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.

Hurry up spring!

by Maeve Clark on January 25th, 2017

sunshineHave you missed the sun?  It’s out there, of course, though hiding behind the clouds that make our days seem so grey and dreary.  Is January the greyest month of the year or are we simply experiencing a run of gloomy skies?  It turns out that November or December are the least sunny months, with January and February giving the last two months of the year a run for their money. When trying to find easy to understand reports and statistics I stumbled across Brian B’s Climate Blog. Brian Brettschneider, an Anchorage-based environmental planner and climatoldrearinessogist, has analyzed a myriad of weather and climate statistics and created a Dreariness Index map.  He uses three variables to create the Dreariness Index – total annual precipitation, days per year with measurable precipitation and annual cloud coverage.  Iowa falls smack dab in the middle of the range, which if you are like me, knowing that we aren’t the dreariest location in the United States helps, at least a little.

If you would like to learn more about weather, the library has a good number of books on the subject, ranging from weather prediction to extreme weather to climate change.

Inauguration history

by Melody Dworak on January 20th, 2017

inauguration-quarrelWhen major historical events happen before our eyes, it can be fun to turn to the wayback machine and explore what it was like in the past. Thanks to the Historical New York Times database, I can take this trip down the collective memory lane. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating a List in the Catalog

by Anne Mangano on January 17th, 2017

The My List option allows you to create a list of items (books, DVDs, CDs, anything in the catalog) that you can reference later. I use it to keep track of books I would like to read at some point, especially since I always max out my holds. You can create multiple lists, so if you want to create a list of mysteries or travel books or holiday cookbooks, you can create a list for each topic.

Adding an Item to a List/Creating a New List

When you found what you want to add to a list, under additional actions, click on the icon of the shopping basket.

Read the rest of this entry »