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Iowa City Public Library’s December Teen Events Announced

by 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.

Thankful for ICPL

by on November 20th, 2015

You might have noticed our latest display on the first floor that states “Be Thankful for Books” which without a doubt, I am, but I am also thankful for all the other resources made available by Iowa City Public Library. Recently, I have caught myself taking our local library for granted, which has taught me to appreciate the services that ICPL is able to provide to our community and to give thanks (900x900)definitely take advantage of them!

During a recent trip home to visit my mom, we had to rearrange our weekend plans to ensure that we could make it to her local Library before they closed on Saturday since they are closed every Sunday. Thankfully, ICPL’s hours are pretty comprehensive, and their website can fill in most gaps when the library is closed. I have done research using library databases, renewed and reserved books, downloaded ebooks and magazines, and downloaded music all while the library was closed.

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Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

by on November 19th, 2015

Hunger Brownstein

It has been an exceptional year for women-in-rock memoirs. Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band, Patti Smith’s M Train, and Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein have all come out in 2015. Brownstein’s story about how she went from suburban Seattle kid to Sleater Kinney rock guitarist and singer is engaging and funny, as one would expect if they have watched Portlandia. Brownstein definitely has a sense of humor, even about the darker and embarrassing stuff in her life. She starts the book talking about how the thread of music fandom has been the main current through her life – not musicianship, but fandom and a profound interest in performance and exploration. She writes well about nostalgia, particularly music-related nostalgia: the phenomenon of how albums from our formative years can bring us back to a particular time and place instantly, even while they don’t necessarily hold up sound-wise. There are many people who would like this book: Riot Grrrl history buffs, fans of rock and punk music, and people who enjoy watching Portlandia should check out Carrie Brownstein’s memoir. It’s worth the read!

Stuffing My Face with Awesomeness

by on November 19th, 2015

I’m not going to be talking turkey especially after that whole “Buy a Ham, Get a Turkey Free” debacle.  Even now I don’t know what I was thinking; however I am a master at choosing a couple delectable items from our collection that I’ll enjoy devouring at home.  These three TV shows are clever and action-packed, exciting for both the brain and the body.

Prison Break cover.phpWhen I first heard about Prison Break (2005-2009), its option had just been picked up by FOX and I thought it sounded innovative and intriguing.  Then the pilot aired and my expectations were exceeded.  Starring a bunch of relative unknowns (at the time), the story centers around Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), a structural engineer who is deliberately imprisoned in order to help his brother escape.  He believes Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) has been wrongly convicted of murdering the Vice President’s brother.  When Michael’s meticulous plan meets the chaos of prison life, he struggles to keep everything moving forward.

White Collar cover.phpIn White Collar (2009-2014), a prison break is just the beginning.  Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), a Renaissance con man, successfully escapes but is quickly hunted down by Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), the FBI agent who originally caught him.  Neal uses his specialized knowledge and out-of-the-box thinking to help Peter solve the case, then parlays this success into a consulting deal and an ankle bracelet.  Over the years they take on thieves, forgers, kidnappers, and other criminals.  That may sound repetitive and boring but, trust me, hanging out with these two is anything but.

MI-5 cover.php MI-5 (2002-2011) is a British spy drama that has starred many fine actors such as Matthew Macfadyen, Rupert Penry-Jones, and Richard Armitage.  The Spooks may come and go but they are all overseen by Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), the Head of the Counter-Terrorism Department.  Section D utilizes its high-tech Grid along with field agents to fend off attacks from an assortment of villains, including cyber-terrorists, conventional terrorists, and even other spy agencies.  Sometimes the crisis is resolved within the hour, sometimes it takes longer, and sometimes things blow up.

ICPL owns the complete series for all these titles so you can indulge in a total binge-fest or choose smaller portions to relish throughout the winter.  Bon Appetit!

Storytime Recap: So Happy

by on November 18th, 2015

As the weather turns colder and grayer, it becomes a bit more difficult to be cheerful and happy. So I thought everyone would enjoy a storytime all about what makes us happiest. As usual, we began our time together with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” Then I talked a bit about some things that make me happy, like my dogs and cat, or reading a good book. I asked everyone to think about their happy things as I read our first book 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz.

Each rhyming pair of happiness possibilities evokes such fun responses from the kids. “Chocolate chips, camping trips…hula hoops, double scoops,” received the most enthusiastic sounds of approval.

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by on November 18th, 2015
Fanstasamagory Cover Image

I read a fun new book to my 4 year-old last week called Dory Fanstasmagory.  Dory is sort of a cross between young Romona Beezus and Calvin.  Her nickname is Rascal for good reason.  She drives her older siblings and parents absolutely crazy but its very fun to read about.  Dory is at the point where she is having trouble letting go of her fantasy world.  Her fairly godmother is Mr. Nuggy who looks (to me at least) like a small bearded gnome and is always reachable by banana phone.  doryThe story is narrated by Dory so you can totally sympathize what it’s like to be the youngest member of the family.  But you can also sympathize with the parents. At one point, Dory asks Mr. Nuggy to turn her into a puppy (named Chickenbone).  Dory finds that she can’t turn herself back into a girl before going to the doctor.

