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Author Archive for Maeve Clark



“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” and 44 other phrases from Shakespeare

by Maeve Clark on April 23rd, 2014

Happy 450bill, William Shakespeare! BBC America posted 45 everyday phrases either coined or popularized by  William Shakespeare and then challenged readers to work five of the phrases into conversation today. I think I can easily use 10 if not more, how about you?  In the not too distant past – researchers, students and readers of Shakespeare as well as reference librarians relied upon a concordance of Shakespeare’s dramatic works or poems to find which play or sonnet contained a word or phrase.  While in our “brave new world” (The Tempest) Google makes finding quotes a snap, the library still retains a number of books on phrases, idioms and figures of speech in the Reference Collection. Titles such as A Hog on Ice and other Curious Expressions and Loanwords dictionary : a lexicon of more than 6,500 words and phrases encountered in English contexts show evidence of much use back when finding that special turn of phrase required using print resources.

Every summer I so look forward to Riverside Theatre in the Park’s  presentation of at least one of Shakespeare’s plays.  The venue is marvelous, (especially when it hasn’t been flooded out), the costuming and the sets are splendid, but for me what is best of all is the beauty of the language.  I could, as Shakespeare so aptly put, listen “forever and a day” (As You Like It).  If you would like to whet your appetite for Shakespeare this summer you will not want to miss, Theatre in the Park: Othello with Miriam Gilbert, on Thursday night, May 8 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.

Heartbleed – What Should I Do?

by Maeve Clark on April 11th, 2014

heartbleed Have you heard about the security flaw named Heartbleed and have concerns whether your passwords are secure?  The tech guys at Marketplace Morning Report had a very informative piece  cautioning folks not to jump the gun on changing their passwords too soon.

Quick update on Heartbleed – you may have already received messages from social media sites you use or from companies where you shop online or your financial institution letting you know whether their sites are secure or if you need to change your password. If you have not and you would like some guidance on which sites were the most vulnerable and merit a password change Mashable.com contacted the most popular social, email, banking and commerce sites on the web and shared their responses.

Why does a quarter have 119 ridges?

by Maeve Clark on April 5th, 2014

ask-history-coin-ridges One of the fun facts I learned from the Money Smart Week exhibit at the library is that dimes have 118 ridges or grooves and quarters have 119.  But what the exhibit didn’t tell me was the reason for the ridges.  So what’s a reference librarian to do? Find the answer, of course.  I started at the United States Mint which lead me to the American Numismatic Association. The first thing I learned was the technical term for the ridges or grooves on coins  is reeding.  Before the introduction of reeding, small amounts of gold or silver from coins could be chiseled or shaved away and the precious metal sold again or remelted and made into another coin. (The slang usage of the world chisel may even derive from this ancient practice.)  While quarters and dimes are no longer minted from silver, (with the exception of special collectable quarters), the ridges remain.

Come in a take a look at the exhibit – you will find it in the first floor gallery. You can explore the life cycle of currency, learn about the role of the Federal Reserve Bank and get your photo taken in $100 bill.  What else can you learn during Money Smart Week?money smart week Preschoolers will have a visit from Ben Franklin for the 10:30 preschool story time Thursday morning, April 10.   And if you want to know more about estate planning, the library has a program tailor made for you. Thursday evening, April 10, Thomas Gelman, attorney Phelan Tucker Muller Walker Tucker Gelman and John Chadima, Vice President and Trust Officer MidWestOne Bank offer Estate Planning 101: Basic Considerations.

Perro Ovejero by Oscar Urizar

by Maeve Clark on March 10th, 2014

perroovejeroThe Iowa City Public Library has a remarkable collection of original art.  Each fall the library holds the Art Purchase Prize contest and adds from six to ten original works to its circulating collection.  The winning pieces are displayed during the months of January and February on the second floor of the library.  I walk by that wall many times during the day and one piece in particular caught my attention this year – Perro Ovejero by Oscar Urizar.  This black and white photograph captures a working dog and a flock of sheep.  There is also a shepherd, though I didn’t notice him at first.  It was the dog that grabbed my attention, then the sheep and the sky and finally the man.

Items in the Art Purchase Prize collection as well as the Art-to-Go collection  of framed posters check out for two months at a time and each borrower can have two items.  A  number of libraries circulate framed art but very few loan original art.  We are fortunate to live in Iowa City where so many talented artists reside. If you have not borrowed a piece or two from this marvelous special collection take some time to see what we have. Take a gallery walk through the collection on the walls near the fiction collection on the first floor I guarantee that you will find more than two works you will want to hang at home or at work.

