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Bird names

by Jason Paulios on June 4th, 2015

As an avid birdwatcher my favorite reference questions obviously involve bird identification quandaries.  The other night a patron showed me a photo she’d taken on her smart phone of a group of large dark-colored birds in a field.  I don’t think she was prepared for me to scream “Turkey Vultures!” into her face…but when you show me bird photos that is what sometimes happens.  She had questions about where the name originated and it occurred to me that I wasn’t actually sure but was excited to look for references.  Her enthusiasm was not on the same level, more of a passing interest, so she thanked me and took off before I could overload her with vulture trivia.  My research found the following:

As to the name origins of Turkey Vulture, I found a book called Latin for Bird Lovers by Roger Lederer and Carol Burr which is a casual dictionary of genus and species names for birds.  Inside I found the genus Cathartes (pronounced ka-THAR-teez) defined as : “Greek, katharos, clean, pure, as in purifier or purger, as in Cathartes aura, the Turkey Vulture, which scavenges, thereby clearing away dead animals.”  The species name was also included, Aura (AW-ra), as in “Breeze, air” which would probably describe their habit of drifting along on thermal winds though this is not mentioned specifically in the book.

Another bird name book ICPL offers is 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells.  Here the author has the following to say about Turkey Vulture naming, “North American settlers, who gave them their common name, thought they looked a bit like turkeys [bald heads and dark bodies - my note] and soared like European buzzards.”

So there you have it mystery patron, Turkey Vultures just happen to look like turkeys.

Making Cents of Your Investments (with Databases!)

by Jennifer Eilers on May 20th, 2015

Investing on your own can seem like a daunting task. Creating a portfolio or picking stocks may not be for everyone, but for those that do take an active role in their asset management the library has tools to help you. With the library’s subscription to Value Line and Morningstar*, two of the leading investment tools on the market, you can make informed choices on your investments.

With Value Line you have access to analysis and ratings for over 1,700 widely-followed companies and 1,800 small and mid-cap companies. It provides specialized ratings that help investors know how to evaluate a stock’s performance in relationship to industry indicators. For newer investors, the subscription also offers sample portfolios that can help point you in the right direction presenting a variety of investment strategies.

Morningstar provides access to over 21,000 stocks, 29,000 funds, and 1,758 ETFs, and like Value Line, provides its own set of criteria for analyzing investments. One of the best tools available in Morningstar is the “Xray a Portfolio” tool. Here you can input an actual or hypothetical portfolio and find out how risky it is, in what areas of the market your profolio is exposed, and much more!

Both Value Line and Morningstar offer screener tools. A screener is a stock comparison tool which allows you to choose from a long list of customizable criteria to compare stocks. While each database has its own system for rating investments,  you can check up on your current investments  and get a printable report with current information on the company’s sales, earnings, and other industry indicators.

To learn how to use the Morningstar or Value Line database, click here.

If you would like more information about Morningstar, Value Line or the other databases the library subscribes to, please go to www.icpl.org/resources call the library at 356-5200 or speak with a librarian.

* Access to Morningstar is limited. Only  one person can access the database at a time.

**** Please note that only residents of Iowa City or rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights can access databases from home.

 

Help, I found a fawn or bunny or robin! What do I do?

by Maeve Clark on May 12th, 2015

Baby-Robins_110422_0563Not only do wild flowers emerge in the spring, but  wild animal young do, too.  We’ve had questions about what to do when someone has found a nest of baby bunnies or a young robin on the ground or even a fawn without a doe nearby.  Our natural inclination to think the young animal has been abandoned, but that may not be the case at all.  Books on animal rescue and rehabilitation as well as websites devoted to wildlife suggest that the first step you take is determining whether the young animal is orphaned, injured or just fine.rescuing wildlife

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) posted the article Leave Wildlife Babies in the Wild . “If you find an animal baby that appears to be on its own, don’t worry. Generally, one of its parents is nearby, watching. They’re teaching their offspring to be independent, and in the case of danger, some animal parents will take off in order to create a distraction away from their young,” suggests the DNR.

