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Iowa Land Records

by Tom Jordan on June 24th, 2016

Iowa Land Records is a website where you can search for and view Iowa real estate documents.  It’s put together by the Iowa County Recorders Association.

In order to use the site you’ll need to register with a username and password.  After logging in, select the Land Record Search link.  The next page requires you to select the counties you’d like to search; it looks like this: Read the rest of this entry »

Beer Caves

by Maeve Clark on June 21st, 2016

beer caveThe Iowa City Press Citizen ran a story today about the beer caves found under Brewery Square! The story by Andy Davis is about the work the Office of the State Archaeologist and the University of Iowa Geographical and Sustainability Sciences Department in making high definition 3-D images of the caves.  Seeing the maps will bring me even closer to my dream of getting to actually down in them.   At Weber Days last year, Marlin Ingalls from the Office the State Archeologist, gave a talk on the not only the beer caves below Brewery Square, but the other caves in Iowa City as well as the caves in Cedar Rapids.  You can watch the program, Prohibition, Breweries and Beer Caves, and learn about the history of the brewers, when Iowa City went dry, (it was more than once), and find out about the beer riots.

If you want to read more about beer in early Iowa City history Irving Weber has also written about bars, brewers and all sorts of carrying on.  You can read Irving Weber’s columns through the University of Iowa’s Iowa Digital Library.  And if you are interested in learning about beer and finding the best ones to try,  the library can help you with that too.

What is so historic about US Route 6?

by Maeve Clark on June 13th, 2016

Historic Route 6 Iowa signHave you wondered about these signs?  The signs are easy to explain, but story behind the US 6, is a long and winding one.  U.S. Route 6 (US 6), is a main route of the U.S. Highway system. It currently runs east-northeast from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts, although the route has been modified several times. The highway’s longest-lasting routing, from 1936 to 1964, had its western terminus at Long Beach, California. During this time, US 6 was the longest highway in the country.   The first numbered segment of Route 6, extending from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Brewster, New York, was designated in 1925. Soon thereafter Route 6 was extended to Erie, Pa, the Pennsylvania segment routed along the “Roosevelt Highway,” a name that would soon apply to the entire transcontinental Route 6. In 1931, Route 6 was further extended to Greeley, Colorado along a path that combined quite a number of separate numbered and unnumbered segments, including U. S. 32 across part of Illinois and all of Iowa, and U. S. 38 across part of Nebraska. Finally, in 1937, the route was extended westward to Bishop, California and south to Long Beach. Then in 1965, the segment south of Bishop was decommissioned. The name “Roosevelt Highway” seems to have stuck for a while, but had faded by the 1950s. Throughout its history, before and after the magic moment in 1937 when Route 6 gained its transcontinentality, numerous route modifications were made, most of them at a local scale. (                 GAR sign

In 1953 Route 6 was designated the Grand Army of the Republic [GAR] Highway to honor those who served in the Civil War and signs were found as  in all fourteen of the states through which it ran. Through the 19602 and 1970s the GAR Highway signs gradually disappeared.In the early 1990s, this name was revived and it appears on signs in all fourteen Route 6 states (numerically ranging from four in California, to nearly 100 signs in Indiana).

Iowa has a fascinating road history, (look for more posts on this topic), parts of  the River to River Road which was built in a day across Iowa in 1910, became Route 6. It was built through the coordinated effort of people in every township along the way. In the 1920s, the road that would become Route river to river6 was designated by utility poles that were painted white, creating the White Pole Road, or White Way Highway. These designations had disappeared until the Spring of 1999 when a series of White Pole whitePoleRoadMapRoad signs appeared along Route 6 in Cass County, Iowa.  Irving Weber writes about the White Way Highway, among other highways in volume 5 of his Historical stories about Iowa City.

In 2013, with the help of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau,  Iowa City added the Historic Route 6 signs.  If you want to learn more about the Historic Route 6 a great place to start is the US Route 6 Tourist Association.   And if you want to learn more about Iowa City streets, including Historic Route 6, be sure to watch Tom Schulien’s 2016 Weber Day’s presentation Making Sense out of Iowa City Streets


Printing and Scanning Documents

by Mary Estle-Smith on June 7th, 2016

One of the questions asked most frequently is how and where to print out documents.  We have a couple of ways to accomplish this.

If you just need to quickly pull up something from your email or another online site,  we have the EXPRESS internet stations which are in front of the print/copy area.   These stations have generic logins that will give you 15 minutes to complete your task.  If you have something more time-consuming to retrieve, edit, etc.  You can use your library card and password for 2 hours, or if you do not have a library card, you can get a guest pass from the Page Station for 1 hour of use at our public internet stations.

When your document is ready to print, the basic process consists of sending your item(s) to the print server .  You then log into the print server to retrieve your print job.

