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Pox in the park

by Candice Smith on May 26th, 2017

pesthouseThere are many reasons to take some time and visit Hickory Hill Park: have a picnic in the shelter at the Bloomington St. entrance, take a leisurely stroll and see some native wildflowers, go for a run and get a good workout on the hill up to Pappy Dickens’ Preserve, or go and have a nice, quiet sit at one of the many benches that have been installed recently. But hey, maybe you prefer a little disease and/or history when you’re in the park? If so, then I’ve got a walk for you…we’re going to visit the pest house in Hickory Hill Park!

Pest houses were used for a number of years to provide quarantine of patients who were infected with communicable diseases such as small pox and tuberculosis; this was the solution during a time when many hospitals did not have isolation wards and vaccinations had not been implemented to such a degree that the disease was wiped out. It may seem incredibly antiquated, but even Iowa City had a number of pest houses during the years of 1881-1920s; the one in Hickory Hill was the last. While there is very little to see there, we will be able to fill in the picture a bit with information from old Press Citizen articles and a few pictures from Martha Beck, Assistant Professor in the UI Anthropology Department, who did a mapping project of the site in 2011. If you can’t make the walk with us, but are interested in learning more, stop by the Info Desk at the Library to use our databases, microfilm, and other historical resources.

Celebration(?) of Spring

by Mary Estle-Smith on May 1st, 2017

The great thing about spring  every year, is the window of super ambition to get after projects around my house and yard.  While this window is sometimes remarkably small,  I do want to take advantage of it while I can.  There are always things I have been either wanting to do, or more likely, putting off for a long time that need attention.

If you are in project mode,  there  many materials that will help you get started and guide you through your various projects.  You can do a search for “home improvement” and come up with a bunch of choices. I have listed a few to get you started.

The Homeowners Ultimate Tool Guide is a good place to start.  My husband always stresses the right tool for right-toolthe job,  my skills used to lean toward a hammer and duct tape for way too many things.  I have now seen the error of my ways!  Also power tools are cool!

 

 

chix-fixChix can Fix   is a catchy title that I was attracted to.   I aspire to be a fixer.

 

 

refreshIf you have lower impact projects in mind Refresh Home can provide some inspiration for you.

 

I want to become a runner. Where do I start?

by Melody Dworak on April 25th, 2017
Running icon by Dillon Arloff, from The Noun Project (retouched).

Icon by Dillon Arloff.

Good question! It’s been such a beautiful spring so far, why *wouldn’t* you be inspired to start running? I, myself, have started running again and am happy to point out a free resource to take someone from the couch to a 5K.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Sophie Scholl in the ICPL databases

by Jennifer Eilers on March 30th, 2017

68d0608718321ac4308fdeb0094bb925This morning a crowd of very excited middle schoolers from a local school bounded up to the second floor of the library to do research. Having other excited researchers flooding up the quiet, second floor stairs buoys the heart of a librarian like nothing else. I spoke with their teacher about the project they were working on. The students wanted to know how media played a role in the resistance movements against the Nazi party in WWII.

The group of girls I talked to were going to put on a play about the White Rose Movement. I had never heard about this movement before or Hans and Sophie Scholl. Before even coming up to the desk, the girls had basically cleaned the library out of all obvious available books and DVDs we had on the subject, so, my challenge was to see what else I could find about the group to point them to. Read the rest of this entry »

Why is my Christmas Cactus blooming in March?

by Beth Fisher on March 29th, 2017

Sometimes we get questions at the Information Desk that sound more complicated than they really are. This weeks stumper was “Why is my Christmas Cactus blooming in March?”  This actually has a very simple answer:  Because it’s not a Christmas Cactus – it’s an Easter Cactus.christmas-cactus-2

Most people see this plant and think Christmas Cactus. Late in the year you can find them anywhere – from grocery stores to big box stores – in shades of pink, red or even white.

“Christmas Cactus” has become a generic term for three different cacti in the same family.  What most people think of as “Christmas Cactus” will turn out to be either a Thanksgiving Cactus, a Christmas Cactus, or an Easter Cactus.   How to can you tell the difference?  Is it blooming now?  What month is it?  Is it early November, late December, or late winter/early spring?  That can give you a big hint.  But the real way to tell them apart is to look closely at the leaves. Read the rest of this entry »

Love eBooks and digital audiobooks? Meet Libby!

by Anne Mangano on March 24th, 2017

Attention OverDrive users! Are you tired of navigating the difference between your shelf and the loans page in the OverDrive app? Do you dislike not being able to stream from the app? Or logging in each time you check out a book? Or the million different steps to it takes to check out and read an eBook?