The Humane Society of the United States cautions that “unless the animal appears injured or in distress, there may be no need to rescue them.” They do suggest you follow up if -a cat or dog presents the wild animal to you; there is evidence of bleeding; there is an apparent or obvious broken limb; there is a featherless or nearly featherless bird on the ground or the baby animal is shivering or there is a dead parent nearby.

The next step, according to the DNR is to contact a certified wildlife rehabilitator.  The DNR maintains a list on its website. If you cannot reach a rehabilitator, you should contact your conservation officer or animal control officer.  If you would like to learn more about what an wildlife rehabilitator does, Talk of Iowa, an Iowa Public Radio program, recently hosted several rehabilitators and they shared their stories of helping return the young back into the wild.

 

 

Signs of spring: the IC Farmers Market

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 5th, 2015

Were you among the hundreds of people to converge downtown Saturday morning for the first Downtown Iowa City Farmers Market of the season? I lost track of the number of people I said hello to, including the Library’s AV Specialist who attended the market with her four-week-old daughter, as I browsed the stalls with a smile on my face.

My breakfast on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Yum!

My breakfast on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Yum!

It’s farmers market season once more.

Growing up in on the other side of the state (shout out to anyone from Webster County!), I had no experience with farmers markets until I moved to Iowa City in mid-1990s. My college roommates and I would visit the market after classes every Wednesday, during which each one of us would purchase something to contribute to our weekly roommate dinner. This is how I learned to cook using ingredients that weren’t prepackaged.

The Library wants to help you make your farmers market experience even better, which is why we created recipe cards promoting two things: ICPL’s cooking resources and the Digital History Project.

Did you know the number of cookbooks in our collection numbers somewhere in the thousands? With that many choices — not to mention our collection of food-related magazines and children’s cookbooks — you are bound to find a recipe to help you utilize the foods you purchase at the farmers market.

For those of you who love local history, we have access to some treasured family recipes thanks to the Digital History Project. Take time to explore what’s available and look through your own collection of photos. You may have something to add!

FarmersMarketLogoYou can find the recipe cards on the Iowa City Farmers Market table. In addition, Library staff will be blogging about their farmers market experiences all summer long. Feel free to share your stories with us!

We’ll see you at the market!

 

 

Dig out your photos! Bring your IC-related pics to ScanIt@ICPL–May 9, 2-5 p.m.

by Candice Smith on May 1st, 2015

tbt42315I was digging through some boxes of photos the other day, and found this one that made me especially happy for two reasons. The first is because of the carousel–the Drollinger carousel in City Park. This is one of the rides that is still in the park, but when this picture was taken (I think in 1997 or 1998?) there were other rides that are no longer there. I like to think of all the times I was in the park, all the kids and families enjoying Iowa City’s very own amusement park that used to be just a little bit bigger.

I’m sure there are many of you who have similar items tucked away at home–maybe some photos of picnics or ballgames in the parks around town, or of your kids messing about in the old fountain in the ped mall (that old, wonderful, vaguely dangerous, somewhat evocative fountain), of family outings to the Devonian Fossil Gorge right after it was created. Pictures of the floods, of the tornado’s aftermath, of buildings that used to be downtown, old pictures from school, scenes of neighborhoods and homes from a while back. We want to see them! We’re looking for photos and documents related to the history of Iowa City to scan and add to our Digital History Project, and we’re hoping our patrons and community members can help!

The second reason I was happy to find this photo? Because the two tiny little children in it are turning 22 today–happy birthday, Peter and Rachel!

New Digital Magazine App: Zinio for Libraries

by Melody Dworak on April 27th, 2015

 

tl;dr If you’ve never tried out our digital magazines, sign up at Zinio Magazine Collection web page and download the Zinio for Libraries app for Android and Apple!

