Library Catalog Ask a Librarian Book a Meeting Room



How and Where to Caucus

by Maeve Clark on January 17th, 2016

Monday, February 1 is the date for the 2016 Iowa caucus.  The caucus begins at 7 pm and in order to particcaucusipate you must be inline or signed in by 7 pm.  Speaking from experience you may want to plan on getting there early as the lines may be very long. Even though the Republican and Democratic caucus are strictly party functions, the Johnson County Auditor receives so many questions that Auditor has compiled a lot of very useful information about the caucus. The two parties differ in how they caucus. www.uspresidentialnews.com has a good explanation of how they work.

Party chairs in the ninety-nine Iowa counties are explicitly charged with issuing the “call” to caucus, setting up caucus locations, and identifying temporary chairs for each of their caucuses. Unlike a primary election, the costs of the precinct caucuses are borne by the parties, not the state. One result is that one of the first activities of any precinct caucus is to “pass the hat” to raise funds for the county and state party. But also unlike a primary election, vote counting is done by the parties, not government officials.

The Republicans begin the presidential straw poll. In most precincts this will be carried out via a paper ballot (the state party’s preference), which may be simply torn pieces of paper or a more formal ballot prepared ahead of time by the temporary chair. Those in attendance are asked if anyone wishes to speak on behalf of a candidate. Speeches are usually short, and are of the type “why I support candidate B and why you should too.” Following the speeches, ballots are cast and then collected by the chair, who next assigns someone (perhaps the secretary) to count them, report the results to the caucus, and record them on a form provided by the state party. More information is available from the Republican Party of Iowa.

The Democratic presidential preference rules are far more complex. This complexity comes because national party rules require proportional allocation of delegates at every level of a caucus-to-convention nomination system. The viability threshold requirement adds to this complexity, but the system may well end up giving more candidates a chance and more voters a choice, and bring about more sincere voting. Party rules require that “preference groups” not be formed until half an hour after the caucus opens, so the time is usually filled by reading letters of greetings from elected officials, and passing the hat to raise money for the local and state parties. Once the appointed time arrives, things shift into gear. More information is available from the Iowa Democratic Party.

The location of your caucus site may not be the same as where you vote.  You can find out your site by using this link if you are going to caucus as a Democrat or if you are going to caucus as a Republican. You will need to know your precinct if you are caucusing as a Republican.  Use this link to find your precinct.

 

Daydreaming of gardening? Check out one of these magazines.

by Melody Dworak on February 5th, 2016

Country GardensThe next Project Green Second Sunday Forum is on Valentine’s Day—Sunday, February 14, 2016. Jonathan Poulton will present on Daylillies—Past, Present, and Future. If you can’t wait until then to get your garden on, but also don’t want to go out into the cold, visit the ICPL Zinio collection, where you can look through 18 different home and garden digital magazines.

Magazines are perfect for the weekend where you get to kick back a little more. Our gardening magazines include Country Garden, Better Homes & Gardens, Grit, and Successful Farming.

The January issue of Rodale’s Organic Life features the article “Grow from Scratch,” which includes a guide to growing plants from seeds and lovely illustrations.

ICPL has more than 150 digital magazines. They are available 24/7 through your computer or mobile device. After you log in with your Iowa City library card and password, you can check one out and flip through page by page just like a regular magazine. Reading magazines lets you kick back and relax, and enjoy big beautiful photographs and creative infographics.

Have questions about how to use our Zinio digital magazine collection? Ask a Librarian!

 

 

Using CatalogPro – Advanced Searching

by Jason Paulios on February 4th, 2016

For a few years now we’ve been slowly integrating a catalog discovery layer that we’ve called CatalogPro, this is a keyword search that allows for a narrowing down of results after the search is initiated. It’s gotten more powerful over the years and now works much better for those titles that might have traditionally difficult keyword search terms (try searching Twilight or Room for proof!). There will still be times when you don’t have specific title or author information or you’ll want a more efficient way to search individual terms, thankfully CatalogPro has an Advanced Search option.  You can get to this search via the link below the search box (see the highlighted area in the image below).

advancedsearch

Advanced Searching allows for boolean search which allows you to fine tune your search including “and”, “or”, and “not” operators.  An Advanced Search for “Plants” OR “Flowers” AND “Iowa” in books will give you 30 items which is much more helpful than a normal keyword search of “Plants flowers Iowa” which shows yields 6 since it’s searching for the presence of all three keywords in the record instead of the combination done in Advanced (“Plants & Iowa” and “Flowers & Iowa”).

