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Novelist Kent Haruf Dies at 71

by on December 2nd, 2014

harufOne of my favorite novelists, Kent Haruf, died on Sunday at the age of 71. I first discovered Haruf’s lyrical writing when his wonderful 1999 work Plainsong was under consideration as the inaugural All Iowa Reads selection n 2003, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, another excellent work, was selected as the first book for All Iowa Reads and with it setting in rural Minnesota it trumped Haruf’s Colorado high plains locale.  Plainsong was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1999.

Haruf was able to capture small town and rural life in his books.  His latest, Benediction, was published in 2013, and with Eventide completes the trilogy set in Holt, a fictional town on the high plains of Colorado.  If you haven’t read his novels and enjoy a strong sense of place, you will not be disappointed.

Morning Edition aired a tribute to Kent Haruf today. It included clips from an interview with Diane Rehm where he talked about moving to Iowa City in the winter of 1971 with hopes that he would be admitted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the fall.  He received an MFA from the workshop in 1973.

And for those of you who have read and enjoyed his writing, Kent Haruf’s final novel, Our Souls At Night, is in the editing phase and is currently scheduled for a 2015 release.

ICPL craft bazaar and book sale Dec. 6

by on December 1st, 2014

Just in time for the holidays, the Iowa City Public Library will host the Third Annual Arts & Crafts Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in meeting rooms A, B and C at the Library, 123 S. Linn St.

Thanks to the generous donations of local artists and crafters, shoppers will find a wide selection of unique gifts from quilts and knitted items to jewelry, holiday ornaments, and more. The Library also will have Iowa City Public Library T-shirts for sale for $16 each, and Arts & Crafts Bazaar tote bags for $10.

For every $10 spent at the bazaar, shoppers receive an entry for amazing door prizes. Winners do not need to be present to win.

The Book End’s winter book sale will occur at the same time in the hallway just outside of Meeting Room A. The book sale will feature bargain prices on everything from romance novels to cookbooks. Anyone who makes a purchase at the book sale will receive a coupon for a unique offer at The Book End, which is located on the Library’s second floor.

Proceeds from both the arts and craft bazaar and the book sale benefit the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation, which supports the Summer Reading Program and other Library programs and collections.

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

Iowa City Public Library closed Dec. 12

by on December 1st, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library will be closed Friday, Dec. 12, for Staff InService Day.

“The annual InService Day is an opportunity for all Library staff to attend training designed to improve services for patrons,” says Kara Logsden, the Library’s community and access services coordinator.business_closed_sign_page

The day begins with staff recognition, where seven Library employees will receive service awards. Library employees are recognized for every five years of service. This year, the Library will recognize individuals who have worked at the Library for five, 10, 20, and 30 years.

Training will continue with a presentation from this year’s keynote speaker: Aaron Schmidt. Schmidt is a principal at Influx Library User Experience Consulting. His presentation, Librarians as Designers, will introduce the concept of user experience thinking and illustrate how it can improve the Library’s websites, programs, and services.

Staff will break into small group sessions in the afternoon for additional training, then reconvene for final comments from Alysia Peich, the Continuing Education Coordinator from Iowa Library Services.

Regular Library hours will resume on Saturday, Dec. 13.

Health Insurance and Your Taxes

by on December 1st, 2014

For those that are filing taxes in 2014 you will likely see a new section that has been added to the tax form. This is because 2014 is the first year that the penalties for not having health insurance come into effect. Based on the drafts of the tax forms released by IRS, those that have health insurance through their employer or have purchased insurance through a private company will only need to check a box.

The tax filing process for those that purchased insurance through the Marketplace or for those that didn’t have any insurance or only partial insurance coverage through 2014 will be a  little more complicated. To help with those complications, the library is hosting the VITA program.

VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, is made up of volunteers from the Tippie College of Business Beta Alpha Psi chapter. These volunteers help low and moderate income taxpayers in the Johnson County area prepare and file their taxes.These volunteers will be available at certain times in the library beginning in January. For dates and times VITA is available, click here.

The library will also have a  variety of tax forms and instructions available for individuals as they are received from the IRS. Several forms and publications have yet to be finalized this year due to the Affordable Care Act and other tax reforms. This may mean some printed forms will not be made available until mid-February or later. The government is  also limiting the number of printed tax forms and instructions, for example Publication 17 (ALL tax instructions), which will only be available online.

For more information about the your taxes and the Affordable Care Act, visit:

ACA Tax Provisions FAQ

DRAFTS of 2014 tax forms

Healthcare Enrollment or Plan Information

 

Little Dutch Boy Game

by on November 30th, 2014

If you have kids that regularly visit the Ellen Buchanan Children’s Room, then you have probably met Mabel the Table.  This is a large interactive touch table that immediately draws kids’ attention.  The library has been a long-time host of Coder Dojo Iowa City, the local chapterdutchboy of an international movement to teach and inspire kids in the vocation of computer programming.  Young programmers in this dojo collaboratively designed and built a custom game called Little Dutch Boy that is only found on Mabel the Table.  The game is a race against time as a dike holding back water is starting to fill with holes.  Players around the table try to plug as many holes as they can with their fingers before the water gets too high. I hope you have a chance to try it out next time you are at the library.  The kids of Coder Dojo did a wonderful job of working together to contribute a cool new custom app for our table.  If you are a game designer or involved in a developer group and want to help us improve these games or create new ones, please contact me at the library

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy

by on November 29th, 2014
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy Cover Image

