Watch the solar eclipse without viewing glasses.

by Beth Fisher on August 16th, 2017

Many people have been asking us how to safely watch the eclipse on Monday if they don’t have viewing glasses.  There are lots of ways you can watch the eclipse. Here are some DIY ideas.  You’ll need to practice a bit with each of these; just make sure the sun is behind or above you. And if all else fails, check out the last thing on this list.  Have fun!

Two paper plates (or pieces of card stock) about the same size. pinhole-projector

Using a pin or a needle make a very small hole in the center of one plate. Hold that plate in your hand. Put the second plate on the ground but not in your shadow. Hold the first plate in the air over the second one so that its shadow just about covers the plate on the ground. Moving it up and down and changing the angle of your hand, try and make the shadow the same size as the second plate, and you will see the image of the sun on the plate on the ground. Now just watch as the moon’s shadow makes the sun disappear.

 

An empty cereal box:cereal-box-viewer

All you need is an empty cereal box, a piece of tin foil, some tape, a sheet of white paper and a pair of scissors. Trace around one small end of the box on the paper.  Cut out the rectangle cutting just inside your tracing line. Tape this piece on the inside bottom of the cereal box. Cut two holes in the top of the box to look like picture to the right. Place the piece of foil over one hole, covering it completely. Tape it down securely, then poke one small pin hole in the center of the foil.   Stand with your back to the sun. Printable instructions here. Read the rest of this entry »

The Great Solar Eclipse of 2017!

by Maeve Clark on August 9th, 2017

Something very exciting will happen on Monday, August 21.  We will get to witness a solar eclipse.  While we aren’t in the path for the total eclipse, at 1:12:42 thnasa_eclipse_mape moon will obscure 92.3% of the sun.   I witnessed a total solar eclipse in 1980 while I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire, (Democratic Republic of Congo) and it was truly awe inspiring.  The day went black, the temperature dropped, the roosters crowed, the peafowl and other birds took to the trees.

There are hundreds of websites to find out information about this phenomenal astronomical event.   One of my favorite is from eclipseVOX.  It has a eclipse location function where you can type in your zip code and find out how much of the sun will be obscured.  NASA, of course, has excellent resources. NPR has run a couple of stories about the excitement around the eclipse including one on the first photograph taken of a solar eclipse.

The Children’s Department has programs on Sundays about the eclipse. On Monday, August 14 at 7 pm in Meeting Room A, Brent Studer, Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Kirkwood Community College, will explain the circumstances under which eclipses occur and what you can do to be ready for the upcoming solar eclipse, the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States since 1979.   Join us on Monday, August 21 while we step outside the library to safely view the eclipse.  Another eclipse watching event will be hosted by the University of Iowa Sciences Library, the UI Museum of Natural History (Pentacrest Museums) and the UI Astronomy Club, on the Pentacrest lawns.

The library has books and videos galore for all ages on astronomy and the natural wonders of the sky.  Come learn more about the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017. We might just make an umbraphile out of you!

Yes or No on the Iowa City Community School District General Obligation Bond Issue? And don’t forget there is a school board election too

by Maeve Clark on August 7th, 2017

one-district-tri-color-shaded-snippedBond Issue. 60% required.

Shall the Board of Directors of the Iowa City Community School District in the County of Johnson, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $191,525,000 to provide funds to address health, safety, and accessibility issues in all school buildings, including air conditioning all school buildings, reducing the use of temporary classroom structures in the District, addressing classroom, lunchroom, and gymnasium overcrowding, and dedicating rooms to art, music, prekindergarten, and science by constructing, furnishing and equipping a new building, constructing additions to and/or remodeling, repairing, and improving the school buildings remaining in the District’s Facilities Master Plan, as follows: Mann and Lincoln renovations, Liberty High athletic facilities construction and site improvements, new elementary school construction in North Liberty and site improvements, West High renovation, South East and North Central Junior High additions, Shimek renovation, City High addition and upgrades, Wood addition, Wickham upgrades, Garner and Northwest additions, Liberty High addition, Horn renovation, Kirkwood addition, Borlaug, Alexander, and Lemme additions, and Tate High addition and upgrades?
(Johnson County, Iowa Auditor)

The general obligation bond, the $191,525,000 bond, is the largest school bond issue ever proposed in Iowa history will be voted on September 12.   There are, as you can imagine, proponents and those opposing the vote.  The Auditor’s website is a good place to start for basic information.  The site lists all of the candidates and from Holly Hines of the Iowa City Press Citizen a list of upcoming forums.  The Auditor’s site links to the times and voting locations for the September 12 elections.  (Remember, there are fewer locations for school board and school bond votes than for general elections, so before you go to your regular location to vote, confirm the location.) The Iowa City Community School District’s website has a wealth of information on the general obligation bond.  There is a lot of information and it can be daunting to try to read and understand all of it.  I suggest starting with the three page G.O. Bond Quick Fact Guide.

