Consumer Reports rounds up best Fourth of July appliance sales

by Melody Dworak on July 2nd, 2019

Sale signHardware stores are sending email after email about their Fourth of July sales right now. Who has the best sales? Read the rest of this entry »

Birth of a Ped Mall presentation at Big Grove Iowa City

by Melody Dworak on May 15th, 2019

We’re terribly excited to present our presentation on the Birth of Iowa City’s Ped Mall tonight at Big Grove’s History of the Grove series. To make the images a little more accessible, I’m hosting our presentation slides online.

What was that really loud sound I heard last night? A cryoseismic boom!

by Maeve Clark on January 30th, 2019

Yep, that’s right.  That sound you heard was a ‘COOL’ weather phenomenon also called a cold boom.  Technically, it is known as a cryoseismic boom. A phenomenon reserved for only the coldest of temperatures and rare for the lower latitudes of the continental United States.  The boom sound is created by a cryoseism, which is a mini explosion within the ground caused by the rapid expansion of frozen water.

Cryoseisms usually occur when temperatures rapidly decrease from above freezing to subzero, and are more than likely to occur between midnight and dawn (during the coldest parts of night). In general, cryoseisms may occur 3 to 4 hours after significant changes in temperature. Perennial or seasonal frost conditions involved with cryoseisms limit these events to temperate climates that experience seasonal variation with subzero winters. Additionally, the ground must be saturated with water, which can be caused by snowmelt, rain, sleet or flooding. Geologically, areas of permeable materials like sand or gravel, which are susceptible to frost action are likelier candidates for cryoseisms. Following large cryoseisms, little to no seismic activity will be detected for several hours, indicating that accumulated stress has been relieved. (wikipedia)

The library has many fascinating books and dvds on weather and weather phenomena.  Come on down and borrow them.  Or if it’s too cold, you can stream documentaries from kanopy on extreme weather from the warmth and comfort of your home while sipping a delicious hot chocolate. If you seem a hear a loud boom between midnight and dawn, you need not fear an earthquake or an explosion.  It just the the ground crying out that it is too darn cold.  Stay warm everyone!

Early season tax information

by Jason Paulios on January 11th, 2019

Due to the federal government shutdown and tax code changes enacted last year, we are not sure what to expect with regards to receiving our regular order of federal paper tax forms for individuals and businesses. If you are hoping to pick up free federal forms from ICPL you can keep checking our Tax Programs information page and we will update the red notice box at the top when they arrive.

The Iowa Department of Revenue does not provide us with free individual state forms but we can print them for 10 cents per page at the second floor Info Desk.

VITA free tax help events happening at ICPL are also listed at the bottom of our Tax Programs information page as calendar entries. For eligibility, what to bring, as well as other times and locations visit Beta Alpha Psi’s VITA page.

Iowa Rent Reimbursement forms are now available for download via the Iowa Department of Revenue’s page and we will provide free copies of this for those that ask at the Info Desk.

Got a new device?

by Alyssa Hanson on December 21st, 2018

Did you recently get a new device, or have you had one that you haven’t had time to set up?

One of the most fun parts of getting a new device is learning about all the things you can do with it. Whether that’s a new phone, tablet, or other device, you’re likely able to get digital content from ICPL on it.

There are a variety of apps you could use and it’s hard to know where to start. So here’s a quick guide to digital content you can access with your device and your library card.

New phone or tablet? Try these apps:

For TV or streaming devices, look for the Kanopy app on these devices:

  • Roku
  • AndroidTV
  • AppleTV
  • FireTV

Didn’t get any new devices but still have access to the internet? All of the above digital content can be accessed through your internet browser as well. Try out access to:

Stuck on getting something set up or need some help getting started? Call us or stop by Drop In Tech Help and we can help.

So put that new (or old) device to work and get access to our digital library!


Note: Some of our digital content – like ebooks, digital magazines, and digital movies – is limited to our service area which includes Iowa City, Hills, University Heights, Lone Tree, and rural Johnson County. Check the Digital Library page for more information.

Help Transcribe History for the Library of Congress

by Heidi Lauritzen on December 7th, 2018

You can help transcribe original historical documents through a new program at the Library of Congress. Creating a digital transcription of manuscripts and other documents allows the public to search those documents more easily with keyword searches, and improves readability when original handwriting is difficult to decipher. Go to to learn more about it and to get to work.





Shown above is a page from a diary belonging to Clara Barton, who nursed the wounded on the battlefields of the Civil War, and the transcription of the page.