From the Reference Desk

by Maeve Clark on February 11th, 2014

Reference desk photoJust what happens at the Reference Desk?  We get every kind of question you can imagine on just about every topic.  Sometimes a question can be quick and easy to answer or it can be more challenging. Recently we had a patron looking for a book she thought she read last year. You know, the patron said, the book with a dog on the cover.  How hard can that be? Let’s find out.

The Reference Desk staff uses its detective skills by conducting a reference interview to help narrow down the search for the book with the dog on the cover. First we ask the patron if she has Reading History turned on in her library account.  If she does, bingo, we can search through the titles checked out and locate the book.  (If you haven’t turned on your Reading History it’s very easy – just Login to Your Account and click on Opt In and you can keep track of everything you have borrowed from the library.)

Alas, no Reading History, so we carry on with the interview. Do you remember the topic of the book? Yes, it was poetry about dogs.  Great, that helps a lot. We go to the online catalog and search under the keywords and we find the subject heading: dogs—poetry. The library has four titles in the Nonfiction collection of dog poetry, (there are more in the Children’s Room).  All of the titles have cover images in our catalog and, voila, there it is: “Book of Dog: Poems” by Cleopatra Mathis. It didn’t actually have a dog on its cover, it was not a book from 2013, but she recognized the cover and the title. And, best of all, it is on the shelf! BOD

On our way back to the stacks to find “Book of Dog” the patron tells me that she wants to check it out again to share it with a friend whose dog had just died. She recalls a poem that Mathis wrote that might just help her friend find solace at this difficult time.

Everything fell into place with that reference interview; the patron’s memory was fairly accurate,  she was able to narrow the subject down immediately and we found the title on the shelf.  All questions aren’t this easy.  Stay tuned for more tales from the Reference Desk.

That Tree: An iPhone journal documenting a year in the life of a lonely bur oak by Mark Hirsch

by Maeve Clark on January 28th, 2014

Where can a challenge take you?  For Mark Hirsch, a photojournalist, it can take you to a familiar location or in his case, to a very familiar tree, and change the way you look at everything.  For 19 years Mark drove by a the same farm field near Plattville, Wisconsin and looked at the same bur oak tree.  A friend texted him to try out the camera in his new iPhone, he did and he posted it on Facebook.

“At the time I never even considered using the iPhone camera for anything more than a passing snapshot,” recalls Hirsch. “As a result of her text though, I stopped and trudged through a crazy snowstorm to make a picture of the tree… A friend posted a note to me on my Facebook page saying ‘Dude, what’s with you and that tree, you should do a photo a day with it.’ On his challenge, I officially started the project on March 24, 2012.”

Hirsch spent the next year photographing That Tree every day, documenting the changing of seasons and sharing the tree’s hidden world with a growing Facebook following.”   Hirsch,  now has nearly 36,000 followers and published a magnificent book, “That Tree”. For everyone who enjoys fine photography and  the beauty of the nature, Mark Hirsch’s book is one to be savored and returned to again and again.   Perhaps the best way to describe the That Tree project is from Hirsch’s introduction to his book, “My relationship with That Tree has awakened a newfound vision, and appreciation for the fragility of our world and the interdependence of even the smallest of its creatures. In turn, this fresh insight has inspired my commitment to share my photos and encourage others to embrace land stewardship as a means toward a more sustainable use of our resources.”

“That Tree” might serve as an inspiration to you, maybe not to take a photograph of a tree everyday for a year, but to open your eyes to the natural world around you.

Little Wolves byThomas Maltman

by Maeve Clark on November 5th, 2013
Little Wolves byThomas Maltman Cover Image

The 2014 All Iowa Reads title is “Little Wolves” by Thomas Maltman and I read it already!  Every year the luncheon speaker on the Friday of the Iowa Library Association is the author of the All Iowa Reads book for the year.  I am usually scrambling to read the book because I am not known for planning ahead.  When the book as announced at this year’s annual conference Friday luncheon the description caught my attention -  the intertwining story of a murder, a small town set on the Minnesota prairie and a Lutheran minister and his wife who studied early Anglo-Saxon literature.  Because  the Iowa City Public Library now lets users put a hold on an item not checked out and I had my cellphone handy,  I placed a hold and the book was waiting by the time I returned to work the next day.  It also helped that I was going on vacation in two days and could read Little Wolves in a couple of delightfully free days.

Thomas Maltman is a poet as well as a fiction writer and you can tell from his lyrical prose.  He places the reader in the late 1980s  in Lone Mountain, a town in the Minnesota prairie “about 200 miles west of the Twin Cities” where the “wind has claws”.  A drought has gripped the land and a monstrous murder has occurred.  The trajectory of the two families who settled the land and the different paths the families have taken is compelling and underpins the murder.    The novel is layered with words and stories from Norse myths and allusions to Anglo-Saxon narratives, in particular the epic poem Beowulf and the myth of Ragnorak.

