Author Archive for Meredith Hines-Dochterman



Wrapping up Picture Book Month

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 1st, 2017

November was National Picture Book Month. To celebrate our love for picture books, ICPL staff shared photos of their favorites on social media platform all month long. The result was a list of beloved books, both old and new. If you missed seeing them the first time around, here’s every book we recommend:

Shawna: Mister Bud Wears the Cone by Carter Goodrich

“Carter Goodrich’s stories featuring Mister Bud and his brother Zorro teach some great lessons about pets, siblings, and friends. Also the illustrations are simply adorable and hilarious!”

Erik: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone- Roach

“I really love the pastel artwork and the bear’s big hungry eyes as he makes his journey to the delectable sandwich! And just prepare yourself for a wonderful twist at the end!”

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Get ready … get set … WRITE!

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on October 25th, 2017

In one week, writers of all ages will take on the ultimate challenge: to write a 50,000 word novel in one month.typewriter-801921_640

National Novel Writing Month is an internet-based creative writing project that encourages anyone who has ever thought of writing a book to use the 30 days of November to accomplish that goal. Participation is easy. Just sign up on their website before November 1 and you’ll receive notifications of local writing meet-ups, pep talks from well-known authors, tips for beating writer’s block, etc. throughout the challenge.

The Library is a great NaNoWriMo resource. We have plenty of space for you to write, nonfiction titles about writing, databases and other research materials for the fine details pertinent to your story, and published books that started as NaNoWriMo novels to inspire you. These include:

Each one of these writers started with a dream. NaNoWriMo gave them the incentive they needed to get the first draft of their dream on paper/a computer screen. There’s no reason why the next author on this list can’t be you! As Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Happy writing!

Considering the minimalist lifestyle? ICPL can help!

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 6th, 2017

Two years ago, I embarked on a cleaning spree I dubbed The Great Purge of 2015.

I spent weeks shredding credit card statements from the Clinton and Bush years. Books I couldn’t finish were placed in Little Free Libraries throughout town, kitchen gadgets I rarely used found new homes and clothes I hadn’t worn in years were stuffed inside donation bins. I’m not a minimalist, but the more items I took out of my house, the more I understood why “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo sold 1.5 million copies.

According to NPR, the average size of an American home has tripled in size over the past 50 years. Inside those homes, according to the Los Angeles Times, is an average of 300,000 items. One-fourth of homes with two-car garages have too much stuff for the cars to fit inside. Only 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in the United States, yet they own 40 percent of the toys consumed globally.

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Have you heard …

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 30th, 2017

I don’t watch a lot of TV or go to a lot of movies, but celebrity gossip blogs are my guilty pleasure. I may not always known who the stars are being discussed in these blogs, but that doesn’t make them less enjoyable.little-known-facts

Christine Sneed’s Little Known Facts is like reading a particularly juicy tidbit on BlindGossip.

Little Known Facts is a fictional look at the celebrity lifestyle through Renn Ivins. He’s in his 50s, has two kids in their 20s and two ex-wives, but Hollywood still loves him. That’s great for his career, but what about his life? Or the lives of those close to him?

This book shows the ups and downs of fame through several characters, including his current (and way younger lover), his children, and a prop master. The behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood shines a light on celebrity life we often don’t see. I’m not saying being a rich movie star sounds terrible, but you really do give up a lot to have it all.

Little Known Facts was Christine Sneed’s debut novel. I was thrilled to learn she’s published more. Even better, they’re part of our fiction collection!

One town, many stories

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 25th, 2017

janesvilleIt used to be when you asked the people of Janesville, Wisc., to describe their town — and, by default, themselves — in one word, that word would be perseverance. Or maybe diligence. Determined. Tenacious.

You can scour a thesaurus for the right word, but it boils down to this: when the people of Janesville get knocked down, they rise again — better and stronger. The city history is filled with examples of how the industrial town reinvented itself to roll with the punches. Even when the nation’s oldest operating General Motors plant — the backbone of the town’s identity and economy — closed two days before Christmas in 2008, many believed it was temporary. The plant had closed its doors before only to reopen with a new product, a new purpose. It would again.

