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Author Archive for Kara Logsden



Why is the Library closed on Friday?

by Kara Logsden on December 10th, 2014

business_closed_sign_pageEvery year the Library closes on the second Friday in December for Staff Inservice Day. This is a day for staff to retreat, honor co-workers for years of service, and invest time in learning. We strongly believe this opportunity for training results in better overall services to our community through learning and team building.

My first day working at the Library sixteen years ago was Staff Inservice Day. I liked that I was moving to an organization that invested in staff and felt strongly about life-long learning and team building. That certainly remains a big part of the culture of working at the Library.

We recognize staff for years of service awards in five year intervals. This year we will recognize seven Library employees for years of service. These staff members alone represent 85 years of service to the community and individual milestones range from 5 years to 30 years of service.

Our overall theme for Inservice Day is User Experience. Our keynote speaker is Aaron Schmidt who is a principal at Influx Library User Experience Consulting. Through Schmidt’s guidance we’ll look at user experience and how we can improve the Library’s websites, programs, and services.

Last year’s theme was 21st Century Skills. These include critical thinking, problem solving, communication, flexibility, adaptability, creativity and innovation, global awareness, teamwork, interpersonal skills, technology literacy, media literacy, listening and assessment. Over the past year we’ve worked on our 21st Century Skills as individual staff and tried to incorporate opportunities for learning these skills into our collections, classes and programs.

Many thanks to our patrons for your understanding as we close for a day to invest in our staff and plan for how we can improve service to our community. Regular Library hours will resume on Saturday Saturday December 13.

Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words

by Kara Logsden on December 9th, 2014
Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words Cover Image

Malka Marom‘s new book chronicles her conversations and friendship with Joni Mitchell beginning in 1973 and culminating in their final interview in 2012. Marom first met Mitchell at a coffeehouse in 1966. In their conversations they explore friendship, the creative process, and life.

Marom, who has a unique story of her own, was a pioneer in international music performance and hosted “A World of Music” TV show in Canada beginning in 1966. Marom’s background gave her the unique perspective to share Mitchell’s words as a peer and a friend.

Although I enjoyed the entire book, I keep thinking about three parts. The first is when Malka and Joni first meet. The written words gave a good sense of who Joni Mitchell is and how her career began. This laid the framework for the entire book.

The second part I think about is Joni’s formative years when she contracted polio and spent a lot of solitary time in a hospital. This period in her life set the foundation for her work as a musician, poet, writer, painter and composer. It also helped her become comfortable with the concepts of loneliness and aloneness.

The final part, and probably my favorite, was Joni’s quest to describe herself. Because she’s had such a prolific music career and explored other artistic mediums such as poetry and painting, she is hard to describe. She also took the lead to produce many of her albums and worked hard to win the respect of the musicians she worked with. This was a difficult feat because she was not formally trained as a musician so they often didn’t “speak the same language” when describing their goals for performance. Ultimately the description Maron and Mitchell settled on was “Renaissance Woman.” I liked that description and after hearing Mitchell’s words, I think it is a fair description for a remarkable life.

My Reading History @ Your Library

by Kara Logsden on November 24th, 2014
My Reading History @ Your Library Cover Image

There’s an awesome user feature in our online Catalog called “My Reading History.” “My Reading History” will keep track of every physical item you have checked out from the Library. It will also eMail the list to you. This feature is available to everyone but you must turn the feature on before it will begin tracking items checked out.

To activate “My Reading History,” login to your online account at catalog.icpl.org and click on “Reading History.”  If you don’t have a password, or don’t remember your password, please give us a call during Library hours or stop by the Help Desk and we’ll set one up for you.2014 11 my reading hist

Once you’ve logged in to the Catalog and selected “My Reading History,” there is a toggle button to Opt In or Opt Out. The default is for accounts to be set-up to “Opt Out” so you must choose “Opt In” for the system to begin tracking your checkouts.

