Food during the summer for students

by Brian Visser on June 14th, 2018

Summer is in full swing, and many children who rely on school for their meals go hungry when they’re on break. The Summer Food Service Program, administered by the Iowa Department of Education, seeks to remedy that.  It provides nutritious meals and snacks for free to all children during the summer.  Food is provided on a first come, first served basis at the sites and times as follows:

Breckenridge Estates

4494 Taft Ave SE, Iowa City
Monday through Friday
Lunch: 12:00-1:00 pm

The Dream Center

611 Southgate Avenue, Iowa City
Monday through Friday
Lunch 12-12:30pm
Snack 3:00-3:30pm

Forest View Trailer Court

1205 Laura Drive, Iowa City
Monday through Friday
Snack: 3-3:30 pm

Resurrection Assembly of God Church

1330 Keokuk Street, Iowa City
Monday through Friday
Snack: 9:00-9:30am
Lunch: 11:30-12 Noon

Robert A Lee Rec Center

220 S Gilbert St, Iowa City
Monday through Friday
Snack: 12-1pm or 4:30-5pm

All programs go from June 11th to August 3rd, and are closed the week of July 4th.


Listen: Stream Libby Audiobooks to Smart Speakers

by Melody Dworak on June 5th, 2018
Stream Audiobooks to Smart Speaker

Stream audiobooks to your smart speaker! Bluetooth streaming symbol by Google Inc. Google Home image in the public domain.

Everyone I talk to knows how much I love listening to audiobooks whenever I’m doing housework. Up until recently, I thought I could only use apps approved by the maker of my smart speaker. I knew I could cast but didn’t have my devices paired in the right way in order to make the audio from *any* app stream through my speaker. I now have my smartphone paired to my speaker and I’m never looking back.

Why didn’t I google this sooner? The instructions for pairing a device up with an Echo smart speaker are on the Help site. Basically, you make sure Bluetooth is turned on on the device you want to pair and you say “Pair” within range of the speaker. Then you can play whatever audio you want like it was any old Bluetooth speaker.

The Google Home Help site has instructions for pairing an Android phone to the Google Home, but what about an iPhone? They do have general instructions for playing music via Bluetooth that also works for audiobooks.

CNET has put together a how-to video to guide Apple users through the process.

You won’t be able to verbally direct the smart speaker to play what you want it to play, but using your device like a remote is the next best thing.


2018 Primary Election Voting and Candidate Information

by Maeve Clark on May 29th, 2018

The 2018 primary election is Tuesday, June 5.  You can find out voter information including how to register,  where to vote early and much more at the Johnson County auditor’s website.   Voters can cast an absentee ballot in-person at the Johnson County Auditor’s office before any election. Ballots must be voted in the office, you cannot take a ballot home with you. In-person absentee voting is NOT available on election day at our office, voters will have to cast ballots at their polling place.   It is too late to request an absentee ballot to be sent by the mail.  The deadline for that request May 25, eleven days before the election.

If  you are interested in learning more about the candidates in the gubernatorial races, a number of news sources have website links to help you make an informed decision.  There is no Republican primary race for governor, Governor Kim Reynolds is the only candidate on the ballot.   There five candidates on the Democratic ballot (the list includes Nate Boulton who has withdrawn from the race) and two candidates running in the Libertarian primary.  The Des Moines Register  published profiles on the Democratic candidates on March 23.  You can watch the six candidates in a debate sponsored by Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press on May 16. Iowa Public Radio has profile for all of the contested gubernatorial races on the Iowa Politics siteLittle Village has a field guide to the Democratic contenders for the governor’s office with links to each of the candidates’ websites.

There is also a contested race for two Johnson County Board of Supervisors’ seats.  You can watch a forum sponsored by the Johnson County League of  Women Voters, an environmental forum sponsored by Environmental Advocates, 100 Grannies, Backyard Abundance, Climate Advocates, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Iowa City Area Group of the Sierra Club, a social justice forum sponsored by the Iowa City Federation of Labor and the Coalition for Racial Justice and a task force on aging forum sponsored by he Johnson County Task Force on Aging.

What is that in the 1868 Bird’s Eye View of Iowa City?

by Anne Mangano on May 18th, 2018

While researching the horse racing scene of early Iowa City, my eye moved from the first county fairgrounds to something in the Iowa River—that something being a steamboat. Steamboats in Iowa City in 1868? Didn’t the railroad, reaching Iowa City in 1856 make these boats unnecessary? I always thought that steamboats didn’t make much headway (so many nautical phrases to use) on the Iowa River.

Steamboat depicted in the 1868 Bird's Eye View of Iowa City

Steamboat depicted in the 1868 Bird’s Eye View of Iowa City

And that is somewhat true.

