by Candice Smith on February 26th, 2016
B.Y.O.Book, the Library’s books-in-bars group, is ready to welcome the spring–it’s time for a few good books, some good food and drink, and a lot of great conversation! In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize awards, we’ve picked three past winners. We hope you can join us to read and discuss one, or all, of them.
March 22, 6-7 p.m., is our first meet-up; join us at Share Wine Lounge & Small Plate Bistro, in the Sheraton to discuss The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz. Winner of the Pulitzer for Fiction in 2008, the book follows Oscar — a Dominican American, an overweight, geeky teenage nerd–as he tries to navigate his everyday life, fulfill his dream of becoming a writer and, more important, finding love — all in the face of a family curse that has haunted the Wao’s for generations.. I think Michiko Kakutani said it best, in a review for The New York Times: “…a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets “Star Trek” meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.” Readers, how can you resist?
You can register for the event, and check our catalog for a copy of the book–we’ve got print copies as well as CD, ebook and eaudio. We will also have a bookclub kit at the Info Desk soon, so give us a call to see if there are any available copies.
Future dates and titles are April 26 (Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, at Northside Bistro) and May 24 (The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss, at the Mill). We hope to see you there!
by Todd Brown on February 25th, 2016
One of my children may have an interest in marine biology as future career. I thought it might be fun for us to take scuba lessons together. I investigated doing this for myself last summer but ran out of time.
The deep end of a swimming pool has always made me uncomfortable. I wouldn’t call it a fear as much as a strong unease. I can swim fine but I do not know what could be lurking beneath the surface waiting to drag me down. It is kind of like the feeling when you are walking up the stairs from the dark basement, but stronger.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) offers courses to get people certified in various levels of scuba diving. I was interested in the very first level which is the Open Water Diver. Eastern Iowa has 3 or 4 shops that offer the course. The first part is usually an taken online with a computer or offline on a tablet. After that is finished, the next step is confined water dives. You get to put on all of the equipment and apply what you have learned so far. I can handle 8 hours in a pool where I can touch the bottom if I need to. The next part, which is sometimes a separate class, is the open diving. This is where I will have to overcome my strong unease. Open dives can be done through any PADI dive center and there are a lot of different places where they do the dives. Some are in a quarry near Cedar Falls, some are in Lake Michigan looking at wrecks, others are in the ocean off the coast of popular vacation spots.
The Library has a few books on scuba diving which I looked through. I immediately flipped to the indexes and made sure none of them listed Kraken, Dagon or mermen. But I do see things like barracudas, scorpion fish, fire coral and territorial biters!
by Melody Dworak on February 18th, 2016
You may have noticed that OverDrive looks a little different this month. On February 1, OverDrive released an update to its app that solved some problems for people but also created some major bugs. Many of us at the Information Desk have been helping people troubleshoot getting things working again.
It sounds like people who read e-books on an iPhone or iPad bore the brunt of these problems. What’s worse, we at the library didn’t have clear instructions for how to solve these problems. Everyone who has come in has been so patient while we take the time to troubleshoot and get things working for them.
Well, yesterday, OverDrive sent out an email that linked to the full instructions for how to deal with these issues. It looks to me like they broadcasted this email far and wide, but in case you missed it and you are still struggling with OverDrive problems on your Apple device, read through this OverDrive Help article to see if it answers some of your questions.
If you don’t want to troubleshoot on your own, you don’t have to! Give us a call (319-356-5200) or stop in and we can help you get things working. Thanks again for your patience in working through these bugs.
by Maeve Clark on February 11th, 2016
He was such an eager beaver
We had to use a cantilever
Off he soared
Oh, way up high
Luckily we had a wide receiver
Don’t you love it when you stumble upon something so much fun you have to share it with everyone? That happened to me today. I was looking for the etymology of the word plummet, a lovely word if I don’t say so myself, and I found the answer using the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Plummet comes from Middle English plomet, from Anglo-French plumet, plomet, from plum lead, lead weight. That was cool, I had used a plumb bob on an archeological dig many summers ago and always loved those two words together, but I digress. On the same page as the origin of the word plum was the heading Other Civil Engineering Terms. What a grand addition to a dictionary – other civil engineering terms. I immediately clicked on cantilever to see if I could get even more civil engineering terms, alas, they were all the same, but I did discover another wondrous option – Rhymes with. Come on, admit it you too have always wanted to know what rhymes with cantilever. I was so tickled with my new found knowledge, I made up a rhyme. It isn’t very good, but what the heck, I got to use eager beaver, cantilever and wide receiver. I hope this post makes you a true believer.
by Brian Visser on February 10th, 2016
I wrote a newspaper article this month about beer books in the Library’s collection. There are a lot of resources online for beer enthusiasts too. So, I guess this is a companion piece.
