Library Catalog Ask a Librarian Book a Meeting Room
Catalog Your Account Menu

Author Archive for Maeve Clark

Gas prices – how low will they go?

by Maeve Clark on November 25th, 2015

How low will the price of gas drop this year?  Iowa City recorded a low of $1.99 the first part of January 2015 and while the cost of filling your car has gone up since then,  prices are trending down tgas pricehe last week in November at $2.09 a gallon.  According to a Iowa City Press Citizen article on January 3, 2015, the under $2.00 price was the lowest since May 2009.  The Federal Energy Administration maintains a website of gas prices in the United States but not for Iowa specifically. The United State Department of Energy Fuel Economy also doesn’t have Iowa information but provides links to a number of commercial sites that track the price of gas by week for cities in Iowa.  To track current prices I used the Iowa Gas Prices from  AAA also provides a very useful information for the past year and the highest recorded fuel price.  However, it doesn’t include Iowa City.

What causes fuel prices to vary so greatly?  There are a number of factors that determine the cost of gas.  They are the cost of crude oil, the refining costs and profits, the distribution and marketing costs and profits and taxes.  The cost of crude oil is the major factor in the cost of fuel.  The expansion of  oil production in North America is main reason the price is dropping. If you are looking for apps to help you find the lowest gas prices here are a few suggestions from CNN Money.

Can you recall the lowest price you paid for a gallon of gas?  It might make for interesting Thanksgiving conversation.


Bread and a Dog

by Maeve Clark on November 15th, 2015
Bread and a Dog Cover Image

Natsuko Kuwahara, a Tokyo food stylist and former baker and pastry chef has created a delightfully quirky book, Bread and a Dog. The bread in the title is what she would bake each morning for breakfast and the dog in the title is Kipple, a rescue dog she adopted nine years ago. The small book contains 100 photographs of her breakfasts, beautifully crafted breakfasts that she shared through Twitter and Instagram.  Kipple often crept into the frame and instead of banishing him and deleting those with hibread-and-a-dogm in them, Kuwahara decided to share those photos. (Don’t all of us with dogs know how our canine friends are very interested in everything that comes from the kitchen or that is consumed at the table.)  Kibble soon developed a following and the result is this book. She also includes recipes for a number of her breakfast breads and muffins.

Kuwahara in an animal rescue advocate.  She and her husband also have two rescue cats, Kuro and Kotetsu.  This book would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves breakfast and dogs.  And who doesn’t?

Farewell Catalog Card

by Maeve Clark on October 6th, 2015

Some of you may never have used a card catalog or touched an actual catalog card, so the news from Dublin, Ohio that OCLC printed its last catalog card may not have meant much to you. To those of us who used catalog cards or took cataloging classes and used a typewriter to create a catalog card, it makes us wistful.

An excerpt from the Columbus Dispatch  10/02/2015 tells the story of the last printed catalog card: catalog card 4

Shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday, an era ended. About a dozen people gathered in a basement workroom to watch as a machine printed the final sheets of library catalog cards to be made by Dublin-based OCLC.

The final tally: 1.9 billion cards. 

OCLC long ago shifted its emphasis to online records and services, even changing its name from the Ohio College Library Center to the Online Computer Library Center. The company is known today by its initials.

“We were going to have a monk doing calligraphy on the last card,” joked Skip Prichard, the president and CEO, standing among the observers.

Catalog cards were once a key part of the company, with rows of printers running in a sunny second-floor observatory, hitting a peak output of 131 million cards in 1985. The company’s innovation was in compiling the information on the cards, which meant that libraries didn’t need to write the text themselves. As of last year, orders had fallen to less than 1 million. The final shipment was bound for Concordia College in Bronxville, N.Y., where librarians use the cards as a backup to an online catalog.

card_catalog_2In 1981 the Iowa City Public Library stopped using catalog cards. It was the dawning of a new era in the library world and Iowa City was a pioneer.   A 1982 article in Library Journal on the opening of the new Iowa City Public Library titled An Electronic Public Library for Iowa City  Connie Tiffany shared the story of how “the library used 14 full-time data entry operators who worked 21.500 hours retyping the bibliographic information for 120,000 items into the online format.  Some 10,300 patrons were re-registered …. and in October 1979 the circulation system went online”.   It wasn’t until the new library opened its doors did the physical card catalog finally disappear

The first online catalogs were very different from the ones we use today.  There was eerie wavering green type on a touch-screen terminal and they were slow; in order to find a title, subject or author the user had to keep narrowing down the search until the title of the item finally appeared.   There were eight catalog terminals when the library opened in 1981, today we have 24 online catalog spread throughout the entire library.  They are no longer touch screen monitors and the eerie green glow is gone.  Their speed is greatly improved and and access to other types of information has increased by the integration of many of the library’s online databases into a search.

While I don’t want to return to the age of the printed catalog card, I do feel somewhat nostalgic. card catalog 1 There was magic sometimes in riffling through the cards in the catalog, the mix of the new cards and old, and perhaps even the memory of past searches.




