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Teen Homework Help

by Brian Visser on March 18th, 2015

Homework Help

Stuck with your homework?  The Library can help!

The Iowa City Public Library has teamed-up with Envision Tutoring to provide free weekly tutoring sessions in all subjects for students in grades 7 through 12.  The tutors are volunteers–both university students and former educators–qualified to teach all subjects. Each tutor undergoes a background check and training to ensure students get the most benefit from the sessions, and tutoring sessions are confidential.

All tutoring will take place within the Koza Family Teen Center on the Library’s second floor. To sign up for your session, visit

Once you have chosen a slot that works for you, use the form at the bottom of the page to schedule that slot. We will get back to you within two weekdays to confirm your tutor reservation.

Stories of Imagination

by Allison Smith on November 28th, 2015

On March 12, 2015, one of my favorite authors died. On November 23, 2015, I finished reading the last book of his most famous series.

I’m a bit at a loss.

I’m speaking, of course, about the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett and his marvelous Discworld books, the last of which was published posthumously and I just finished reading it. There aren’t going to be any more of them ever. I will never find out about Moist von Lipwig’s next big challenge, or see if anyone ever tries to overthrow Lord Vetinari. I won’t see Young Sam grow up or see Sam Vimes retire from the Watch. I won’t know what happens with the witches, if Tiffany Aching and Preston finally settle down in the same place. It’s all a bit devastating.

But, I can always go back and visit them. Terry Pratchett left behind great stories of imagination, one of the most lasting legacies one can have. I can always go back to the Disc and visit my friends, and there are 41 novels, so I can stay there as long as I want.


A great reading guide from Krzysztof Kietzman

Now, discworld is an intimidating series to start. There are 41 books! But, there are a couple of ways that you can approach the series. You can read them chonologically, starting with The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic or you can start with any of the starter novels in the lovely graphic provided by an avid Pratchett fan.

I read them (mostly) chronologically, because that’s the way I roll, but you really don’t have to. Discworld is more of a universe in which stories take place instead of just a series. They are hilarious and they poke fun at everything from commonly used fantasy tropes to racism. As Terry Pratchett said “G.K Chesterton once said that the opposite of ‘funny’ is not ‘serious’; the opposite of ‘funny’ is ‘not funny’…” And that rings very true in all of his writing.

Included in the purple blobs in the lovely graphic is my favorite series within Discworld, the Tiffany Aching books. Tiffany grew up reading fairy tales and knew she could never be a princess since she was practical, and had brown hair and brown eyes, so she decided to become a witch. The Shepherd’s Crown, the very last Discworld book is a Tiffany Aching book, and it doesn’t tie up loose ends or end happily ever after. That isn’t Pratchett’s style. It ends like stories end in real life, with tons of unanswered questions of where to go next.

Check out Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series in Science Fiction on the first floor and the Tiffany Aching books in YA.

Iowa City Public Library’s December Teen Events Announced

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on November 23rd, 2015

Coding, job search assistance and a movie are just a few of the activities the Iowa City Public Library has planned for its teen patrons in December. All teen events are open to students in grades 7through 12 and take place in the Koza Family Teen Center, unless otherwise stated.

Interested in learning how to write computer code? Join us from 4 to 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, for Hour of Code 2015 – Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code. The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics. This year we’re trying Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code using drag-drop blocks and JavaScript.

Have you reached the age where a part-time job sounds great, but you aren’t sure how to go about finding one? Come to UAY Job Shop from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8. Job Shop is a program in which teens ages 12 through 17 receive free job search help from United Action for Youth staff. This includes searching available jobs, completing applications, creating a resume, and job interview preparation.

It’s getting cold outside, making it the perfect time to enjoy a summer blockbuster. We will screen Marvel’s Ant-Man from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22. Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

In addition to these events, the Koza Family Teen Center will extend its Teen Tech Times hours during winter break. During Tech Time, the Teen Center is open for teens to use the Internet, check out iPads and laptops, or play video games on the big screen. Visit for times.

For more information about any of these programs, contact the Library at 319-356-5200.

Baba Yaga’s Assistant

by Casey Maynard on October 15th, 2015

Baba Yaga 1Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll’s new graphic novel, Baba Yaga’s Assistant, is absolutely stunning.  McCoola’s debut is part fan fiction, part retelling, taking pieces from the traditional tale and spinning well known characters and tropes into an entirely new story. Emily Carroll, per usual, delivers fantastic illustrations to accompany McCoola’s devourable text.

Baba Yaga is everything a reader could want in a spin off. Featuring strong female characters, Baba Yaga has just the right amount of spookiness to keep the pages turning yet ends up surprisingly heartfelt and uplifting.