It’s easiest to narrow these results prior to the search using the dropdown menus on the Advanced Search page, common searches would include a format type (ex. book vs. ebook), location (ex. adult nonfiction vs. children’s nonfiction), and possibly year range (ex. looking for only most up-to-date publications).  I’ll share some more CatalogPro tips in future weeks including spell-check, eBook/eAudiobook checkout, and super-secret remote shelf browsing!

World Book Encyclopedia 2016

by Beth Fisher on February 3rd, 2016

world book 1Before Google was a verb, and before we carried the internet around in our pockets, checking the World Book Encyclopedia was a popular way of looking for new information. Librarians used it.  Students used it.  If you were lucky enough, your family had it’s own set – with the annual “Year Book” updates too – and you didn’t have to go to the library to work on papers for school.

The World Book Encyclopedia debuted in 1917 with 8 volumes. (the 2016 edition has 22)  In the 6th book “E” the entry for Encyclopedia begins “Encyclopedia is a collection of information about people, places, events and things.”  Followed by a 6 page article on the history of encyclopedias and how they are created – from the editors who select the experts in various fields to write each article, to the artists and layout experts who add the photographs and illustrations to compliment or supplement the text.  There is a 12 part graphic that lets you follow the creation of an individual World Book article.

world book 2Kids are full of questions, and my parent’s standard response to an off the wall question was often “Go look it up.”   Not because they didn’t know the answer, but because they knew that for their overly-curious children, reading one entry in the World Book often led to an hour curled up on the floor by the bookcase reading other entries.

Seeing the Library’s brand new 2016 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia appear in the Reference Collection recently makes me want to sit on the floor and start flipping pages.

OverDrive Tip: Saving Books for Later

by Anne Mangano on January 16th, 2016

When it comes to holds, does it seem like all of your eBooks or audiobooks become available all at once? This happens to me all of the time. I find a few audiobooks I want to listen to, but they are currently checked out to someone else, so I place holds. Then a few days later, I receive several email notifications that all of them are ready for me to check out. Five audiobooks in three weeks for me is not happening. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our eBook and digital audiobook provider, OverDrive offers a few tools for me to manage my reading much better than just placing holds. I can save books for later.

The Wish List

The first option is using the wish list. Rather than placing holds on everything, I can just add the titles to a list. Underneath the large, red “Borrow” or “Place Hold” bwishlistutton is this small, tiny, gray “Add to Wish List” option. If you click on that, the book is added to your “Wish List”.  There are no limits on the amount of items you can have on your wish list, you can add or delete items at any time, and best of all, you can filter the list to only see the items that are available right now. You’ll find your wish list in your OverDrive account at overdrive.icpl.org.

Suspending a Hold

So maybe you want to keep a hold, you are just not ready for the book right now. This is a great option if you’ve made it to the top of a long waiting list, but are in the middle of something else and don’t want to lose your place. You’ve waited so long! If you “suspend a suspendhold,” you can pick a window of time (7, 14, 21, 28, 60, or 90 days) where you’ll keep your place in line for the book, but won’t actually get the book until the time period is over or you remove the suspension. During the suspension, it goes to the next user in line. This option can be found on your holds list in your OverDrive account at overdrive.icpl.org.

For more OverDrive tips, click on the “OverDrive Tips” tag below.

 

An epiphany, of sorts.

by Candice Smith on January 8th, 2016

holidaysI did not put up a Christmas tree this year, although I usually put one up around Thanksgiving and keep it around until at least New Year’s (actually, it’s always ‘around’ in the sense that it’s fake, it just spends a lot of time in the basement). I really enjoy having the tree; I love decorating it with ornaments that I’ve collected through the years, all of which are special to me for one reason or another, and as I unwrap and place each one I’m reminded of things like when I got it and why I chose it, who gave it to me, or who it used to belong to. I put multiple strands of lights on the tree, a tree skirt for the presents to sit on, and a star on top–the whole deal.

