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2015 Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on June 9th, 2015

ICPL has a great Summer Reading program every year.  But it’s not just for kids.

The Adult Summer Reading program “Everyday Heroes” runs from June 1 to August 9th, (just like the kids’ and teens’ programs.)  Simply read 5 books – or read 3 books and attend 2 of our Summer Reading Program events – before August 9th to be eligible for a free book and an entry into our Grand Prize drawings. (*see the bottom of this post for a list of prizes).

Signing up is easy:  click  HERE  to register, and then HERE to print your game card – or stop by either the Help or Information Desk next time you’re in the building and we’ll sign up up in person and grab a preprinted game card.

We have some great events scheduled for this summer.  The fun kicks off this Wednesday night, June 10th at 7:00 p.m.

ForeverGR Be An Environmental Hero  Managing Storm Water/Create a Rain Garden. Managing Storm water to protect our water resources has hit home in our communities. The goal of storm water management practices is to capture rain fall and allow it to absorb into the ground reducing runoff, pollution, and the risk of flooding. Lucy Hershberger, founder of Forever Green Garden Center, will be here to teach us what we can do in our yards to help reduce flooding, protect our drinking water and improve water quality in our rivers, streams and lakes.

Other events scheduled for this summer:

monuments menWed., June 24 7:00 p.m.  Monuments Men Movie Screening.   Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Bill Murray, Directed by George Clooney, this film follows a group of every day men who joined the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program during WWII. Their mission was to find and save pieces of art and other culturally important items before their destruction or theft by the Nazis during WWII.

 george stoutWed., July 1, 7:00 p.m.  Iowa’s Own Monuments Man: George Stout.  During WWII, Winterset, Iowa native George Stout was a member of the U.S. Army’s “Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program” devoted to recovering art and other items of cultural importance that had been stolen by Nazis or hidden for safekeeping.    In 2014 these men and their mission became known world-wide with the release of the film “The Monuments Men,” directed by and starring George Clooney, who’s character Frank Stokes was based on George Stout.  Our guest speaker, Nancy Trask, Director of the Winterset Public Library, Winterset, Iowa has spent years researching George Stout and the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program.  She’ll be here to share all that she’s learned.

unsungWednesday July 8, 7:00 p.m.  Documentary Screening:  Unsung Heroes – The Story  of America’s Female Patriots.   Every woman that has ever served in the American military has volunteered to do so. These are women who, despite the hardships of military service, are proud of their long-standing commitment to the patriotic ideals of the United States. This new documentary, written and directed by Frank Martin with executive producers Ron Howard, Richard Rosetti, and Louisa Velis, is currently airing on PBS stations across the nation.  See it here first!

gable brandsMonday, July 13, 7:00 p.m.  What it Takes to Become A World Champion – with Dan Gable and Tom Brands. Spend and evening with Olympic gold metalists – and former and current Iowa hawkeye Wrestling Coaches Dan Gable and Tom Brands as they talk about what it takes to become an Olympic competitor.

open sesameWednesday July 22, 7:00 pm  Documentary Screening: Opene Sesame – The Story of Seeds.   This documentary by M. Sean Kaminsky follows the history of seeds, from their shift from a shared, local and cultureal resource, into patented, privately and coporately owned property.  Open Sesame details this history and presents some of the challenges faced today by organic and small growers, seed savers, and seed freedom advocates.

 seed savers decorahWednesday, July 29th 7:00 pm  An Evening with Seed Savers Exchange.   Staff from Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa will be here to talk about saving seeds and theimportance of preserving heirloom seeds.  Seed Saving makes us all heroes.  This event is sponsored by ICPL and New Pioner Coop.


*Grand Prize Choices for the 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program:  A single one-year membership to Film Scene; one $50 Downtown Iowa City gift card; one $50 gift certificate to A&A Pagliai’s Pizza; and a pair of 2-hour Paddle Passes at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area.