ZinioforLibraries_0The Long Version

In the fall of 2012, the Iowa City Public Library began offering digital magazines through a service called Zinio. Two and a half years later, we have grown to offering more than 150 digital magazine titles. We also now offer a more streamlined experience for signing up as a new user.

The Zinio for Libraries app is a new app that allows you to fill out one simple form after clicking “Create New Account” on our Zinio Magazine Collection web page. Once you fill out this form, you are ready to start browsing and reading on your computer.

For those who are new to Zinio, you can download the Zinio for Libraries app for Apple and Android devices. This new app has fewer distractions than the previous app we were required to use. The Zinio for Libraries app will open straightaway to the magazines you have checked out. It will not show you any content that you have to buy in order to read.

ZinioforLibraries_1New users, please note: When you go to download the app, be sure to choose the Zinio for Libraries app with the white background and dark colored Z. If you see the regular Zinio app with the dark square and Zinio name in white, that is the app that has all that extra commercial content. Your login information will *not* work on the commercial app.

Already Use Zinio? Read the rest of this entry »

Pie Plant – What’s that and what’s it have to do with Irving B. Weber?

by Maeve Clark on April 23rd, 2015

Rhubarb- Did you know that rhubarb is also known as pie plant?  I hadn’t heard, (or at least I didn’t remember hearing),  rhubarb called pie plant, (or pieplant), until I lived in Dubuque. However, a little online digging shows that term pie plant has been in written use since 1838.  If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, you might recall that it from a passage in The First Four Years -Laura was cooking for the threshers, the first dinner in her very own little house, and was running through the menu: “There was pie plant in the garden; she must make a couple of pies.”

A discussion of the term came up last month when I attended a meeting Historic Foodies, a local group with an interest in using recipes from the cookbooks of  yesteryear.  We were using The Iowa City Cook Book, and on page 181 one of our members found the recipe below. Pie PlantThe cookbook dates from 1898 and is chock-full of recipes that will invite much discussion.  You might just recognize the names of prominent Iowa City residents of the past.  In fact, while we at the meeting we consulted Margaret Keyes book Nineteenth century home architecture of Iowa City to see if we could locate the recipe writer’s house. When we did we pulled up the Iowa City assessors website to find out if the house was extant.  It was tremendous fun and we found a good number of the names in Dr. Keyes’ book and many of the houses are still here!

So what does all of this have to do with Irving B. Weber?  First, Weber wrote the introduction to Dr. Keyes book.  Second,  while Weber’s mother doesn’t have any recipes in the cookbook, some of his parent’s neighbors do.  Third, we are just about to celebrate Irving B Weber Days,  webera full month of programming and displays dedicated to local history.  Fourth, the Historic Foodies will be providing refreshments from the Iowa City Cook Book for a program during Weber Days. Make sure you mark your calendar to come to Rachel Wobeter’s talking to tour of Iowa City food history.  Rachel will share her research on what Iowa City folk ate between 1830 and 1900 on Wednesday, May 20 at 7  p.m.  The program will air live on Library Channel 2o.

And finally, what  does pie plant have to do with with Irving Weber?  Well, here’s what I think, I bet you anything Irving ate pie plant in either a pie or as a sauce or maybe even like I did as a child, by dipping the stalk in the sugar bowl and taking a great big bite of sour delight.

 

 

The Iowa City Assessor

by Tom Jordan on April 9th, 2015

The Iowa City Assessor’s website is useful if you’d like to know more about real property in Iowa City.  In Iowa City, real property (land and buildings), is reassessed every two years.  On the Assessor’s Duties page, there is information on the qualifications of the assessor, definitions of terms like “market value,” and explanations on how and why properties are valued as they are.  Prominent on this page is the General Misconceptions About the Assessor’s Work section, and its gist is that the Assessor is a disinterested party when it comes to taxes.  Grief from property owners over taxes must be ever-present.