This year, however, I have two 1-year-old boy cats that like to run, jump, climb, and eat whatever they can get their little, adorable paws on. The tree was an obvious no.

Regardless of the sad state of my home and its holiday decor, I recently learned something that I can take into consideration the next time I am able to put the tree up–and that is when to take it back down. I never knew that there were traditions about this, so I may be late to this game. It seems that one should have their tree and all decorations put away by the Twelfth Night holiday. Simple, right? Sort of. January 5 is the twelfth day after Christmas Eve, while January 6 is the twelfth day after Christmas. January 6 is also the holiday of Epiphany, which marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas, and the revealing of the newborn Jesus to the three wise men. So, which night is the real Twelfth Night? It seems that you can choose whether you go with the eve before January 6, or the eve of–according to the book Holiday Symbols and Customs, most celebrate it on the night of Epiphany, the 6th. Which is the twelfth. Choose wisely, though–tradition holds that anyone with decorations still up will suffer bad luck in the coming year.

But wait…there’s more! There is also a tradition that one put away their Christmas tree and decorations on February 2, which is Candlemas–a holiday that marks the presentation of Jesus at the temple, and involves the lighting of many candles to represent the belief that he was a light for the world. The book Folklore of World Holidays states that this marks the end of the Christmas holiday. One representation of that end is that people put away their crèche–which is a Christmas decoration. Again, leaving up the decorations past this date can bring bad luck, even death. Of course, February 2 is also groundhog day, which at first seems unrelated to all of this, until you recall that the little groundhog (or bear or hedgehog, depending on your location) comes out to check his shadow, which is related to the amount of light.

So…short story made a bit long, there is definitely a date by which, according to various traditions, one should take down their Christmas tree and decorations. Three, in fact. Stop by the Information Desk to do a little research and help you pick which date you’ll use.

Animals in the winter

by Maeve Clark on December 31st, 2015

Walking outdoors after a recent snowfall you can discover just what animals are out and about in your neighborhood.  What animal made the track on the left?  If ySquirrel-Track-300x224ou guessed squirrel, you are right. rabbit tracks

And what about the other tracks?  Can you identify that animal?  Yes, you’re correct, that is a rabbit track.

 

For help in identifying tracks the library has a number of books to help you.  There are more advanced books upstairs in the nonfiction collection, including one that offers guidance on tracking rhinos and elephants, probably not so useful for a winter’s walk in an Iowa park, but still full of interesting information on how to best track and observe animals in a very different habitat. There are also a number of books in the children’s collection on animal tracks with easy to follow illustrations and photographs.

If you need something to take with you on a hike, you can find a good number of easy-to-print guides by simply googling animal tracks winter guide.   If  you are interested in learning more about animals a trip to the F. W. Kent Park,  the location of the Johnson County Conservation Board’s Education Center, is in order.  The center offers a good number of activities during the winter including an owl prowl, bird walks and and a snowshoe hike, all opportunities to test your animal tracking skills.   Another fun activity this winter is a chance to learn about bald eagles.  While it was once a rare event to see an eagle you can now find them along many Iowa streams and rivers.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources hosts Bald Eagle watch in various locations in the state.  The closest one to Iowa City will be near Coralville.

 

 

Iowa weather word of the day is Graupel.

by Beth Fisher on December 28th, 2015
Iowa weather word of the day is Graupel. Cover Image

 

Today’s weather word of the day in Iowa City is Graupel.

Graupel is a winter phenomenon often mistaken for hail or sleet, but it’s actually quite different.  Graupel is the result of super-cooled droplets of water freezing to the surface of a snowflake. Unlike a hailstone, they are not truly round in shape, they’re more like little globs of lumpy ice and are usually only 2-5 mm in size.  The easy way to tell graupel from hail is to try and pick it up.  Hailstones are hard while graupel pellets are soft and mushy.graupe  This is a handful of graupel.