Another source of information on the bond, and depending upon where you stand on the vote, you may not agree with the opinions espoused, are the websites for the two groups for or against the bond issue.  Vote No September 12 represents the opposition to the bond issue.  One Community One Bond represents  the proponents of the bond.  Each group also has a very active Facebook page and each links letters to the editor supporting their respective positions

 

Give Peaks a Chance?

by Anne Mangano on July 25th, 2017

On February 28th, 1991, in the “B” section of the Iowa City Press-Citizen, there is this small article:

 

twin-peaks-fans

IC Press-Citizen, 2/28/91

 

Yes, Iowa City held a protest…well, more like a letter-writing party at The Mill to push ABC to change the network’s mind on cancelling Twin Peaks (1990-1991), the television series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch. The show was like nothing else on television at the time. (I was watching TailSpin and Rugrats at this time in my life, so I don’t speak from memory but reviews). Twin Peaks was watched, talked about, and had pretty decent ratings. However, during the second season, the show was losing its audience and ABC decided to pull the plug. Lynch called on the show’s fans to write to the network and Iowa City’s chapter of the Citizens Opposing the Offing of Peaks (C.O.O.P.) delivered.

But they didn’t stop there.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s not the heat, it’s the evapotranspiration!

by Maeve Clark on July 21st, 2017

Last year on July 21, I wrote about the heat and humidity and evapotranspiration.  This July 21, it seemed apt to share the same information. Evapotranspiration, what on earth is that you ask? Well, let me tell you.  Evapotranspiration is corn sweat corn-field-c-keeva999-flickr-creative-commons  and according to the United States Geological Survey evapotranspiration is the sum of evaporation and transpiration. The transpiration aspect of evapotranspiration is essentially evaporation of water from plant leaves. Transpiration rates go up as the temperature goes up, especially during the growing season, when the air is warmer due to stronger sunlight and warmer air masses. Higher temperatures cause the plant cells which control the stoma (openings) to release even more moisture into the atmosphere making it even more humid. And while evapotranspiration does not make it hotter, it makes it more more humid and that makes us feel much hotter.

corn-mapThe Washington Post posted an extremely informative article, complete with a map of corn acreage by county and a chart of relative humidity clearly showing how high humidity can make it feel oppressive inside without adequate cooling and make activities dangerous for those who work or recreate outside. This type of weather can also be life-threatening for livestock. In fact the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning with the following precautions:

AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING MEANS THAT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF DANGEROUSLY HOT TEMPERATURES WILL OCCUR. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A DANGEROUS SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE LIKELY. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER…STAY IN AN AIR CONDITIONED ROOM…STAY OUT OF THE SUN…AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS. YOUNG CHILDREN AND PETS SHOULD NEVER BE LEFT UNATTENDED IN VEHICLES UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE DURING HOT WEATHER WHEN CAR INTERIORS CAN REACH LETHAL TEMPERATURES IN A MATTER OF MINUTES.

Most of us have air conditioned homes and workplaces, but if you don’t or if you are going to be outside for prolonged periods of time, it’s important to stay hydrated. The American Red Cross offers the following suggestions:

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
Eat small meals and eat more often.
Avoid extreme temperature changes.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
Postpone outdoor games and activities.
Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.snowfall

If you would like to learn more about weather and heat and humidity and corn sweat, come find us at the Information Desk on the second floor of the library. Weather is one of our favorite subjects to research. And don’t forget, winter is only a few short months away…

Do you have a historic archive for the Cedar Rapids Gazette? (Part 2)

by Melody Dworak on July 19th, 2017

Boy, do we ever! In my last post, I directed you to how you can get to the same archives The Gazette website uses, but for free. But that’s just a text-based archive, what if you want to see what the actual newspaper pages look like? Read the rest of this entry »

Do you have a historic archive for the Cedar Rapids Gazette? (Part 1)

by Melody Dworak on July 19th, 2017

Yes! The Iowa City Public Library has a database of Cedar Rapids Gazette articles, covering 1992 to the present. The years match what the newspaper’s archive page on its website says it has. The articles in NewsBank will be text articles (i.e., no images and smaller download sizes). If you have an active ICPL library card and live in our service area, you can research historic Gazette articles for free.

