by Candice Smith on October 13th, 2014
A couple weeks back the Info Desk received a letter in the mail from someone who had recently purchased a postcard mailed from Iowa City. The card had been sent in 1875, and had a unique stamp that was the postage cancellation mark. This person wanted to know if we were able to determine anything about that mark and what it might mean.
Where to begin, right? I’m not very familiar with the collecting and/or research of letters and stamps, and we had little to go on. The cancel mark itself looked like the letters ‘JIC’ and didn’t appear to be handwritten. I didn’t even know what to call the mark, so I started by looking at some general resources about the postal system. I found that, before the advent of machine-generated stamping and marking, postmasters would cancel postage in various ways, including uniquely-carved stamps that were often made of cork. The marks that these stamps made are often called ‘fancy cancels.’ I then started looking for other postcards that had been recorded or auctioned that were sent from Iowa City, as well as looking though numerous different fancy cancels from Iowa. I eventually did find one other postcard that had been sent from the area that had a very similar cancel, but was unable to find any specific information about it. However, that was enough to make me think that we were indeed dealing with a stamp that was regularly used by one of our postmasters.
Without ever being able to positively identify what the initials stood for, a good guess would be ‘Johnson Iowa City.’ Other fancy cancels served a similar purpose of identifying place of origin. I also wondered that it might be the initials of a postmaster…but how would I find that out? I started browsing some of the resources contained in the database Ancestry, and lo and behold, it contains the aptly titled Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971. I was easily able to view all of the postmasters from Iowa City who had appointments during the time this postcard was sent, and…nothing. No names matched those initials. What I did find, though, was that several of the area’s well-known people were appointed as postmasters, including Samuel Trowbridge, Chauncey Swan, and Edward Lucas, son of Robert Lucas. There were other notable names too, such as landowners Jacob Ricard and George Clark, and store owner John Whetstone. Finding these names in this database tells a little more of the story of Iowa City, of the people who lived here and helped build it.
In the end, I was not able to provide a definitive answer for our patron, but I did enjoy trying. If you have any information or ideas related to old postage marks from Iowa City, please leave a comment.
Want to try out Ancestry Library Edition? Stop by the Info Desk for help!
Want to see some old letters mailed to Iowa City? Check out our Digital History Project!
Want to read an oddly fascinating book about postal systems? Check out The Crying of Lot 49!
by Anne Mangano on October 9th, 2014
Looking forward to the Homecoming Parade? Or perhaps, you need to plan an escape route out of downtown. Either way, there are a few informational sites to help you get the best seat or find an alternate way around Washington and Gilbert Streets. The parade starts Friday, October 10th at 5:45 pm.
The Press-Citizen has an overview of what to expect from a description of the parade route to street closures. You can find it here: http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/local/2014/10/08/iowa-city-announces-closures-changes-ui-homecoming/16948975/
For detailed street closures, no-parking areas, changes to bus routes, and parade parking, check out the City of Iowa City’s announcement from last week: http://www.icgov.org/?artID=10008&navID=1515&type=M
For a map of the parade route, visit the Homecoming Iowa website: http://homecoming.uiowa.edu/parade/
Expect the parade to end around 8 pm.
If you do go, make sure to cheer for the Iowa City Public Library ‘s Book Cart Drill Team, as well as our parade mascot, Book Man.
by Heidi Lauritzen on October 6th, 2014
While working at the Reference Desk last week, I got a question from a couple of young students. More than anything I wanted to give a simple answer that would signal to them that the Library is easy to use. But no such luck, because the question—Where are your books on prairie plants?—resulted in two places to look.
The Dewey Decimal Classification scheme, used in many public libraries, provides a framework for grouping materials together by subject. More than 100 years old, the scheme has been resilient and adaptable. But sometimes it conspires to keep similar things apart, if the approach to the subject matter differs. I think the best illustration for this is the 500s and 600s. The 500s are “Pure Science” and the 600s are “Technology,” sometimes referred to as “applied science”.
The Dewey Decimal classification numbers in the 530s are about physics, with electricity at 537. But if you are interested in wiring your house, you would look at applied physics in 621.31924.
