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Teaching Your Baby to Sign

by Jennifer Eilers on May 4th, 2016

My baby is turning 6 months old soon which was about the age that I began introducing my preschooler to sign language (well maybe a little later–second baby after all).  I decided to teach my first child to sign because sign language helps children express their needs. Research shows that most children can understand language earlier than they can express it verbally. Sign is a great method for expression because it takes advantage of a child’s early hand coordination while introducing them to language.

If you are interested in teaching your child to sign, the library has many ways to help you learn. There are several great books and DVDs in our non-fiction and children’s collections like Baby talk: a guide to using basic sign language to communicate with your baby and Baby Signing Time. The library also has a language learning program, Mango, that offers a course in American Sign Language. You can access Mango from home if you are a resident of Iowa City, University Heights, Hills, Lone Tree, and rural Johnson County. You just need your library card and password/pin to login.

While my preschooler started to use sign language less and less as she became more capable of expressing herself verbally, sign language still plays a role in her life. I like that I can communicate with her from across the playground signing “STOP” if I want her to be more cautious.  And I’ve enjoyed seeing her enthusiasm for signs bubbling up again as she shows the baby signs for “milk” and “more.”

Swan Tales: The Life and Adventures of Chauncey Swan

by Anne Mangano on May 2nd, 2016
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Portrait of Chauncey Swan from Weber’s Historical Stories About Iowa City

Chauncey Swan is not, as I thought when I moved here, a species of water fowl. (I know, I know, but I’m not an ornithologist.) He is also not two people; there is no Mr. Chauncey. He is one man, a founding father of Iowa City. He was one of three appointed by the territorial governor (Robert Lucas) to determine the location of the capital of the new Iowa territory. It should be noted that Chauncey Swan deserves the most credit of the three men as he was acting commissioner for the survey, reported back to the legislature, and Robert Ralston was three days late and didn’t really help at all. It should also be noted that they chose the site of Iowa City on May 1st, 1839. It wasn’t really official until May 4th because they were waiting for Ralston. So, a Happy Chauncey Swan Day to you! Read the rest of this entry »

Beware the Garlic Mustard

by Beth Fisher on April 25th, 2016

Spring has arrived in Iowa City, and so have the weeds. Which means it’s time to keep an eye out for Garlic Mustard. According to the Iowa DNR “Garlic Mustard is a rapidly spreading, highly invasive non-native plant. It was introduced from Europe in mid-1800s for medicinal and herbal uses and came to the U.S. without predatory beetles or other natural controls. Garlic Mustard threatens to rob Iowa of healthy, diverse native woodlands.”  Unfortunately wildlife do not eat Garlic Mustard. Human intervention is the only way to control it.

Garlic Mustard is a woodland plant that favors shade or dappled shade, but it will also grow in sun given enough moisture.  The Iowa Wildlife Federation suggests that if you’re out hiking in your favorite woods (or hunting for morel mushrooms) take along a big garbage bag and load it up with Garlic Mustard plants before they get a chance to set seed.  Garlic Mustard is not difficult to pull, especially if there has been recent rain. If you wiggle the plant a little then pull at a slight angle, you’ll be less likely to break off the stem leaving the roots to re-sprout.

Garlic Mustard is a biennial – it flowers the second year.  The first year the plants stay short and has rounder toothed leaves.  It is often brighter green than its surroundings.

 

 

During its 2nd year, the plants spread into patches, and the leaves are more triangular/heart shaped. It gets up 12″ tall  or taller.

 

 

 

By late spring, you’ll be more likely to see Garlic Mustard patches in bloom.  Look for  heart shaped or triangular coarsly toothed leaves, with clusters of small 4-petal white flowers at the top of a 12″ to 36″ tall thin stalks.

 

 

The Iowa DNR has a great printable full color  Garlic Mustard brochure that contains color photographs of different ages of the plant, as well as suggested control techniques for small or large patches.  It’s a handy thing to carry with you the first time you look for the plant.

In 2011 the Friends of Hickory Hill Park sponsored a Garlic Mustard Identification program with a naturalist from the Johnson County Conservation Department, and you can watch the video here.

There are also many websites that can help you identify Garlic Mustard. One of the best is the King County, Washington weed identification website.

 

Finding a record of ownership

by Jason Paulios on April 22nd, 2016

Back in November I wrote about using the City of Iowa City Housing & Inspection Services’ permit activity lookup tool for finding more information about Iowa City house history.  A coworker recently showed me another great house history link hidden at the bottom of individual accounts on the Iowa City Assessors parcel search results page.  If you are looking at a house result you can scroll to the bottom of that page and you’ll see “related information links” below the GIS map.  There are a few useful links for house hunters here including former tax information for the property as well as a quick link to the GIS map with coordinates.  The most interesting link for local history buffs is the “Old Property Report Card” in the lower right corner which will show you a past record of ownership with names and prices paid.  There’s also often pointed comments on these cards regarding the huge leap in sales prices that happened in the 1990s such as these :

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Women on currency – what old is new again

by Maeve Clark on April 21st, 2016
Women on currency – what old is new again Cover Image

Yesterday, Jacob Lew, Treasury Secretary, announced the proposal to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist, and to add women and civil rights leaders to the $5 and $10 notes.  This brought up a couple of questions at the Info Desk.  Has there ever been a woman on United States paper currency?  There’s the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, right?  Yes, but it’s no longer minted.

