by Anne Mangano on May 25th, 2016
What was Iowa City like 170 years ago? To get an idea, we can turn to John B. Newhall, author of A Glimpse of Iowa in 1846*. In this work, he states that one couldn’t help but think of Saint-Omer in France and he “speaks as an eye-witness.” I do not believe Newhall in this. He was a noted salesman in his day and his product was Iowa. He wrote a number of books and he lectured both on the east coast and in England proclaiming the wonders of the new state (or territory depending on the publication date of the book).
Despite what Iowa diarist T.S. Parvin calls “too flowery” of language, Newhall is extremely useful in providing a directory for the city in 1846. He lists sellers of dry goods, doctors, mills, schools, churches, and newspapers. For our purposes, Iowa City had two coffee houses, one owned by Charles Frink and the other by R. C. Keathy. Lawyers included G. Folsom, M. Reno, and W. Penn Clark. There was one insurance company.
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by Beth Fisher on May 20th, 2016
With warm weather finally arriving in Iowa, it’s time to start thinking about summer fun. If you’re looking for places to picnic, hike, camp in tents or campers, to go swimming, fishing, or boating, or for all sorts of other outdoor activities, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is a great source of information.
The Iowa DNR web site is a fantastic source of information.
From the Things To Do dropdown menu, you’ll find links to a wide variety of activities – from camping, canoeing to hiking, biking, boating and even Equestrian Camping. (Yes, that really is a thing.) You’ll find links to the campsite, cabin, and lodge reservation system as well. In the Places To Go section, you’ll find information about State Parks, Forests, Preserves, and Wildlife Management Areas, as well as hiking, biking and paddling trails.
If you’re looking specifically for information about Iowa’s state parks the 8 page downloadable Iowa DNR Guide to State Parks is a great place to start.
The state is broken down into four quadrants and parks in each section are listed by name. There is also an easy to use grid for each section, listing the parks on one axis and activities on the other, so you can find the perfect location for whatever it is you’re wanting to do.
The State of Iowa has a wealth of parks, forests, campgrounds, lakes and rivers to enjoy. Get back to nature and enjoy your summer with the help of the Iowa DNR.
by Brian Visser on May 11th, 2016
I really love amusement parks–the towering roller coasters, delicious food that’s super awful for you and beloved characters walking around for photo ops. The crown jewels of American amusement parks are Disneyland and Disney World. There’s a lot of debate online about which park is better. The differences are obvious: Disney World is much, much larger than Disneyland. Disney World is a ridiculous 43 square miles, which is almost twice as big as Manhattan, and it contains four (!) different theme parks and two water parks. Disneyland is smaller, but it’s the original and dense with things to do. As an unabashed Disney movie fan, I’d be happy at either park. My family is planning a trip to Disney World this summer, and the Library has resources to help figure things out. I swear, we are going to have a magical time or else!
There are oodles of travel books that you can consult for your Disney World vacation. The first I grabbed was Birnbaum’s 2016 Official Guide to Walt Disney World. It’s official, so you know it can be trusted Right off the bat, the book gives recommendations on the best time to go to Disney World. We’re going in June, which they rated as “Most Crowded” and totally not the time to go. Whoops! It says to expect waits “of as much as two to three hours (or more)” for popular rides and attractions. That’s OK. We can make that work. The rest of the early sections of the book focus on the logistics of getting to the park and paying for it (including making a budget–food is expensive in Disney World). The really good stuff is the sample schedules. Those gave me an idea of what all we can plan to do, because it’s impossible to see and do everything. The schedules have a list of “Musts,” which are the attractions that they highly recommend. They also have “Line Busters.” Those are attractions that have shorter or faster-moving lines for when the park is busy. The amount of stuff that you can experience at these parks can be overwhelming, so these schedule sections have been invaluable.
One of the other books that was helpful was The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids (unofficial–sketchy, I know). This one kicks off with a discussion of how old your kiddos should be to get the most out of the parks. Again, we have failed the book. They think the ideal age is 8-12. Our oldest just turned six, and our youngest is two and a half. The authors do admit that how well your children do is a case by case basis. We just had friends who brought their five-year-old, and they said the trip was a success. I think our kids are outgoing and energetic enough for us to get a lot out of the parks. The book recommends that, if you’re taking kids younger than their suggested age, there’s prep work to help make the experience better. Part of that prep work is figuring out which rides are better for those younger kiddos. Luckily, this book breaks down every ride and attraction to let you know the appeal factor by age and if there is any “fright potential” for the youngins. Should we go to The Haunted Mansion? Nope! Nightmare City–Population: Our Daughter. How about Peter Pan’s Flight? Super safe.