Music Music Music

by Kara Logsden on October 8th, 2015

2015 10 lmpMusic is the Word at Iowa City Public Library and we’re off to a great start. Music is the Word is a 9-month celebration of music to welcome the University of Iowa School of Music to Downtown Iowa City.

We’ve hosted a couple music events and already I’ve broadened my “music horizons.” The kickoff at The Englert Theatre in September was awesome and I was in awe of the many talented people who performed (thank you!). After seeing The Beggarmen, Kol Shira, and others, I want to hear more! Fortunately the Library’s Local Music Project has options for listening to local musicians.

2015 10 School of music

Scott Cochran and Matt Kearney’s performance at a recent Noon program sparked my interest in their music and I was able to see Scott’s band, Slewgrass, at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market a week or so ago. I also found Scott’s music with his other band, Flannel, in the Local Music Project and, after downloading it, I’ve been listening to their music at work and at home.

2015 10 SlewgrassMany other Music is the Word performers have music available in the Local Music Project. These include Awful Purdies, Crystal City, and David Zollo.

We invite to you head to the Library for the many upcoming musical events. A full schedule is available at There’s something for everyone! See you at the Library :)

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.




Little Free Library Tour Ends at Iowa City Book Festival

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 30th, 2015

On a Sunday afternoon in June of 2013, I watched as my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop filled two Little Free Libraries with books from their bookshelves. It was the last step in their year-long Silver Award project and a way to leave a legacy at their North Liberty elementary schools as they made the transition to junior high.Little Free Library

Those girls are in high school now, but the Little Free Libraries they installed at Garner and Van Allen elementary schools remain, both an ever-revolving selection of books for the students who walk by them every day.

The Take a Book, Leave a Book movement got its start in Hudson, Wisc., in 2009 when Todd Bol built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.

Today, there are more than 32,000 registered Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and 70+ countries.

Bol, executive director of the Little Free Library movement,  and Margret Aldrich, author of The Little Free Library Book, are two of this weekend’s Iowa City Book Festival featured speakers. Their presentation will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday in Meeting Room A.

This appearance is Bol’s last on his Iowa leg of his Little Free Library Across America Tour. Rachael Carlson, director of operations for the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, says Bol will build a Little Free Library is the Pedestrian Mall before and after his talk. For anyone who has considered building their own Little Free Library, Saturday’s event is the perfect time to learn more about it.

The Iowa City Book Festival begins Thursday and continues through Sunday. For a complete list of events, including those happening at the Library, visit

Volunteers are still needed for this year’s festival. To sign up, click here.

Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village

by Katherine Habley on September 29th, 2015
Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village Cover Image

This gorgeous new picture book is written by Fang Suzhen of Taiwan and illustrated by Sonja Danowski of Germany.  In the story, a little boy, Xiao Le, and his mother travel by train to visit his maternal grandmother who is sick.  At first the little preschooler is shy when he sees his grandmother in bed looking older than he remembered.  Although he brought his truck to show her, Xiao Le isn’t ready to part with it yet.  The adult reading this book to a child will understand quickly that Grandma is dying and this will be their last visit together.  Little Xiao Le runs to get his mother’s help when Grandma needs some water.  He pets her cat, Shadow, on the bed.  While the mother goes outside to hang clothes in the yard, Grandma gets out of bed to enjoy some sunshine and play a game with the wood sorrel leaves outside with Xiao Le.  The three enjoy tea in the garden and finally his grandmother goes back to bed to sleep and Xiao Le gives her his truck for company.  Back home the little boy and his mother learn from Aunt Zhou that Grandma has “left Perfume Village and moved into heaven.”  The loving comfort depicting the mother’s grief and her son’s concern is tender and realistic.  What makes this book about death so special is the artwork.  Danowski’s exquisite watercolor paintings are reminiscent of the artwork by Paul O. Zelinsky and Gennady Spirin.  The illustrations are warm and gentle, and lovingly detailed.  Capturing the Asian family so beautifully in the artwork gives us a very special book to share with youngsters who may have encountered a death in their own family.  The quality of the book is also obvious in the heavy paper used.  There is further information about the author and the illustrator at the back of the book.  Gorgeous pictures and the touching text make for a wonderful picture book.  Take note of this title; I loved it!

