Orionid Meteor Shower reaches it’s peak this weekend!

by Beth Fisher on October 17th, 2018

 

If you’re not often outside late at night, you might not be aware that something pretty special has been going on this week.  The 2018 Orionid Meteor Shower began on October 15 and ends October 29th.  Peak nights for viewing the meteor shower this year are this weekend!  Prime viewing time will be around around 2:00 a.m Saturday and Sunday, as the moon will be nearing the horizon.  You should be able to see at least a few meteors during any night the sky is clear during the last half of the month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Orionids happen every year in late October when the Earth passes through the stream of ice particles and rocks trailing Haley’s Comet. Haley’s Comet has a highly elliptical 75.5 year orbit around the Sun. It last passed through the inner part of the solar system in 1986.  Each time it passes the Sun a bit of the ice on the comet melts and rocks and larger chunks of ice break off and join the stream of debris following the comet.

 

 

 

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Of Celts, the dearly departed, candy, and other hallowed things.

by Candice Smith on October 16th, 2018
Of Celts, the dearly departed, candy, and other hallowed things. Cover Image

Halloween was a holiday that I loved and hated when I was a kid…I found it a little nerve-wracking to come up with a good costume idea, to dress up and go out in front of people, and to go knock on doors. BUT–the candy. I loved Halloween because of the outrageous amount of candy you could get, for free, by just walking around for a couple hours. It was unbelievable, like a dream come true. Now that I’m older, I can buy my own candy and satiate my sweet tooth like a normal person, but I still enjoy handing out candy to the kids who come to my house, seeing them in all their spooky spectacularness. Just how did this fantastic holiday come to be? I’m glad you asked!

As I have before (for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) I went to the excellent America’s Favorite Holidays by Bruce Forbes to find out. As is often the case with days we celebrate, the beginnings of our Halloween can be found centuries ago, and is related to the change in seasons and how that affected everyday life. The Celtic people in Ireland and the British Isles (ca. 500 BCE)  celebrated a harvest-season festival called Samhain; this took place on November 1, a day that was essentially the beginning of their new year. This was the time when the agricultural season was ending and the harvest was brought in, and animals would be slaughtered so that they didn’t have so many to feed over the winter; in essence, their new year began when their work ended, they were flush with food, and they were getting ready to face the coming dark and cold season. They would have a huge three day celebration where accounts were settled, legal matters decided, food shared and bonds strengthened. This last hurrah of the year began the day before Samhain, October 31. In addition to the annual festivities, this was also an important time of year spiritually. No doubt they were influenced by the lengthened periods of darkness and the dying off of flora as winter approached, and they believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead was less substantial. Read the rest of this entry »

Internet cookies…nom,nom,nom

by Alyssa Hanson on October 1st, 2018

Have you ever wondered why you see ads for items you’ve previously looked at online? Those shoes you looked at on Amazon follow you around like a bad Halloween stalker appearing on site after site that you visit. This is the result of cookies. Not cookies you can eat, unfortunately, but ones that websites leave on your computer.

Internet cookies are small little files that can contain a variety of information with each site leaving different types of information. Shopping sites for example will leave information about what you looked at which can be accessed by other sites who may then pull in that information and show you similar items in the ad portions of their page. They will then get a small amount of money if you click on that item. It’s a way for some sites to make money.

But cookies are also left on your computer for things like your username and password for a site. Next you time you visit a site that has saved a cookie for its login, the site will have autofilled in your username and maybe your password so you don’t have to remember it. So there are also ways when it can be convenient to have the site remember you.

What to do if you don’t want cookies to be saved from a website? Most browsers have a mode that will automatically delete your browsing history and all cookies after you close it. In Firefox and Safari it’s called Private browsing, in Chrome it’s Incognito, and in Microsoft Edge it’s InPrivate.Browser settings with private window highlighted I use this a lot when shopping for items online whether I’m just looking up prices for something I’m really going to go pick up from a store, or for things that I’m going to buy online but don’t want to see ads for afterwards.

You can also delete cookies manually by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Delete on a PC and Command + Shift + Delete on a Mac in most browsers.