Obviously, there are a lot of books that you can read to help plan your trip. I was curious if there were any helpful articles in Ebscohost, so I did a search in Catalog Pro for “Disney World” after selecting the “Articles” tab. One of the first hits was “The Best Disney for Your Family” from Scholastic Parent & Child. It breaks down by age the best park to experience. For Ages 3 to 5, they say The Magic Kingdom is the way to go. YES!! That’s what we had planned. I didn’t let the article down.
The internet has you covered too. There are sites devoted to getting the most out of your Walt Disney World visit. I was impressed by Walt Disney World Prep School. They’ve created a six step planning process for a trip. Step Six is “Add Extra Magic,” so you know they aren’t messing around. I’m hoping for at least a regular amount of magic on the trip. Honestly, the thought of the whole thing makes me tired, so wish me luck. I’m sure we’ll have a blast, and I’ll invite everyone over to our house to look at pictures from our vacation when we get back.
by Anne Mangano on May 9th, 2016
Over the weekend, we were reunited with a book from long ago, Aline Kilmer’s Vigils (1921). We weren’t looking for it; the book was legitimately withdrawn from the collection. But, perhaps the book was seeking a return to us. Of course, I was interested in the history of this particular book and perhaps you are too. So, to the accession records!
In storage, we hold accession records for books we purchased dating back to January 14, 1897. In the ledger, each book was given a number, assigned in the order in which it was added to Read the rest of this entry »
by Jennifer Eilers on May 4th, 2016
My baby is turning 6 months old soon which was about the age that I began introducing my preschooler to sign language (well maybe a little later–second baby after all). I decided to teach my first child to sign because sign language helps children express their needs. Research shows that most children can understand language earlier than they can express it verbally. Sign is a great method for expression because it takes advantage of a child’s early hand coordination while introducing them to language.
If you are interested in teaching your child to sign, the library has many ways to help you learn. There are several great books and DVDs in our non-fiction and children’s collections like Baby talk: a guide to using basic sign language to communicate with your baby and Baby Signing Time. The library also has a language learning program, Mango, that offers a course in American Sign Language. You can access Mango from home if you are a resident of Iowa City, University Heights, Hills, Lone Tree, and rural Johnson County. You just need your library card and password/pin to login.
While my preschooler started to use sign language less and less as she became more capable of expressing herself verbally, sign language still plays a role in her life. I like that I can communicate with her from across the playground signing “STOP” if I want her to be more cautious. And I’ve enjoyed seeing her enthusiasm for signs bubbling up again as she shows the baby signs for “milk” and “more.”
by Anne Mangano on May 2nd, 2016
Portrait of Chauncey Swan from Weber’s Historical Stories About Iowa City
Chauncey Swan is not, as I thought when I moved here, a species of water fowl. (I know, I know, but I’m not an ornithologist.) He is also not two people; there is no Mr. Chauncey. He is one man, a founding father of Iowa City. He was one of three appointed by the territorial governor (Robert Lucas) to determine the location of the capital of the new Iowa territory. It should be noted that Chauncey Swan deserves the most credit of the three men as he was acting commissioner for the survey, reported back to the legislature, and Robert Ralston was three days late and didn’t really help at all. It should also be noted that they chose the site of Iowa City on May 1st, 1839. It wasn’t really official until May 4th because they were waiting for Ralston. So, a Happy Chauncey Swan Day to you! Read the rest of this entry »
by Beth Fisher on April 25th, 2016
Spring has arrived in Iowa City, and so have the weeds. Which 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.” Unfortunately wildlife do not eat Garlic Mustard. Human intervention is the only way to control it.
Garlic Mustard is a woodland plant that favors shade or dappled shade, but it will also grow in sun given enough moisture. The Iowa Wildlife Federation suggests that if you’re out hiking in your favorite woods (or hunting for morel mushrooms) 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.
Garlic Mustard is a biennial – it flowers the second year. The first year the plants stay short and has rounder toothed leaves. It is often brighter green than its surroundings.
During its 2nd year, the plants spread into patches, and the leaves are more triangular/heart shaped. It gets up 12″ tall or taller.
By late spring, you’ll be more likely to see Garlic Mustard patches in bloom. Look for heart shaped or triangular coarsly toothed leaves, with clusters of small 4-petal white flowers at the top of a 12″ to 36″ tall thin stalks.
The Iowa DNR has a great printable full color Garlic Mustard brochure that contains color photographs of different ages of the plant, as well as suggested control techniques for small or large patches. It’s a handy thing to carry with you the first time you look for the plant.
