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Cleaning Out the TBR Pile

by on May 16th, 2017

I used to carry a notebook in my purse in which I’d jot down the names of the books I want to read someday. Happiness was drawing a line through one of the titles after I finished a book. That feeling of accomplishment is addictive.Book Diary Notes Leave Write Down Notebook

Unfortunately, the list got out of control, so I started a new notebook. While transferring the titles from the old to the new, I realized some were duplicates. Then there were books I thought sounded interesting a decade ago that didn’t anymore. My system wasn’t foolproof. It was one thing to write down the title of a book, but how many did I actually read?

(Not that many.)

I joined Goodreads a couple of years ago, but rarely used the “Want to Read” function. I already had an out of control TBR (To Be Read) pile. Why would I add to it? It turns out, that little button is a lifesaver for anyone who’s as obsessed with lists and order as I am. I transferred all the books listed in my notebook to the “Want to Read” shelf on my Goodreads account. It’s an insane number, but I no longer worry about duplicate titles. Also, when I’m browsing the Library’s shelves without a specific title in mind, the app reminds me of all my TBR  books.

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Read to Get Ready for STEAM Fest!: Picture Book Biographies of STEAM Pioneers

by on May 15th, 2017

There’s nothing I love more than a good picture book biography of a little-known historical figure; something that makes you let out a surprised “Huh!” when you turn the final page.

In honor of this week’s STEAM Festival for children (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) here are a handful of books on STEAM trailblazers that promise to fascinate the adult reading them aloud just as much as the child listening.

ThThumbnaile Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

When Paul Erdos was four years old, he liked to amuse strangers by asking them their age, then announcing how many seconds they’d been alive, after just a moment of mental calculation.  Paul grew up into a brilliant but eccentric mathematician – “he didn’t fit into the world in a regular way” and needed his mother and friends to see to his basic needs – who traveled the world working with other mathematicians, doing math up to nineteen hours a day, and coming up with new kinds of math.  Numbers are sprinkled throughout this simply-told, charming story.

Thumbnail Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone

Society tried to thwart her at every turn, but the first female doctor in America (she graduated from medical school in 1849), wouldn’t be dissuaded.  In a situation that seems laughable today but was all to real in our country’s history, all the other tenants in the building where she opened her first practice were so horrified that they immediately moved out.  Today, more than half of all U.S. medical school students are women, thanks to Elizabeth Blackwell.

Thumbnail Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wellmark

Who wouldn’t be fascinated by trying to wrap their mind around the leap from the first computer to the sophisticated, lightning-fast information machine that we all now carry around in our pocket?  Women have been instrumental in computer technology since its inception, starting with Ada Byron Lovelace.  This thinker, tinkerer, and girl fascinated by numbers went on to write the algorithm that allowed her colleague’s Thinking Machine to work – making her the world’s first computer programmer.

Thumbnail Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis

The Ferris wheel, that mainstay of summer amusement parks across America, got its start at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., a mechanical engineer, won a contest seeking a design more spectacular than the Eiffel Tower, which had wowed attendees at the previous World’s Fair.  The fair committee thought his design couldn’t possibly work and refused to give him the money to build it.  George, despite being laughed out of most banks, eventually secured a loan and paid for the wheel himself; he and wife took the first ride.  The story of this feat of engineering and nostalgic piece of Americana is depicted in illustrations washed in blue and purple that evoke twilight at a state fair, alongside text bursting with fascinating bits of detail.

Thumbnail Balloons Over Brodway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

The little boy who designed a rope-and-pulley system so he could feed the family’s chickens while lying in bed grew up to become the entirely self-taught “father of American puppetry,” the man behind those giant character balloons that millions of people watch on TV every Thanksgiving.  When Tony Sarg came to America, he designed mechanical marionettes for a Macy’s window display.  Later, Macy’s asked him to come up with something more spectacular for the parade than live animals, which were frightening the children – and Tony Sarg’s innovative balloons have risen on Thanksgiving Day every year since 1928.

After finding some inspiration in these books, come down to ICPL’s STEAM Festival and do some problem-solving and discovery of your own!  The STEAM Festival takes place on Friday, May 19 from 9:30-2:30 and Saturday, May 20 from 10-4.

Ride the Bus to the Library this Summer!

by on May 15th, 2017

The Summer 2013 Summer Library BusLibrary Bus program ROLLS OUT on Thursday June 1.

Ride the bus to the Library: An Iowa City Public Library card is a child’s ticket to ride an Iowa City Transit bus FREE this summer. The Library will provide free bus rides to children through 12th grade, and the adult caregivers who are with them, on any Iowa City Transit bus route, from the day after Iowa City Schools dismiss (Thursday June 1) until the day before school starts (Tuesday August 22), on weekdays between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.

