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Author Archive for Jennifer Eilers



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!

 

 

 

Best of the Best Children’s Books

by Jennifer Eilers on January 26th, 2016

It’s a librarian’s job to know about the best books for the library’s collection; and I’m lucky enough that a bunch of my co-workers bought me their favorite children’s books to help me welcome my second child. Having had the time to read through the books now several times with both of my children, I’ve picked my top five favorites to share with you. To find them in the library’s collection click on the title!

  1. The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

I had never read a book by Dubuc until I received it as a gift, and I am so thankful I got this one. The book is about the relationship betweenThe_lion_the_bird a lion who finds and cares for an injured bird. The two become friends but eventually the bird must fly away for the winter leaving the lion behind. Like the lion you feel the heartbreak of missing a dear friend through Dubuc’s prose and illustrations. The illustrations are lush and vibrant but somehow understated. Paired with the story, it weaves a magic that is more than the sum of its parts.

2. The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton

Sometimes before bedtime you need a laugh and Beaton’s book delivers. Like any kid, Princess Pinecone has some definite princess_ponyexpectations for herself as a warrior and for the pony she hopes to receive as a birthday present. Beaton’s story challenges kids and adults to consider stereotypes and stereotyping in a humorous way – it’s chock-full of sweater-wearing warriors and princesses who can and do hold their own. Plus, who can resist a fat pony that farts?

3. Hide and Seek by Taro Gomi

hide_seek

This clever little board book has bright illustrations that my baby can appreciate while my preschooler plays along with the hide and seek game. On each page there is a group of animals where one animal is cleverly hiding an object, for example, a raccoon hides a striped sock on its tail. Just like in any good hide and seek game, you may need to look twice to find what you’re looking for!

4. Orange Triangle Fox by Sarah Jones

orange_triangleEvery baby needs a book that teaches them shapes, colors, and animals. Jones combines each of these things to create cute and colorful illustrations. While some shapes seem readily built for the colors and shapes Jones chooses for them, others are unexpected. This combination makes this book delightful in its simplicity.

 

5. Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

Full disclosure – sheep are a BIG deal in my family. My preschooler has a flock ofWhere-Is-the-Green-Sheep-image sheep with names as expected as Lambie and nonsensical as Dr. Higgin Flower Busters. In this book, sheep are limitless. They break away from being black and white and do more than bleat on a farm. These sheep are red. These sheep take baths. These sheep are clowns. So as the book begs the question, “Where is the Green Sheep?” you can challenge your little one to think outside of the box.

 

Iowa City Community School District 2015 Election

by Jennifer Eilers on August 31st, 2015

ICCSD Logo

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday, September 8th, voters can choose five new representatives to the ICCSD school board. There are four, 4-year term seats vacant and one, 2-year term seat vacant due to Tuyet Baruah’s resignation in July. Typically members serve a total of 4 years. School board elections are  held every odd year with a total of 4 seats vacant at a time to allow overlap between new board members and old board members. There are 13 candidates vying for the five positions in this year’s election. None of the candidates are incumbents. Below is a list of  candidates with some helpful links to news coverage, their websites, and social media platforms they participate in:


 

Four-Year Term

1. LaTasha DeLoach

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Candidate Website

Facebook

Twitter

2. Shawn Eyestone

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Facebook

Twitter

3. Todd Fanning

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Website

Facebook

Twitter

4. Phil Hemingway

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Website

Twitter

5. Jason Lewis

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Website

Facebook

Twitter

6. Brian Richman

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Website

Facebook

7. Lori Roetlin

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Website

Facebook

8. Lucas Van Orden IV

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Facebook

Twitter

9. Briana Wills

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Website

Facebook

10. Tom Yates

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Facebook

 

Two-Year Term

1. Chris Liebig

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Candidate Website

Twitter

2. Paul Roesler

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Facebook

Twitter

3. Megan Schwalm

Press Citizen Profile

Gazette Profile

Candidate Website

Facebook

Twitter

To listen to interviews with all of the candidates from local station KXIC personality, Jay Capron, click here.


 

Early voting is currently going on at the Johnson County Auditor’s Office until Friday, September 4th at 5pm. Mail-in ballots can be returned to the the Auditor’s Office or mailed with a postmark date of Saturday, September 5th.

A great blog that has a lot of information about the candidates and the ICCSD election in general is located here.

To see a current list of board members and their contact information visit Iowa City Public Library’s elected officials page. Results of the race and the members contact information will be updated once the information is made available.

 

 

Associated Press and Movietone Release Historical Footage on YouTube

by Jennifer Eilers on July 23rd, 2015

ap-video-archive

Still of video of President Kennedy on the AP’s YouTube Channel

 Over 1 million minutes of historical footage captured by the Associated Press and Movietone dating back to 1895 will be available for anyone to watch on YouTube. The collection is still in the process of being uploaded at the rate of 30,000 videos per day to the British Movietone’s and Associated Press’ channels. This upload is the largest to date on the YouTube platform and will eventually contain nearly 550,000 videos. Several videos are currently available including footage from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Martin Luther King’s arrest in Selma, and the Hindenburg Disaster. Topics will range beyond iconic moments in history and include science, fashion, sports and celebrities as well.

To see more videos, check out the Associated Press’ channel and the British Movietone channel.

References:

http://www.ap.org/content/press-release/2015/ap-makes-one-million-minutes-of-history-available-on-youtube

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/22/newsreel-associated-press-movietone-upload-archive-youtube

http://9to5google.com/2015/07/22/ap-british-movietone-youtube/

 

Making Cents of Your Investments (with Databases!)

by Jennifer Eilers on May 20th, 2015

Investing on your own can seem like a daunting task. Creating a portfolio or picking stocks may not be for everyone, but for those that do take an active role in their asset management the library has tools to help you. With the library’s subscription to Value Line and Morningstar*, two of the leading investment tools on the market, you can make informed choices on your investments.

