved father who broadened her mind through education and travel.  Teaching is her route to financial independence and the ability to write; probable spinsterhood is embraced as a fair trade-off for a life of her choosing, of reading and writing.

World War I changes everything and everyone, beginning with the village’s acceptance of Belgian refugees and the calls to young men to serve their country.  But even patriotism and military service are subject to societal pressures and questionable ethics, and no family completely escapes heartbreak and loss.

Which characters become Beatrice’s friends and allies, and who emerges to thwart her plans moves the story at a brisk pace.  And as the characters develop there are satisfying transformations from nemesis to friend, and disappointments as those she admires show their true colors.  One of the things I liked best is that no character is perfect; each fails at some point to live up to their own standards and beliefs, or to love generously when it is difficult to do so.

I hated to finish the book, because I had grown quite attached to Beatrice, Hugh, Aunt Agatha, and others in the story.  (I felt the same way about  some of the characters in Simonson’s first novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.)  The Summer Before the War was a wonderful first entry on my summer reading program log, and I hope it makes it onto yours.

Memorial Day Observances

by Heidi Lauritzen on May 26th, 2016

Memorial_Day-026Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May, and provides us the opportunity to remember and honor those who have died in service to the United States of America.

According to the U. S Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day originated as Decoration Day and was established several years after the Civil War ended by an organization of Union veterans.  The practice of decorating graves with flowers and flags dates to this time.  After World War I, this day of remembrance was expanded to include veterans lost in all American wars.  In 1971 the U. S. Congress declared Memorial Day to be a national holiday.  In 2000, Congress passed the “National Moment of Remembrance Act” which encourages citizens to pause wherever they are at 3:00 pm local time on Memorial Day “to observe a National Moment of Remembrance to honor the men and women of the United States who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace”.

In Iowa City, there are three Memorial Day observances:

  • Ceremony to honor soldiers and sailors lost at sea will be held on the bridge on Park Road, off N. Dubuque Street, at 8:30 a.m.
  • Celebration at Oakland Cemetery, 1000 Brown Street, beginning at 9:30 a.m., sponsored by the Grand Army of the Republic, American Legion Post 17 and Auxiliary, and the Johnson County Military Affairs Association, and Iowa City Parks and Recreation (see their website for more details).  In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Opstad Auditorium at City High School, 1900 Morningside Drive.
  • Memorial Day Service will be held at Memory Gardens Cemetery, 2600 Muscatine Avenue, at 11:00 a.m., by the Johnson County Military Affairs Association with American Legion Post 17.

In Coralville, there will be a service at Oak Hill Cemetery, First Avenue north of I-80, beginning at 11:15 a.m. by the Coralville American Legion and Color Guard.  In case of rain, it will be moved to Coralville American Legion, 901 2nd Street, at 11:30 a.m.

In Like a Lion

by Heidi Lauritzen on February 29th, 2016
In Like a Lion Cover Image

After the tease of warm weather last week, the first day of March promises to be cold and windy, and we even may have some snow.  All of which brought to mind that phrase about March, “in like a lion, out like a lamb.”  What is the history of the phrase?  I headed for the reference collection to find out, and became happily distracted reading the definitions and origins of many other proverbs and sayings.  (For instance, who knew that the mouthwash Listerine “takes its name from Lord Lister, the English surgeon who is generally considered the father of aseptic surgery”?  That tidbit is from the Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins.)

But back to the matter at hand.  According to the The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, 2003 edition, cites Ray too, and also lists the use of the phrase in Charlotte Bronte’s 1849 novel Shirley. Bronte would know a thing or two about March wind on the Yorkshire moors.
lion-images-March
The phrase seems uniformly to mean that the weather will be wild and winter-like in the beginning of the month, and soften to more spring-like weather by the end.  The National Weather Service’s forecast for March 1 in Iowa City calls for a 40 percent chance of snow before noon, cloudy, a north wind around 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph, and a high near 33 degrees.  Lion-like for sure.

The Millionaire and the Bard

by Heidi Lauritzen on February 23rd, 2016
The Millionaire and the Bard Cover Image

I always wondered why the Folger Shakespeare Library is in Washington DC, and not in England; now I know. The Millionaire and the Bard is a fascinating read about Henry and Emily Folger, a husband-and-wife team who spent their married life researching and acquiring Shakespeare’s works, and then built a library to house them.

There’s something for everyone: the history of the publication of Shakespeare’s works; the cut-throat competition in the acquisitions race for the limited number of copies of the plays; the philosophical question of where Shakespeare’s works should reside—in their home country or abroad; how the Folgers decided what the building that housed their collection should look like.

Henry Clay Folger worked his way up in the Standard Oil companies, and eventually became chairman of the board of Standard Oil of New York. He and his wife lived humbly, though, and funneled all of their financial resources into collecting printed editions of Shakespeare’s works. They were largely self-taught book collectors, and nurtured alliances with antiquarian booksellers and collectors. Emily Folger kept detailed records of their acquisitions, and when the collection outgrew their home, they began storing the documents in warehouses.

The Folgers were especially interested in the First Folio, the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays which was published seven years after his death. Today it is believed that 233 copies exist of the approximately 700 copies that were printed in early 1600s. The Folgers acquired 82 First Folios, along with thousands of other manuscripts, books and art about Shakespeare and ephemera such as playbills and prompt books.

The Millionaire and the Bard is great background reading in advance of our opportunity to see a First Folio edition for ourselves. The University of Iowa Libraries will be the Iowa stop this fall on a nationwide tour of a First Folio from the Folger Shakespeare Library.