Bus riders should show their Iowa City Public Library card to the bus driver to gain free access to the bus.

Riding home from Downtown: Year-round the Library will provide two FREE bus passes each week to people of all ages through our Ride and Read program. Just show your Library Card to any service desk at the Downtown Library and we’ll give you a pass for a ride home.

More information about riding the bus to the Library is available at this link: icpl.org/hours-location/ride/

Information about applying for a Library Card is available at: icpl.org/cards

Roll on down to the Library this summer on an Iowa City Transit Bus. We look forward to seeing you!

The Stranger in the Woods

by on May 12th, 2017

The stranger in the woods: the extraordinary story of the last true hermit is about a man named Christopher Knight who chose to live alone for twenty-seven years in the woods of Maine. His camp was isolated enough to go unnoticed but near enough to other cabins that he could steal what he needed to survive.sitw

There are so many fascinating parts to this story, but I don’t want to share too much because discovering the how and why of Knight’s life is largely what makes it worth reading. One thing: he claimed never to have built a fire. So surviving the winters wasn’t easy.

The book’s author, Michael Finkel, is such a compelling storyteller that he could write on almost any subject and I would read it. I read his True story: murder, memoir, mea culpa ten years or so ago. It’s about Finkel himself, a man accused of murdering his wife and children, and the two men’s relationship. I finished the book in the middle of the night after a couple hours of reading. I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror and staring at myself trying to get the horror out of my head…but you should read it!  ICPL no longer has a copy, so you’ll have to make an interlibrary loan request here.

Early in my reading of this book, I imagined Knight as a handsome idealist (like Emile Hirsch playing Christopher McCandless in Into the wild) following the road less traveled by. His project was awesome and noble and he was living true to himself. I’m not as introverted as Knight, so a month or two would do it for me, I thought. As I read on, I became more conflicted. What license does the inclination toward extreme introversion give a person? I’m not referring to his theft of nearby cabins, though that’s a worthy question. The burglarized cabins’ owners, by the way, ranged from being very sympathetic to Knight to feeling terrorized by him.

At what point does a natural inclination become pathological, and when is it appropriate for others to treat it that way? If Knight had secluded himself in an apartment in a city and had burglarized neighbors, would we see it differently?  Of course we would.  Though extreme solitude is suspect, it seems less so or not at all when it is directed at nature.

And what about his family? Knight had no contact with anyone and he never sought any. His parents and brothers had no idea where he was or if he was even alive. As a parent, I think of my own children and how difficult this would be. Your path is to live a life of solitude, you say? I will miss you, but it’s your life. You disappear and we never hear from you again? Well, that’s cruel. And yet, Knight’s family, like himself, is at the far end of the spectrum. They are inclined to be left alone.

We see a bit of Knight’s life in the book after his solitude is ended. He doesn’t die, but there is a death of a sort. I can’t imagine merely surviving and being in nature and that being enough. Then again, I can usually tolerate being around other people.

The Big Five

by on May 10th, 2017

You’ve heard of Deepak Chopra, I’m sure.  Being healthy, wealthy, and spiritual – he covers it all.  You could spend the next year of your life reading and listening to his work at ICPL.

Deepak’s brother, Sanjiv Chopra, is pretty special too.  Sanjiv is a professor at Harvard Medical School, and, like his brother, he’s authored many works.  Here are the two together in 1973.  Sanjiv is on the right.deepak-and-sanjiv

His latest is The big 5: five simple things you can do to live a longer, healthier life. I find it easy to overlook books like these. They’re everywhere you look, and what does any one have to offer that ten or a hundred others do not? Read the rest of this entry »

Iowa City Public Library Honors Volunteers

by on May 8th, 2017

The Iowa City Public Library recently honored its volunteers for their dedication and service.

Pictured are some of the individuals honored at the Iowa City Public Library’s Annual Volunteer Recognition Event. Back row, left to right: Susan Carroll, Nancy Howe, Joel Barnhart, JoAnn Koskey, Beth Stence, and Ann Valenta. Front row, left to right: William Kurth, Donna Davis, Susanne Humphreys, and Maria Padron.

Pictured are some of the individuals honored at the Iowa City Public Library’s Annual Volunteer Recognition Event. Back row, left to right: Susan Carroll, Nancy Howe, Joel Barnhart, JoAnn Koskey, Beth Stence, and Ann Valenta. Front row, left to right: William Kurth, Donna Davis, Susanne Humphreys, and Maria Padron.

During the 2016 calendar year, 301 volunteers provided more than 9,400 hours of service. Volunteer duties range from checking in books, materials maintenance, prepping supplies for events, helping plan teen programs, operating The Book End, and serving on the Board of Trustees and on the Friends Foundation Board of Directors.

On Wednesday, April 26, the Library said thank you with a reception and a ceremony during which 35 volunteers received recognition awards for achieving milestone hours of service.