This is definitely a must read for anyone who likes fairy tales, or who is a fan of Emily Carroll’s graphic novel,  Through the Woods. Marika McCoola is an author to watch, and I am hoping to see this team pair up again for more retellings in the future.



baba yaga 3


For more information on Marika McCoola please visit her website

Emily Carroll’s online comics may be found at


Iowa City Public Library’s TAG Meetings Announced

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 18th, 2015

TAG, the Iowa City Public Library’s Teen Activity Group, is looking for new members.

TAG members help plan teen programs and give teenage students a voice in the Library. Members also eat a lot of snacks. Anyone wanting to make a difference in the Library, and earn volunteer hours at the same time, should give TAG a try.

Our fall meetings will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Koza Family Teen Center on Saturday, Sept. 26; Saturday, Oct. 17; and Saturday, Nov. 14.

TAG is open to students in grades 7 through 12.

For more information, contact the Library at 319-356-5200.

Let’s Make Something Teen Series at ICPL

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 17th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library will host a series of Let’s Make Something events for teens in grades 7 through 12.

All programs will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Koza Family Teen Center on the Library’s second floor.

September 26: Chopsticks Catapult

We’re going to build miniature catapults using chopsticks, rubber bands and plastic spoons. They’re perfect for launching marshmallows and irritating family members!

October 17: Chocolate Banana Pops

We’re going to make delicious chocolate covered banana pops. That’s kind of healthy, right?

November 14: Magnetic Slime

We’re going to make some slime that’s attracted to magnets. Why? Because it’s cool! You can take your disgusting creation home with you, too.

For more information, call the Library at 319-356-5200.

Is July imaginary road trip month?

by Ella Von Holtum on July 2nd, 2015

We’ve got a new display up in the Teen Center, seven books about road trips of all kinds. July seems like the perfect time of year to dream about road trips, even if you don’t drive. I didn’t drive until after high school, and I spent the years before my first vehicle planning the road trips I would take if I could.

The library is always a great place to work out these hypothetical travels. Come up to the second floor, head left to the main nonfiction collection, and you’ll find a wealth of potential adventures.

All the way down by the windows are a great place to start: aisle 29 has books about US states in case you need some historical inspiration, and aisles 26 and 27 have plenty of books about US Travel.  Call number 917.305 is all road trip books – they’re big and full of pictures and routes and ideas. For my imaginary road trip I’d pick Road Trip USA to start. From there, books are organized East Coast to West Coast. We, of course, are somewhere in the middle. I’ll probably grab the Compass Guide to Maine, because that seems like a perfect and far-flung summer escape.infi I’ve been to Maine already, but my imaginary road trip will take me there again. If you were dreaming of New York City or Florida beaches, those books are here too. ICPL of course has a bunch of books about Iowa travels, found in 917.7704. Nearby is Chicago – a totally feasible roadtrip and one I make regularly! But back to the far-fetched: the Infinite City atlas is an intriguing book of San Francisco. That was a city that was always at the top of my road trip list in high school, so I’d add this to my pile. Move along the aisle and I’m definitely imagining the World Famous Alaska Highway. That would be a long drive, but since it’s all in my head, why not?

Okay, since it’s all in my head, I should probably wander a little farther. A Map of the World: according to illustrators and storytellers is full of pictures to pore over. Or how about the Atlas of Exploration? Historical maps are so cool, and it’s fun to imagine wandering roads long gone. If you’re looking for even more flights of fancy, try the catalog search for a few relevant subjects: Atlases or Cartography yield lots of possibilities.

What I’d do next, now that I have my stack of books, is find a little table space, maybe over near the Teen Center. I’d spread out and start opening books. Now, I’m definitely a person who opens a bunch of tabs when I’m using the internet, but there is really no substitute for a pile of books all open to the most interesting pages. Maybe that’s why I always liked planning these imaginary road trips, even after I got a car. Plus, a wander through the library shelves is its own kind of fun.


cadPostscript: the road trip-related books on display in the Teen Center right now (for inspiration, perhaps?)

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, Cadillac Chronicles by Brett Hartman, The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour, The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski, and In a Handful of Dust by Mandi McGinnis

YA Displays help you sort out Summer Reading

by Ella Von Holtum on June 18th, 2015

We’ve got so many good books in the Young Adult collection that sometimes it can be overwhelming to pick something. Have you noticed the displays around our space on the second floor? These are a good place to start if you just can’t decide what to read next.