Black & white copies are $.10 each and color is $.50 per page.  There is a coin/cash box by the print station.

If you have documents to scan, several of the public internet stations have scanners attached.    For shorter tasks there is an EXPRESS scan station in the printer area.  This station has both a document   scanner for multi-paged items, and a flatbed scanner.  You can quickly scan your documents, convert to various formats, and email or send to your phone or a thumb drive for future use.  I have used the document scanner  several times and it is pretty slick.

There is also a special scanner for items with larger dimensions or for scanning slides in the microfilm reader area.

Information Desk and Page Station staff can assist you is using the printing or scanning services.


Where do I vote?

by Maeve Clark on June 7th, 2016

Your-Vote-Is-Your-Voice-1Today is the 2016 primary election in Iowa. You  must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican to vote, but you can do that at your polling site.  To find out where to vote you can call us at the library at 319-356-5200 or the Johnson County Auditor’s Office at 319-356-6004.  Or you can use the Auditor’s handy interactive guide .  You need to enter your entire address including the city.   The Auditor’s Office also has a list of candidates in the respective parties.

Voronoi and Delaunay

by Todd Brown on June 3rd, 2016

voronoiDo you know what Voronoi Diagrams and Delaunay Triangulations are? I did not until a few weeks ago.

Basically a Voronoi diagram is a set of convex polygons, like in the image to the right. They are created from a set of points called seeds. All of the points within each polygon are closer to that polygon’s seed than to any of the other polygon’s seeds. The points along an edge are the same distance to the seed points of those two polygons. The point at each vertex is the same distance from at least three seed points.

Still with me?

The Delaunay triangulation is a set of triangles connecting the seed points of each polygon to its two nearest neighboring seed points.

So what good are they?

There are a lot of uses for them. If each seed point was an obstacle to avoid then a self-driving car could use the edges of the Delaunay triangulation to find the safest path through the obstacles. John Snow created a Voronoi diagram of London showing that cholera deaths of 1854 were closer to one water pump than to the others. You could even draw a Voronoi diagram on a map using coffee shops as the seed points, so you would always know which one you were nearest to. There are many applications in many fields, like chemistry, biology, astronomy, mathematics, 3D graphics, telecommunications and so forth.

Of course you want to draw one by hand, so here is how:
Start off with some random points on your paper. These are your seed points. The more points you add the more complex the diagram becomes the more time it takes to draw.







Make the Delaunay Triangulation by connecting the points.







Find the middle point on each side of the triangles. Draw a line perpendicular to each side at that midpoint. These lines become the sides of the polygons and the points where they intersect are the vertices of the polygons. Below, the blue lines are the Delaunay Triangulation and the red are the Voronoi Diagram.








Memorial Day Observances

by Heidi Lauritzen on May 26th, 2016

Memorial_Day-026Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May, and provides us the opportunity to remember and honor those who have died in service to the United States of America.

According to the U. S Department of Veterans Affairs, Memorial Day originated as Decoration Day and was established several years after the Civil War ended by an organization of Union veterans.  The practice of decorating graves with flowers and flags dates to this time.  After World War I, this day of remembrance was expanded to include veterans lost in all American wars.  In 1971 the U. S. Congress declared Memorial Day to be a national holiday.  In 2000, Congress passed the “National Moment of Remembrance Act” which encourages citizens to pause wherever they are at 3:00 pm local time on Memorial Day “to observe a National Moment of Remembrance to honor the men and women of the United States who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace”.

In Iowa City, there are three Memorial Day observances:

  • Ceremony to honor soldiers and sailors lost at sea will be held on the bridge on Park Road, off N. Dubuque Street, at 8:30 a.m.
  • Celebration at Oakland Cemetery, 1000 Brown Street, beginning at 9:30 a.m., sponsored by the Grand Army of the Republic, American Legion Post 17 and Auxiliary, and the Johnson County Military Affairs Association, and Iowa City Parks and Recreation (see their website for more details).  In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Opstad Auditorium at City High School, 1900 Morningside Drive.
  • Memorial Day Service will be held at Memory Gardens Cemetery, 2600 Muscatine Avenue, at 11:00 a.m., by the Johnson County Military Affairs Association with American Legion Post 17.

In Coralville, there will be a service at Oak Hill Cemetery, First Avenue north of I-80, beginning at 11:15 a.m. by the Coralville American Legion and Color Guard.  In case of rain, it will be moved to Coralville American Legion, 901 2nd Street, at 11:30 a.m.

1846: Iowa City

by Anne Mangano on May 25th, 2016

newhallWhat 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hiking, Camping, Fishing and more

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.

DNR home

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.

DNR guide

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.


IADNR mapNDR grid

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.










Disney World or Bust

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 characteDisneyworld_fireworks_-_0228rs 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 BWDWpopular 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 UGWDWWKbrought 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.