Of course, private browsing also has its limitations. If you log into any online account while in a private browsing mode, you can still be linked back to sites that you’ve visited even after clearing the cookies from your computer. So while your computer may not know you’ve been there, the site you visited will.

All in all though, private browsing can be an extremely useful tool when you want to look up something and not have it follow you around the internet.

How do I register to vote?

by Melody Dworak on September 24th, 2018

VoteNational Voter Registration Day is September 25, 2018. If you are not yet registered to vote, or not registered to vote in Iowa, National Voter Registration Day is a perfect time to get registered. There are so many places in this area to register in person, thanks to this nationwide voter drive. Anyone can search for events in their zip code on the National Voter Registration Day website. For local events, register in person at the following locations:  Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in the State Historical Society of Iowa archives?

by Melody Dworak on September 19th, 2018

Sometimes we get a question at the Info Desk that makes us turn to the archives held by the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI). The SHSI’s official web presence has information maintained by the State of Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, their parent body. You can dig for the links on their website to find a way to search the SHSI’s catalog of items, or you can stick this knowledge in your back pocket: the University of Iowa Libraries hosts the SHSI catalog, so you can go directly to their InfoHawk+ catalog to do your research.

 

Simple InfoHawk Search Bar

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Renew Your Drivers’ License at ICPL

by Mary Estle-Smith on September 14th, 2018

In fall with influx of new Iowa City residents we get many people asking about  license renewals.  If you are one of these people, there is an option other than going to the DOT office and potentially waiting in a  long, slow line.

ICPL may have the solution for you.

We have  a DOT kiosk on the 2nd floor of the library .  It is available for use any time that the library is open to renew or replace your license. There are some restrictions. For example, if your current license if not from Iowa or if  it has been expired for a long time (more than 1 year and 60 days), you will still need to go to the DOT office. The kiosk, similar to visiting the DOT in person, will give you a paper receipt at the conclusion of your transaction. You must pay with either credit or debit card. Your actual license will be mailed to you within 21 days of application.

Our Kiosk sees a continual increase in use  but we have not had any lines waiting to use it–so far.

The kiosk also gives you 2 chances at getting a decent photo although it doesn’t seem to let you choose.  My first one was bad the second one was worse and that is the one I had to use.  I guess the motto is to take a  “do over” at your own risk.

For complete information about requirements and who is eligible to use this convenient service go to:  https://iowadot.gov/mvd/kiosks.

If you are not able to use the kiosk for some reason,  here is the information on the DOT office:

Eastdale Mall

1700 South First Ave.

Iowa City
(319) 338-5294
and their website:

The 2018 Perseid Meteor shower peaks this weekend!

by Beth Fisher on August 9th, 2018

The Perseid meteor shower occurs each year in late Summer, with peak viewing around the 2nd week of August.  In 2018, the peak will be this weekend,  August 10-12,  when more than 50 meteors per hour should be visible in the night sky.  The meteors will be the heaviest in the hours between midnight and dawn, and this year the August 11th new moon will set early in the evening, so it won’t interfere with viewing.

The Perseid meteor shower happens when the Earth passes through the orbital path of the Swift-Tuttle comet.  Swift-Tuttle orbits the sun every 133 years, and each time it gets close to the Sun, small pieces break off and join the cloud of debris in the comet’s orbit.  When Earth passes through the Swift-Tuttle’s debris field, some of the debris bounces off the Earth’s atmosphere creating the Perseid meteor shower.

The Perseids appear to originate from the top of the constellation Perseus. During August, Perseus will be found in the Northeastern Part of the sky, to the left of the big Dipper.  The point in space where a meteor shower seems to originate from is called it’s “radiant.”   All the meteors will appear to fly outwards from that point in the sky.

There are many great Astronomy websites with information about the Perseids.   Sky & Telescope is a website and print magazine for astronomy fans of all levels. They cover all kinds of news and events as well as review equipment, books and software.  Their “resources and education” section can keep you busy for hours.  My current favorite is the Astophotography: Tips & Techniques section.