There are two tables within the collection that feature nine different themed bookmarks as well as book picks from each of them. Here are some of the books I’ve picked out for my own summer reading that I found on our bookmarks:


riotRiot by Walter Dean Myers: It’s been years since I’ve read one of Myers’ books, but this summer would be a great time to explore some of his titles in our collection. Riot centers around Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, who faces some harsh realities in Civil War era New York City. This book can be found on our Historical Fiction bookmark.


shipbreakerShip Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi: Bacigalupi is an amazing speculative fiction writer. I am looking forward to diving into this book about a teenaged scavenger in a futuristic world who has to decide whether or not to rescue a girl he finds in a ship’s wreckage. Find this and other titles on our Adventure and Survival bookmark.


girl geniusGirl Genius: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank by Phil and Kaja Foglio: This graphic novel, about a girl genius descended from mad scientists, sounds like a fun summer read. Find it on our Bio/Gear/Steampunk bookmark, and at  741.593/Foglio/Girl in the main 2nd floor collection.


huntressHuntress by Malinda Lo: It’s hard for me to pick just one book from the Girl Warriors bookmark. I’ve been eager to read this one since it came out. Summer is a great time for catching up on reading, and this story about two seventeen year olds on a dangerous journey to the city of the Fairy Queen is way up on my list.


terrierTerrier by Tamora Pierce: I’m a fan of Pierce, and I have been since fifth grade. I loved this first book in the Provost’s Dog series – Beka is a tough and smart hero, and she uses her police training to help the people in the lower city where she grew up. Despite its place on our Nomance bookmark (books that feature little or no romantic elements), there are so many rich human and animal relationships in this book that it’s utterly satisfying. It would be a great summer re-read.


pegasusPegasus by Robin McKinley: I’ve recently begun reading McKinley’s books, and am looking forward to this one, from the Here Be Dragons bookmark, about a world where human-pegasi bonds are the norm, but an intense one may threaten the world.

Honorable mention from theunlundun Here Be Dragons bookmark is Un Lun Dun by China Mieville – Deeba goes on a beautiful and frightening journey through an alternate London-verse and finds herself becoming a hero.


You’ll also see LOL: Humorous Books, Mystery/Thriller, and Contemporary bookmarks. We have an upright shelf which currently features some of the amazing books that have come out over the last year – both the Iowa Teen Award and Iowa High School Book Award have their own bookmarks so you can catch up on the good new stuff. And don’t forget to stop in the Teen Center – right by the magazines we have a display that changes monthly based on feedback from our Teen Advisory Group.


You may be stumped about what to read next, but we’ve got some places you can look!

Way Cool Chemistry Dates Announced

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 3rd, 2015

Way Cool Chemistry, a program designed to make chemistry accessible and fun for fifth- through eighth-grade students, returns to the Iowa City Public Library this summer.

Students interested in chemistry will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on demonstrations and experiments from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20, and Saturday, Aug. 1.

Both programs will be held in Meeting Room A. Pre-registration is not required.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

ICPL Hosts Animation Workshop for Students

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 28th, 2015

Professional animator Ben Rosales will lead an Animation Workshop for students in fifth- through 12th-grades Saturday, June 6, at the Iowa City Public Library.

Ben Rosales

Ben Rosales

Rosales is a professional animator whose resume includes Open Season 3. He also is an animation instructor.

During his workshop about computer animation, students will learn about the programs they can use to create great animated works. Any student interested in animation should attend to learn about principles and techniques from an industry pro.

This program will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 6, in the Computer Lab on the Library’s second floor.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Through the Woods

by Casey Maynard on April 27th, 2015

Since I was small I have loved fairytales. It began with the original Grimm’s tales my mother read. I remember the illustrations more clearly than anything: the image of Rapunzel’s prince stumThrough the Woods Coverbling and blinded after being thrown from the tower is one I can conjure readily. Since that time, I have read as many fairytales and retellings as I could get my hands on. It is only as an adult that I recognize the why of this love for, even obsession with fairytales that began as a child.  These traditional stories encompass something innately human that has the capacity to be retold in multifarious ways, thus remaining fresh, somehow unencumbered by its own redundancy.

Recently this passion for all things fabled has led me to the work of Emily Carroll.  With many of her graphic short stories debuting online, it was not until July of last year that Carroll’s first book came into print. Through the Woods is a collection of five short stories all of which find their center in the forest. Definitely not your childhood bedtime stories, each is reminiscent of the archetype while simultaneously obliterating the gap between traditional fairytale and horror.through the woods

Where Grimm’s fairy tales hinted at the horror that awaited villains–red-hot iron shoes come to mind–Carroll’s tales thrust the reader into truly terrifying confrontations with evil.  Evil that not only surrounds each of us but has the capacity to be found within us as well.  It is in this way that Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods, leaves the reader unsettled, searching for a happy ending when we know that the journey will begin all over again tomorrow.Into the Woods

Accompanied by beautiful full color illustrations that bleed into text, Carroll’s graphic novel debut is stunning.  She leaves the reader the space to interpret what is left in the darkness of each page, unsaid and just out of reach.

For more of her stories and for a sneak peek of Through the Woods be sure to check out “His Face All Red” and the rest of her website,

Emily Carroll’s Website

through the woods