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ICPL launches redesigned website

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 18th, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library’s redesigned website is live, with features designed to improve user experience, especially for patrons using Smartphones and tablets.

“Part of our long-term strategic plan was to make improvements to the Website that’s easier to navigate from both a desktop computer and mobile devices,” says Brent Palmer, the Library’s Information Technology Coordinator. “We also wanted to make our website more dynamic.”

To meet the first goal, “responsive design” elements were incorporated into the webpage infrastructure to assure an optimal viewing experience. The website is now easier to use on all equipment including smart phones, tablets and desktop computers. The content automatically adjusts based on the screen size of the user’s equipment, making site navigation easier and more appealing.

To meet the second goal, Library staff identified content, created by staff members, patrons would be interested in, including the new 123 South Linn Library Blog, which contains book recommendations from staff, and program information listed in the Library’s online calendar. Then staff identified existing webpages where the staff-created content would augment the information presented.

Infrastructure was created so the webpage dynamically pulls information into correlating webpages, bringing together a hybrid of information for our patrons.  One example is the “Books” webpage at www.icpl.org/books.  In addition to standard information about loan periods and online book-related resources, users may now explore books recently added to the collection and book reviews written by staff.

The launch of the new design is the culmination of a year’s work by the Library’s IT staff.

“We look forward to sharing the redesigned webpage with our community and continuing to explore ways to improve our user’s online experience,” Palmer says.

Digital Privacy at ICPL

by Brent Palmer on June 5th, 2014

Libraries are traditionally strong supporters of intellectual freedom.  From our official confidentiality policy:

Confidentiality of library records is central to intellectual freedom and directly related to the ability of citizens to use library materials and pursue information without fear of intimidation.

I would like to highlight some of the policies we have in an effort to support digital privacy of our patrons.

Public Internet Computers

At one level we have installed privacy screens on the public Internet computers.  These screens are simply meant to limit what others around you can see on the your screen.

In addition, all browsing history and file downloads are cleared after you log out.  It is important to remember to log out of the public Internet computers and Express Internet computers when you are finished

Catalog Searches

When doing searches in our public catalog in the building, your browsing and searching history can be removed by hitting the logout/reset button.  If you walk away, this will happen automatically after a short period of inactivity.

Checkout History

Your checkout history in our catalog is disabled by default.  Even if we were served with a subpoena we can’t disclose this information if we aren’t storing it.

 Note: However, sometimes it is nice to have that list.  You can opt to turn on history by logging into your account and clicking on “Reading History” in the left corner.

Let us know if you have questions regarding our confidentiality policies.

How East Iowa City Came to Be

by Maeve Clark on May 13th, 2014

East east iowa cityIowa City?  Really, there is an East Iowa City? Learn about the growth of the eastern part Iowa City and its early history as a manufacturing center during Irving B. Weber Days. Weber Days are held every May in honor of Iowa City’s unofficial historian, the late Irving B. Weber.  Every Wednesday in May, the Library will host an event that delves into Iowa City’s history.  This Wednesday, May 14  Dr. Thomas Schulein, another citizen historian,  will share the story of East Iowa City at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A. How East Iowa City Came to Be is one of the library’s WOW – Weber on Wednesday programs.

What would you like to learn about Iowa City history?  Share your ideas with the library and help us plan  Irving B. Weber Days for 2015.

Friday Night Concerts Begin THIS WEEK!

by Kara Logsden on May 13th, 2014

2014 05 FezLet the SUMMER begin in Downtown Iowa City! Summer of the Arts’ “Friday Night Concert Series” kicks off this Friday May 16 with The Fez.

The Fez is a 15-piece Steely Dan jazz/rock-fusion tribute band composed of many awesome local musicians. Bring your lawnchair and head Downtown to the Weatherdance Fountain Stage to enjoy summer sounds from 6:30-9:30 PM.  If there’s a chance of bad weather, check the Summer of the Arts webpage for schedule and location updates.

Can’t wait until Friday night for some local music?  Check out the Library’s Local Music Project at http://music.icpl.org/ or click here to listen to Fez musician Saul Lubaroff and his quartet play “Blues for Zane and Will.”

For a full Summer of the Arts schedule, navigate to: http://www.summerofthearts.org

We’ll see you Downtown this summer!

P.S. Don’t forget the Library is open until 8:00 PM on Fridays :)

The Spring/Summer 2014 Window has arrived

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 7th, 2014

The Spring/Summer edition of the Iowa City Public Library’s newsletter, the Window, has arrived.

The contents of the newsletter includes information about this year’s Summer Reading Program, which begins June 1; Weber on Wednesday events; a strategic planning update; news about the children’s garden; and information about the Second Annual Library Links Golf Classic on June 27.

The Window will arrive in mailboxes of Iowa City, Hills, University Heights, Lone Tree and rural Johnson County homes this week. Copies are also available in the Library’s lobby. An online version can be found here.

Ready for Summer & Library Cards

by Kara Logsden on May 7th, 2014

Library staff members are diligently working to make sure students have Library Cards and are ready for summer!  Staff traveled to Robert Lucas and Grant Wood elementary recently to sign students up for Library Cards.  2014 04 Grant Wood library cardsStaff will be at Mark Twain Elementary’s Family Night on May 29 to sign students and family members up for Library Cards.

We are also working with Teacher Librarians and Student & Family Advocates to help students at other schools sign-up for Library Cards.  In these cases, school staff collect applications and forward them to Library staff.  Library staff issue the Library Cards and mail them to the student’s home.