How do you do that? Head over to our Online Resources page and find NewsBank on the list of resources. (If you are starting from icpl.org, Online Resources is under “Books + More.”) Here are some screenshots of what you will look for. Read the rest of this entry »

Themed Book Lists for the Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on June 30th, 2017

booklist-covers-wide

Are you a fan of book lists?  Are you looking for some book suggestions for the 2nd half of the Adult Summer Reading Program?  One of the neat features of our Summer Reading Program software is that it lets us create book lists on any topic we want.

This year’s Summer Reading Program theme is “Build a Better World” which lends itself to all sorts of lists. Some were created by ICPL staff, and other lists we borrowed from other sources because they were really good lists.

To find the book lists, log into the software at srp.icpl.org and click on the Recommendations tab at the top.  There you can choose from the Book Lists or the list of  Adult SRP Events.

booklists

Here are the book lists you’ll find:

All Iowa Reads – 2003 -2017   (14 books)

Best Summer Reads 2017 from Publishers Weekly  (13 books)

Books Becoming Movies in 2018  (9 books)

Build a Better World: Volunteer!  (8 books)

Can One Book Change Your Life? (7 books)

Environmentalists Trying To Make A Difference  (10 books)

Explore Iowa (17 books)

Gardening with Native Plants (7 books)

National Park Guidebooks (11 books)

NPR’s Book Concierge 2017 Best Biographies & Memoirs (21 books)

Top 10 LGBTQ Books – The 2017 Over the Rainbow List   (10 books)

We Can Build It Better (12 books)

Women in Science (11 books)

 

 

 

 

Shaping our roadways : I-380 Planning Study

by Maeve Clark on June 28th, 2017

i380Do you drive to Cedar Rapids? Do you have an opinion about I-380 and the traffic flow between Highway 30 and I-80? Of course you do, everyone does and the Iowa Department of Transportation wants you to share your opinions with them.

The first section of I-380  was opened to traffic on September 19, 1973, connecting the Eastern Iowa Airport to I-80 near Coralville.

I-380 1973 IDOT map

The website Iowa Highways tells the story of when additional miles of I-380 were added.

  • September 19, 1973: First segment, from I-80 to the Cedar Rapids airport exit (#13), then IA 84, opened
  • December 16, 1975: Segment between 5th Avenue SW and 33rd Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids opened
  • June 25, 1976: Segment between 33rd Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids and the airport exit opened
  • June 11, 1979: Segment between 5th Avenue and 7th Street NE in Cedar Rapids opened
  • December 4, 1981: Segment between 7th Street NE and Glass Road/32nd Street NE in Cedar Rapids opened
  • November 17, 1982: Segment between Glass Road/32nd Street and Boyson Road in Hiawatha opened
  • August 9, 1984: Segment from Mitchell Avenue in Waterloo to the end of the US 20 multiplex opened
  • August 14, 1984: Segment from Hiawatha to IA 150 near Urbana opened
  • September 13, 1985: Last segment, between US 20 and IA 150, opened

For true enthusiasts of road history, the website interstate-guide.com give much more detail about I-380 including current photographs of the entrance signs to the I-380 from I-80 as well as historical ones.

 

Come Create a Digital Scrapbook

by Jennifer Eilers on June 28th, 2017
Learn how to take an image and give it polish in Photoshop!

Learn how to take an image and give it polish in Photoshop!

 

In the first class, learn how to use Photoshop to correct and edit any issues with either scanned or digital images. Once some basic skills are covered, the editing fun will begin.  Easy-to-use, portable scanners will be offered for those that would like to include printed photos they have yet to digitize.

Organize and add metadata to the edited images that have been edited in the second class. This process makes the book layout process easier and adds important information to the digital files of the photos that can be important for posterity.

Albums come to life as we learn how to use the book module in Adobe Lightroom in the final class. Albums will be made into PDFs or JPEGs which can be sent to a local printer or shared electronically with family.

If you are interested in making a digital scrapbook, please attend all three sessions. In July we are offering a night class for those of you who can’t get to the library during the day. To register for the classes, you need only enter your information into event registration fields on Wednesday, July 12th or Friday, August 4th. Please contact me if you have specific questions or concerns. I look forward to creating with you!