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New digital magazines!

by Melody Dworak on October 3rd, 2016

As of October 1, Digital Johnson County has added 6 new Zinio digital magazine subscriptions that you can own for FREE with your library card! When you go to check one out, make sure to check the box so you can get an email when the next issue of your favorite magazines are available.

Check out these awesome new subscriptions!

Us Weekly

Us Weekly

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Jackson Pollock’s Mural: The Transitional Moment

by Bond Drager on October 2nd, 2016

JacketIf you’ve ever been curious to learn more about Pollock’s monstrous work that was heroically saved from the flooded art museum building in 2008, we have some great resources. The book “Jackson Pollock’s Mural: the transitional moment” is written by the conservators at the Getty Center who completed restoration of the painting recently.
One of those conservators, Yvonne Szafran, gave a talk here at ICPL in 2012 about exactly what was done to the painting. It’s a fascinating story, and it’s one of my personal favorite programs we have on The Library Channel.

IPTV recently premiered a documentary about the painting’s history and just which of the many tall tales surrounding it have any truth. That video is on their website:

Even if you aren’t a fan of abstract expressionism, this painting has an incredible story behind it, and it is an important piece of culture at University of Iowa. I look forward to seeing it again in all its glory when the new UI Museum of Art opens.

What are your baby’s favorite books?

by Melody Dworak on September 29th, 2016
Karen and Morgan read a high-contrast book on baby's first trip to the library.

ICPL’s Karen and Morgan read a high-contrast book to my 6-week-old baby on his first trip to the library.

Today my baby turns 10 months old. That’s 10 whole months of me learning firsthand about early literacy. He doesn’t sit still much these days. Rather than listening to a book beginning-to-end, he’d rather turn their pages, or pull as many books off the shelf as he can, which staff in the Children’s Room found out Saturday at close. Still, he has delighted at many of the books I’ve put in front of him, and I’d like to share the types of books that have captivated him even before he can understand their words and stories.

ICPL’s board book collection in the Children’s Room is one of those high-turnaround beasts. They take a beating and we buy whatever we can to replace them when they are mangled. If you can’t find one of these titles, look for the following features that make them attractive. Read the rest of this entry »

Hamlet’s Dreams : the Robben Island Shakespeare – Join the book discussion

by Maeve Clark on September 21st, 2016
Hamlet’s Dreams : the Robben Island Shakespeare – Join the book discussion Cover Image

Shakespeare in prisons is a thing, a powerful and life-changing thing. The library has books and documentaries on how Shakespeare’s works are used in prisons and other unconventional locations, such as Shakespeare Saved My Life : ten years in solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates about her Shakespeare in Shackles program at the Indiana Federal Prison.  Caesar must die Cesare deve morire, a is a documentary about inmates at a high-security prison in Rome preparing for a public performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The prisoners discover how the play resonates with them as they rehearse.

On Tuesday, September 28, Collen Kennedy will lead a discussion at the library on another work about Shakespeare in prison, Hamlet’s Dreams: the Robben Island Shakespeare by David Shalkwyk.  Shalkwyk uses the circulation of the so-called ‘Robben Island Shakespeare’, a copy of the Alexander edition of the Complete Works that was secretly circulated, annotated and signed by a group of Robben Island political prisoner in the 1970s (including Nelson Mandela), to examine the representation and experience of imprisonment in South African prison memoirs and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It looks at the ways in which oppressive spaces or circumstances restrict. Copies of Hamlet’s Dreams are available from the Info Desk on the second floor of the library.  This brief, but powerful work, is fascinating in its examination of the Robben Island prison and just how Shakespeare changed the lives of the political prisoners who read his works.   Please join us to share your thoughts on Shakespeare and the beauty and force of his words.  This program and other Shakespeare related programs and displays are done as a partnership with the University of Iowa Library and its First Folio exhibition.

On Bowie – Rob Sheffield

by Jason Paulios on September 16th, 2016
On Bowie – Rob Sheffield Cover Image

Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield’s book “On Bowie” is an ode to rock legend, David Bowie, who died in January of this year. Sheffield, a Bowie fanatic, was approached immediately following the news of Bowie’s death and asked to write a book with a very short turnaround. “On Bowie” reads quickly, there are concise chapters that could easily be individual columns for his magazine, covering impressions of a specific time period or album. His writing is confident and somewhat off-the-cuff, it conveys that he’s someone who has thought deeply about Bowie’s music and life and has read widely on the subject. It’s easy to skip around to read his thoughts about your favorite Bowie period or uncover juicy anecdotes culled from larger works on the artist. Despite his obvious adulation, Sheffield isn’t afraid to critique Bowie’s personal decisions or output (even the biggest Bowie fan can’t justify the two albums following “Let’s Dance”). I wasn’t as interested in the author’s lyric dissection or penchant for shoehorning lyrics into the bigger picture writing. There is obvious passion and respect in this short overview, I found it to be a terrific gateway for some larger works (ex. “Moonage daydream: the life and times of Ziggy Stardust”) as well as an inspiration to check out some of the eighteen different albums carried here at ICPL.