Marching Band Display

by Casey Maynard on September 26th, 2015

Our nine month long initiative to welcome the new UI School of Music, Music is the Word (MITW), has officially begun with a bang! We had a wonderful kickoff musical revue event at the Englert last Sunday and are looking fMarching band pics2orward to some wonderful events through May of next year.

Currently we are displaying some unique and fun marching band items in the large display case outside of the Children’s Department.  Herky is also making an appearance in ICPL on a very large, vintage bass drum on one of the large print shelves.

Many thanks go to West Music, the University’s School of Music and Regina High School for their generous donations for the duration of this display.Be sure to stop by and check out these wonderful items through Homecoming weekend.

Keep your eyes peeled for more fun displays to come throughout the rest of MITW!



Overdrive Tips: ePub vs Kindle Formats

by Brent Palmer on September 25th, 2015

Some of our eBook users have asked for more information about eBook formats and which one is best.

Image showing the download button with format options from overdrive

After you have selected an eBook to check out you are presented with a choice about which format to download. The “format” just describes how the content of an eBook is assembled so it can be displayed in eReader software.  Functionally, they are all about the same although there may be some small feature differences.  Generally speaking, you can usually use any format. In order to read Kindle format on a non-Kindle device you need the Kindle app. To read ePub formats on a Kindle, you need the Overdrive app (however, Kindle eReaders like the Paperwhite must use the Kindle format).  Here are a few guidelines:

Kindle Format

Pro: If you own a Kindle, the books show up in your carousel and generally behave like other eBooks you have bought from Amazon.
Con: checking out and returning books can be a little more cumbersome as this has to be done online via your Amazon account.

ePub Format

Pro: Assuming you are using the Overdrive Media Console (app), the whole process happens within the app. Browsing, checkout, download, read and return.
Con: If you are a kindle user, it may be more cumbersome to remember that your library eBooks are in the Overdrive app.

In general, if you aren’t sure which to choose, I would recommend using the ePub format.

More Info from Overdrive Help:

The difference between eBook Formats

If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

A Budding Hobby

by Shawna Riggins on September 25th, 2015

When my husband and I were looking for new places to live this past spring our top priority was finding a place with a fenced in yard for our pugs to romp in and enjoy. After living in our new location for almost three months now I have realized that the yard is almost as exciting for me as it is for the pugs.

Frank and Fifi are not the only ones excited to have a yard!

Frank and Fifi are not the only ones excited to have a yard!

Over the past few weeks I noticed mums being sold all around town and walked past them with longing. Then it dawned on me; I have a lawn, I can plant flowers! I immediately searched the Iowa City Public Library catalog and found some books to help me as I began thinking about what to plant and how to go about creating my first flower bed. I knew I wanted to plant mums because I love how they look and I read that they are pretty hardy so hopefully I wouldn’t kill them. Additionally, I decided to plant tulips so I would have flowers to enjoy as soon as winter ends, as well as some hostas that I was able to split and transplant from an abandoned bunch in the back yard.

Luckily I will have plenty of reading material over the Winter!

Luckily I will have plenty of reading material over the Winter!

Now the flowers are in the ground and the mulch has been spread, but my new obsession has just begun! I am already scoping out other parts of the yard and wondering what more I can do. Luckily for me, ICPL subscribes to several home and garden magazines to keep me thinking about new and different projects I can begin. What lawn or house project have to undertaken recently with the help of library resources?

14 Days, 88 Meetings, 12 Authors –What’s It Worth?

by Susan Craig on September 22nd, 2015

I attended a talk in the Library yesterday titled, “Creative Matters,” by Sunil Iyengar, Research and Analysis Director for the National Endowment for the Arts.  He was sharing information about world-wide efforts to begin to quantify and measure the contribution to a country’s GNP from arts and culture activities.