Only it didn’t.

The plant’s closing was news. It translated into national headlines. But then Janesville fell off the public’s radar. It wasn’t the only town impacted by The Great Recession. However, reporter Amy Goldstein stayed behind to see what happened to a town without its identity, to people who not only lost their jobs, but their sense of self. The result? Janesville: An American Story.

(Note: This is Paul Ryan’s hometown. He’s in the story, but it’s the real people of Janesville who show what happened best.)

The ripple effect of the plant’s closing was felt by everyone. Teachers had students who were hungry and scared. Parents took jobs that made less money. The local community college saw historic enrollment numbers, but also adult students who didn’t know how to use computers. In-home child care operations closed because parents were no longer going to work every morning — another person out of a job. Middle class families slid into lower class and lower class families dropped below poverty level. Teenagers took jobs to support their families and families struggled to stay together. Politicians on both sides of the aisle claimed to be on the side of the American worker, but as the political divide deepened at the state and federal levels, Janesville residents shifted from being one community and turned on each other. Laid off GM workers resented those who retired with their pensions. The unemployed were angry at teachers protesting the governor’s plan to slash union rights because at least they had a job. Community leaders who still believed Janesville could survive struggled to remain positive while food banks searched for ways to keep shelves full.

This was a powerful story. Kudos to Goldstein for painting such a vivid picture of what too many towns have experienced in our economic climate. Only time will tell if we learned anything from it.

Debut fiction a slice of fun

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 13th, 2017

bakers-guideEvery other Thursday, I join two other Library staff members to refresh our first floor book displays. It’s a great chance to have fun with puns – you’ve seen our signs; we love ‘em! – and shine the spotlight on various items in our collection. It’s always a rush when a book (or movie or CD) you chose for the display is checked out by a patron.

Another thing I love about Refresh Thursdays is that it gives me a chance to peruse the Library’s collection and find something new for myself. Not that I need help filling out my TBR (To Be Read) pile. It’s not a pile. It’s a bookshelf. A real one at home (I used to buy books before I started working at ICPL) and a virtual one on my Goodreads account.

And yet I still browse.

One of the books I recently checked out after coming across it on the Library’s shelves is The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller. I love books about food, especially dessert, so when the blurb described the story of Olivia Rawlings, a Boston pastry chef who flees to Vermont after setting fire to more than her dessert at a work engagement. Olivia’s weekend away turns into more after she secures a new job as the baker at Sugar Maple Inn. But small towns have their secrets and Olivia learns she wasn’t hired just for her magic with sugar spice and everything nice.

This is the kind of story you expect to be cute and it is, but there’s so much more going on, too. It’s about second chances and family, food and small towns, commitment and fear, expectations and competitions. It was the perfect follow up after a couple of heavier reads that left me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It’s not fluffy, though. There’s layers to this book — but that’s a cake term and Olivia is all about pies.

Speaking of pies, you’re going to want one – or more – while reading this book. You might want to stock up just in case.

Late Night at ICPL on June 24

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 14th, 2017

Were you one of those kids who stayed up late reading under the covers with a flashlight? If the answer is yes, Late Night at the Library is for you!

The Iowa City Public Library will stay open until 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, in conjunction with the Downtown Iowa City Block Party. All Library services will be available during our late operating hours, including computer use and checkouts. We also have a few special activities planned.

Old School Gaming, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Meeting Room D.

We’ll have some of your favorite games from yesteryear, including Super Mario Bros, so brush off old grudges and finally settle that videogame dispute with your best from the early 2000s, if not sooner. This event is free for all participants.

Super Smash Bros Tournament, 7 to 9 p.m. in Meeting Room A.

Winner takes all, and a Downtown District gift card, in this Super Smash Bros for Nintendo Wii U battle. Registration begins at 7 p.m. The tournament begins at 7:30 p.m. Participation is free.