IC aerial photoIowa City is divided into parcels, or defined lots of land that are owned by a person or persons. Parcels are searchable by number, name of business, street address, and legal description. It would be nice if non-commercial properties were searchable by name as well. The Johnson County Assessor, which assesses all Johnson County property not in Iowa City, allows a search by name. Do you know someone who owns property in Johnson County outside of Iowa City? Go ahead and search for the property by the owner’s name here.

After doing a search and selecting a parcel on the Iowa City site, you’ll find all sorts of information: values of the buildings and land, lot dimensions, details of building permits, etc. What I find most interesting is the sales information. Who bought from whom? And when and for how much?

You may also search property sales in Iowa City and limit the search by a number of criteria. The first listed is a date range. So, for example, you can see that there were 247 recorded sales in Iowa City in January 2015.

Another search offered is a search of buildings. Would you like to compare your house built in 1924 to others built that year? Do your search here.

To find out more about property in Iowa City, visit the Iowa City Assessor’s website. Or maybe even stop in at the office for a chat. Just be careful if you’d like to talk taxes.

Want a better horse this year?

by Mary Estle-Smith on March 27th, 2015

3-sets

This series of DVDs could be your ticket to a really nice horse.   Regardless of what your equine discipline/interest may be, you will find information and techniques that you can use.

7 Clinics is extensive footage from the filming of  the award-winning documentary “Buck”.  While “Buck” was designed for a wide audience, this series is geared more to the equine aficionado looking for self-education and a better relationship with their (or any) horse.   It has been thoughtfully and professionally edited to move seamlessly from clinic to clinic covering the materials presented at each in a cohesive fashion.

I have attended several Buck clinics over the years as both a participant and an observer. Either way, one is exposed to a wealth of excellent information and not a small amount of entertainment.  Other than not being physically present, almost every aspect of a clinic comes through on this set.

Watching  participants progress throughout the clinic is always interesting. Those who are focused and came to learn will invariably have the “aha” moment when things click with them and their horse and the techniques start to fall into place.  That moment is a wonderful thing!  Even more can be learned from those having problems as Buck walks them through the process of coming out better.

There is way more happening than can be assimilated  in one viewing. Buck’s philosophy/methods work for anyone who considers riding and building horsemanship skills as an endless journey of improvement and education.  I don’t think I can overstate the value especially of the emphasis on groundwork.  I only wish I had been exposed to this caliber of  horsemanship years earlier.  I certainly would have saved both myself and my horses a lot of frustration and mishaps not to mention some unscheduled dismounts!

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Brannaman clinic I highly recommend it. In the mean time, this set of DVDs is the next best thing!

Help with Travel Resources

by Heidi Lauritzen on March 25th, 2015
Help with Travel Resources Cover Image

Although there’s only one week left to browse the Travel Resources display on the second floor, staff at the Reference Desk can always help you find materials to plan your next happy escape.

The display kiosk has a few representative titles, usually specific to a country or city, from the various guidebook series we carry such as Rough Guides, Frommer’s, Eyewitness, and Fodors.  But when you are not sure where you want to go, there are many general works that can provide some inspiration.  At the moment, the display has books on traveling with children, the best beaches, literary landmarks, adventure travel, and the fun of finding back roads to reach your destination.

An intriguing title that I had to take home is 100 Places You Will Never Visit:  The World’s Most Secret Locations by Daniel Smith.  Each place is described in just a few pages, often with drawings, maps or a photo or two.  There are businesses (Google Data Center, Coca-Cola recipe vault), military sites (Guantanamo Bay Detention Center; Korean Demilitarized Zone), and other interesting places such as Air Force One, Vatican Secret Archives, Swiss Fort Knox and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.  Even though you will probably never go to any of these locations, it is interesting to know a little bit more about them.

Once you have picked out a place to go—one that is not in a top-secret, off-limits location—staff can help you find materials about your destination.   Our collections of architecture, history, cooking, art, and landscape gardening books and DVDs are great supplements to the factual information in the guidebooks.




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