The benefits to you, the transcriber, are several: in addition to feeling good about helping others use historical documents more easily, you will have the satisfaction of becoming immersed in original sources, and also gain skills in deciphering older forms of handwriting and vocabulary. Rest assured, your transcriptions will be reviewed by others to help ensure accuracy. You may also elect to review other transcribers’ work.

The volunteer program began this fall, and already thousands of pages have been transcribed. Anyone wanting to give it a try may participate. They suggest that it works best to use a device with a full-sized keyboard such as a laptop or desktop computer; a tablet with an external keyboard should work, but smartphones are not yet supported. There is a “How to Transcribe” guide that explains how to get started. A list of common questions about the project is at the website’s FAQ page in their Help Center.

Some of the projects that have been done so far include writings by Civil War soldiers, documents by and about Clara Barton, letters to Abraham Lincoln, and diaries, letters and other papers of Mary Church Terrell, advocate for African Americans and women.  Part of the “Civil War Soldiers” project are submissions to a contest in which Union soldiers and sailors who lost their right arms by disability or amputation during the War were invited to submit samples of their penmanship using their left hands.

A similar project is happening close to home:  the University of Iowa Libraries has had an active crowdsourced transcription platform for a number of years.  Their project is called “DIY History” and has content from the UI Special Collections, the Iowa Women’s Archives, and the University Archives.

What’s the best snowblower? Laptop? Tablet?

by Melody Dworak on November 28th, 2018


Snowblower Ratings

So the 2018 Thanksgiving weekend snowstorm has you considering a snow blower for the next time Iowa City gets 8 inches. Or the gift giving season is causing you to pull your hair out about which laptop to buy to send Sally back to college with. Make informed decisions about your spending by looking up product ratings and reviews on Consumer Reports before you buy.  Read the rest of this entry »

Academic Research @ICPL

by Melody Dworak on November 19th, 2018

History by TNS from the Noun Project

Whenever I get a question at the Info Desk that requires digging deep into a research topic, I get a little excited (#NerdAlert). We may not carry textbooks in our collection, but if we can’t find a book that meets the needs of a research topic, we still can look to our Online Resources database collection to dig into the issue.  Read the rest of this entry »

Did you vote early? Track your absentee ballot!

by Melody Dworak on November 1st, 2018

Today I learned that early voters can track their absentee ballot through the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Here’s a snapshot of the info you need to look up your ballot:

Information needed to track your absentee ballot

Read the rest of this entry »

Hunter’s Moon

by Maeve Clark on October 22nd, 2018


Image via

Have you noticed moon recently? It will be full this Wednesday. It’s a Hunter’s Moon, (though with harvest delay it might be called a Harvest and Hunter’s Moon).

According to the website EarthSky “every full moon has many names, and most are tied to months of the year. But some moon names are tied to seasons, such as the Harvest and Hunter’s Moons. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The Hunter’s Moon is the full moon after the Harvest Moon. The 2018 autumnal equinox was on September 22-23 and the Harvest Moon was around September 24-25. So the upcoming full moon – on the night of October 24, 2018 – is the Hunter’s Moon.

What makes a Hunter’s Moon unique?

Nature is particularly cooperative around the time of the autumn equinox to make the fall full moonrises special. On average, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. But when a full moon happens close to the autumnal equinox – either a Harvest or a Hunter’s Moon – the moon rises only about 30 to 35 minutes later daily for several days before and after the full moon. The reason is that the ecliptic – or the moon’s orbital path – makes a narrow angle with the evening horizon around the time of the autumn equinox. The result is that there’s a shorter-than-usual lag time between successive moonrises around the full Hunter’s Moon.

These early evening moonrises are what make every Hunter’s Moon special. Every full moon rises around sunset. After the full Hunter’s Moon, you’ll see the moon ascending in the east relatively soon after sunset for several days. The moon will be bright and full-looking for several nights beginning around October 23 or 24.

The narrow angle of the ecliptic means the moon rises noticeably farther north on the horizon from one night to the next. So there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise, and, around the time of full moon, many people see the moon in a twilight sky.

How did the Hunter’s Moon get its name? There are many different explanations for the name Hunter’s Moon. In the autumn there is not long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise for several days in a row, around the time of full moon. Before there were tractors or tractors with lights, the glow of the Harvest Moon helped farmers to gather their crops. As the sun’s light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night. A month later, after the harvest was done, the full Hunter’s Moon was said to illuminate the prey of hunters, scooting along in the stubble left behind in the fields.”

I love to watch the night sky, do you?