Read the rest of this entry »

Garlic Mustard – an invasive species. See it, pull it!

by Beth Fisher on May 10th, 2018

Spring has finally arrived in Iowa City. That 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.”

Garlic Mustard is a woodland plant that favors shade or dappled shade, but it will also grow in sun given enough moisture.  Unfortunately wildlife do not eat Garlic Mustard. Human intervention is the only way to control it.

The Iowa Wildlife Federation suggests that if you’re going hiking in your favorite woods 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.

Do not compost Garlic Mustard in your home compost pile.  Home compost piles do not get hot enough to destroy garlic mustard seeds.  However the City of Iowa City Landfill’s compost piles reach a much higher temperature than needed, so you may put garlic mustard in your City yard waste containers to be picked up with your regular garbage. Read the rest of this entry »

Weber Days Book Display–Read Like It’s 1897

by Heidi Lauritzen on May 6th, 2018

A fun piece of Iowa City history lives in our Library’s archives:  the accession books that show the book purchases that the Library made in its early years. The Iowa City Public Library opened on January 21, 1897, and the first 1,050 entries in the first accession book were recorded on January 14, 15, and 16, 1897.  The best part is, we still circulate some of those original titles.

A book display on the first floor gathers together a sampling of the more than one hundred titles that you can still find at ICPL.  Many of the titles are what we call “classic fiction”, and you can probably guess some of the authors represented:  Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Jonathan Swift, William Thackeray, Jules Verne, and William Shakespeare.

There’s a sprinkling of children’s fiction as well: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, and  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll to name just a few.

A few entries in the accession book particularly caught my eye: Looking Backward, 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy (first published in 1888—when the year 2000 must have seemed impossibly far away, and is now in our past); and Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey (still a timely issue, alas). In the publishing norms of the time, the author entry in our accession book for Cranford is written as “Mrs. Gaskell”.  Our catalog today does give the author her full name, Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell.

With poetry, we do not have an exact match in title in many cases, but we still provide collections from authors represented in the Library’s opening day collection. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Keats, Henry Longfellow, Alexander Pope, Alfred Tennyson, and William Wordsworth continue to be found at ICPL.

Kick off our month of Weber Days activities by reading a classic book that’s been in circulation in Iowa City for 120 years! And for a full listing of Weber Days events at the Library, look here.

Brushing up on my French

by Alyssa Hanson on April 13th, 2018

I sing in a local choir which is doing several French pieces for our next concert and it made me realize I’ve lost much of the French I learned in high school and college. I love the French language and while I could pick out the general sense of the songs we’re working on in choir, I came across many words I was unfamiliar with and I had to do some look ups to see what they meant.

For this I used Google Translate which is great for translating words between languages. It has its own site but you can use the same tool from a Google search if you pair it with the word ‘translate’. One of the songs we’re singing is called “Valse avec choeur” by George Bizet and while I knew the second part of the title was ‘with choir’ I didn’t recognize the first word. I used ‘translate valse’ and in recognizing it as French it translated as ‘waltz’. “Waltz with choir” definitely fits the style of the piece.

After I had finished looking up words I didn’t know from our songs, I started thinking about other ways that I could refresh my French. Since I haven’t heard it spoken in awhile I started looking up movies in French so that I could start listening to how words were pronounced. I found that my memory has Americanized the French I still remembered so that was helpful in getting French sounds back in my brain. Since French dialog in movies is still pretty fast for my level of understanding (and I had to use the English subtitles to understand what was going on), I wanted to get something that was more my speed.

So I signed up for Mango Languages and Transparent Languages which are both language learning tools the library offers. Both have lessons based around specific categories like shopping or eating out. This makes it easier to learn new vocabulary since word clustering is helpful in memorizing foreign languages. Past this basic similarity, their methods are a fairly different. While initially I was going to try them out and choose my favorite to stick with, I ended up liking them both, but for different reasons.

Transparent Languages focuses on vocabulary by always showing a count of the words you’ve learned and even though I’ve known many of the basic French words I was reviewing since high school, it’s still exciting to see it go up. In addition, it has a built in system for reviewing words that you haven’t revisited in the past few days. Since reviewing words overtime is super important in remembering vocab, this is a very helpful feature. When first introducing new vocab, each word has an image with it so you can picture it as more than just the written word. Sometimes there are even notes giving context for the word, like for ‘Bonjour’ which it’s noted that it can be used for saying ‘Good day’ and ‘Good afternoon’.

I also like that each of the vocab lessons has multiple ways of testing if you remember the vocab because you’re likely to come across it in various ways, and while  testing right away helps point out which words you need to spend more time memorizing, it’s good practice as well. Then, if you find you have a preferred way to review (or a way you want to work on reviewing) vocab between listening, reading, speaking, or writing, you can choose that method in the future for reviewing words.