When we get home from the doctor, I am in huge trouble.  My mom tells me I have to go to my room for a time-out.  I say, “You can just leave my dog food in bowl outside my door, woof!”.  This makes my mom so mad that she grabs my paw and drags me up the stairs.

“Walk!” she says.

“I am!” I cry.

“On two legs!!!” my mom yells.

We both enjoyed it very much.  And there is a sequel:  When Dory starts school and finally makes a non-imaginary friend, everyone is skeptical that the friend exists.

Inspiration for your fiction

by on November 17th, 2015
Inspiration for your fiction Cover Image

NaNoWriMo is more than halfway over. Looking for inspiration to get you past writer’s block? Consider consulting dictionaries and encyclopedias on specific subjects.

Last week, someone stumbled upon our encyclopedias on the short Reference shelves on the second floor. He wondered if we had anything like that for sci fi/fantasy mythology. He was curious as to where storytellers got their information about the strengths and weaknesses of monsters.

Lucky for him, he was talking with someone who’s been reading a ton of fantasy fiction this year. I have read the accounts of countless vampires, ghosts, werewolves, fae, demons, witches, trolls, shape-shifters—you name it!

I got him the book How to Kill a Vampire as a place to start. As we were talking about what his goals were for finding books like this, it struck me that he had a great idea: use these kinds of books to inspire and research your fiction writing.  Read the rest of this entry »

Iowa City building permit search

by on November 16th, 2015

Recently I was trying to research the construction history for my house and found some errors and/or incomplete information. The Iowa City Assessor site has a Parcel Search lookup which shows you a lot of property detail. Unfortunately, like many local databases, the information tends to be more accurate when searching construction that has happened since the world has adopted computers. My house had information describing the garage and small addition as being constructed the same year as the original building which seemed unlikely.

The next step is to visit the website for the City of Iowa City Housing & Inspection Services’ permit activity lookup. This is a great tool and could be used by people wanting to search a property prior to purchase or to research potential remodeling/repair contractors, just do a search for a local builder to see what other jobs they’ve completed. In my case the remodel must have happened too far back to be in the system so I headed to City Hall to see if they had any hard copies.  Staff there were happy to show me the back files and we found all the records on microfiche! From these I determined that the original building was done in 1955 (dated October 26th) and that the small addition (77 square feet) was from 1961 and estimated to cost $200 (hahahaha, even with inflation this is still only $1600 today or about $21 per square foot).

For your next house history hunt make sure to include the Housing & Inspection Services department!  Here’s a super detailed drawing plan for constructing a garage in 1961:


Bread and a Dog

by on November 15th, 2015
Bread and a Dog Cover Image

Natsuko Kuwahara, a Tokyo food stylist and former baker and pastry chef has created a delightfully quirky book, Bread and a Dog. The bread in the title is what she would bake each morning for breakfast and the dog in the title is Kipple, a rescue dog she adopted nine years ago. The small book contains 100 photographs of her breakfasts, beautifully crafted breakfasts that she shared through Twitter and Instagram.  Kipple often crept into the frame and instead of banishing him and deleting those with hibread-and-a-dogm in them, Kuwahara decided to share those photos. (Don’t all of us with dogs know how our canine friends are very interested in everything that comes from the kitchen or that is consumed at the table.)  Kibble soon developed a following and the result is this book. She also includes recipes for a number of her breakfast breads and muffins.

Kuwahara in an animal rescue advocate.  She and her husband also have two rescue cats, Kuro and Kotetsu.  This book would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves breakfast and dogs.  And who doesn’t?

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

by on November 14th, 2015
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States Cover Image

I am currently reading Sarah Vowell’s latest book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, which now has added relevance in light of the sad news from Paris. In a statement yesterday, President Obama said, “France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again.” And Lafayette’s shoulders were the first in this friendship; they were right there next to George Washington.

In Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Vowell focuses on Lafayette’s time in the Continental Army starting with how he got there. Lafayette, a French aristocrat, wasn’t even 20-years old when he embarked to America and had to trick his family and King Louis XVI to make the journey. He pretty much ran away. Before setting sail across the Atlantic, he went back to apologize when he heard how angry everyone was, but he wasn’t really sorry. He then “disguised himself in a courier’s get-up, made a U-turn for Spain, and sweet-talked an innkeeper’s daughter he had flirted with en route to point his trackers in the wrong direction.” Why would he do all this? It was a mix of identifying with the American cause and looking for adventure.

Vowell argues that Lafayette came to the colonies thinking he would find a united army fighting for a common cause. This assumption was far from the truth. Congress couldn’t agree on who should run the Continental Army, much less on how to pay to supply the army. The troops were in shambles, barely trained and without shoes or clothing. And there was a great deal of in-fighting among Washington’s staff. But Lafayette found a place for himself, so much so that the only thing Americans could agree on was Lafayette. He became a beloved national hero, even though he wasn’t our “national.”

Like always, Vowell is very funny. Her writing blends her love of the subject, personal anecdotes of her research process, and of course, sarcasm.