In the 580s you find books about the natural history and identification of plants; and in the 600s, you find the books about gardening and cooking with plants.
In the classification number 590, you find books about animals—their history and biology. But look in the 600s to find books about animals in the subject areas of farming, cooking, and keeping animals as pets.
Doing a subject search in the catalog will help you identify all the places you can look for what you need. If you do a subject search for “parrots”, the catalog will send you to 598.71 for “Parrots of the World: An Identification Guide” and also to 636.6865 for books on training and caring for a pet parrot. If you do a subject search for “prairie plants,” as I did for the students last week, the catalog will direct you to 581.744 for “An Illustrated Guide to Iowa Prairie Plants” and also to 635.95 for “A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction”.
Browsing an area of the collection that you know is one way of finding what you need, but there may be similar items of interest in other areas. We hope that you will check with staff at the Reference Desk whenever you have a question about where to find a subject that interests you. Chances are there is more than one place to look, and we can help you find them all.
by Melody Dworak on September 9th, 2014
This question came in on Saturday, and it was a ton of fun sleuthing it out.
Iowa City currently has 5 local television channels (4, 5, 10, 18, 21). These broadcast from Iowa City itself and are government or community channels like the City Channel, Library Channel, and PATV (public access).
The affiliate stations like CBS, ABC, FOX, and NBC broadcast from farther away, and that’s why they don’t come in as well without the right kind of antenna. PBS/IPTV is a little farther away as well, but word is it comes in a little better than the others. Read the rest of this entry »
by Brian Visser on September 5th, 2014
Have you ever gone to Amazon to find a new book to read? Maybe you viewed the page of a book you really loved and looked at the books in the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section. I know I have, but there’s a better way! Behold: NoveList Plus. NoveList Plus is a tool created to connect readers with books they will enjoy. To access it, go to http://www.icpl.org/resources/ scroll down and click on “Novelist Plus.” You can use the search bar near the top of the screen. Type your favorite author, series, or book into the bar, then click “Search.” At the results screen, click on the title that you’re looking for. Read-alikes are listed on the right side of the book’s page:
These read-alikes are based on subject and genre, as well as “appeal factors” grouped by storyline, pace, tone, and writing style. For example, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell appeal factors are:
Genre:Love stories; Multiple perspectives; Teen chick lit
Tone:Angst-filled; Bittersweet; Romantic
Like No Other by Una LaMarche is offered up as a good read-alike. Its appeal factors are:
Genre:Love stories; Multiple perspectives; Realistic fiction
Sounds like a good match to me! Give NoveList Plus a try. You might find a new favorite book!
by Beth Fisher on August 28th, 2014
August 26th is National Dog Day, and to celebrate we have two new displays on the 2nd floor. There is a photo display of ICPL Staff Dogs and book display of with all kinds of dog books:
Books about the history of domesticated dogs and owning ( or being owned by) dogs.
Books about bringing a new dog into your family.
Books about specific breeds of dogs.
And books about fun things to do with your dog – from Dog Parks to books about photographing your dog.
by Beth Fisher on August 20th, 2014
Recently I had a conversation with one of the Library’s 2nd floor Information Pages about the yearbook collection at ICPL. Hannah had become curious about her paternal grandfather and looked through our collection of University of Iowa Hawkeye yearbooks to see if she could find him.
Hannah’s grandfather passed away in 1965, leaving a wife and 6 young children – Hannah’s father was four years old at the time. Her grandmother passed away in 2005. Hannah found her grandfather in the 1949 year book, and she made an interesting discovery. Her grandfather had been a member of Psi Omega Fraternity. Hannah made a copy of the picture, and took it along to the next family gathering. Turns out this fact was news to everyone. The picture is now on Hannah’s refrigerator.
ICPL has quite a few yearbooks in our collection. They are stored at the 2nd floor Page Station, and they do not check out of the library. Unfortunately we do not have a complete collection of any of them – there are years missing from each title. For a basic catalog search, click here.