Have You Read the Most Popular Book From the Year You Were Born?

by Angela Pilkington on September 9th, 2016

There are books that stick with you for your entire life, but do you know what book was most popular on the year that you were born?

Thanks to Good Housekeeping, you can now find out what people were reading the year that you entered the world. These were the books making people cry, laugh, and stay up late to finish just one more chapter in homes across the country as your story got its page one.

The interfaced that is used is horrible to click through, but I had fun looking at all the books, starting in 1930 to see how many I have read or even recognized.  I really started to pay attention to some years that have special meaning to me. I  was excited that I had read the books that were most popular the years my parents were born; 1952-The Catcher in the Rye, the teenage angst filled novel by J.D. Salinger and 1956- the classic children’s book, Eloise, by Kay Thompson. As a Children’s Librarian, I was delightfully surprised by Eloise, as it was the first (and as it turns out only) picture book on this list. Next year on my list was the year I was born, 1979, and I was disappointed. I recognized the title, but I have never read, Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I guess it will go on my to be read list! However, I was born with only 16 days left in 1979, so close to 1980, that I paused to see what title was popular that year and I have read it! It was the first book in the Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum.

Take a look through the list. How many of the top books from the past 87 years have you read?


Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

by Kara Logsden on September 7th, 2016
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave Cover Image

Once again it has happened … I came to the end of a wonderful book and I want more!

Chris Cleave artfully crafts a World War II fiction novel based on love letters between his grandparents. With the backdrop of war, bombing, starvation, bravery, society, and personal sacrifice, Cleave weaves together unforgettable characters in a story that requires pondering long after the book is finished.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven is set in London and Malta. Mary is a socialite who feels compelled to contribute to the war effort. Alistair signs up for service reluctantly because he has an obligation to duty. Tom would rather forget the war, but with Alistair’s enlistment it’s a topic that can’t be forgotten. Three people, three friends, and three wars. Innocence is lost, London is bombed, Malta is devastated, friendship is tested, and morals are questioned.

I listened to the story and Luke Thompson’s narration brings the story to life. When the story was over, I backed it up and listened to the ending again. Highly recommended.

Fresh Picks: Beautiful Nonfiction

by Morgan Reeves on August 31st, 2016
Fresh Picks: Beautiful Nonfiction Cover Image

In the world of children’s literature, picture books are the shining jewels that we admire for their beautiful illustrations and imaginative stories. Nonfiction titles are often seen as unglamorous workhorses, judged on their ability to meet educational standards in imparting information to their young readers. While there is certainly a necessary place for curriculum supporting, report fodder nonfiction, there is plenty of room on the shelves for nonfiction that captures the imagination as well as presenting the facts.

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I think I know you …

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 17th, 2016
I think I know you … Cover Image

I’m relatively new to audiobooks, having listened to my first one a few months ago, but I agree with my colleagues who say they are a great way to pass the time on long drives, during a run or cleaning the house.

I also agree with them that a narrator makes, or breaks, the audiobook.

There are several I’ve started but couldn’t finish because I didn’t like the narrator’s voice. One of these books was even read by the author, but she did not sound at all like I thought she would. For some odd reason even I can’t explain, that did not sit well with me. I returned the audiobook on my OverDrive app and checked out the physical book instead.

I recently finished listening to I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: My Life as a Co-Star by Judy Greer. She also voiced the audiobook. If the name isn’t familiar, I’m sure it will be after you Google it. With more than 16 working years in Hollywood, and 90+ film and TV credits to her name, she’s one of those actors who seems to be in everything.

She’s a star, yet she isn’t. She’s worked with George Clooney and Paul Rudd and Jennifer Lopez, but can still run to a 24-hour drug store without fear of being recognized. In fact, if/when she is recognized, the people who stop her aren’t sure why they’ve stopped her. Best of both worlds? The work, some fame, but no paparazzi?

(If you aren’t going to Google Judy Greer, she played Lucy in 13 Going on 30; Maggie Lang in Ant-Man; Karen Mitchell in Jurassic World; and Kitty Sanchez in Arrested Development.)

This was an entertaining memoir. Greer is funny, honest – some might think she’s too honest, but I loved it – and anyone who’s curious about what happens behind-the-scenes in Hollywood will get a little bit of gossip. Not dirt – she’s not stupid; she still has to make a living – but the next time you see a celebrity looking like the wish they were anywhere else on the red carpet or at a press junket, Greer’s book will explain why both aren’t fun.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

by Bond Drager on August 15th, 2016
Kitchens of the Great Midwest Cover Image

I recently enjoyed the book Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. I love books about food (Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle is one of my all-time favorites) and Kitchens of the Great Midwest not only vividly captures the sensory experience of some terrific meals, it also evokes memories of my own Midwestern childhood and the foods I grew up with.

It has a unique structure: Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, and sometimes there are jumps forward of several years at a go. This left me wanting more with every chapter change.

Here’s an excerpt of Amazon’s synopsis: When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine–and a dashing sommelier–he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter–starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience.

I didn’t want to put this book down. It was funny and sweet, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the characters.