I enjoy browsing through “My Reading History” because it’s a walk down memory lane. Some titles bring back memories of learning to draw with my children (Ed Emberley books are great for this) and favorite books while others remind me about planning a vacation, craft projects and driving in blizzards. I’ve used this feature for nearly 10 years so I have quite a long memory lane cataloged there.

We often get questions about “My Reading History” so here’s the fine print if you have questions or concerns:

Library Staff may not access these lists so they are completely private.  It is up to you to activate this feature IF you want the catalog to keep track of the physical items you check out.

If you checked out something you don’t want to keep track of, you can delete the item from your list.

You can choose to Opt Out any time and opt back in later if you choose to.

My Reading History does not track any eMaterials checked out on other webpages like OverDrive and Zinio.

If an item is withdrawn from our collection, it no longer appears in My Reading History.

Some patrons come in hopeful that we track their circulation over time – this usually happens when they can’t remember a book they checked out. We don’t track specific items checked out because of privacy issues. IF the patron turned on My Reading History, the record will be there once they login to their Library Account. In most cases, though, they have not turned this feature on and so the information is not available.

If you wish to Opt In to “My Reading History” and need help, please stop by or give us a call. It’s a nice feature for those who are interested in keeping track of materials checked out over time.

Vacationers by Emma Straub

by Kara Logsden on November 21st, 2014
Vacationers by Emma Straub Cover Image

Straub’s Vacationers is a vicarious trip out of the cold Iowa winter. Frannie and Jim decide to vacation in Majorca, Spain with their grown-up children and Frannie’s best friend, Charles, and his husband. For each character Majorca represents a turning point of either falling back into the ruts of life or moving forward and finding new potential.

Emma Straub’s writing is clean and crisp. The books is funny, warm and realistic. Straub creates characters who are real and struggle with insecurities and secrets while ultimately triumphing over what life throws at them. I listened to the book and Kristen Sieh’s narration is perfect.

As I look out my window I see it is snowing again. If you need a vicarious escape to Spain check out Emma Straub’s Vacationers.

New Self Checkouts @ Your Library

by Kara Logsden on November 18th, 2014

2014 11 New Self CheckoutThis week we rolled out new Self Checkout machines. The six new Self Checkout stations may be found on the First Floor near the entrance and in the Children’s Room and on the Second Floor near the Reference Desk.

This project is a culmination of months of behind the scenes work by Library staff and completes a Strategic Plan goal to “Upgrade checkout equipment to provide more efficient service.”

Highlights of the new equipment include a bigger, more responsive screen and new DVD Unlockers that give a GREEN LIGHT indication when the DVD has been unlocked. They also feature new credit card payment terminals that are easy to use and assure PCI Compliance for transactions.

A new feature is a “smart” barcode reader that reads barcodes on smart phone screens. We’ve received many requests for this feature and know our patrons will appreciate this enhancement. The scanner works with pictures of Library Cards on the smart phones or through barcodes generated by third-party apps such as CardStar.

Another option in response to patron requests is the ability to choose no receipt, a printed receipt, or an eMail receipt. We can only send an eMail receipt if we have a valid eMail address in the patron’s record. If you wish to add an eMail address to your account, please give us a call or stop by the Help Desk.

As with many technology upgrades we are still working through a couple issues. The Self Checkout software is not communicating with our system to give information about holds in the queue. Patrons will be notified when a hold is ready for pickup but at this time we are unable to show holds at the Self Checkout stations. If you need help with holds, please go to a public service desk.

Nearly 70% of our checkouts run through the Library’s Self Checkout stations so it is a critical tool for us to serve our community. We are delighted with the new product and the improvements the technology brings. While we offer the option of Self Checkout, please remember staff are just a couple steps away if you need help or prefer for staff to check out materials for you.

ICPL Bags @ Your Library

by Kara Logsden on November 12th, 2014

Bags editedAt the Library we try to be as green as possible.  One way we do this is by promoting the use of reusable bags to carry home Library materials.  The Library sells two different bags at the Help Desk.  Both types of bags hold a lot of materials and can be easily folded down to a small size when not being used.