In my article, I mention Beer Advocate, which is a fantastic online community that spawned its own print magazine. They also host beer festivals across the country. Anyway, they’re an excellent place to start online. There’s a very involved user base that post in the forums and write reviews. The reviews are what brought me to the site. When I’m at the store, I check BA to see what a particular beer’s score is. Since there are so many people using the site and posting reviews, I feel like the score is a pretty good indicator of a beer’s quality. It’s fun to browse their forums too. I don’t post there personally, but I could see myself doing it someday.
Another great website is Rate Beer. It has reviews too (you could probably figure that out from the name)
and includes different information than what Beer Advocate does, such as the best kind of glass to drink each beer in. I feel like their reviews are pretty trustworthy too. They also include information about the beer’s availability, but, honestly, I don’t find it very accurate. It says that many hard to find beers are common, though, it probably is more indicative of national availability. That said, the website has a Local Beer guide, which tells you the best beers that can be obtained in your area and the best beers brewed in your area. As you can imagine, when you put in Iowa, the best beers brewed in your area list is dominated by Toppling Goliath.
Beer blogs are abundant, but which are any good? First on our short tour is Beervana, a blog by the author of The Beer Bible, Jeff Alworth, one of the books from my article. Jeff writes about the beer industry and his thoughts on it. If you liked The Beer Bible, then his blog is definitely worth checking out. The Hop Review is a slick looking website that covers the craft beer scene in Chicago and the Midwest. The site features well written articles and everyone involved is obviously very passionate about brews. Finally, there’s the fun site Pints and Panels. Em, the creator of the site, draws comics where she reviews beers. I find beer reviews hard to read sometimes, but Em’s reviews are very accessible. I love what she’s doing and you should check it out too.
There’s a bunch of other stuff out there, like apps that you can use to track what you drink. I like the idea, and I’ve tried using Untappd. I was a little confused by it and soon gave up. It’s something that I want to explore more. Alright, go out there and enjoy a drink. Also, be glad that you don’t have auto-brewery syndrome, which gives home-brewing a whole new meaning.
by Jennifer Eilers on February 8th, 2016
This weekend I had the opportunity to talk with the Daughter’s of the American Revolution Pilgrim Chapter about preserving their families’ histories. Preservation is a daunting task especially since we must think about not only saving the physical copy but the digital one as well.
In preparing for my talk, I researched tools to help these women creatively think about sharing their families’ stories, photos, and heirlooms digitally. There are many great online tools, websites, and projects out there; but for me what makes the stuff I’ve inherited so valuable are the stories or memories attached to the items.
FamilySearch.org is one of the search engines that helps you trace your family’s roots. I don’t feel its search capabilities are as good as Ancestry’s (which you can access for free at the library!) but it offers many great tools and apps to help you collect family history and put it into a context your family can appreciate. One such tool is the Rootsmapper app which traces your family’s migration across continents or across the country over time.
Everystory is an app that makes it easy to record a voice over with a group of photos of your choosing. What I like about this app is that its easy to use and it is designed to replicate the experience of flipping through a photo album with a loved one as they tell stories about the photographs.
Storycatcher Pro is an app that allows you to create and share video of a family member telling stories. You can choose themes, design titles, capture screen text, capture audio, and import photos to make a very professional oral history. The app is easy to use and requires limited video editing knowledge. The only downside of the app is that it is only available for iOS.
Treelines uses your family tree as a starting point so that you can add pictures, tags, stories, and page design to help tell your family history. You can give access to family members so that they can also add their photos, documents, stories, and other information to the timeline as well.
If you are just beginning your genealogy search or digitization project, the library has many tools to help you including an archival quality scanner. There are several classes being offered in the month of May. Sign up soon as classes fill up fast!
by Melody Dworak on February 5th, 2016
The 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!
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).
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!
by Beth Fisher on February 3rd, 2016
Before 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.
Kids 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.
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 participate 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.