“Little Wolves” is a wonderful selection for All Iowa Reads, an excellent book club title.  The library will have two book club kits with 10 books, perfect for a book club looking for book sure to generate a lot of conversation.  The library also includes discussion questions with the kits.  ICPL will also hold a book discussion in October of 2014.  It is the perfect book, at least I think so, to curl up with near the fire on a dark winter’s night and read, if the wind is blowing hard, all the better.

 

 

 

Celebrate our freedom to read

by Maeve Clark on September 25th, 2013

As Justice Potter Stewart wrote, “In order to be responsible citizens who have the ability to self-govern, we must be well-informed.” A well-informed citizenry cannot exist in a society where censorship is allowed. Each year the Iowa City Public Library along with many libraries across the nation celebrate our freedom to read and view and create.

In 1995, the Iowa City Public Library established the annual Carol Spaziani Intellectual Freedom Festival to honor her 26-year career at ICPL and her life-long commitment to the freedom of ideas. Spaziani believes that the public library’s role is to be a resource and a forum for an individual’s pursuit and expression of diverse points of view.  Intellectual Freedom is a basic human right, defined by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. Intellectual freedom is central to a democratic society and libraries provide information, ideas and resources in a variety of formats, enabling an informed citizenry.

Whenever possible the Festival coincides with Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors among other groups and associations. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

At the Iowa City Public Library we have events for all ages, from stories for children from books that were banned or challenged, to activities for teens as well as programs for adults.  Thursday, September 26, at 7 pm we plan a public discussion of what censorship means in a our society and as well as in countries where the freedom of expression is not a right.  Join library staff, writers from the International Writing Program and a representative of the Hawkeye Area Chapter of the ACLU-Iowa as we discuss what it means to have this freedom and what it like to live in a society where opinions and words are suppressed.

 

 

Life after Life: A Novel by Jill McCorkle

by Maeve Clark on July 2nd, 2013
Life after Life: A Novel by Jill McCorkle Cover Image

It’s been 17 long years since Jill McCorkle published a work of fiction, but it’s been worth the wait. McCorkle, a North Carolina native, is an Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill author. That alone establishes her as a Southern author who merits attention.

Set in the Pine Haven retirement home in Fulton, North Carolina, “Life After Life”, is narrated by Joanne Lamb, a prodigal child who returns home to make amends with her father.   Joanna, a hospice volunteer at the home, tells the stories of the residents and neighbors of Pine Haven, their interactions with family, staff and other residents, and for some of them, their passing.  Interspersed among the chapters are mini-biographies of the recently deceased that Joanna recorded in her journal.  They aren’t obituaries, but reflections of the time Joanna spent with each of them.  McCorkle has captured the voices of Pine Haven, with all their quirks and idiosyncrasies.

While McCorkle has published short stories since her last novel, it iss wonderful to have her back with a longer work.  And she has promised that we will not need to wait for 17 more years for another one.

Readers note:  Two short weeks after Algonquin published McCorkle’s “Life After Life: A Novel”, Kate Atkinson’s book “Life After Life: A Novel” was published by Brown.  How very confusing.   I was talking about the book with a friend who was also reading it, at least that is what I thought, but when we started to discuss the characters, it was clear we were not on the same page nor even in the same book.  I now have a hold on “Life After Life” by Atkinson – it sounds like a winner too.

Civil War 150

by Maeve Clark on April 24th, 2013
Civil War 150 Cover Image

Iowa City Public Library begins almost three weeks of programming related to the Civil War on  Thursday, April 25.  ICPL is fortunate to be one of the two libraries in Iowa to receive a grant from the Gilder Lerhman Institute of American History to provide programming related to the Civil War and to host  the Civil War 150, a national traveling exhibition, (the Olwein Public Library also received a grant).  The panel exhibition is organized by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in partnership with The Library of America. The project Civil War 150: Exploring the War and It’s Meaning Through the Words of Those Who Lived It, has been made possible in part through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.

One of the many programs offered is a book discussion of the Civil War.  The title we selected is The Civil War : a concise history” by  Louis Masur.  A limited number of free  copies of  Masur’s Civil War book are available at the Reference Desk.  The discussion will be Saturday, May 4 at 10:30 in Meeting Room E.  I am sure we also talk about other works on the Civil War.  And if you are interested learning more about the Civil War the library can provide you with a wealth of both print and audio materials.

For more information about the other programs related to the Civil War 150,  visit www.icpl.org/civilwar150/.  Please join us for our opening reception Thursday evening at 7 pm.  Three local musicians, Guy Drollinger, Mike Haverkamp and Dave Hicks will play Civil War era music and Greg Prickman, head of Special Collections & University Archives at the UI Library, will give a presentation on the UI Civil War Letters & Diaries Digitization Project.

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