Author Archive for Jason Paulios



2017 music

by Jason Paulios on June 30th, 2017
2017 music Cover Image

I was in a bit of a music rut this year, turning down the chance to listen to unfamiliar contemporary artists in favor of revisiting nostalgic albums from 20 years ago and seeking out music genres I either missed the boat on (Britpop) or wasn’t around for (Post-punk). A plethora of recent “Best of 2017 …so far” articles have inspired me and I’ve discovered a few new albums from our collection that I think ICPL users should check out!

Jlin – Black Origami : An electronica album that is full of nervous energy and samples heavily from global music. On first listen I thought it would be too busy to be something I would casually throw on during a work session at my computer, but by the third track I was won over by the busy trance-like beats. Jlin rarely uses party-style electronica driving bass lines, instead she gets your head bobbing to a wide variety of percussion instrument samples (handclaps, drumlines, african drums) woven with repeated vocal snippets. If you’re having trouble connecting to the album, I recommend at least watching the choreography in this video for her song “Carbon 7 (161)”, jaw-dropping.

Big Thief – Capacity : Their 2016 album Masterpiece was one of my favorites last year, nothing new or particularly inventive but it had such passion and the big, dirty guitar countering singer Adrianne Lenker’s warbling hit me just right. There’s not as much of that basement rock sound on Capacity but the melodies and songwriting are terrific. Favorite tracks for me include a Nebraska-style road saga, “Shark Smile” and “Mary” which should be the final track to that mix-tape you make for your friend who is moving away.

2016 National Book Awards

by Jason Paulios on November 17th, 2016

The 67th National Book Awards Ceremony was held last night, you can watch here and read the winning books from the Iowa City Public Library’s collection at the links below:

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE

March (Book 3) written by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by Nate Powell

http://www.nationalbook.org/_images/nba/2016/winners/ypl-lewis-march.jpg


 

POETRY

The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky

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NONFICTION

Stamped From The Beginning : The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

http://www.nationalbook.org/_images/nba/2016/winners/nf-kendi-stamped-from-the-beginning.jpg


 

FICTION

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

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Banned and Censored Music

by Jason Paulios on September 29th, 2016

ICPL is currently celebrating Banned Books Week and we have a strong history of supporting people’s Freedom to Read. As the music selector, the theme this week has also made me reflect on how amazing it is that the U.S. still creates lyrically censored versions of music because “won’t somebody please think of the children“. The National Coalition Against Censorship created a great list last year of 40 banned and censored songs that I felt needed to be shared as an ICPL display with a vintage shot of Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center.

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There were some surprises on their list, I never would have guessed someone would have a censorship concern about Phil Collins! I definitely remember MTV censoring Tom Petty’s use of the word “joint” in “You Don’t Know How it Feels”, you can check out the original from us.

As a youngster, I was minimally affected by the PMRC and further outcry, though the summer after 4th grade my friend wasn’t allowed to get the Whitesnake cassette for me for my birthday because my mom told his mom it was too racy. Just imagine the person I might be today if I’d been able to rock out to “Here I Go Again” that summer! I recall being in Musicland just a few years later attempting to convince my Dad that the Parental Advisory label on the Tone Lōc cassette was probably put on by mistake. To his credit, he bought me that tape and I rapped along to “Cheeba Cheeba” blissfully unaware of what Tone was talking about. And while Tone Lōc might not be musically or historically interesting enough to warrant inclusion in the ICPL collection, I’m happy to report that we only purchase unaltered lyrical versions of other albums and leave the decision up to your household to decide what is appropriate. I highly recommend all parents take the risk and check out “Appetite for Destruction” for their kid(s), I learned an important 5th grade playground life lesson about swearing at classmates when parroting Axl from their song “It’s So Easy“! Feel free to share your own stories in the comments!

On Bowie – Rob Sheffield

by Jason Paulios on September 16th, 2016
On Bowie – Rob Sheffield Cover Image

Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield’s book “On Bowie” is an ode to rock legend, David Bowie, who died in January of this year. Sheffield, a Bowie fanatic, was approached immediately following the news of Bowie’s death and asked to write a book with a very short turnaround. “On Bowie” reads quickly, there are concise chapters that could easily be individual columns for his magazine, covering impressions of a specific time period or album. His writing is confident and somewhat off-the-cuff, it conveys that he’s someone who has thought deeply about Bowie’s music and life and has read widely on the subject. It’s easy to skip around to read his thoughts about your favorite Bowie period or uncover juicy anecdotes culled from larger works on the artist. Despite his obvious adulation, Sheffield isn’t afraid to critique Bowie’s personal decisions or output (even the biggest Bowie fan can’t justify the two albums following “Let’s Dance”). I wasn’t as interested in the author’s lyric dissection or penchant for shoehorning lyrics into the bigger picture writing. There is obvious passion and respect in this short overview, I found it to be a terrific gateway for some larger works (ex. “Moonage daydream: the life and times of Ziggy Stardust”) as well as an inspiration to check out some of the eighteen different albums carried here at ICPL.