Trash to Treasures

by Maeve Clark on July 16th, 2015
Trash to Treasures Cover Image

Summer the season of sun, fun and Rummage in the Ramp!  This year Rummage in the Ramp is calling on you creative types out there to upcycle a castoff into a work of art.  Rummage ReDux, a new event which supports the creation of artwork from items donated to Rummage in the Ramp, Iowa City’s annual mega-reuse and recycling event. Rummage ReDux will take the concept of reuse one step further by demonstrating how a little love, creativity and skill can convert usable, as-is, donated items from something that’s simply serviceable to something downright spectacular.

Selected applicants, who may include Johnson County individuals or businesses, will be allowed to choose one item from Rummage in the Ramp at no charge to repair, repurpose, or upcycle. Participants will be invited to work on their item during the last day of Rummage in the Ramp at a “meet the artist” event on Sunday, Aug. 2. Finished items will then be showcased at up to three public events in October and November.

If you are looking for inspirations, the Iowa City Public Library can help.   Two books by Danny Seo “Upcycling : create beautiful things with the stuff you already have” and “Upcycling celebrations : a use-what-you-have guide to decorating, gift-giving & entertaining” as well as “ReCraft: how to turn second-hand stuff into beautiful things for your home, family and friends” by Sara Ducahars and Sarah Marks  might be just what you need to get that creative spark.  If you recrafting is more than you want to tackle this summer, but you love a bargain and the hunt, take a look at the books in the library under the subject heading Found Objects (Art) in Interior Decoration.  Nothing is more satisfying to me, (well, except maybe ice cream and the perfect summer night), than finding an object on the side of the road or at a garage sale, taking it home and having it fit right in. Try it, you might be surprised.

I want to see fireworks, can you help? Why, yes I can!

by Maeve Clark on July 3rd, 2015

fireworks21Independence Day is two short days away and one of the best parts of the holiday is fireworks.  Fireworks at home or the neighbor’s house or in a park or campground are not legal, with the exception of sparklers and snakes.  A bill in the Iowa House this past session would have expanded the sale and use of fireworks in the state to include cone fountains, bottle rockets and Roman candles, among others. It passed the House, but did not advance in the Senate.   So you will have to wait until next year if you want to legally explode a cherry bomb or bottle rocket.

For a safe, fun and communal way to view fireworks, your can watch fireworks in Iowa City or a nearby town. On Friday, July 3 you can view them in Kalona: dusk at Shiloh Amphitheater or in  Oxford: dusk at Creekside Park, but the majority of the fireworks take place on July 4.  Here are the locations and times: Coralville: dark at S.T. Morrison Park, Hills: 9:05 p.m. at the Ballpark, Iowa City: 9:30-9:45 p.m. Hubbard Park (next to the University of Iowa Memorial Union), North Liberty: No display planned, but will have a hot air balloon glow at 8:30 p.m. July 11 as part of North Liberty Blues & BBQ and Solon: dusk over Lake McBride.

Have a great Fourth of July and if you do decide to shot off a bottle rocket or two, be safe out there.

Why I love Wednesdays in the Summer

by Maeve Clark on June 23rd, 2015
Why I love Wednesdays in the Summer Cover Image

I love Wednesdays in the summer because I know that when I get off work I can walk a little more than one block to the Farmers Market and find the garden of earthly eating delights.  I will not have to make dinner, not that I make dinner much anyway, (though I must confess that I love to read cookbooks and I do very much enjoy when others use cookbooks and share their delicious dishes with me, I just cannot get enthused about cooking).  Early in the market season I rely on the vendors who make food ready for me to consume on the spot.  Nothing requires a plate and can I pair my handheld tasty meal with a beverage made fresh at the market too.  There is always music playing, with chairs set up or a table if one might have purchased several items for dinner.

As the season progresses more and more vegetable are available.  And with vegetables like tomatoes and cumbers and basil I can make a pretty mean sandwich.  In fact, I think I excel at sandwich making.  But not everyone does, and if you are looking for help in the sandwich making area, the library is here for you.  In fact we have 25 books on how to make sandwiches. In The big summer cookbook : 300 fresh, flavorful recipes for those lazy, hazy days by Jeff Cox devotes a chapter to farmers market picks.  I would be willing, however, to offer a free tutorial.  And once you have your sandwich, (chock full of veggies so you don’t need a salad) and a beverage and maybe a dessert or two – you are ready to do one of my other favorite summer activities – picnic.  And guess what?  Yep, the library has books on how to picnic too.  saul


Happy National Iced Tea Day!

by Maeve Clark on June 10th, 2015

copy-of-iced-teasIt’s hot, it’s humid, it’s time for an iced tea. According to an  NPR story on the history of iced tea, the Tea Association of the U.S.A states that 85 percent of all tea consumed in the United States today is sipped cold.  Iced tea’s history is a fascinating one.  It was often the base of a punch, a punch with a punch, so to speak.  Recipes for tea punch date back to Colonial times, although the icing of tea was a thing in the Northern United States it wasn’t possible in the South until the turn of the 19th century when New Englanders began shipping ice.