ICPL’s reference collection is no where near as large as it was before the Internet (BI), but books on collecting coins and paper currency and stamps are still staples.  (The collecting of coins and stamps have two fancy names -numismatics and philately – but I am always afraid I am mispronouncing t20 billhem so I just stick with calling them coin  collecting and stamp collecting, no need to put on airs…) The Standard Catalogs of World Paper Money and Scott  Standard Postage Stamp Catalogues are integral parts of the collection.  While there is a lot information on the values of coins, paper currency and stamps online, many collectors still prefer to use books.  I am sure that next year’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money will have a feature the changes to United States currency.  Maybe they will even feature the Harriet Tubman bill on the cover.

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History had a fascinating piece on woman on currency on its website.  One of the first historic women to appear on money was Arsinoe II, a Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, in the 3rd century BCE.  Queen Elizabeth the Second, (celebrating her 90th birthday today, Happy Birthday!) has been featured on coins and currency all over the British realm.  The federal government began issuing paper currency in 1861.  Martha Washington appeared on a one dollar silver certificate in 1886 and Pocahontas was on the back of a 20 dollar bill in 1875.  Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be featured on the back of the new $10 bill.  Women on 20, a online site that pushed to have women featured on currency, is now mounting a campaign to have the new $20 bill appear at the same time as the $10 bill.  The movement is a strong one and highlights the power of the web as a tool for change. queen maeve And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t also include the Irish pound note that featured Queen Medb, also know as Maeve.  The note was issued from 1977 to 1989 until is was replaced by the Euro.

 

 

The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch

by Maeve Clark on April 11th, 2016
The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch Cover Image

Quick, what happened almost ten years ago to the date?  BINGO! The F2 tornado that hit Iowa City on the night of April 13, 2006.  Where were you that night and what were you doing when the twister hit?  ICPL wants to know.  You can stop in the library and add your story to the tornado board and even place your tale on the exact location of where you were that monumental night.  And you can share your photos of the aftermath of the storm with all the world through ICPL interactive tornado map. tornado smallWe already have over 2000 photos but we are looking for more, especially ones from where the tornado first touched down, the south end of town.  On Wednesday, you are all invited to share your stories of the the night of the tornado and the days of recovery afterwards.  Iowa City, while suffering millions of dollars in damage saw not loss of life.

The National Weather Service has linked 15 tornadic events from April 13, 2006 on one page, starting with a tornado north of Marion, Iowa and ending in Alexis, Illinois.  The tornado activity began at 7:40 in Iowa and ended at 10:15 in Illinois.  Wikipendia calls all of the tornado activity that weekend and the following Monday, the Easter Week Tornado Outbreak, as the first tornadoes started on Maundy Thursday, April 13 and ended on Tuesday, April 18.  The tornadoes moved across the plains and prairie and spread a path of destruction.

The library has a wealth of information on tornadoes real and fictional.  Watch Twister, filmed in Madison County, Iowa, or everyone’s favorite, The Wizard of Oz, or better yet, read the L. Frank Baum stories on which Victor Flemming based the his film production.   Look under the subject heading of tornadoes to find out what it takes for the atmosphere to roil to the extent that every home in a town is destroyed and many lives are lost or why in another locality a house can be sucked into a swirling vortex and set down in a field of corn with nary any damage .

And finally, do you know the difference between a twister and a tornado?

Digitizing your Slides at ICPL

by Brent Palmer on March 31st, 2016

Recently, we have had a few patrons coming in to digitize their slides. Maybe you have been thinking about getting out those boxes of slides and doing a little digitizing project. 11000xl-ph_fla-ons-nn_396x264ICPL has a station set up to help you do just this. We have an archive quality scanner donated to us by the Noon Host Lions Club. The large-format scanner can quickly be converted to slide scanner and you can scan multiple slides at once. You should be aware that it isn’t a quick process though. To get a decent sized image from the slide, the scanner has to do a fairly hi-resolution scan which can take several minutes. I would recommend bringing a flash drive that is large enough to store your images on. Or you could upload the images to cloud storage. The Info Desk staff can help you get set up and working quickly.

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The Caramate II still has some life left in her.

