Author Archive for Melody Dworak



What’s in the State Historical Society of Iowa archives?

by Melody Dworak on September 19th, 2018

Sometimes we get a question at the Info Desk that makes us turn to the archives held by the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI). The SHSI’s official web presence has information maintained by the State of Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, their parent body. You can dig for the links on their website to find a way to search the SHSI’s catalog of items, or you can stick this knowledge in your back pocket: the University of Iowa Libraries hosts the SHSI catalog, so you can go directly to their InfoHawk+ catalog to do your research.

 

Simple InfoHawk Search Bar

 

The two SHSI research centers are in Des Moines and Iowa City. Being a local history searcher at ICPL, I generally limit my search to what is held in the SHSI Iowa City stacks. Find the “Refine my results” section and check “Iowa City Historical Library.”

 

Refine Search by Library Location

 

The limiters available are powerful. Here I can separate out the type of document I’m looking for so I can home in on what I’m really looking for.

Active Filters

I do find myself sometimes getting lost on the website maintained by the State, which is why I like knowing I can go directly to InfoHawk+. The State’s research center Collections page does provide a nice overview of what kind of items the institution as a whole preserves, but I’m out of luck if I want to be able to tell someone they can just walk down the street to find what they are looking for.

Happy researching!

Listen: Stream Libby Audiobooks to Smart Speakers

by Melody Dworak on June 5th, 2018
Stream Audiobooks to Smart Speaker

Stream audiobooks to your smart speaker! Bluetooth streaming symbol by Google Inc. Google Home image in the public domain.

Everyone I talk to knows how much I love listening to audiobooks whenever I’m doing housework. Up until recently, I thought I could only use apps approved by the maker of my smart speaker. I knew I could cast but didn’t have my devices paired in the right way in order to make the audio from *any* app stream through my speaker. I now have my smartphone paired to my speaker and I’m never looking back.

Why didn’t I google this sooner? The instructions for pairing a device up with an Echo smart speaker are on the Amazon.com Help site. Basically, you make sure Bluetooth is turned on on the device you want to pair and you say “Pair” within range of the speaker. Then you can play whatever audio you want like it was any old Bluetooth speaker.

The Google Home Help site has instructions for pairing an Android phone to the Google Home, but what about an iPhone? They do have general instructions for playing music via Bluetooth that also works for audiobooks.

CNET has put together a how-to video to guide Apple users through the process.

You won’t be able to verbally direct the smart speaker to play what you want it to play, but using your device like a remote is the next best thing.

 

Free access to the New York Times!

by Melody Dworak on March 16th, 2018

New York Times Digital AccessNever hit a paywall again with your Iowa City Public Library card! We are pleased to announce that residents now have free access to the New York Times website anywhere, anytime. From quick news updates to deep dives into a topic, The New York Times keeps you up-to-date on what you need to know.

You will need an access code to use this resource. You must also live in Iowa City, Hills, Lone Tree, University Heights, or rural Johnson County. Further details can be found on the New York Times resource page on the ICPL website. Happy reading!

Edit: This access is available through the Digital Johnson County collections we share with the Coralville Public Library and the North Liberty Community Library. That means that Coralville residents can get free access through the CPL website, using their CPL card, and North Liberty residents use the NLCL website with their NLCL card.

New Urban Fantasy on OverDrive/Libby

by Melody Dworak on February 26th, 2018
New Urban Fantasy on OverDrive/Libby Cover Image

Those of us who use Libby regularly may have noticed that there have been some new fantasy books on the “just added” list. I’m happy to spread the news that our fiction buyer has gotten us several Helen Harper books. Helen Harper is an independent author from the UK who writes excellent series books in the urban fantasy genre. I first learned of her through the podcast Smart Podcast Trashy Books, which is hosted by a popular blog that reviews romance books.

Keeping with urban fantasy tradition, Harper’s books have strong female protagonists, as well as more alpha males than you can shake a stick at. I have yet to read her Blood Destiny series but I have made it through the 3 audiobooks for the Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic series. I will warn you that she likes bad jokes and puns, and for me that makes the series more lighthearted and fun. Read the rest of this entry »

Hey series readers, Libby has a new feature just for you

by Melody Dworak on December 28th, 2017

A new feature in Libby has made finding the next book in that series you’re reading even easier. The biggest improvement is this little icon added to the bottom right of the book cover, making it plain and easy to see which book number that title is. I am notoriously bad at knowing which Harry Potter book is which number, and with this trick, I never have to. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s announce the iPad Mini winner, shall we?

by Melody Dworak on December 22nd, 2017
iPad Mini and travel magazines

Love to travel? Don’t forget to download your favorite RBdigital magazines before you hit the road!

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the iPad Mini!

Jeff is an engineer who travels for work. He said he uses ICPL’s digital magazine collection to download magazines before hopping on his flights to and fro. The RBdigital app helps him curb impulsively buying expensive magazines while waiting in the airport. Congratulations, Jeff! We hope you enjoy your prize. Bon voyage!

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Digital Johnson County iPad promotion. I hope you grew to love our digital magazine collection as much as I do.

Two more weeks to enter the iPad giveaway!

by Melody Dworak on November 30th, 2017
Digital magazines on iDevice

Check out magazines and win!

The Digital Johnson County team has extended the iPad promotion until December 15.

If you haven’t yet given the new RBdigital app a chance, do so now for a chance to win an iPad Mini from your library. Enter the drawing at the Digital Johnson County website, and then head over to the digital magazine collection to sign up for an account. You must check out 5 magazines by December 15 to have your name entered into the drawing.

Need help downloading the app? Our IT manager, Brent, has written up helpful instructions for getting started with the RBdigital app. If you try to set up the app before you create an account on the digital magazine page, you will get an error message.

Looking for inspiration on what to check out? Drool over these Christmas cookie recipes in 5 great magazine options.

What should I bake for a Christmas cookie exchange?

by Melody Dworak on November 27th, 2017

The holiday season is in full swing. It might hit 60 degrees today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn on your oven and bake something delicious. And if you have a Christmas cookie exchange coming up, I have just the recommendations for you. The following digital magazines promise to please your cookie-loving taste buds. Or just have delight in looking at all the lovely food styling photos. I won’t judge!

 

All Recipes 

All Recipes Dec/Jan 2018

Find new twists on Christmas favorites, like peanut ginger double-deckers and cranberry pistachio spirals. Yum!

Read the rest of this entry »

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

by Melody Dworak on November 17th, 2017
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Cover Image

I have always loved the title of David Foster Wallace’s book of short stories that was published in 1999. It just clicks. You know instantly these stories will twist your stomach into knots.

The pile-up of news about sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault has brought this book back to my mind again. One only has to read the title to understand this nearly 20-year-old book contains commentary on today’s cultural climate. What is old is new again, as the saying goes. Read the rest of this entry »

Stephen King books for young adults

by Melody Dworak on October 19th, 2017
Stephen King books for young adults Cover Image

Today I helped a family look for classic Stephen King books that tweens and teens might like. You wouldn’t expect a list like that to be very long, given that he’s a horror writer. Still, I found lots of books that young adults could pick up and read and still sleep at night (maybe).

The library has a book recommendation tool called NoveList. It’s one of our online resources that you can log into from home with a resident library card and password. NoveList has a genre called “Adult books for young adults,” which helps younger readers branch out from the Young Adult Fiction section and find good books on the first floor as well. Lo and behold, 27 of Stephen King’s books fit this criteria for NoveList.  Read the rest of this entry »