Author Archive for Jennifer Eilers



Looking for paper tax forms?

by Jennifer Eilers on February 28th, 2018

Finding a paper tax form can be hard these days. In the past, every tax form used to be readily available in post offices and public libraries. This just isn’t the case anymore. Back in 2015, in order to keep government costs low, the Tax Form Outlet Program, which provides paper federal tax forms, lost their funding due to tax cuts that were made to the IRS. Over the past couple of years, the program has provided fewer and fewer printed tax forms to public entities like libraries as their funding is slowly drying up.

The State of Iowa hasn’t provided tax forms to libraries or any other public institution for more than 5 years. The state expects tax payers to file their taxes online. However, if you still want to use a paper form it is possible, just not easy.

The library currently provides a limited amount of 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms and instructions for individual use and a handful of business forms. We also provide the Individual Iowa State tax form but it costs 10 cents for a two sided copy. At this time, all of our forms have been received from the IRS. Once these forms and instructions run out, the library cannot receive more forms.

If the library doesn’t have the federal income tax form or a set of instructions you need, you can request forms by calling 800-532-1531. The library is happy to print copies of these forms for individuals at 10 cents per page. Printed forms from the computer, except for some business forms which are printed on triplicate paper, are all valid tax forms and can be submitted to the federal and state government without any problem

There are many places that offer free tax preparation help or services. One of those services, VITA, is hosted by the library. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) is run by the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. Please check what is necessary to qualify for their services, as well as the dates they provide this service.

Net Neutrality

by Jennifer Eilers on December 11th, 2017

Net Neutrality

Last week I taught a class over at the Senior Center about new technology. The majority of the questions related to “cord cutting” which is a means of opting out of expensive cable packages in lieu of streaming services (or content provided over and delievered through the internet). Seniors wanted to know how they could get entertainment using technology like a Roku or Smart TV to play content from subscription and free streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, Amazon Prime and others. At the end of class concerns about Net Neutrality were raised as the delivery of streaming services may be impacted by the upcoming changes proposed by the FCC.

What is NET NEUTRALITY?

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (or ISPs — think Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T) must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.

Why am I Hearing About it NOW?

This Tuesday, December 14th the Federal Communications Commission will most likely repeal the Net Neutrality rules that were put into place in 2015 under the Obama administration.  Currently the chairman, Ajit Pai, has the 3 to 2 votes needed to repeal the designation due to the majority make-up of Republican commission members. Congress has oversight of the Commission including the ability to appointment members but will not vote on the issue as it is not in charge of regulation.

What is Being Repealed?

In 2015, ISPs were classified under Title II which made them “common carriers” instead of “information providers.” This classification means that Internet Service Providers have to follow the same rules as utilities as outlined in the Communications Act of 1934 which was amended in 1996 to make accommodations in technological advances and differences in service.  The repeal of the “common carrier” designation became a priority of the new chairman when appointed by President Trump.

What are People Nervous About?

Many see the Net Neutrality rules as pro-consumer and as a means to protecting how the internet functions today. Another concern is Pai’s prior connections to the Internet Service Provider, Verizon. Net Neutrality is an issue that has also been for the most part divided along party lines and the current repeal doesn’t have bipartisan support.

For more information about Net Neutrality see these sources:

How to Argue About Net Neutrality – Washington Post

Net Neutrality for Dummies – Business Insider

Net Neutrality – Last Week Tonight

Net Neutrality – New York Times (all coverage)

Summer Love through Online Dating

by Jennifer Eilers on August 30th, 2017

Dating can be tough but dating as a “senior” can be really tough. In partnership with the Senior Center, the library created and put together an online dating class series that took place over four weeks and included a wrap-up session this past Tuesday. Each session focused on a different aspect of online dating from finding a site to going on that first face-to-face date. Some of the participants from the Online Dating class pose with teacher

 Pew research shows that nearly half of all Americans know someone who has used an online dating service. With this growth has come an enormous amount of choice in the online dating platform realm. Choosing a platform that fits your needs can be hard and even knowing what options are available can be a challenge as well. The first session helped patrons get familiar with the benefits and draw backs of the various popular dating sites that are out there from Tinder to Our Time.

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Come Create a Digital Scrapbook

by Jennifer Eilers on June 28th, 2017
Learn how to take an image and give it polish in Photoshop!

Learn how to take an image and give it polish in Photoshop!

 

In the first class, learn how to use Photoshop to correct and edit any issues with either scanned or digital images. Once some basic skills are covered, the editing fun will begin.  Easy-to-use, portable scanners will be offered for those that would like to include printed photos they have yet to digitize.

Organize and add metadata to the edited images that have been edited in the second class. This process makes the book layout process easier and adds important information to the digital files of the photos that can be important for posterity.

Albums come to life as we learn how to use the book module in Adobe Lightroom in the final class. Albums will be made into PDFs or JPEGs which can be sent to a local printer or shared electronically with family.

If you are interested in making a digital scrapbook, please attend all three sessions. In July we are offering a night class for those of you who can’t get to the library during the day. To register for the classes, you need only enter your information into event registration fields on Wednesday, July 12th or Friday, August 4th. Please contact me if you have specific questions or concerns. I look forward to creating with you!

