by Maeve Clark on April 22nd, 2016
April 22 is Earth Day and what a better way to celebrate it than in a salute to beavers and their engineering prowess. I happened upon a Nature program on PBS on Wednesday night called Leave it to Beavers by Dam Builder Productions in association with Thirteen Productions LLC for WNET. It was wonderful. Sometime I start to watch a Nature program and I have to stop, the inevitable outcome is that the animals or area being studied is in such a steep decline that there is nothing that can be done to save them. Not so with the beavers. This realistic, but optimistic look at the world of beaver rescue and rehabilitationm gave me hope. Beavers are amazing aquatic animals. The dams they create do far more good than not. Leave it to Beavers, which is available on DVD from the library, highlights how beavers can transform and revitalize landscapes. They can help keep water where it should be and lower the temperature in the high desert area where they build their dams.
Leave it to Beavers showcases a hairdresser in Denver who rescues beavers and a Canadian wildlife biologist who rehabilitates injured beavers. The interactions between the beavers and the rescuers and rehabilitators are heartwarming. But I think the best part of all of Leave it to Beavers was the peek that viewers were afforded when we were able to see how the beaver family lived during the winter. The camera showed not only a family of beavers, including the new kits, but a pair of muskrats, a family of deer mice, frogs and aquatic insects. The beaver lodge is a very warm and welcoming abode for a long winters stay. Here’s a clip from Leave it to Beavers to pique your interest. And if you want to learn more about Earth Day, the Iowa City Public Library has shelves of materials to make the earth a better place for all of us, people and animals alike.
by Maeve Clark on April 21st, 2016
Yesterday, Jacob Lew, Treasury Secretary, announced the proposal to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist, and to add women and civil rights leaders to the $5 and $10 notes. This brought up a couple of questions at the Info Desk. Has there ever been a woman on United States paper currency? There’s the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, right? Yes, but it’s no longer minted.
ICPL’s reference collection is no where near as large as it was before the Internet (BI), but books on collecting coins and paper currency and stamps are still staples. (The collecting of coins and stamps have two fancy names -numismatics and philately – but I am always afraid I am mispronouncing them so I just stick with calling them coin collecting and stamp collecting, no need to put on airs…) The Standard Catalogs of World Paper Money and Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogues are integral parts of the collection. While there is a lot information on the values of coins, paper currency and stamps online, many collectors still prefer to use books. I am sure that next year’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money will have a feature the changes to United States currency. Maybe they will even feature the Harriet Tubman bill on the cover.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History had a fascinating piece on woman on currency on its website. One of the first historic women to appear on money was Arsinoe II, a Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, in the 3rd century BCE. Queen Elizabeth the Second, (celebrating her 90th birthday today, Happy Birthday!) has been featured on coins and currency all over the British realm. The federal government began issuing paper currency in 1861. Martha Washington appeared on a one dollar silver certificate in 1886 and Pocahontas was on the back of a 20 dollar bill in 1875. Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be featured on the back of the new $10 bill. Women on 20, a online site that pushed to have women featured on currency, is now mounting a campaign to have the new $20 bill appear at the same time as the $10 bill. The movement is a strong one and highlights the power of the web as a tool for change. And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t also include the Irish pound note that featured Queen Medb, also know as Maeve. The note was issued from 1977 to 1989 until is was replaced by the Euro.
by Maeve Clark on April 11th, 2016
Quick, what happened almost ten years ago to the date? BINGO! The F2 tornado that hit Iowa City on the night of April 13, 2006. Where were you that night and what were you doing when the twister hit? ICPL wants to know. You can stop in the library and add your story to the tornado board and even place your tale on the exact location of where you were that monumental night. And you can share your photos of the aftermath of the storm with all the world through ICPL interactive tornado map. We already have over 2000 photos but we are looking for more, especially ones from where the tornado first touched down, the south end of town. On Wednesday, you are all invited to share your stories of the the night of the tornado and the days of recovery afterwards. Iowa City, while suffering millions of dollars in damage saw not loss of life.
The National Weather Service has linked 15 tornadic events from April 13, 2006 on one page, starting with a tornado north of Marion, Iowa and ending in Alexis, Illinois. The tornado activity began at 7:40 in Iowa and ended at 10:15 in Illinois. Wikipendia calls all of the tornado activity that weekend and the following Monday, the Easter Week Tornado Outbreak, as the first tornadoes started on Maundy Thursday, April 13 and ended on Tuesday, April 18. The tornadoes moved across the plains and prairie and spread a path of destruction.
The library has a wealth of information on tornadoes real and fictional. Watch Twister, filmed in Madison County, Iowa, or everyone’s favorite, The Wizard of Oz, or better yet, read the L. Frank Baum stories on which Victor Flemming based the his film production. Look under the subject heading of tornadoes to find out what it takes for the atmosphere to roil to the extent that every home in a town is destroyed and many lives are lost or why in another locality a house can be sucked into a swirling vortex and set down in a field of corn with nary any damage .
And finally, do you know the difference between a twister and a tornado?
by Maeve Clark on March 9th, 2016
David Cavagnaro, world renown horticultural photographer, gardener and author, is the featured speaker this Sunday, March 13, at the Project Green 2nd Sunday Garden Forum. Project Green 2nd Sunday Garden forums are always wonderful programs with excellent speakers who make you want to get out in the garden or yard asap.
I was fortunate enough to hear recent Iowa Public Radio Talk of Iowa program with Charity Nebbe when David Cavagnaro was her guest. David Cavagnaro, born and raised in California, began taking pictures of insects and plants in his early teens when he become fascinated with what he calls “the land of the small.” Throughout his life, he has used this love of plants to push hard to save our agricultural diversity. Cavagnaro is a former long-time Manager for Seed Savers Preservation Gardens in Decorah and is currently president of the Pepperwood Project. The Pepperwood Project, a founded in 2008, is 55 acres in rural Decorah where people can experience good food and how to grow it.
I hope to see you this Sunday at 2 pm in Meeting Room A to learn more about David Cavagnaro’s work in preserving our plant and seed diversity.
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 dictionary. 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. I hope this post makes you a true believer.
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 is 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.
Buxton, 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.
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 participate 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.
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 you guessed squirrel, you are right.
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.
by Maeve Clark on December 22nd, 2015
Are 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.
by Maeve Clark on December 15th, 2015
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 that 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.
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.