Measuring beyond counting is a hard thing for single public library.  We can count the number of things checked out, the number of people at a program, the number of questions answered, or the use of our computers.  However, the most meaningful measures indicate how lives were changed in positive ways, and for that we have mostly anecdotal evidence.

I am confident that we contribute substantially to the vitality and economy of downtown Iowa City.  We are a destination point with over 800,000 visitors a year — not a number to sneeze at!  Many of those people come to the library to attend a class, a program, or a meeting.

From Sunday, September 20, through Saturday, October 3, we have 88 meetings, programs and classes offered at the Library.  Seventeen children’s programs include Book Babies (choose English one week, Spanish the next!), traditional story times, Minecraft and video games, a family concert and a Mary-Poppins sing-along.  Teens have special tech times as well as group activities.

It’s a busy time for Library or Library co-sponsored programs with many choices that are part of the Intellectual Freedom Festival or of the City of Literature’s Iowa City Book Festival, including 12 authors, one book discussion and a poetry reading.  Music is the Word programs account for live music programs for all ages, films and a book discussion. Adults can also learn to organize and share digital photographs, improve their financial literacy, attend a showing of the documentary of the Postville Raid or the Gallery Walk:  Rummage ReDux.

If that’s not enough you may be coming to the Library to go to one of 57 non-library meetings or programs scheduled during this two week period.  A few of the groups associated with these meetings are The Society For Creative Anachronism, League of Women Voters, Catholics in America, Old Capital Toastmasters, Open Meditation Group, Korean Cultural Festival, Friends of Hickory Hill Park, and Hawkeyes for O’Malley– truly a cross section of the Iowa City Community.

Iowa City has an active creative economy – one that is fully supported in many (hard to measure :)) ways by the Library.   So many things to do….so little time.

Artists–get your entries in for this year’s Art Purchase Prize contest!

by Candice Smith on September 22nd, 2015


There’s just a little over one week left to get your submissions in for this year’s Art Purchase Prize contest! We’re accepting entries through Sunday, October 4, and the first round of judging is on Tuesday, October 6.

Find the full criteria on our website; if you have any questions please contact Candice Smith at or 319-887-6031.

Winning works of art are added to the Library’s Art To Go collection, located on the first floor, on the wall separating the adult fiction collection and the Children’s Room. Cardholders can check out two works at a time, for two months. The collection is made up of original art from the contest, along with reproductions of well-known works of art. So, if you’ve still got some bare apartment walls to decorate, or want to try out a new kind of art in your home, stop by the Library!

Music on Wednesday: Scott Cochran and Matt Kearney

by Kara Logsden on September 19th, 2015

2015 09 Music on WednesdayHead to the Library at Noon on Wednesday September 23rd for some toe-tapping Americana music from Scott Cochran and Matt Kearney.

Scott Cochran is a musician from the Iowa City-based bands, Slew Grass and Flannel. In a recent post about the Slew Grass CD, one reviewer described the music as “Singer-songwriterly regional bluegrass music with vocal harmonies, and instrumental finesse that will take your breathe away.” You can preview Scott’s vocals and guitar while playing with Flannel on this recording on YouTube. Listening makes me excited for the live performance at the Library!

Matt Kearney is also a musician from Iowa City and plays with the Iowa City-based band Pigs and Clover. (Pigs and Clover will perform in the Library’s Lobby on Wednesday October 14th at Noon.) Matt grew up in Western Iowa and discovered his passion for music at a young age while playing with friends. Matt’s vocals and instrumentals can be previewed on this recording from the Pigs and Clover webpage.

2015 09 Scott CochranOn a personal note, I’ve known Scott since we were in junior high together more years ago than we’d like to admit. Recently we’ve become reacquainted on Facebook and I’ve been curious about his music. When I asked Scott for a photo to help promote his program, he sent me the awesome photo of him playing guitar when he was young.

I’m looking forward to Scott and Matt’s performance at the Library and the experience of live music in the Lobby. We hope to see you at Noon on Wednesday September 23rd. :)