The Iowa City Cook Book, 1898 published by the Ladies of the Christian Church, has a recipe for tea punch, (without the alcoholic punch, they were church ladies, after all).  It’s looks delicious and one could, if one so wanted, add a little extra kick.  The Iowa City Public Library also has a number of books on tea; how to make it, how to grow it and how to have a party with tea.

tea punch

Help, I found a fawn or bunny or robin! What do I do?

by Maeve Clark on May 12th, 2015

Baby-Robins_110422_0563Not only do wild flowers emerge in the spring, but  wild animal young do, too.  We’ve had questions about what to do when someone has found a nest of baby bunnies or a young robin on the ground or even a fawn without a doe nearby.  Our natural inclination to think the young animal has been abandoned, but that may not be the case at all.  Books on animal rescue and rehabilitation as well as websites devoted to wildlife suggest that the first step you take is determining whether the young animal is orphaned, injured or just fine.rescuing wildlife

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) posted the article Leave Wildlife Babies in the Wild . “If you find an animal baby that appears to be on its own, don’t worry. Generally, one of its parents is nearby, watching. They’re teaching their offspring to be independent, and in the case of danger, some animal parents will take off in order to create a distraction away from their young,” suggests the DNR.

The Humane Society of the United States cautions that “unless the animal appears injured or in distress, there may be no need to rescue them.” They do suggest you follow up if -a cat or dog presents the wild animal to you; there is evidence of bleeding; there is an apparent or obvious broken limb; there is a featherless or nearly featherless bird on the ground or the baby animal is shivering or there is a dead parent nearby.

The next step, according to the DNR is to contact a certified wildlife rehabilitator.  The DNR maintains a list on its website. If you cannot reach a rehabilitator, you should contact your conservation officer or animal control officer.  If you would like to learn more about what an wildlife rehabilitator does, Talk of Iowa, an Iowa Public Radio program, recently hosted several rehabilitators and they shared their stories of helping return the young back into the wild.



Pie Plant – What’s that and what’s it have to do with Irving B. Weber?

by Maeve Clark on April 23rd, 2015

Rhubarb- Did you know that rhubarb is also known as pie plant?  I hadn’t heard, (or at least I didn’t remember hearing),  rhubarb called pie plant, (or pieplant), until I lived in Dubuque. However, a little online digging shows that term pie plant has been in written use since 1838.  If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, you might recall that it from a passage in The First Four Years -Laura was cooking for the threshers, the first dinner in her very own little house, and was running through the menu: “There was pie plant in the garden; she must make a couple of pies.”

A discussion of the term came up last month when I attended a meeting Historic Foodies, a local group with an interest in using recipes from the cookbooks of  yesteryear.  We were using The Iowa City Cook Book, and on page 181 one of our members found the recipe below. Pie PlantThe cookbook dates from 1898 and is chock-full of recipes that will invite much discussion.  You might just recognize the names of prominent Iowa City residents of the past.  In fact, while we at the meeting we consulted Margaret Keyes book Nineteenth century home architecture of Iowa City to see if we could locate the recipe writer’s house. When we did we pulled up the Iowa City assessors website to find out if the house was extant.  It was tremendous fun and we found a good number of the names in Dr. Keyes’ book and many of the houses are still here!

So what does all of this have to do with Irving B. Weber?  First, Weber wrote the introduction to Dr. Keyes book.  Second,  while Weber’s mother doesn’t have any recipes in the cookbook, some of his parent’s neighbors do.  Third, we are just about to celebrate Irving B Weber Days,  webera full month of programming and displays dedicated to local history.  Fourth, the Historic Foodies will be providing refreshments from the Iowa City Cook Book for a program during Weber Days. Make sure you mark your calendar to come to Rachel Wobeter’s talking to tour of Iowa City food history.  Rachel will share her research on what Iowa City folk ate between 1830 and 1900 on Wednesday, May 20 at 7  p.m.  The program will air live on Library Channel 2o.

And finally, what  does pie plant have to do with with Irving Weber?  Well, here’s what I think, I bet you anything Irving ate pie plant in either a pie or as a sauce or maybe even like I did as a child, by dipping the stalk in the sugar bowl and taking a great big bite of sour delight.



Win a $1000 IRA!

by Maeve Clark on April 23rd, 2015

It’s Money Smart Week and the Iowa City Public Library MSWhas a deal for you.  Money Smart Week is a program of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and one of the activities is Dash for the Stash. DASH for the STASH, is an investor education and protection contest. One participant in Iowa will win $1,000 to open or add to an Individual Retirement Account.

The DASH for the STASH contest works much like a scavenger hunt. But instead of collecting objects, players gather information and leave answers to quiz questions on four posters.  Each poster focuses on one investor education and protection topic, and each poster topic features an associated quiz question to answer. To play, participants read the content on each poster, scan the unique QR code to access that topic’s quiz question (multiple choice), and submit their answer via smartphone, tablet, or computer. Participants must have the QR app (free download) on a mobile device in order to scan QR codes and access the quiz.  The posters are located on the first floor Gallery.  The contest runs through Sunday, April 26 at the Iowa City Public Library.

The contest is being sponsored by the nonprofit Investor Protection Institute (IPI) and, in Iowa, the Iowa Insurance Division’s Securities Bureau.