You know how you’re always judging books by their covers? Of course, we all do. For the month of February, though, we want you to see past those stereotypical cover images and go home with a book where the author’s name is way bigger than the title (or vice versa).
Library staff members have selected our favorites and, based only on our descriptions, we hope you’ll find something you love, too. Blind Date with a Book was so popular last year that we’ve expanded it to music CDs. Pick up your Blind Date with an Album over by the music CDs on the 1st floor.
Blind Dates can be checked out at either a Self Check station or the Help Desk. (Avoid looking at the receipt, though, if you want to keep it a surprise until you get home.) Inside each package, you’ll find a Rate Your Date card to fill in your first impression and let us know how the date went. Return the card to the Help Desk to be entered in a drawing for $25 worth of Molly’s Cupcakes (for books) or $25 in the Iowa City Downtown District (for albums). Many thanks to our generous sponsors!
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.
In a new picture book biography by Barbara Herkert, a brief text in language appropriate for K-3 grades tells about the strong-willed girl born in 1860 who wanted to be an artist. At 16 she enrolled in art school and studied at the Academy with all the male students. She next traveled to Paris to study against her father’s objections. Like many artists, she copied the Old Masters paintings found in the Louvre Museum. When her artwork was rejected by the Salon, the impressionist painter, Degas, invited Cassatt to join an independent painters’ group and they broke all the rules by using brilliant tones and splashes of white, pastels and soft blurry images. She captured on canvas what she saw around her. For Mary, art was life and life was art. Although she never married, Cassatt painted many beautiful pastels of mothers and babies. When her family moved to Paris, she used them as subjects of her heartfelt paintings. Her art now hangs in museums all over the world. This book will be encouraging to young artists to pursue their artistic dreams. Cassatt’s paintings continue to inspire, inform, and uplift people today. The illustrations in this picture book are done by Gabi Swiatkowska of France. An author’s note and list of sources are included in the back of the book. Before a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, check out this title and share it with your youngster.
I just discovered a new TV series that has become one of my all-time favorites: The Detectorists. As the two protagonists keep having to explain, “We’re not metal detectors, we are detectorists”. That is: they are the guys who operate the metal detectors; and they take it very seriously. The show surrounds the efforts of hobbyist treasure hunters who are convinced they are about to discover the lost burial of a Saxon king. It’s high stakes among the hobby clubs in the area to secure the rights to a farm that is rumored to be a hot prospect. The show was written and directed by Mackenzie Crook, who you might know as the gung-ho assistant on the British version of The Office. It is very funny and the dialog is great as is the music and filming. This is an easy one to binge-watch, so take it easy. Only watch a couple at a time; there are only six in the first season.
A huge thank you to the 336 people who volunteered at the Library in 2015!
Volunteers checked in books, ran the Book End bookstore, cleaned the play kitchen items in the Children’s Room, tutored high school students, planned teen programs, indexed the Press-Citizen, hauled books for our book sales, and more.
Their total of 9,567 hours in 2015 was 611 more than last year and equivalent to 4.6 full-time staff. ICPL wouldn’t be the same without the help of our dedicated volunteers!
From January 4 through February 29th people of all ages can join in the fun of ICPL’s first Winter Reading Program!
You don’t even need to register – just stop by any of the desks in the Library and pick up a Bingo game card. There are four game cards available: Babies, Kids, Teens and Adults. Instructions for playing are on the back of each card. To fill in a square all you need to do is read, attend a program, or explore the Library. Everyone who finishes the game before March 1st is invited to the Pizza and Popcorn Party to celebrate. Your completed Bingo card is your ticket to the party.
Here are some of the squares on the Adult game card (and some possible answers):
Read a book you should have read in High School. (Something all your friends were reading, or a popular book of the time. You don’t have to read a classic that was assigned in school. Unless you want to.)
Once upon a long time ago my daughter decided she wanted to take guitar lessons. I checked around and Deb Singer’s name kept coming up as a recommended teacher. For some reason we decided I should take lessons too, so soon my daughter and I had guitars and we were meeting with Deb once a week.
I’d love to say that we became guitar masters but alas, it was not meant to be (and this was no fault of Deb’s ). Mostly we enjoyed listening to Deb play with us and were amazed at how great we sounded when we were with Deb (an how not great we sounded when we were home practicing).
Please join us on Wednesday January 13, 2016 at Noon when Deb will share her classical guitar favorites with our Library audience. If the weather is mild we will be in the Lobby. If it’s cold we’ll move the program to the 1st Floor Gallery area near the magazine collection.
Deb is very well known in our community with the “under 5 crowd.” She is a regular at ICPL Storytimes and at local preschools. Deb has a passion for music and movement and it is a joy to watch and listen as she plays and dances with children.
Last Wednesday was my last outreach before schools’ Winter Break. The kids say they’ll miss me. They give me hugs before I leave for the library…what’s not to love about my job?
Katherine Habley, Nancy Holland, and I do children’s outreach every week. Maybe you’ve seen us leaving the library with bags of books or puppets hanging out of our wheeled library suitcases. Between the three of us, we visit 40 Iowa City sites, which include preschools, daycares, Neighborhood Centers, and Hacap (Hawkeye Area Community Action Program) centers. We share stories with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
While manning the desk, we’ll often encounter a family whose child runs to us with arms open. The child’s parents are somewhat confused and ask how we know their child, so we explain our outreach program and are acknowledged with immediate smiles and gratitude for our services to the community.
Part of our strategic planning for fiscal year 2016 is to create a bookmark informing parents about our 30-minute storytime. Hopefully, the bookmark will encourage parents to talk and ask open-ended questions about encouraging early literacy in the home.
Here are the bookmarks we’ve been handing out to sites since the beginning of the school year.
Outreach is a big part of the joy we get from our jobs. We get the “warm and fuzzies” after each visit. There’s nothing better than reading books and getting smiles, hugs, and kisses after storytime. Our job is as Mister Rogers sings, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”