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Stump the Librarians Day: Sabin Elementary School

by Beth Fisher on April 24th, 2014

sabin2Today we received a call at the Reference Desk from a patron that has us stumped.   The patron asked for information about a time capsule they believe had been placed in the former Henry Sabin Elementary School building at 500 South Dubuque Street here in Iowa City.  The building was built 1917, but the patron didn’t know when the time capsule would have been placed.

Unfortunately, after searching a variety of online and print resources like the Newspaper Archives and the Irving Weber’s Iowa City volumes, and even calling the ICCSD, we’re at a loss.  We couldn’t find even a hint of information about a time capsule.  So now we’re looking for help.   Does this sound familiar to you?  Did you attend Sabin Elementary?  Have you heard stories about a time capsule being buried there?   Any information you can provide would be a great help.

In general, Librarians are a curious bunch, and we really hate being stumped.   And now we all want to know the answer too!

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” and 44 other phrases from Shakespeare

by Maeve Clark on April 23rd, 2014

Happy 450bill, William Shakespeare! BBC America posted 45 everyday phrases either coined or popularized by  William Shakespeare and then challenged readers to work five of the phrases into conversation today. I think I can easily use 10 if not more, how about you?  In the not too distant past – researchers, students and readers of Shakespeare as well as reference librarians relied upon a concordance of Shakespeare’s dramatic works or poems to find which play or sonnet contained a word or phrase.  While in our “brave new world” (The Tempest) Google makes finding quotes a snap, the library still retains a number of books on phrases, idioms and figures of speech in the Reference Collection. Titles such as A Hog on Ice and other Curious Expressions and Loanwords dictionary : a lexicon of more than 6,500 words and phrases encountered in English contexts show evidence of much use back when finding that special turn of phrase required using print resources.

Every summer I so look forward to Riverside Theatre in the Park’s  presentation of at least one of Shakespeare’s plays.  The venue is marvelous, (especially when it hasn’t been flooded out), the costuming and the sets are splendid, but for me what is best of all is the beauty of the language.  I could, as Shakespeare so aptly put, listen “forever and a day” (As You Like It).  If you would like to whet your appetite for Shakespeare this summer you will not want to miss, Theatre in the Park: Othello with Miriam Gilbert, on Thursday night, May 8 at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A.

There’s Help for Reading Old Documents

by Heidi Lauritzen on April 14th, 2014

Recently I joined several other  ICPL staff members who attended the Public Library Association conference.  We were in the unfortunate position of having to choose just one session from ten or twelve in each time slot, but a lucky choice I made was a session on helping genealogists–both experienced and brand-new ones–use public library resources.  My favorite tidbit from that session was the discovery of the handwriting tutorials in FamilySearch.

Scandinavian Gothic Script

FamilySearch is produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and searches genealogical records worldwide including the International Genealogical Index, and census and other vital statistics sources.  You can find a link to it among the online resources on our website in the Biography, History and Genealogy category.  FamilySearch provides many tutorials on doing genealogy, for all levels of experience.

If you have ever looked at original source documents, such as census forms or ship passenger lists or church records, you know that reading old-fashioned handwriting can be difficult.  When those documents are in other languages, the challenges increase exponentially.  The FamilySearch tutorials on the scripts of many languages–including English–can help.  Pictured above and below are examples of Scandinavian Gothic.  The tutorials are self-guided, and usually incorporate opportunities for practice.

To access the tutorials, you do need to create an account within FamilySearch.  There is no charge to do so.  You can find the handwriting lessons under Get Help/Learning Center Video Courses; it’s easiest to then search by the country you are interested in.

Scandinavian Gothic, Similar Letters

Heartbleed – What Should I Do?

by Maeve Clark on April 11th, 2014

heartbleed Have you heard about the security flaw named Heartbleed and have concerns whether your passwords are secure?  The tech guys at Marketplace Morning Report had a very informative piece  cautioning folks not to jump the gun on changing their passwords too soon.

Quick update on Heartbleed – you may have already received messages from social media sites you use or from companies where you shop online or your financial institution letting you know whether their sites are secure or if you need to change your password. If you have not and you would like some guidance on which sites were the most vulnerable and merit a password change Mashable.com contacted the most popular social, email, banking and commerce sites on the web and shared their responses.

Why does a quarter have 119 ridges?

by Maeve Clark on April 5th, 2014

ask-history-coin-ridges One of the fun facts I learned from the Money Smart Week exhibit at the library is that dimes have 118 ridges or grooves and quarters have 119.  But what the exhibit didn’t tell me was the reason for the ridges.  So what’s a reference librarian to do? Find the answer, of course.  I started at the United States Mint which lead me to the American Numismatic Association. The first thing I learned was the technical term for the ridges or grooves on coins  is reeding.  Before the introduction of reeding, small amounts of gold or silver from coins could be chiseled or shaved away and the precious metal sold again or remelted and made into another coin. (The slang usage of the world chisel may even derive from this ancient practice.)  While quarters and dimes are no longer minted from silver, (with the exception of special collectable quarters), the ridges remain.