The blue bags feature two handles and light-weight material.  They sell for $1 each and sport a great message:  “Read More Books: It’s good for you!”  We’ve also had people purchase these to serve as gift bags – another green idea.

The canvas bags feature one over-the-shoulder strap.  They sell for $9 and carry a message that can be interpreted in many ways:

Read Books

Eat Food

Read Food

Eat Books

The graphic encourages the imagination and deeper thought into the message.  Regardless of how you interpret the message, it’s a fun bag to carry home lots of great Library materials.  I also know from personal experience that these bags can be tossed into the washing machine for easy cleaning.

If you are looking for other ways to reduce your use of plastic bags, check out the Iowa City Landfill/100 Grannies display on the first floor, through December 10, that shares many ideas for alternatives to plastic bags.

Remote Book Returns @ Your Library

by Kara Logsden on November 5th, 2014

Did you know the Library has two remote book returns available for returning most materials to the Library?  This is in addition to the outside book return located along Linn Street near the staff entrance to the Library.  All outside bo2014 10 23 return booksok returns are available 24 hours a day and are a convenient way to return Library materials.  Some materials, such as audiovisual equipment and oversize items that do not fit into the book returns, must be returned to the Help Desk during regular Library hours.

There are two remote book returns in Iowa City – one on the east side at the First Avenue HyVee Pharmacy Drive-through and one on the west side at the Mormon Trek University of Iowa Community Credit Union Drive-through (far right lane).  More information is available here on the Library’s webpage.  Items returned at the remote book returns must be in the box by 1:00 PM each day or the item is considered returned the next day.

Four times a year we count the number of items returned through the Library’s remote book returns so we have an idea of the level of service they are providing.  During the week of October 12-18, 2014, 15.6% of all items returned to the Library were returned through the two remote book returns.

Remote books returns are one of the many conveniences that make the Library easy to use.  If you have questions, please give us a call at 319-356-5200 during Library hours or contact us through our “Ask a Librarian” link.

Meeting Rooms @ Your Library

by Kara Logsden on October 30th, 2014

2014 meeting roomThe Library offers five meetings rooms for community groups to use.  Library meetings rooms are a busy community resource.  In FY14 the Library hosted 1,508 community meetings in its meeting rooms.  This is in addition to a very busy schedule of Library programs held in the meeting rooms.

According to Library Board Policy, “The purpose of the Library’s meeting rooms is to provide space for library programs and community events, to fulfill the Library’s role as a community center, where the public can attend informational, educational, cultural events and to champion the principle of intellectual freedom by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas.”

The Library’s meeting rooms are designed to host small groups as well as large community gatherings.  There are eligibility requirements for using the rooms.  Groups using the rooms must be a non-profit corporation, candidate campaign committee, political committee, governmental subdivision or non-profit citizens group.  Groups who do not meet these guidelines are encouraged to use the Library’s study rooms on the 2nd floor or check out a list of alternative meeting room sites in the community.

We recently updated our webpage with information about Library meeting rooms.  You can see more information here.  Groups are welcome to reserve meeting rooms online or call the Library at 319-356-5200 for staff assistance.

 

Books I Want to Read Again

by Kara Logsden on October 24th, 2014

This week I had an opportunity to work with two patrons who needed recommendations for great books on disc for a long car 2014 10 road tripride.  One person is facing 14 hours in the car each way.  The other patron decided to ask a Librarian after depending on the New York Times bestseller list last year and not getting the book he was expecting (funny story … he pulled over, called his wife and said, “Have you heard about a book … 50 Shades of Something?).  When in doubt, it’s always good to ask Library staff for recommendations.

Below are a list of some of my favorites that I’d love to read again.  Some are new and some are older.  Many I have have listened to while others (A Paris Apartment) were so good I wasn’t patient enough to listen to them so I either downloaded the eBook or checked out the print book.  You can’t go wrong with any of these titles.

