Library Catalog Ask a Librarian Book a Meeting Room


Author Archive for Maeve Clark



Help, I need a word that rhymes with cantilever!

by Maeve Clark on February 11th, 2016

He was such an eager beaver

We had to use a cantilever

Off he soared

Oh, way up high

Luckily we had a wide receiver

Don’t you love it when you stumble upon something so much fun you have to share it with everyone?  That happened to me today.  I was looking for the etymology of the word plummet, a lovely word if I don’t say so myself, and I found the answer using the Merriam-Webster online dictionaryplummet Plummet comes from Middle English plomet, from Anglo-French plumet, plomet, from plum lead, lead weight.  That was cool, I had used a plumb bob on an archeological  dig many summers ago and always loved those two words together, but I digress.  On the same page as the origin of the word plum was the heading Other Civil Engineering Terms.  What a grand addition to a dictionary – other civil engineering terms.  I immediately clicked on cantilever to see if I could get even more civil engineering terms, alas, they were all the same, but I did discover another wondrous option – Rhymes with.  Come on, admit it you too have always wanted to know what rhymes with cantilever.  I was so tickled with my new found knowledge, I made up a rhyme. It isn’t very good, but what the heck, I got to use eager beaver, cantilever and wide receiver.  cantileverI hope this post makes you a true believer.

No Roads Lead to Buxton

by Maeve Clark on February 1st, 2016

Southern Iowa was once the site of a thriving coal mining industry and one of the most interesting coal mining communities was Buxton.  The library bluff creek townshipis hosting a display, No Roads Lead to Buxton, from the African American Museum of Iowa on the first floor of the library during the first week of Black History Month, February 1 – February 7.

BuxtonShaft10Buxton, a once prosperous coal mining community in Bluff Creek Township in northern Monroe County,  holds a special place in Iowa history as a predominantly  black town. Beginning in the 1890s Ben Buxton, the President and principal stockholder of the Consolidation Coal Company and North Western Railroad of Chicago,  recruited black laborers to work in the coal mines of Iowa following strikes by white miners. The majority of the recruits settled in the town of Buxton, founded by the company in 1895 to house the new arrivals.   Most of the miners were from the Virginia and West Virginia coal mining regions. By 1905, Buxton had nearly 2,700 African Americans and 1,990 Europeans, mostly of Swedish, Welsh, and Slovak descent. At its peak in 1910, Buxton’s population was between eight and ten thousand people.

The majority of the leadership roles in Buxton were held by African Americans -the postmaster, superintendent of schools, most of the teachers, two justices of the peace, two constables and two deputy sheriffs. Buxton’s most prominent early resident, E.A. Carter, the son of a black miner who arrived in the 1890s,  is believed to be he first black graduate from the University of Iowa, Medical College, in 1907. Dr. Carter returned to Buxton where he became assistant chief surgeon for Consolidated Coal.  In 1915 he was appointed chief surgeon for the company.  Prominent attorneys and one-time Buxton residents George H. Woodson and Samuel Joe Brown were among the co-founders of the Niagra Movement, a predecessor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in 1905.

Schools in Buxton were racially integrated and taught by both black and white instructors. The Consolidated Coal also treated blacks and whites equally, with regards to housing and employment matters. Buxton changed during the start of World War I in France. Coal production had peaked and the black population began to slowly decline. Fires destroyed buildings and homes in Buxton, and by 1919, there were only a few hundred of people left. In 1923, the coal company moved its headquarters and sold out to  the Superior Coal Company in 1925. The Buxton mine  closed in 1927.

Drop by the library to learn more about Buxton, a fascinating chapter in Iowa history.

How and Where to Caucus

by Maeve Clark on January 17th, 2016

Monday, February 1 is the date for the 2016 Iowa caucus.  The caucus begins at 7 pm and in order to particcaucusipate you must be inline or signed in by 7 pm.  Speaking from experience you may want to plan on getting there early as the lines may be very long. Even though the Republican and Democratic caucus are strictly party functions, the Johnson County Auditor receives so many questions that Auditor has compiled a lot of very useful information about the caucus. The two parties differ in how they caucus. www.uspresidentialnews.com has a good explanation of how they work.

Party chairs in the ninety-nine Iowa counties are explicitly charged with issuing the “call” to caucus, setting up caucus locations, and identifying temporary chairs for each of their caucuses. Unlike a primary election, the costs of the precinct caucuses are borne by the parties, not the state. One result is that one of the first activities of any precinct caucus is to “pass the hat” to raise funds for the county and state party. But also unlike a primary election, vote counting is done by the parties, not government officials.

The Republicans begin the presidential straw poll. In most precincts this will be carried out via a paper ballot (the state party’s preference), which may be simply torn pieces of paper or a more formal ballot prepared ahead of time by the temporary chair. Those in attendance are asked if anyone wishes to speak on behalf of a candidate. Speeches are usually short, and are of the type “why I support candidate B and why you should too.” Following the speeches, ballots are cast and then collected by the chair, who next assigns someone (perhaps the secretary) to count them, report the results to the caucus, and record them on a form provided by the state party. More information is available from the Republican Party of Iowa.