Jean Whiting was named the Nancy Sereduck Volunteer of the Year.

A volunteer for more than 20 years, Jean has spent 2,000 hours checking in books at the library.  Jean faithfully works every Saturday and, regardless of the weather or number of books returned, Jean brings a ray of sunshine to the library’s Saturday mornings and keeps the flow of materials moving on busy weekends.

The Library congratulates Whiting on her achievement and thanks all volunteers for their service.

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ABC’s Saturday: Art, Books & Children 2017

by on May 4th, 2017

childrens-day-2On Saturday June 3rd, 10 am-3 pm, we are celebrating Art, Books and Children, or the ABC’s, during the Iowa Arts Festival!  Mark your calendars now for this annual event, formerly known as Children’s Day, produced by the Iowa City Public Library with Summer of the Arts. This is a great time to sign up for the ICPL’s summer reading program—Build a Better World. Learn about art, music, science and more with activity booths from local groups and enjoy a show on the Family Stage. With live performances, arts and crafts, fun activities, and Planting Day for ICPL’s Children’s Garden, there’s something for everyone! Read the rest of this entry »

STEAMfestival @ Iowa City Public Library May 20

by on May 4th, 2017

Its full steam ahead for the Iowa City Public Library’s first-ever STEAMfestival!steamfestival_0

Come to the Library on Saturday, May 20, anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for fun, adventures and activities that encompass all things STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.

Start your adventure at ICPL’s STEAM Engine. Our main floor meeting rooms will be transformed into a train transporting all curious passengers on an expedition of knowledge. Continue your journey outside to the Ped Mall and MERGE, where the National Center for Science Education Science Booster Club, the University of Iowa College of Engineering, Iowa City Parks and Recreation, Alliant Energy, MERGE, and the Grout Museum of History and Science will provide a variety of hands-on activities. Climate change, genetics, wind energy, pressurized rockets and coding are just a few of the topics you’ll explore.

Don’t forget to trek back to ICPL’s Storytime Room for Absolute Science with Rick Eugene Brammer at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. This fun and educational program encourages children of all ages to be engaged in the world of science through demonstrations and experiments, including Dry Ice Exploration and Fantastic Foam.

The STEAMfestival @ Iowa City Public Library is made possible with the generous support of the Community Foundation of Johnson County and the Bywater Family Endowment Fund, the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation, and the Rev. Dr. Barbara Schlachter Memorial Fund.

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

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? celebrates 50 years!

by on May 3rd, 2017

This week only, stop by the ICPL Chilimg_4509-1dren’s Department and bask in the rainbow glow of our homage to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, a children’s classic celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Eric Carle, already successful in the advertising industry, never planned a career in children’s books.  But Brown Bear‘s author, Bill Martin, Jr., spotted one of Carle’s advertisements featuring a red lobster in his distinctive collage style.  “The art was so striking,” said Martin, “that I knew instantly I had found the artist to illustrate my next book.”

After Brown Bear was published in 1967, Carle went on to write and illustrate over 70 more children’s books, many of which are similarly beloved by generations of readers.  Brown Bear has been translated into 31 languages and is a wonderful read-aloud for the very young, with its rhythmic text and bold animal illustrations.  (It was the first book I ever read aloud to my firstborn, when she was just four days old.)

If you want to chImage resulteck out the book, the library owns this beloved children’s favorite in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Braille, as well as a board book and “big book” format.  (Find it in the catalog.)  Once you’ve found your copy, you can also go on a scavenger hunt around the Children’s Department for all 11 hidden Brown Bear characters (get a special Eric Carle prize!) and make a Brown Bear stick puppet.

At toddler storytime on Tuesday, each child created one of these stick puppets.  The room was filled with a rainbow of horses, fish, frogs, cats, and birds!  We then told the Brown Bear story three ways simultaneously: with the book, with flannel board characters, and with puppets – children held up their animal when it appeared in the story.

Happily, this week is also Children’s Book Week, an annual celebration of books for kids and teens.  Children’s Book Week was launched in 1919 and is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.  So we expanded our celebration at storytime to include another Eric Carle favorite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which I told with puppets and giant story cards.  “I know this book!” one child excitedly whispered.

For more Brown Bear, check out the website of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for a video of Carle talking about Brown Bear, printable activity sheets, and a slideshow of fun facts about the book (a grey mouse and a pink elephant appear in the 1970 edition!).

 

 

Eat Out to Read Tonight at Short’s Burgers Eastside

by on May 3rd, 2017

Take a break and “Eat Out to Read” tonight at Short’s Burgers Eastside. The restaurant at 521 Westbury Dr in Iowa City will welcome you there or take your carryout order from 5-9:30pm. A percentage of the sales will be donated to the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation. Thank you!





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