Happy reading and listening!

Blum, Jenna 

Those Who Save Us

What would you do to survive during a war? What if what you did elicits a legacy of shame?   Jenna Blum explores these themes through the stories of Anna Schlemmer, a German woman who survived WWII in Germany and her daughter, who is now a professor of German history in the United States. The story is a mother/daughter drama about love, passion, survival, and choices. 

 

Bodensteiner, Carol 

Go Away Home & Growing Up Country

Carol Bodensteiner is an Iowa author from Des Moines. Her first book (Growing Up Country) is a memoir of growing up on an Iowa dairy farm. From milking cows to giving a 4-H presentation, it captures rural farm life from a bygone era. It is also a wonderful book for our Iowa City Hospice reading partnership where volunteers present programs planned to help residents of care centers focus on memories. Go Away Home is Historical Fiction and also has a rural setting and captures the hopes and dreams in a coming-of-age story about a young woman from Iowa. 

 

Dallas, Sandra 

Prayers for Sale & The Bride’s House

Sandra Dallas is a versatile author. Although all her books can be characterized as Historical Fiction, they are all different. Stories include Pioneer life in Colorado (Diary of Mattie Spenser), Gilded Age life in Denver (Fallen Women), and the lives of Mormons starting out in Iowa City and traveling to Salt Lake City (True Sisters). All books are recommended but Prayers for Sale, set in the mountains near Breckenridge, CO and The Bride’s House, set in Georgetown, CO, are my favorites. 

 

Doerr, Anthony 

All the Light We Cannot See

Set in World War II, it is the story of Marie-Laure, a young French girl who lost her eyesight when she was six and must escape from Paris with her father during WWII. It is also the story of Werner, a young German boy who has a special talent for building and fixing radios. As the war rages, Marie-Laure and Werner cross paths. Doerr received a National Book Award nomination for this book. 

 

Gable, Michelle 

A Paris Apartment

The stories of two women in Paris. One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialist (April Vogt) and the other is renowned courtesan during the Belle Époque period in Paris just before World War I (Marthe de Florian). April is summoned to Paris and jumps at a chance to escape her crumbling life in the United States. In Paris she discovers an apartment that has been shuttered for more than 70 years and full of priceless furniture and paintings collected by Marthe but abandoned by her family. 

 

Glass, Julia 

Three Junes & And the Dark, Sacred Night

All of Julia Glass’ books are recommended but these two are my favorite. I first read Three Junes while I was in Positano, Italy looking out over the Mediterranean. I was swept away by the compelling story, lyrical writing, and strong characters. I was happily surprised when her newest book was a sequel to the story that started in Three Junes. Julia Glass’ novels feature strong characters and compelling plots that make the reader want more books from this author! 

 

Hillenbrand, Laura 

Unbroken

The true story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini.   He enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in 1941. When the plane he was assigned to crashes into the South Pacific, Louis survives the crash and 47 days at sea in a plastic life raft. He was captured by the Japanese and sent to a labor camp. I refer to this books as the, “I will never complain about anything ever again book.” An older title but highly recommended. 

 

Horan, Nancy 

Loving Frank & Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Readers fell in love with Horan’s Loving Frank, a fictionalized story that captures the life of Frank Lloyd Wright and his second wife. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is the fictionalized story of Robert Lewis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. The story takes readers around the globe and, like Loving Frank, centers on the love story between the main characters. 

 

McLain, Paula 

The Paris Wife

The fictional story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After a whirlwind courtship the couple marries and moves to Paris so Ernest can pursue his writing career. The Hemingways are drawn into Parisian life and meet many other writers and artists. There is a constant friction, though, between Ernest the writer and Ernest the husband. 