How is graupel different from hail or sleet?  Read on.

 

 

Hail is a sphere of ice that falls from the clouds during a thunderstorm in the warmer seasons. Hail is usually 5mm to 15 cm in size (about 1/4 inch to 6 inches), and is formed inside thunderstorms with significant updrafts. Hailstones are made of many hard uniform layers of ice that rise and fall inside the clouds until they weigh to much for the updrafts to keep aloft. Hail rarely forms in the winter.

Sleet, which resembles hail, forms during winter storms when a snowflake passes through a small warmer layer of air after forming.  The flake partially melts, then refreezes into a droplet shape before it reaches the ground. Sleet often falls in conjunction with very cold rain.

Freezing rain or Glaze Ice is super-cooled rain that freezes on contact with a surface that is at or below 32 degrees.

Here’s one last fun weather word: Rime.   Rime is what is created when the water droplets in fog freeze when they come in contact with something very cold – like a car windshield. Rime comes in two types – Hard Rime which forms on the windward side of objects during moderate to high winds or Soft Rime which forms on all sides of an object when there is little or no wind.

snowflakeFor more information about snow or weather check out the following:

The Snowflake: Winter’s Frozen Artistry by Kenneth Libbrecht

 

 

 

 

Thunder & Lightening: weather past, present, future by Lauren Redniss.thunder and lightning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restless skies: the ultimate weather book by Paul Douglasskys

 

 

 

 

 

How Many Presidential Candidates Are There?

by Heidi Lauritzen on December 4th, 2015

Recently I tried to do a quick search on the Internet to make sure I was remembering all of the 2016 presidential candidates.  I stumbled onto a website that listed an amazing number of people (along with the usual suspects that most of us could name) who were identified as candidates.  Was this for real?  I needed to find something a little more authoritative to be sure.

The Federal Election Commission seemed like a good place to check for an unbiased and official list of candidates.  Under the “Quick Answers” section, I found out what it takes (not too much) to register as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate or the Presidency.  Also at the FEC website, I found their 2016 Candidate Summary, which lists all the people who have registered with the FEC or appear on an official state ballot.  There are well over 1,000 names running for the office of president, although the vast majority have no cash on hand and practically no one would take their candidacy seriously.  Some of the candidate names are suspect (see photo), and it’s easy to see at a glance who the real contenders are.

fec names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is not a lot of middle ground between the FEC list, which includes so many names, and the coverage of the few candidates who register sufficiently high in polls and receive most of the media attention.   Ballotpedia is a website with up-to-date information on mainstream candidates and which notes the sources of its facts.  The Politics and Elections Portal lists many more candidates, but by no means all; it is interesting to read the short biographies of the lesser-known names.

If you are tired of the same old, same old when it comes to the president race, take a look at some of these other options.

Gas prices – how low will they go?

by Maeve Clark on November 25th, 2015

How low will the price of gas drop this year?  Iowa City recorded a low of $1.99 the first part of January 2015 and while the cost of filling your car has gone up since then,  prices are trending down tgas pricehe last week in November at $2.09 a gallon.  According to a Iowa City Press Citizen article on January 3, 2015, the under $2.00 price was the lowest since May 2009.  The Federal Energy Administration maintains a website of gas prices in the United States but not for Iowa specifically. The United State Department of Energy Fuel Economy also doesn’t have Iowa information but provides links to a number of commercial sites that track the price of gas by week for cities in Iowa.  To track current prices I used the Iowa Gas Prices from gasbuddy.com.  AAA also provides a very useful information for the past year and the highest recorded fuel price.  However, it doesn’t include Iowa City.

What causes fuel prices to vary so greatly?  There are a number of factors that determine the cost of gas.  They are the cost of crude oil, the refining costs and profits, the distribution and marketing costs and profits and taxes.  The cost of crude oil is the major factor in the cost of fuel.  The expansion of  oil production in North America is main reason the price is dropping. If you are looking for apps to help you find the lowest gas prices here are a few suggestions from CNN Money.

Can you recall the lowest price you paid for a gallon of gas?  It might make for interesting Thanksgiving conversation.

 




login