I SPY @IC Library, 7 to 9 p.m. in the Library Lobby.

Explore our collection like never before with our first-ever ICPL scavenger hunt! Form a team and be the first to solve all our clues, recording your answers on your smartphone. This is the one time a librarian can’t help, so we hope you’re up to the challenge!

I SPY is a fundraiser for the ICPL Friends Foundation. Participation is $5 per person with the winning team receiving a Downtown District gift card. Register your team at 7 p.m. in the Library Lobby; the hunt begins promptly at 7:30 p.m.

For more information about Late Night at the Library, call 319-356-5200. For more information about the Downtown Iowa City Block Party, visit downtowniowacity.com.

ICPL, IYWP to offer fantasy writing summer workshops

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 9th, 2017

The Iowa City Public Library has teamed up with the Iowa Youth Writing Project to offer two writing camps for teens this summer.

Worlds Away: Fantasy Writing

June 26 through June 30, 1 to 3 p.m. in Room D at the Iowa City Public Library

Teens who love stories of fantasy, folklore and mythology are invited to attend a week of world building and creativity with World Away: Fantasy Writing. Participants will make maps of new lands, write spells, discuss the finer points of magical creatures, dream up characters emerging into wild and mysterious predicaments, and turn the everyday scenes of Iowa City into enchanting and unfamiliar settings.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Writing and Designing Interactive Stories

July 17 through July 21, 1 to 4 p.m. in the Computer Lab at the Iowa City Public Library

If you’ve ever wanted to write a story that gives readers the freedom to seek their own destiny, this is the camp for you. We’ll explore the basics of choose-your-own-adventure storytelling and learn how to use free online tools to help organize and visually map multi-thread narratives. Students will create their own interactive adventure stories and turn them into digital, playable products.

Both camps are open to teens ages 13 through 18. Camps are free to attend, but registration is required. To register, visit iywp.org/programs/summer-programs and click on the registration button below the program description of the camp you wish to attend.

The Iowa Youth Writing Project is a non-profit outreach collective founded by University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduates in 2010 that aims to join Iowa City’s unique literary heritage with Iowa’s larger community by empowering, inspiring, and educating Iowa’s youth through language arts and creative thinking. For more information, visit iywp.org.

For more information about the IYWP programs offered at ICPL, call the Library at 319-356-5200.

ICPL offers Adobe Creative Suite access

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 7th, 2017

Need to design a logo, create a video, edit a photo or make a flyer but lack the software to do so?

The Iowa City Public Library is now offering patrons access to Adobe Creative Suite licenses in the computer lab. The suite features Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Dreamweaver, and many other Adobe products to help you complete your digital project.

Patrons who want to complete or begin projects are welcome to use the software whenever the library is open and the computer lab is not in use. Check calendar.icpl.org or call 319-356-5200 regarding availability.

To access the software, patrons need to check-in at the Page Station on the second floor so the room can be unlocked. Patrons who want to try the software but do not have a working knowledge of it can access tutorials online through the Library’s Learning Express database, use a book from the collection, or use Adobe’s built in help forum.

Special Access Browsing Hour at ICPL

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 5th, 2017

The Iowa City Public Library will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, so individuals with autism and their families can enjoy the Library in a calm and welcoming environment.

ICPL’s Special Access Browsing Hour is open to individuals of all ages on the autism spectrum, as well as their family members and caregivers.

June’s special access browsing hour will include Therapy Dogs of Johnson County and a special music therapy program presented by West Music at 9:15 a.m. in the Storytime Room. Attendees also will have the opportunity to create a sensory toy that replicates the motion of tornadoes. This activity promotes sensory learning, which encourages children to use scientific processes while they play, create and investigate.

The Library will use natural lighting throughout the building to accommodate those with light sensitivity. Individuals on the autism spectrum and their family members can also sign up for the Library’s 2017 Summer Reading Program, Build a Better World, during this time.

ICPL will open to the general public at 10 a.m. For more information, call the Library at 319-356-5200.