Mango Languages is like a teaching set of flash cards. You learn a vocab word and then it immediately asks you to remember it and after a few times of remembering it between learning other words, it asks you to think about it in a different context. Like learning the words for good morning (Bonjour) and how are you (Ça va?) separately but then putting them together in a sentence like Bonjour, ça va?. While a simple compound, this changes it from just a word to a word with context.

Another great part about Mango is it gives cultural notes on words as you go along. For example, ça va literally translates as ‘it is going’ so you’re really asking ‘It’s going?’ when you ask someone how they are in French. In addition it does color coding for words so you can always see what English words match up to the French ones. So you’re learning words and phrases at the same time.

Since starting to review my French it’s becoming easier to translate again and occasionally I’ll have French words pop into my head for things I’m doing or saying. I’m already thinking about starting another language but there’s so many to choose from it might take me a little while to decide. Though, my choir sings a lot of German, so that might be next on my list.

Who is ready for a good old walk? And a little local history?

by Candice Smith on April 10th, 2018

And I do mean a good old walk!

On November 5, 1881, Anton Stein woke up, had coffee in the guest house he was at on Dubuque St., then went and murdered his wife. In between those disparate acts, he made a couple stops. On his walk, he would have gone past some buildings that are no longer there, while others we still see today; he visited businesses that are long gone, but their owners and functions left their mark on our downtown. He would have passed by the many people who were making their way in an Iowa City that was barely forty years old, hard-scrabble and burgeoning at the same time.

Using various local history resources that the Library has and provides access to, we’ve been able to recreate the short walk that Anton Stein took. We’ve also filled in the story of what happened to the people involved, and gained an idea of what our city looked like at that time. Want to learn more? Join us for an ICPL History Walk: The Lizzie Hess Murder, on Saturday, May 5. There are walks scheduled at 2:30 and 7:00 p.m., and registration is required. The walk should last about 1-1.5 hours, and is about one mile total. The 2:30 walk will meet inside the Library lobby, and the 7:00 right outside the lobby in the pedmall.

Register for the 2:30 walk.
Register for the 7:00 walk.

This program is part of ICPL’s Weber Days, a series of Local History programs and events honoring the memory and work of Iowa City Historian Irving B. Weber. If you have any questions, please contact Candice Smith at or 319-887-6031

Tax Deadlines are Approaching

by Mary Estle-Smith on April 2nd, 2018
Tax Deadlines are Approaching Cover Image

The VITA program though the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa offers free tax assistance every year to citizens who meet a certain income criteria.  (Less than $55,000) for the calendar year of 2017.  They have several dates left between now and April 11.

This above link will also tell you what you will need to bring with you in addition to places/times other than the library where you can also go.   Deadline for filing your federal taxes this year is Tuesday, April 17.    The state filing deadline is  Monday April 30.

If you do your own taxes the library does have a few federal forms.  You can also go to the IRS site  for most other federal forms and instructions.

Iowa forms and instructions can be found at  the Iowa Dept. of Revenue site.

There are also resources at the library that in the area of the pictured book that may possibly be helpful for  DIY tax preparers.



Magazines with Staying Power

by Heidi Lauritzen on March 30th, 2018

When the Iowa City Public Library opened in 1897, its reading room contained twenty magazine titles for visitors to read.  More than a century later, we still offer seven of those first twenty titles!  They are:
The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, Harper’s Magazine, National Geographic, Popular Science, and Publishers Weekly.  The seventh title, Library Journal, is circulated among just library staff since it is primarily library news and reviews of new materials that help with acquisition decisions.

We receive only print issues of Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. For the other titles, we provide both the print issues in our magazine area in the first floor atrium, and a downloadable version via RBdigital Magazines. Find out more about downloading these and 100+ other magazines on this Digital Johnson County page on our website.

The Library typically keeps one year’s worth of issues for monthly magazines, and three months’ worth of issues for a weekly magazine. Back issues may be checked out, but the latest issue is always for in-house use only. You may place holds on magazine issues, just as you do for books or movies.

Each of these original seven titles is indexed in the Gale online resource called “PowerSearch”. Dates vary among the titles, but many of these magazines are indexed back forty to fifty years, and have full-text articles from the past twenty years or more.  PowerSearch contains more than 300 million articles, from thousands of sources. Find PowerSearch on our website here.

Are magazines that have been around for 120 years too stuffy for you? Try one of our newer titles at the Library: MaryJanesFarm (“simple solutions for organic living”), Plein Air Magazine (for landscape and plein air painting), Milk Street (cooking magazine from Christopher Kimball, formerly of America’s Test Kitchen), or Atomic Ranch which “celebrates mid-century houses from 1940s ranch tracts to 1960s modernist homes”.