The Democratic presidential preference rules are far more complex. This complexity comes because national party rules require proportional allocation of delegates at every level of a caucus-to-convention nomination system. The viability threshold requirement adds to this complexity, but the system may well end up giving more candidates a chance and more voters a choice, and bring about more sincere voting. Party rules require that “preference groups” not be formed until half an hour after the caucus opens, so the time is usually filled by reading letters of greetings from elected officials, and passing the hat to raise money for the local and state parties. Once the appointed time arrives, things shift into gear. More information is available from the Iowa Democratic Party.

The location of your caucus site may not be the same as where you vote.  You can find out your site by using this link if you are going to caucus as a Democrat or if you are going to caucus as a Republican. You will need to know your precinct if you are caucusing as a Republican.  Use this link to find your precinct.

 

Animals in the winter

by Maeve Clark on December 31st, 2015

Walking outdoors after a recent snowfall you can discover just what animals are out and about in your neighborhood.  What animal made the track on the left?  If ySquirrel-Track-300x224ou guessed squirrel, you are right. rabbit tracks

And what about the other tracks?  Can you identify that animal?  Yes, you’re correct, that is a rabbit track.

 

For help in identifying tracks the library has a number of books to help you.  There are more advanced books upstairs in the nonfiction collection, including one that offers guidance on tracking rhinos and elephants, probably not so useful for a winter’s walk in an Iowa park, but still full of interesting information on how to best track and observe animals in a very different habitat. There are also a number of books in the children’s collection on animal tracks with easy to follow illustrations and photographs.

If you need something to take with you on a hike, you can find a good number of easy-to-print guides by simply googling animal tracks winter guide.   If  you are interested in learning more about animals a trip to the F. W. Kent Park,  the location of the Johnson County Conservation Board’s Education Center, is in order.  The center offers a good number of activities during the winter including an owl prowl, bird walks and and a snowshoe hike, all opportunities to test your animal tracking skills.   Another fun activity this winter is a chance to learn about bald eagles.  While it was once a rare event to see an eagle you can now find them along many Iowa streams and rivers.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources hosts Bald Eagle watch in various locations in the state.  The closest one to Iowa City will be near Coralville.

 

 

Best Books of 2015 (also know as more lists than you can shake a stick at)

by Maeve Clark on December 22nd, 2015

2015booksAre you looking for the best books in nearly every category imaginable? Look no farther – the largerhearted boy website has done just that.  Largehearted boy is David Gutowski’s literature and music website and for eight years he has compiled as many online best book lists that he can find.  If you know of a list he hasn’t included, feel free to mention it in the comments, he is eager to add more.  And because he is totally into lists he has also compiled online year-end music lists since 2006.

If you are curious about just who is the largehearted boy, The Atlantic did a piece about him and his project compile the best of lists in 2012.

The Best American Infographics edited by Gareth Cook

by Maeve Clark on December 15th, 2015
The Best American Infographics edited by Gareth Cook Cover Image

Infographics, the graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly, are the focus of a new book in the Iowa City Public Library’s collection.  The Best American Infographics is divided into four sections: the first, You, brings together pieces that about individuals, the second, US, groups infographics together about many.  There are language maps showing the range of the most common to the least state-by-state and another about shows the distribution of letters in the English words.

The third, Material World, if chock full of marvelous displays of information.  A particularly striking infographic is of the world’s deadliest animals showing tworlds-deadliest-animalshat sharks, who get such bad press each year, are in reality very low on the scale of deadly killers.  The top two killers are the mosquito followed by humans.  The infographic was part of Mosquito Week, an campaign funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to draw attention to their campaign to eradicate malaria.

Some of the infographics are stretch out over three and four pages.  The infographic on the Duomo in Florence is ten pages and visually stunning.

duomo

The last part of the book is a selection of the top ten interactive infographics.  While these are again visually compelling it is best to look at them online to really experience how powerfully the information is displayed.    The  Urban Layers  interactive map created by Morphocode explores the structure of Manhattan’s urban fabric. The maps lets you travel through historical fragments of Manhattan that have been preserved and can still be found in the densely built city environment. Take time to explore the website. It’s a fascinating tour from 1766 to present.morphocode-urban-layers-manhattan-buildings-all-detail-03

Polar: A Photicular book

by Maeve Clark on December 13th, 2015
Polar: A Photicular book Cover Image

Dan Kainen is back with another wonderful Photicular book. His two other books Safari and Ocean were showstoppers. Polar, written by Carol Kaufman, a National Geographic writer, highlights a number of animals which inhabit the polar regions of the earth.  Kainen,  uses the Photicular process to provide video-like images of the animals and the aurora borealis.  The polar regions were selected because the rapid changes taking place at both the North and the South Poles. The warming of the planet has caused the ice to melt.

The book opens with an essay by Kaufman detailing the polar areas, the current conditions and the animals and peoples that live in the oceans and on the land.  She also warns that the consequences of the melting ice to the rest of the planet.  What happens n the polar regions will affect us all. The spectacular images begin with the Adelie penguins that grace the cover.  The next is the polar bear and her two cubs. Included with the image is a short essay and details on the animals including size, habitat, range, diet, life span in the wild, threats and the current estimated population.  The other subjects are the snowy owl, the walrus, sled dogs, beluga whales, reindeer and the final image is that of the aurora borealis. It is Kainen and Kaufman’s hope that their book, Polar, will bring into even sharper focus the perilous state of the most northern and southern environments.

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 gasbuddy.com.  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.

 

 

 




login