The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory’s web site “StarDate” has lots of information for people new to star gazing and astronomy.  Clicking on the “Stargazing” tab on their homepage will give you a list of things visible in the night sky this week.  This is also where you’ll find a link to the Meteor Shower Page.   And they also have this great table of regular meteor showers throughout the year if you miss the Perseids.

The Earth Sky  is a great science website for non-scientists.  Their  Top 10 Tips For Watching The Perseids is a must read – and includes things like information about the Perseids is easy to read and has lots of information about the origins of the Perseids as well as how and when to find them and general tips on viewing.

To learn more about Comets, Meteors and Meteor Showers, the NASA website is a great place to start.  You’ll find information about planets, asteroids, and comets as well.

The Iowa City Public Library has lots of material about Astronomy and Stargazing. The staff at any of the public service desks can help you find more information.

Annotated Editions of Classics

by Heidi Lauritzen on July 16th, 2018
Annotated Editions of Classics Cover Image

For all the Jane Austen fans out there who watch public television, MASTERPIECE has just announced that a multi-part dramatization of Sanditon is coming.  Sanditon was unfinished when Jane Austen died; the original story is contained in the Library’s copy of Lady Susan; The Watsons; Sanditon. The screenwriter for the miniseries is Andrew Davies (he also wrote the screenplay for the 1995 A&E version of Pride and Prejudice), and filming is scheduled to begin next spring.  Casting has not yet been announced.

While waiting to see this new miniseries, perhaps you can get your Jane Austen fix by checking out one of our annotated editions of her other titles. We have annotated editions for Emma; Persuasion; and Pride and Prejudice.

Annotated books typically provide the original text of the book on one half of each page, with the other half of the page devoted to notes on the text. The notes may be historical background, references to foreshadowing, definitions of obscure terms, or translations of foreign phrases. There may be pictures or photographs that add historical or modern context. The goal of most annotated books is to increase the reader’s understanding of the original text.

ICPL has a variety of annotated versions of popular literature. Do a keyword search for “annotated” in the catalog and you will see a list. The annotated editions usually are shelved with other works of literary criticism in the 800s on the second floor. (You will also find the CliffsNotes study guides of literary titles in the same place–sort of the opposite of an annotated edition.)  Please ask at the Information Desk if you have any questions.

I’m not sure I would want to read a novel for the first time in an annotated edition–I think the intended pace of the storyline would be severely compromised. But once the storyline is known, to go back and reread all of the illuminating details is a real treat.

Eating up some history

by Candice Smith on July 16th, 2018

Some years ago I was vacationing with my friend Carrie in Krakow, Poland, and we found ourselves having dinner in a restaurant called Wierzynek. It has been around since 1364. I honestly don’t remember the food being anything spectacular, but that has more to do with being a vegetarian choosing from a traditional Polish menu. What I do remember is being amazed by the idea of sitting in a place where people from all walks of life had come to eat for hundreds of years. Touching the same walls, going through the same doors, seeing the same city square and market hall that they saw–it’s some weird sort of time-travel. I’m still enthralled by moments like that, and get the same feeling when I’m at a place like Clinton St. Social Club, where you climb the steep, narrow stairs that people have used for over a hundred years, see the worn, geometric tile floors, the old brick walls and huge wooden beams. We still have a fair amount of old structures in downtown Iowa City, and I always enjoy being in them, wondering what they used to be, how they were used, what happened in them (did you know the Yacht Club was a mortuary? Same for just about every building in the pedmall block of E. College St, north side, at one time or another). I was having pizza at Flight the other night, looking out of their windows at the view of the old Jefferson Hotel and the tops of the other buildings on the street, wondering what had gone on in the space I was in.

Turns out, I work in one of the best places to find out that kind of information. Read the rest of this entry »

Have fun road tripping this summer

by Alyssa Hanson on June 19th, 2018

I’ve got two weddings to go to this summer and it’s a long drive to both. Since I’ve got a little wiggle room in between when I leave and when I need to be there, I’ve been looking into pit stops to make along the way. There’s a few sites I like to check before taking a drive in case I can add some fun into what would otherwise be a long and boring drive.

Roadtrippers is a phenomenal source for finding lesser-known things along your travel path. You can put in your departure and destination cities and find neat things to check out on the way. Read the rest of this entry »