With Value Line you have access to analysis and ratings for over 1,700 widely-followed companies and 1,800 small and mid-cap companies. It provides specialized ratings that help investors know how to evaluate a stock’s performance in relationship to industry indicators. For newer investors, the subscription also offers sample portfolios that can help point you in the right direction presenting a variety of investment strategies.

Morningstar provides access to over 21,000 stocks, 29,000 funds, and 1,758 ETFs, and like Value Line, provides its own set of criteria for analyzing investments. One of the best tools available in Morningstar is the “Xray a Portfolio” tool. Here you can input an actual or hypothetical portfolio and find out how risky it is, in what areas of the market your profolio is exposed, and much more!

Both Value Line and Morningstar offer screener tools. A screener is a stock comparison tool which allows you to choose from a long list of customizable criteria to compare stocks. While each database has its own system for rating investments,  you can check up on your current investments  and get a printable report with current information on the company’s sales, earnings, and other industry indicators.

To learn how to use the Morningstar or Value Line database, click here.

If you would like more information about Morningstar, Value Line or the other databases the library subscribes to, please go to www.icpl.org/resources call the library at 356-5200 or speak with a librarian.

* Access to Morningstar is limited. Only  one person can access the database at a time.

**** Please note that only residents of Iowa City or rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights can access databases from home.

 

Need Computer Help?

by Jennifer Eilers on March 16th, 2015

Many  know that the library has Drop-In Tech times and computer classes to help you with your technology needs. But what if you cannot make it to those Tech Help times or want to learn from the comfort of your own home? Learning Express is another resource the library has to offer for free. It is a database that has a wide range of computer tutorials.

Learning Express offers comprehensive lessons on many popular software programs like Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Illustrator, and  Adobe Photoshop. For computer novices, it also offers basic computer and internet courses and tutorials on both Windows and Mac operating systems. The Learning Express software records your progress as you work to achieve your learning goals and features friendly experts who help to make learning both comprehensive and fun.

To access Learning Express go to www.icpl.org.

Click on, Reference and Research in the drop-down menu on the left-hand side. Select “Online Resources.”

Reference_Research

Click on, “Learning Tools”  in the “Online Resources: Browse by Category” menu

Learning Express is the first database offered. Click on “Visit Learning Express 3.0 now” to begin!

Online_Resources

 

If you would like more information about Learning Express or the other databases the library subscribes to, please call the library at 356-5200 or speak with a librarian. If you are interested in Iowa City Public Library’s Tech Help Times or classes visit www.icpl.org/classes.

**** Please note that only residents of Iowa City or rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights can access databases from home.

Top 5 Reasons I Use E-Books and E-Audiobooks

by Jennifer Eilers on December 15th, 2014

5. There are loads of books to choose from.

The library’s e-book and e-audiobook collection has over 10,000 books. So whether you are in the mood for something like Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Donna Tart’s The Goldfinch or even a classic like Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, we’ve got it.

4. I never have to remember to return my books. EVER.

Even though I work at the library, I still rack up a considerable amount of fines on my card so I really appreciate that Overdrive automatically returns my books when they are due.

3. I can read or listen to a book without lugging it around.

As long as I have my phone, I can read or listen to a book. Once I’ve downloaded a book, I don’t even need an internet connection to read. This comes in particularly handy when I’m traveling long distances either in the car or on a plane.

2. The library is never closed.

As long as I have my library card and my password, I can check out a book. Whether I’m looking for something to read right before bed at 10:30 p.m. or listen to during that 6:00 a.m. workout, I can open the Overdrive app and generally find something.

1. I always have someone to read to me before bed.

On most smartphones or tablets you can set a sleep function. This means I can play my e-audiobook before bed and it will automatically turn off after a set period of time. I can doze off listening to my book knowing the next time I go to listen Overdrive will pick up at the place when the timer went off. (It’s also easy to go back a little ways in a chapter if you missed something while nodding off.)

Stop by during one of our Tech Help times: Mondays and Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Tuesdays 12 p.m.-4 p.m.  or Thursday from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. for Senior Tech Help. Any one of our technology people can get you started with Overdrive on your mobile device!

Health Insurance and Your Taxes

by Jennifer Eilers on December 1st, 2014

For those that are filing taxes in 2014 you will likely see a new section that has been added to the tax form. This is because 2014 is the first year that the penalties for not having health insurance come into effect. Based on the drafts of the tax forms released by IRS, those that have health insurance through their employer or have purchased insurance through a private company will only need to check a box.

The tax filing process for those that purchased insurance through the Marketplace or for those that didn’t have any insurance or only partial insurance coverage through 2014 will be a  little more complicated. To help with those complications, the library is hosting the VITA program.

VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, is made up of volunteers from the Tippie College of Business Beta Alpha Psi chapter. These volunteers help low and moderate income taxpayers in the Johnson County area prepare and file their taxes.These volunteers will be available at certain times in the library beginning in January. For dates and times VITA is available, click here.

The library will also have a  variety of tax forms and instructions available for individuals as they are received from the IRS. Several forms and publications have yet to be finalized this year due to the Affordable Care Act and other tax reforms. This may mean some printed forms will not be made available until mid-February or later. The government is  also limiting the number of printed tax forms and instructions, for example Publication 17 (ALL tax instructions), which will only be available online.

For more information about the your taxes and the Affordable Care Act, visit:

ACA Tax Provisions FAQ

DRAFTS of 2014 tax forms

Healthcare Enrollment or Plan Information

 




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