You may also want to be able to quickly scan through your slides to make sure that they are worth digitizing in the first place. Well we also have a Singer Caramate II on hand for that. Not only can you quickly preview your slides without taking them out of the carousel, it has some serious retro appeal going. Again, ask at the Info desk if you want to try it out. If the slides are of people or places in Iowa City and they are historical in nature, we would like to hear from you. We may want to preserve them in our Digital History Project.

Beware of the 3 Czech Ice Kings!

by Kara Logsden on March 28th, 2016
Beware of the 3 Czech Ice Kings! Cover Image

2016 03 Spring FlowersLonger days, spring flowers, and sunshine have me in the mood for garden planning. A little voice in the back of my head, though, has been telling me I shouldn’t get ahead of myself and to remember the Three Ice Kings my Grandmother, Mother, and Father have always warned about. I remembered to “Beware of the Ice Kings” but I couldn’t remember the details beyond they had something to do with planting tomatoes (a staple in my garden).

I was talking to a Master Gardener, who also happens to be an ICPL Reference Librarian, and asked if she’d ever heard of the Three Ice Kings. Expert sleuth she is, she found a couple articles including this one from Homegrown Iowan:

“As the story goes, the three kings or saints – Pankrac on May 12, Servac on May 13 and Bonifac on May 14 – were frozen when the temperature dropped while they were fishing at sea. On May 15, St. Zofie came along with a kettle of hot water to thaw out the three frozen kings.

The legend, brought to the United States by Czech immigrants, means that, for Iowans,  it’s a good idea to wait until May 15 to plant your tomatoes, peppers and other tender vegetables and flowers, or at least provide them with some protection in case overnight temperatures drop below freezing.”

My Grandmother is 100% Czech and first generation Iowan from Czech immigrants, so it makes sense she would know about the Ice Kings Legend.

So with a few more weeks to wait before planting, I decided a quick trip to the Library’s New Nonfiction Collection would help with garden planning. The first book I found is Vegetable Gardening in the Midwest by Michael VenderBrug. Not only does this book share a calendar for garden planning, but it also focuses on Midwest gardening issues. I especially liked the section addressing trellising tomatoes.

Foodscaping by Charles Nardozzi gives practical information about introducing edibles into regular landscaping. The pictures are great and I appreciated the information about container gardening.

Mystery writer Diane Mott Davidson’s book, Goldy’s Kitchen, weaves some of my favorite things into one book: Mysteries and Food. The Heirloom Tomato Salad recipe from her book, Fatally Flaky, looks perfect for my future tomato and basil harvest.

While I’m waiting for the Three Ice Kings, it’s nice to know I can find spring gardening inspiration at the Library.

Go

by Tom Jordan on March 16th, 2016

Chinese checkers is a game I like to play with my kids.  It’s simple, the rules are easy, and there’s no luck involved.  Alas, the divots on our playing board are too shallow, and a bumped board means marbles rolling where they shouldn’t.  While searching for a better board to buy online, I often see Go boards too.  Those look neat, I think, I’ll have to learn more about this game.  Go photo2

Have you heard of Go?  It’s been in the news lately.  Google created an artificial intelligence program over the past few years that recently defeated a Korean Go master.  It was a big deal.  The story is here.  Creating an AI program to compete above the amateur level has been a project for decades.  The rules are simple, but the possibilities for the game are almost infinitely complex.

The board is a 19×19 square grid and the pieces are black and white stones.  The object is to hold the most territory.  Like Chess and Chinese checkers, there is no luck involved in Go.

The other night, I made an account on the first Go site that came up after a search and played a few games.  I was so bad that I felt sorry for my opponents.  I had a friendly chat with one of them who offered some nice encouragement – thanks, kurr5.    Go photo1

ICPL has books on Go at 794.4.  We have a manga series that features the game at 741.5952 Hotta Hikaru too.

Art Advisory Committee looking for new members.

by Candice Smith on March 8th, 2016

BAartadvDo you like your Library? Do you like spending money? Do you like art??

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you might also like being part of the Library’s Art Advisory Committee! We’re looking for candidates who are involved and interested in the arts community in some way — artists, framers, instructors, students, gallery employees, collectors and serious enthusiasts — to join the Committee. The Committee is made up of six members, and terms run for three years. One of the primary responsibilities is the judging of artworks submitted to the annual Art Purchase Prize contest, with the winning works being purchased by the Library and added to our Art To Go collection of framed posters and original works that patrons can check out. Other tasks for which the Committee would be called upon include the reviewing and deciding upon any gifted works for Art To Go, as well as any proposals for art to be added to the Library’s permanent collection.

If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, fill out an application and return it, in person or via email, to Candice Smith (candice-smith@icpl.org). If you’ve got questions about the Committee, feel free to contact me by email or phone (319-887-6031). In the meantime, stop by the Library and take a look at the Art To Go collection, and take home a couple pieces!




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