Yearbooks ICPL owns:
- The Hawkeye – University of Iowa 1893-1987
- The Red and White – Iowa City City High School 1917 – 2013
- The Trojan Epic – Iowa City West High School 1969-2013
- The Spectrum: Regina Catholic Education Center 1977-1996
- The Hawkeye – University High School 1961-1971
- Baby Hawklety – Central Junior High School 1973/74 – 1982/83
- Reflections – North West Junior High School 1973-1987
- On Forever More/SE Memories – South East Junior High School 1972/73 – 2002/03
- St Mary’s High School 1921
- C.E.C. Yearbook 1990-1992
- P.S.#4 1978
- The Elm -Lone Tree Community High School 1978-2008
- The Spartan – Solon Community High School 1970-1993
- The Clipper – Clear Creek/Amana Community Schools 1983-2007
- The Reverie – Iowa Mennonite School 1947-1969
We would love to add missing volumes to our UI, City High and West High year book collections. If you have a volume you would consider donating to the library, please contact Beth Fisher at email@example.com to see if that volume is one we need.
by Candice Smith on August 7th, 2014
We’re getting ready for our next B.Y.O.Book meet-up, and this time we’re taking a wild ride through the digestive system–top to bottom, so to speak!
Join us August 26 at Trumpet Blossom to discuss Mary Roach’s Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal and indulge in some great drinks, eats, and atmosphere. I’ve already gotten a good start on this book, and it’s incredibly smart, entertaining, and just the right amount of ewww/ick factor that one might expect.
If you need a copy of the book, they are now available at the Info Desk on the second floor of the Library–stop by and sign one out! You can also go here to register for the event.
by Tom Jordan on July 24th, 2014
The thought of reading self-help books makes me uncomfortable. I imagine sitting down in an office with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer (both of whom I’m sure are wonderful people) and having this feeling that something really bad is about to happen and that it’s going to involve their teeth. However, when I speak to people I trust who’ve read self-help books, it sounds like I’m missing out.
So I read one. How to fail at almost everything and still win big by Scott Adams. He’s best known for being the Dilbert creator. Adams is funny and values simplicity a great deal. Throughout the book, he reminds the reader to be skeptical of the wisdom he’s imparting; he’s a cartoonist, not a guru.
Here are some of the topics he covers: why systems are better than goals; your programmable mind; the importance of tracking your personal energy; and doing sleep, fitness, and diet right (avoid relying on willpower).
Adams also writes quite a bit about his own life. He’s self-deprecating and owns up to his mistakes. “Some of My Many Failures in Summary Form” is the title of Chapter Four.
A revelation for me was in a section entitled Simplifiers Versus Optimizers. He makes the “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” argument in a way that validates the worthiness of simplifiers in a world that tends to appreciate optimizers. This section alone makes the book worth reading.
You’ll find most self-help books in the 158.1 area. This one, both memoir and self-help, is in with the biographical works about cartoonists and graphic artists at 741.5092.
by Heidi Lauritzen on July 15th, 2014
Any new books at the Library? There’s a quick answer for that, on the front page of the catalog. Once a week–usually on Tuesday–the list of materials just added to the Library collections is updated. Not all sections will have something every week, but most do and sometimes the lists are quite long. Just click on the “New Materials Lists” link to get started.
The New Materials Lists page is easy to search and browse: it first is divided into Adult, Teen and Children’s collections, with more sub-categories listed below those headings. If you like Adult Fiction, you can limit your browsing to just Mysteries or just Large Print books. If Nonfiction is your first choice, the list is separated by the Dewey Decimal classification numbers: 100/200/300 and so on. I routinely check the 900s and Biography, because I like reading about history and travel. And then I check the DVD TV section, because I’m hooked on a number of British TV series. And then it’s on to the Mysteries…
Most formats are represented, including DVDs, music compact discs, books on disc, and eBooks and eAudio. The display of the book cover (or DVD cover, or CD cover) beside the title is helpful, and there’s a direct link to the regular catalog entry where you can place a hold if you wish.
The majority of the items on the list are newly-published, but you will also see other things new to our collection even if they were published several years ago.
It’s a great way to browse our virtual New shelves. Check back once a week!