New downloadable local music

by Jason Paulios on August 4th, 2016

LocalMusicProject_imageThe Iowa City Public Library is celebrating our fifth year of offering free downloadable music from regional artists via the Local Music Project. This unique service allows ICPL cardholders to download over 80 albums from artists based in eastern Iowa. The project is currently limited to those living in Iowa City, Hills, University Heights, Lone Tree, or unincorporated (rural) Johnson County. The offerings are always changing with new albums added throughout the year from a variety of genres. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding a record of ownership

by Jason Paulios on April 22nd, 2016

Back in November I wrote about using the City of Iowa City Housing & Inspection Services’ permit activity lookup tool for finding more information about Iowa City house history.  A coworker recently showed me another great house history link hidden at the bottom of individual accounts on the Iowa City Assessors parcel search results page.  If you are looking at a house result you can scroll to the bottom of that page and you’ll see “related information links” below the GIS map.  There are a few useful links for house hunters here including former tax information for the property as well as a quick link to the GIS map with coordinates.  The most interesting link for local history buffs is the “Old Property Report Card” in the lower right corner which will show you a past record of ownership with names and prices paid.  There’s also often pointed comments on these cards regarding the huge leap in sales prices that happened in the 1990s such as these :

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A Sugar Creek Chronicle – Cornelia F. Mutel

by Jason Paulios on April 22nd, 2016
A Sugar Creek Chronicle – Cornelia F. Mutel Cover Image

The latest in the Bur Oak Books series from the University of Iowa Press is Cornelia Mutel’s account on climate change as seen from the mixed oak woodlands in rural Johnson County, Iowa. The book is cleverly structured to follow the four seasons during the year 2012, each season features daily journal entries detailing weather and climate notes. Interspersed are notable updates on various woodland species in the acreage alongside Iowa natural history. Paired with the day-to-day of 2012 country living are complimenting memoir sections detailing growing up in Madison, her mother’s early death, and parenthood in Iowa City.  

Her writing is organized and passionate, her love of the natural world is infectious and I often found myself considering putting down the book to wander a nearby nature trail. Throughout all the meditative trail walking anecdotes filled with chipmunk scurrying and spring ephemeral blooming are sobering climate science facts and how they are impacting all these things we care about. Her research is presented in small digestible amounts and her teaching background is evident in the way in which she breaks down complicated earth science processes. 

Using CatalogPro – Advanced Searching

by Jason Paulios on February 4th, 2016

For a few years now we’ve been slowly integrating a catalog discovery layer that we’ve called CatalogPro, this is a keyword search that allows for a narrowing down of results after the search is initiated. It’s gotten more powerful over the years and now works much better for those titles that might have traditionally difficult keyword search terms (try searching Twilight or Room for proof!). There will still be times when you don’t have specific title or author information or you’ll want a more efficient way to search individual terms, thankfully CatalogPro has an Advanced Search option.  You can get to this search via the link below the search box (see the highlighted area in the image below).

advancedsearch

Advanced Searching allows for boolean search which allows you to fine tune your search including “and”, “or”, and “not” operators.  An Advanced Search for “Plants” OR “Flowers” AND “Iowa” in books will give you 30 items which is much more helpful than a normal keyword search of “Plants flowers Iowa” which shows yields 6 since it’s searching for the presence of all three keywords in the record instead of the combination done in Advanced (“Plants & Iowa” and “Flowers & Iowa”).

It’s easiest to narrow these results prior to the search using the dropdown menus on the Advanced Search page, common searches would include a format type (ex. book vs. ebook), location (ex. adult nonfiction vs. children’s nonfiction), and possibly year range (ex. looking for only most up-to-date publications).  I’ll share some more CatalogPro tips in future weeks including spell-check, eBook/eAudiobook checkout, and super-secret remote shelf browsing!

Iowa City building permit search

by Jason Paulios on November 16th, 2015

Recently I was trying to research the construction history for my house and found some errors and/or incomplete information. The Iowa City Assessor site has a Parcel Search lookup which shows you a lot of property detail. Unfortunately, like many local databases, the information tends to be more accurate when searching construction that has happened since the world has adopted computers. My house had information describing the garage and small addition as being constructed the same year as the original building which seemed unlikely.

The next step is to visit the website for the City of Iowa City Housing & Inspection Services’ permit activity lookup. This is a great tool and could be used by people wanting to search a property prior to purchase or to research potential remodeling/repair contractors, just do a search for a local builder to see what other jobs they’ve completed. In my case the remodel must have happened too far back to be in the system so I headed to City Hall to see if they had any hard copies.  Staff there were happy to show me the back files and we found all the records on microfiche! From these I determined that the original building was done in 1955 (dated October 26th) and that the small addition (77 square feet) was from 1961 and estimated to cost $200 (hahahaha, even with inflation this is still only $1600 today or about $21 per square foot).

For your next house history hunt make sure to include the Housing & Inspection Services department!  Here’s a super detailed drawing plan for constructing a garage in 1961:

1961Garage

Bird names

by Jason Paulios on June 4th, 2015

As an avid birdwatcher my favorite reference questions obviously involve bird identification quandaries.  The other night a patron showed me a photo she’d taken on her smart phone of a group of large dark-colored birds in a field.  I don’t think she was prepared for me to scream “Turkey Vultures!” into her face…but when you show me bird photos that is what sometimes happens.  She had questions about where the name originated and it occurred to me that I wasn’t actually sure but was excited to look for references.  Her enthusiasm was not on the same level, more of a passing interest, so she thanked me and took off before I could overload her with vulture trivia.  My research found the following:

As to the name origins of Turkey Vulture, I found a book called Latin for Bird Lovers by Roger Lederer and Carol Burr which is a casual dictionary of genus and species names for birds.  Inside I found the genus Cathartes (pronounced ka-THAR-teez) defined as : “Greek, katharos, clean, pure, as in purifier or purger, as in Cathartes aura, the Turkey Vulture, which scavenges, thereby clearing away dead animals.”  The species name was also included, Aura (AW-ra), as in “Breeze, air” which would probably describe their habit of drifting along on thermal winds though this is not mentioned specifically in the book.

Another bird name book ICPL offers is 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells.  Here the author has the following to say about Turkey Vulture naming, “North American settlers, who gave them their common name, thought they looked a bit like turkeys [bald heads and dark bodies – my note] and soared like European buzzards.”

So there you have it mystery patron, Turkey Vultures just happen to look like turkeys.