We are also working with Johnson County Extension’s 4-H on Wheels summer program to extend Library services to students who will participate in 4-H on Wheels in Lone Tree this summer.  Library staff will travel to Lone Tree once a week to check out Library materials to students based on the weekly 4-H on Wheels theme.  The themes are generally STEM based and including information about nutrition, science, and other interesting topics.

Since the beginning of February, Library Staff have issued 144 Library Cards though our outreach efforts with local schools.  We appreciate the wonderful staff at our schools and their dedication to help students continue to read over the summer.

Here’s a rundown of the numbers.  Three Cheers for Library Cards!

School # Cards Issued
Lone Tree 13
Shimek 5
Weber 12
Horn 28
Mann 5
Lucas 19
Hills 2
Wood 60
Total 144

Kirkwood English Language Learner Program Tour

by Kara Logsden on May 6th, 2014

We received a wonderful letter today from Kirkwood Community College’s English Language Learner program following a tour for their students last month. Students enrolled in Kirkwood’s program who were on this tour were from Sudan, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, El Salvador, Guinea, Laos, Vietnam, Mexico and Algeria. They were a fun group and even enjoyed some of my jokes (which building downtown has the most stories?).

Library staff enjoy welcoming everyone to the Library and especially people who are new to our community. It is fun to see the Library through new eyes, and to see patron making connections with how they may utilize Library resources in their own lives.

The letter from Kirkwood’s staff says, “The students were frankly amazed about the size, services, comfort, and approachability of the library … Thank you for teaching these Iowa City newcomers from around the world about your library services and for making them comfortable with and eager to visit the library.”

We extend our thanks to Kirkwood for introducing the Library to their students and for working with us to host the English Conversation Group on Friday mornings.  For more information about Kirkwood’s program for English language learners, navigate to http://www.kirkwood.edu/esl.

Library Services for Persons over Age 55

by Kara Logsden on May 5th, 2014

Recently the Iowa City City Council appointed an ad-hoc Senior Services committee that will begin meeting in May. In preparation for these meetings, the Library provided information about collections, programs and services of interest to people over age 55. I thought I’d share some of the interesting tidbits from the Library’s report.

Library Cards:  As of April 24, 2014, 7,491 people over age 55 had active Library cards with 8,089 items checked out.  Of those, 4,938 people live in Iowa City and they have 5,567 items checked out.  995 live in rural Johnson County and they have 1,091 items checked out.

At Home Services:  The Library’s At Home service provides traditional Library collections by mail to residents of the Library’s service area (Iowa City, rural Johnson County, Hills, University Heights and Lone Tree) for those who are unable to come to the Library because of a physical disability. Most people enrolled in At Home Services are over age 55. Currently 128 patrons are enrolled in At Home services and in FY13, an average of 39 patrons were served each month. In FY13, the Library loaned 2,888 items to and the Library’s Switchboard answered 255 calls from At Home patrons.

Community Outreach Collections:  The Library maintains community outreach collections at many retirement residences and other community organizations that serve people over age 55. These sites include the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center, Oaknoll, Melrose Meadows, Walden Place, Capitol House Apartments, Chatham Oaks, Hope Lodge, and MECCA. Some sites utilize books checked out from the Library’s collection, while others accept donated materials. In FY13, 660 items were loaned to community organizations from the Library’s collection and 2,242 items, culled from donations to the Library and withdrawn materials, were sent for members of the community to use.

Volunteer Program:  The Library connects with many community members through our Volunteer Program. In FY13, 364 people volunteered at the Library. Of those, 83 volunteers were over age 55 and they volunteered 4,154 hours.

Technology Support:  For the first nine months of FY14, the Library assisted 358 patrons in our Drop-In Tech Help sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Staff estimates 50% of the people who seek assistance at these sessions are age 55 and over.  There is a also special Senior Tech Zone weekly on Thursdays, from 10:30 AM-12:30 PM, staffed by volunteers from the Johnson County Livable Community project.

The Library serves people over age 55 in many ways. The information above represents a snapshot of some of the collections, programs and services available at the Library. If you have questions, please give us a call.

Fizz Boom Read This Summer!

by Vickie Pasicznyuk on May 2nd, 2014

In just one month, the summer reading program starts at the Library! This year’s program, Fizz Boom Read, will put a spark in your summer plans! From June 1 through August 2, kids can earn prizes for the reading they do over the summer and also learn about science, the library, and their community with activities and programs. Fizz Boom Read will motivate kids to read, helping them maintain reading skills over the summer and have fun while doing it.

Get the whole family involved! There’s a summer reading program for any age. In fact, even babies and toddlers can play, with fun activities designed to stimulate language development. Teens can Spark a Reaction at the Library, and adults will Make the Library Your Laboratory in their science-themed programs.

We are grateful to our sponsors for providing prizes and support for the summer reading programs. Please join us in thanking the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation, Blank Park Zoo, Chick-fil-A, Daydreams Comics, Iowa Children’s Museum, Iowa City Parks and Recreation, McDonald’s, Noodles & Company, Hardees, and Westdale Bowling Center.

Visit http://www.icpl.org/srp/ for more information. You can sign up and start reading on June 1!

Fizz Boom Read this summer—it will be a blast!

Come to the Table

by Brent Palmer on May 1st, 2014

Come to table

Want to build something? Have a great idea?

The Iowa City Public Library has an interactive touch table for its Children’s Room and needs your help bringing it to life. We are looking for games that are:

  • multi-touch
  • multi-player
  • collaborative or constructive
  • for ages 6-12
  • easy to get started

Contact Brent Palmer




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