 

Orringer, Julie 

The Invisible Bridge

Sometimes books come along and leave a lasting impression, forcing the reader to ruminate about events and characters long after the book is done. This is one of those books. Andras and Tibor Levy are Jewish brothers who grew up in a small village in Hungary. It is the 1930′s and both aspire to do great things. The book focuses on Andras, his adventures and studies in Paris, and the relationship he establishes with the mysterious Klara Morgenstern, a Hungarian ballet instructor. 

 

Rosnay, Tatiana de 

Sarah’s Key & The House I Loved

Tatiana de Rosnay’s writing features solid characters, a strong sense of place, and a time of significant historical events.   Sarah’s Key is unforgettable and haunting. It begins with the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup of Jews in German-occupied Paris in 1942 and contrasts that story with a modern-day American journalist living in Paris. The House I Loved is a fictionalized story of Rose Bazelet and her opposition to the destruction of her family home during Haussman’s renovation of Paris, 1853-1870. Haussman’s radical plan was criticized for the large-scale destruction it caused; however, in recent times he has been credited with establishing Paris as a modern city. 

 

Rutherfurd, Edward 

Paris

Rutherfurd presents a multigenerational story that moves between time, character, and story. With Paris as the background, this approach brings characters to life, presents an understanding of historical events, and makes this reader really want to visit Paris and explore the geographical areas of the story.   I also want to read Rutherfurd’s other stories including London and New York

 

See, Lisa 

Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy & China Dolls

Lisa See’s books are full of details, family, love and complications. The characters are well developed, there’s a strong sense of place, and the reader cares about the characters and their journey. Shanghai Girls, and its sequel, Dreams of Joy, take readers on a journey from China to California and back again. China Dolls focuses on the 1930’s and 1940’s Chop-Suey Circuit in the entertainment world and focuses on three girls from diverse backgrounds who form a strong bond. 

 

Vreeland, Susan 

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Because of this book, I went to New York City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other places to see Tiffany Glass.   Fictionalized story of Clara Driscoll who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany at his New York studio and possibly the person who conceived the idea for the iconic Tiffany stained glass lamps. Set with the turn-of-the-century New York City backdrop with issues such as the rise of labor unions, women in the workplace, and advances in technology. 

 

Zevin, Gabrielle 

Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

A.J. Fikry owns a book store and he loves books. He’s not just any bookseller, though. He is picky, contrite, a wee bit arrogant, and has poor customer service skills. Despite these faults, he has a passion for books and a capacity to love. When his life takes turns he never imagined, and A.J. Fikry finds himself in the depths of despair, his redemption is his capacity to love. And love is what makes this book so wonderful. A love for people, community, literature, and most of all, a love of family. 

 

It’s the weekend!

by Kara Logsden on October 17th, 2014

2014 10 17 read all dayIt’s the weekend and I’m reading two great books … and I can’t wait to get back to them.  I know there are soccer games, football games, house chores, and other activities, but I really would prefer to just read all weekend.  Who wants to join me?

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable is based on true events and tells the story of two women in Paris.  One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialist (April Vogt) and the other is renowned courtesan during the Belle Époque period in Paris just before World War I (Marthe de Florian).  April is summoned to Paris and jumps at a chance to escape her crumbling life in the United States.  In Paris she discovers an apartment that has been shuttered for more than 70 years and full of priceless furniture and paintings collected by Marthe but abandoned by her family.  April also meets a solicitor who agrees to share Marthe’s journals.  Through these journals, April learns about the woman behind the collections.

I’m also reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.  This historical fiction novel is set in occupied France during World War II and is the story of Marie-Laure, a young French girl who lost her eyesight when she was six and lives with her father who is a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.  It is also the story of Werner, a young German boy who has a special talent for building and fixing radios.  As the war rages, Marie-Laure and Werner cross paths.  Doerr recently received a National Book Award nomination for this book.  The writing is lyrical and foreboding and I can’t wait to start reading again.

If you are looking for a good book this weekend, head to the Library.  And remember …. You can’t read all day if you don’t start in the morning!

 




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