In 2011 the Friends of Hickory Hill Park sponsored a Garlic Mustard Identification program with a naturalist from the Johnson County Conservation Department, and you can watch the video here.
There are also many websites that can help you identify Garlic Mustard. One of the best is the King County, Washington weed identification website.
by Jason Paulios on April 22nd, 2016
Back in November I wrote about using the City of Iowa City Housing & Inspection Services’ permit activity lookup tool for finding more information about Iowa City house history. A coworker recently showed me another great house history link hidden at the bottom of individual accounts on the Iowa City Assessors parcel search results page. If you are looking at a house result you can scroll to the bottom of that page and you’ll see “related information links” below the GIS map. There are a few useful links for house hunters here including former tax information for the property as well as a quick link to the GIS map with coordinates. The most interesting link for local history buffs is the “Old Property Report Card” in the lower right corner which will show you a past record of ownership with names and prices paid. There’s also often pointed comments on these cards regarding the huge leap in sales prices that happened in the 1990s such as these :
by Maeve Clark on April 21st, 2016
Yesterday, Jacob Lew, Treasury Secretary, announced the proposal to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist, and to add women and civil rights leaders to the $5 and $10 notes. This brought up a couple of questions at the Info Desk. Has there ever been a woman on United States paper currency? There’s the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, right? Yes, but it’s no longer minted.
ICPL’s reference collection is no where near as large as it was before the Internet (BI), but books on collecting coins and paper currency and stamps are still staples. (The collecting of coins and stamps have two fancy names -numismatics and philately – but I am always afraid I am mispronouncing them so I just stick with calling them coin collecting and stamp collecting, no need to put on airs…) The Standard Catalogs of World Paper Money and Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogues are integral parts of the collection. While there is a lot information on the values of coins, paper currency and stamps online, many collectors still prefer to use books. I am sure that next year’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money will have a feature the changes to United States currency. Maybe they will even feature the Harriet Tubman bill on the cover.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History had a fascinating piece on woman on currency on its website. One of the first historic women to appear on money was Arsinoe II, a Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, in the 3rd century BCE. Queen Elizabeth the Second, (celebrating her 90th birthday today, Happy Birthday!) has been featured on coins and currency all over the British realm. The federal government began issuing paper currency in 1861. Martha Washington appeared on a one dollar silver certificate in 1886 and Pocahontas was on the back of a 20 dollar bill in 1875. Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be featured on the back of the new $10 bill. Women on 20, a online site that pushed to have women featured on currency, is now mounting a campaign to have the new $20 bill appear at the same time as the $10 bill. The movement is a strong one and highlights the power of the web as a tool for change. And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t also include the Irish pound note that featured Queen Medb, also know as Maeve. The note was issued from 1977 to 1989 until is was replaced by the Euro.
by Maeve Clark on April 11th, 2016
Quick, what happened almost ten years ago to the date? BINGO! The F2 tornado that hit Iowa City on the night of April 13, 2006. Where were you that night and what were you doing when the twister hit? ICPL wants to know. You can stop in the library and add your story to the tornado board and even place your tale on the exact location of where you were that monumental night. And you can share your photos of the aftermath of the storm with all the world through ICPL interactive tornado map. We already have over 2000 photos but we are looking for more, especially ones from where the tornado first touched down, the south end of town. On Wednesday, you are all invited to share your stories of the the night of the tornado and the days of recovery afterwards. Iowa City, while suffering millions of dollars in damage saw not loss of life.
The National Weather Service has linked 15 tornadic events from April 13, 2006 on one page, starting with a tornado north of Marion, Iowa and ending in Alexis, Illinois. The tornado activity began at 7:40 in Iowa and ended at 10:15 in Illinois. Wikipendia calls all of the tornado activity that weekend and the following Monday, the Easter Week Tornado Outbreak, as the first tornadoes started on Maundy Thursday, April 13 and ended on Tuesday, April 18. The tornadoes moved across the plains and prairie and spread a path of destruction.
The library has a wealth of information on tornadoes real and fictional. Watch Twister, filmed in Madison County, Iowa, or everyone’s favorite, The Wizard of Oz, or better yet, read the L. Frank Baum stories on which Victor Flemming based the his film production. Look under the subject heading of tornadoes to find out what it takes for the atmosphere to roil to the extent that every home in a town is destroyed and many lives are lost or why in another locality a house can be sucked into a swirling vortex and set down in a field of corn with nary any damage .
And finally, do you know the difference between a twister and a tornado?