Two dads, four boys, one dog, one cat, and one invisible cheetah. The Family Fletcher is preparing for a new school year, the first school year where all four of the very different boys will be in school. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy follows this unique, and at the same time totally normal, family throughout the year as they deal with their individual problems. Twelve year-old Sam is a soccer player, a cool kid looked up to as the example for his younger brothers. Can he transfer his talent for storytelling into a part in the school play, and more importantly still be cool? 10 year-old Jax thinks Sam is the coolest, and wants to be accepted as part of the same crowd, now that he’s in the same school building. But with a changing friendship and a school project hanging over his head, Jax might end up more behind than ever.  Eli, also 10 (but a couple of months younger), is starting a new, expensive, academically minded school, trading familiar faces for scholarly challenges. When his new school turns out to be less amazing than he had hoped, he struggles with the his ability to admit he made a mistake. Six year-old Froggie (not Jeremiah) is excited to start kindergarten with Flare, his invisible cheetah. His biggest problems are asking for kittens, turtles and convincing his family that his new friend Ladybug is real girl.

Even with all of their individual issues to work through, the whole family comes together for the biggest Halloween party ever, camping trips, and convincing their grumpy neighbor Mr. Nelson that they mean no harm. With loving support from both Papa and Dad (who have some misadventures of their own), the Fletchers work together to overcome all obstacles that come their way. This is a fun romp that just happens to have a diverse family at the heart of it.

Letters About Literature

by on November 28th, 2014

Browne,_Henriette_-_A_Girl_Writing;_The_Pet_Goldfinch_-_Google_Art_ProjectHave you ever loved a book so much that you had to let the author know?  That they were the only person who would understand how you felt?  Letters About Literature is a program where students in grades 4 through 12 write a letter to an author explaining how that author’s work impacted them.

The Letters can be written about works from any genre, fiction or nonfiction by authors from the present or the past. Students can write about a book, short story, poem, or speech.

The program is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.  The Iowa Center for the Book is the Iowa sponsor.

Iowa first place winners win $75. Second and third place winners win $50.  Honorable Mention winners win $25.

The deadline for high school students is December 15, 2014. The deadline for elementary and middle school students is January 15, 2015. You can learn more at the Iowa Center for the Book website and read last year’s winning entries at http://www.iowacenterforthebook.org/letters

But maybe you don’t want to enter the contest and just want to write a letter to your favorite author.  We have a database that can help with that.  To access it, go to http://www.icpl.org/resources/ scroll down and click on “Contemporary Authors.”  Contemporary Authors has a lot of interesting information about more than 120,000 U.S. and international authors.  For example, you can search “Lowry, Lois,” and it will list info about awards she has won, her bibliography and personal information including a home address.  So, you could write a letter about how The Giver is your absolute favorite book of all time.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

by on November 24th, 2014
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier Cover Image

“3 weeks   2 sisters   1 car”  Perfect for the holidays—the quintessential family road trip!

I’m not generally a fan of graphic novels, but author and illustrator Raina Telgemeier does a great job of convincing me to broaden my horizons. I just read her newest title, Sisters, which explores the complexity and humor of sibling rivalry and family relationships. Sisters evokes a universal familiarity. Who doesn’t remember the family road trip as the perfect time to fight and bond?

Telgemeier’s first autobiographical novel, Smile, continues to be incredibly popular. Booklist described it as “possibly the only universally embraced graphic novel on the planet.” Sisters continues Raina’s story, sharing how she and her sister Amara fight their way to common ground, against the backdrop of a family reunion, also filled with family fights and affections. Sisters left me with a smile and warm memories of my own sisters…and wishing for more. Perhaps Telgemeier will turn me into a graphic novel fan yet!

Sisters and Smile both have hold lists on them at the library, but they are worth the wait. (And the lists aren’t too long!) While you’re waiting, you could check out a couple of my other favorite sister books, touching picture books great for all ages: Big Sister, Little Sister by LeUyen Pham and Maple & Willow Together by Lori Nichols.

This week I get to see one of my sisters, and I’m excited to share Sisters with her. We can relate–it’s surprisingly like our story!

How do I get a map of Iowa City?

by on November 24th, 2014

Maps IowaFew places carry paper maps anymore. If you are looking for a map of Iowa City, you can turn to the Iowa Department of Transportation. They have a place on their website where you can look for maps of Iowa cities and counties. From this webpage, click the “City and county maps” link, and then find Johnson County. Clicking on the Johnson County shape takes you to where you can choose between Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty. Clicking on the name of the city will bring up a PDF that you can then see all of the roads in one view.

If you really wanted to see the whole thing on paper, you can print it on 25 different pages (Print –>Page Size/Handling–>Poster). Of if you are in the neighborhood of the Johnson County Administration Building during business hours, you can try to stop in to see if they have what you’re looking for. The Assessor’s Office should have a small map at the very least.

 

Support Your LIbrary

by on November 24th, 2014

It’s that time of year. Every day your mailboxes (physical and virtual) have new appeals for worthy causes, and the Library is asking for your support as well. If you haven’t seen the annual report of the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation, please look it over. The Library receives good tax funding, but the Foundation gifts allow us to move from great to fantastic which is what we want you to think your library is.

Last year Foundation gifts to the Library paid more than half the cost of our building renovations, purchased library materials for all ages, supported huge growth in our Summer Reading Program (allowing us to continue to provide books to participants — see p. 8 of the annual report for a heartwarming story), supported programs, and improved technology.

You can give online or by mail (make checks payable to the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation). You also support the Library through your purchases at the Arts & Crafts Bazaar (Saturday, December 6, 10-3) at special book sales (same day) or at The Book End.

At this time of year I am thankful for a great public library.  What would our community be without it?  Please consider a gift today.





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