Come in a take a look at the exhibit – you will find it in the first floor gallery. You can explore the life cycle of currency, learn about the role of the Federal Reserve Bank and get your photo taken in $100 bill.  What else can you learn during Money Smart Week?money smart week Preschoolers will have a visit from Ben Franklin for the 10:30 preschool story time Thursday morning, April 10.   And if you want to know more about estate planning, the library has a program tailor made for you. Thursday evening, April 10, Thomas Gelman, attorney Phelan Tucker Muller Walker Tucker Gelman and John Chadima, Vice President and Trust Officer MidWestOne Bank offer Estate Planning 101: Basic Considerations.

House History Hunting Part 3: A local index like no other

by Melody Dworak on March 28th, 2014

Alright, so in the past two posts, I shared how to find out a property’s recent owners and specs via the Iowa City Auditor’s website, find a thorough history of ownership (and in some cases, renter-ship) through the Polk Directories, and connect familial relationships through obituaries in ProQuest back to 2002. How to search further back? Read the rest of this entry »

House History Hunting Part 2: Raising the dead

by Melody Dworak on March 27th, 2014

Yesterday I took a first look into the history of a property’s owners through the Iowa City Assessor’s website. Today we dig deeper.

The Assessor’s site only listed one sale in 2006, and that sale was code 14—“Exchange, trade, gift, transfer from Estate,” and it includes the names for both the buyers and the sellers. From there, I go to the 2nd floor Page Station’s City Directories to look for a deeper history of ownership. The listing states the house was built in 1963, so I start with the 1963 Polk Directory and look the house up by its address. Hmm. The Directory lists the property under the same family name as the name on the Estate. Could this mean the house was in the same family for 50 years? I grow hopeful. Read the rest of this entry »

House History Hunting Part 1: Good deeds go unpunished

by Melody Dworak on March 26th, 2014

Recently, my partner and I—both well into our 30s—took a step to officially becoming adults that there is no going back from: We bought a house. *Gulp*

Potter house in Godric's Hollow by Rob Young

“Potter house in Godric’s Hollow”–photo courtesy of Rob Young on Flickr.

Read the rest of this entry »

Purchasing a big ticket item but don’t know how to choose?

by Jennifer Eilers on March 19th, 2014

Consumer Reports is a great resource for anyone about to make a big purchase. This magazine reviews and tests dishwashers, vacuums, cars, and every sort of technology gadget imaginable. The magazine prides itself on giving non-partisan reviews that reflect the performance of an item because the magazine supports itself through subscriptions and donations instead of advertising. You don’t need to page through lengthy articles to find out what you want to know because the magazine provides handy tables that make it easy to understand the criteria used to rate the item. Many patrons ask questions about accessing our Consumer Reports collection when they come to visit the library however, accessing this collection and searching it can be done easily from home. Watch the video!

Please note:

Because of licensing restrictions our databases are available only to residents of Iowa City and of areas covered by contracts for library service: rural Johnson County and the cities of Hills, Lone Tree, and University Heights.

 

Librarians vs. Tech Geniuses–who do you want @ICPL?

by Candice Smith on March 19th, 2014

In the March 15 issue of Library Journal, Library Science assistant professor Michael Stephens questions whether libraries should be replacing librarians with technology experts who have excellent customer service and instructional skills. This puts me of two minds. One is that we should acknowledge that technology is a big part of the lives of our patrons, and the Library can and should help people learn to use various resources and devices, thereby continuing our mission to educate and promote lifelong learning while at the same time making the Library itself a valuable resource to the community. The change is already here–everyone seems to have a tablet, a phone, and a computer of some sort, and they read their books, talk to their friends, even conduct their business on them–and the Library simply needs to move further towards meeting the needs that arise. The other thought I have is that I don’t want to move entirely away from the things that you might normally associate a ‘Librarian’ with, and if you replace those people with tech-savvy geniuses and helpers, what might you lose? Just last night ICPL had it’s first BYOBook bookclub at the Sanctuary Pub, where a group of people, most of whom had never met before, gathered to talk about a book they enjoyed reading. It was great. It felt refreshing and kind of retro, probably because I do spend a great deal of time at work either on a computer or helping someone with a computer. That ‘tech’ side of me would not have made as good of a host as the ‘at the desk’ or ‘in the stacks’ side of me.

For sure, there is a middle ground. Stephens goes on to state that libraries might begin to hire specialized people who may not be trained librarians, while continuing to hire some librarians who work with programming and projects.  But people still ask ‘do we need librarians?’ Do we want them? Do you?

Readers–what do you think? Who do you want to see at your library?




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