Finding Sophie Scholl in the ICPL databases

by Jennifer Eilers on March 30th, 2017

68d0608718321ac4308fdeb0094bb925This morning a crowd of very excited middle schoolers from a local school bounded up to the second floor of the library to do research. Having other excited researchers flooding up the quiet, second floor stairs buoys the heart of a librarian like nothing else. I spoke with their teacher about the project they were working on. The students wanted to know how media played a role in the resistance movements against the Nazi party in WWII.

The group of girls I talked to were going to put on a play about the White Rose Movement. I had never heard about this movement before or Hans and Sophie Scholl. Before even coming up to the desk, the girls had basically cleaned the library out of all obvious available books and DVDs we had on the subject, so, my challenge was to see what else I could find about the group to point them to. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

by Jennifer Eilers on January 10th, 2017

marting-luther-king Today at the information desk, we had a patron looking for Martin Luther King Jr.’s  “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” The patron wanted a printed copy to read in order to celebrate MLK day which is this coming Monday. While looking for this letter online, we came across Stanford University’s collection of King’s papers which have been digitized. We found a digitized version of an early draft of the letter along with a recording of King reading the letter. You can see other items like King’s birth certificate, an invitation to the inauguration of John F. Kennedy, and much more on the site.

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Resources for Job Seekers

by Jennifer Eilers on October 28th, 2016

8674946413_0fdeb0a74b_bHave you recently lost a job or are trying to transition to a new career? The library can help you in a variety of ways to get you back out into the work force. Here are the top ways the library can help you:

 

Help you find a job opening

Access the Iowa Work Force Development site iowajobs.org at one of our computers near the Information desk on the 2nd floor without a library card or guest pass. With a guest pass or library card, you can access several websites with job postings like Craigslist, Corridor Careers, City of Iowa City Job Openings, Press Citizen, University of Iowa Jobs, or one of the staffing agency websites that post their jobs online (Team Staffing Solutions, Kelly Services, Sedona Staffing Agency, etc.)

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Back to School! Home Schooling Resources

by Jennifer Eilers on September 4th, 2016

file791271781089Last week was my kindergartner’s first full week of school. While my kiddo has only reported back to me about the fun she’s had at recess, her backpack is full of the school work she’s been doing but doesn’t bother mentioning. Since I plan and put together the curriculum for the adult computer classes at the library, I know that crafting an interesting lesson for any learner can be a challenge. I have to applaud not only the teachers who plan out my child’s learning on a daily basis but the parents that choose to home school their kiddos as well. While I know many home school parents have started school already, I thought it might be helpful to mention of few of the library’s resources as well as the resources I’ve run into that may make lesson planning a little easier. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Your Baby to Sign

by Jennifer Eilers on May 4th, 2016

My baby is turning 6 months old soon which was about the age that I began introducing my preschooler to sign language (well maybe a little later–second baby after all).  I decided to teach my first child to sign because sign language helps children express their needs. Research shows that most children can understand language earlier than they can express it verbally. Sign is a great method for expression because it takes advantage of a child’s early hand coordination while introducing them to language.

If you are interested in teaching your child to sign, the library has many ways to help you learn. There are several great books and DVDs in our non-fiction and children’s collections like Baby talk: a guide to using basic sign language to communicate with your baby and Baby Signing Time. The library also has a language learning program, Mango, that offers a course in American Sign Language. You can access Mango from home if you are a resident of Iowa City, University Heights, Hills, Lone Tree, and rural Johnson County. You just need your library card and password/pin to login.

While my preschooler started to use sign language less and less as she became more capable of expressing herself verbally, sign language still plays a role in her life. I like that I can communicate with her from across the playground signing “STOP” if I want her to be more cautious.  And I’ve enjoyed seeing her enthusiasm for signs bubbling up again as she shows the baby signs for “milk” and “more.”

Digitally Preserving your Family History

by Jennifer Eilers on February 8th, 2016

This weekend I had the opportunity to talk with the Daughter’s of the American Revolution Pilgrim Chapter about preserving their families’ histories. Preservation is a daunting task especially  since we must think about not only saving the physical copy but the digital one as well.

In preparing for my talk, I researched  tools to help these women creatively think about sharing their families’ stories, photos, and heirlooms digitally. There are many great online tools, websites, and projects out there; but for me what makes the stuff I’ve inherited so valuable are the stories or memories attached to the items.

rootsmapperFamilySearch.org is one of the search engines that helps you trace your family’s roots. I don’t feel its search capabilities are as good as Ancestry’s (which you can access for free at the library!) but it offers many great tools and apps to help you collect family history and put it into a context your family can appreciate. One such tool is the Rootsmapper app which traces your family’s migration across continents or across the country over time.

Everystory is an app that makes it easy to record a voice over with a group of photos of your choosing. What I like about this app is that its easy to use and it is designed to replicate the experience of flipping through a photo album with a loved one as they tell stories about the photographs.

Storycatcher Pro is an app that allows you to create and share video of a family member telling stories. You can choose themes, design titles, capture screen text, capture audio, and import photos to make a very professional oral history. The app is easy to use and requires limited video editing knowledge. The only downside of the app is that it is only available for iOS.

treelines

Treelines uses your family tree as a starting point so that you can add pictures, tags, stories, and page design to help tell your family history. You can give access to family members so that they can also add their photos, documents, stories, and other information to the timeline as well.

If you are just beginning your genealogy search or digitization project, the library has many tools to help you including an archival quality scanner. There are several classes being offered in the month of May. Sign up soon as classes fill up fast!