Then you should try OverDrive’s new app Libby. For the past few months I’ve solely used Libby to listen Read the rest of this entry »

Composting: Recycling at its finest

by Beth Fisher on March 16th, 2017
Composting: Recycling at its finest Cover Image

 

Recycling is a popular topic these days, and for homeowners and gardeners composting is simple way to deal with lawn and garden waste.  By combining it with a bit of water, sunlight, and time you end up with “black gold” in the form of compost you can add back into your gardens.  It’s the ultimate recycling.

Composting itself is pretty simple.  The hardest part is figuring out where and how you’re going to compost.  Piles, pens, bins, tumblers and pits – there are all sorts of ways to corral your compost Read the rest of this entry »

This just in: St. Patrick, not actually Irish.

by Candice Smith on March 3rd, 2017
This just in: St. Patrick, not actually Irish. Cover Image

Is that a load of blarney?? No. Okay, many of you probably knew that, but I confess that I did not, or that I had forgotten. St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, was born in some part of Britain while it was under Roman occupation. It’s not known for sure whether his parents, Calpornius and Concessa, were also born in Britain, or Italy. Little is known about his family and upbringing; his biography, Confession, gives some details, but for the most part is pretty vague about locations and dates.

So, what do we know about this very popular (especially in March) and beloved saint? Read the rest of this entry »

How To Contact Elected Officials

by Heidi Lauritzen on February 9th, 2017

Want to make your views known to the elected officials who represent you?  Here are quick links to the contact information for the elected officials who serve Johnson County residents.  Officials at the federal, state, and county levels are included, as well as city council members in Iowa City, mayors of other towns in Johnson County, and Board members of the Iowa City Community School District.  Click on the level of government you are interested in, and you will find names, addresses, phone numbers, and when available, the official’s website address and contact form.

Not sure which state or federal official represents you?  The Iowa Legislature has an easy-to-use “Find Your Legislator” feature for anywhere in Iowa.  Search by your own street address, by city name or by zip code.  For school officials, you can search by your school district.  It looks like this:
find-your-legislator

 

 

When you search by your street address, your Iowa representative and senator will be shown, with a chance to request info about “Other Elected Officials”.  One more click, and you will see your two U.S. senators and your U.S. representative, all with links to their websites where you will find contact information for letters, phone calls or email messages.

The Johnson County Auditor’s website also has a directory of elected officials.  Their directory includes some of the lesser known levels of local government, such as township officials,  members of the Agricultural Extension Council and the Soil and Water Conservation District, and all the school districts that are situated wholly or in part in Johnson County.

Evaluating News Sources

by Maeve Clark on February 7th, 2017

Fake news. Alternative facts.  The post-truth world.   In this rapid-fire world of social media, how do yohow-to-spot-fake-newsu know which sources to trust and which to dismiss?  First of all, ask us. Librarians have been teaching information literacy for as long as there have been libraries.  The International Federation of Library Associations infographic and blog post can help you make educated decisions in evaluating news sources, (and Internet sites in general). Be wary of clickbait, those eye-catching and provocative headlines can lure you in but what you find when you click may be of no substance at all.  If you aren’t familiar with an author, do a search.  What else has he or she written and which publications or online sites publish his or her work? Another clue the credibility of a source is the date.  And older article can, of course, be relevant, but can also be misleading.   And don’t forget to check your bias.

On the Media, a WNYC program which airs on Iowa Public Radio, offers guidance on assessing the credibility of a source onthemedialn-blog480of fast breaking news.  Anonymous sources are a red flag.   If something doesn’t ring true, trust your instincts and find another credible source or two to confirm the original story or prove it wrong.    The American Press Institute lists six questions to ask yourself when determining whether or not what you are reading is trustworthy.    They suggest you evaluate what type of content you are reading.  Is it an advertisement or opinion piece or is it a rigorously researched investigative article.  Look for what sources are cited to buttress the piece – are they credible?  Does the article or post tell the whole story or do find yourself  asking what is missing.

If you want to read more about how Americans consume news, the Pew Research on Journalism and Media has been studying how media is consumed for years.  The results of their most recent surveys are sobering.  If you have questions about a news source,  ask a librarian.  We are ready to help you.




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