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Iowa City Public Library celebrates Jackson Pollock

by on October 7th, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library will celebrate American painter Jackson Pollock with two events in October.

At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 15, the Library will screen “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?” in Meeting Room A.

“Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?” follows the story of Teri Horton, a 73-year-old woman from California, who spent $5 on a painting she discovered in a thrift shop, only to find out that it may be a Jackson Pollock painting. Horton had no idea who Jackson Pollock was; hence the name of the film.

Released in 2006, this documentary by veteran filmmaker Harry Moses exposes the controversy in the world of high priced artwork, painting a vivid picture of how art is bought and sold in America.

The screening is free and open to the public. Popcorn will be provided.mural

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, Yvonne Szafran, Senior Conservator and Head of Paintings Conservation at the J. Paul Getty Museum, will present a visual exploration of “Mural,” the University of Iowa’s landmark painting by Jackson Pollock. This presentation is part of The University of Iowa Museum of Art’s Smart Talk series.

“Mural” traveled to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles for two years of intensive analysis and treatment by scientists and conservators. Szafran’s presentation also will include a review of the painting’s creation and early history.

This event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Prairie Lights, and the Library.

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

Iowa City Public Library Channel Changing from 10 to 20

by on October 7th, 2014

Mediacom is in the process of converting local public access channels from analog to digital format. In addition to this, the Iowa City Public Library’s local access channel will move from Channel 10 to Channel 20. These changes will take place on Oct. 29.

Iowa City has six local access channels that will convert to digital-only format at the end of the month. However, The Library Channel is the only channel that also will change channel number.

The Library Channel originates from the Iowa City Public Library. Its primary mission is to extend Library programs for children and adults to a wider audience and to inform the community about Library services.

The Library Channel’s schedule focuses on Storytimes, Children’s Specials, and a variety of adult programs produced at the Iowa City Public Library. Other programming includes live coverage of meetings and events of local non-profit organizations taking place in the Library’s meeting rooms, or local programming provided by the City’s Cable Television Services office which may be of interest to the local community.

The switch from Channel 10 to Channel 20 only affects Mediacom subscribers. A digital converter is needed to view The Library Channel on Channel 20. Most newer televisions have a digital converter. If needed, customers may pick up a digital converter (DTA) device from Mediacom at 546 Southgate Avenue in Iowa City for use for one year at no charge. After that, subscribers will be charged $0.99 per month per unit. They may also call Mediacom at 1-844-274-6753 to arrange for a converter to be sent to their home. Customers may install the Mediacom converter box themselves or contact the company to schedule an installation at a cost of $49.99. Digital-to-analog converters are also available for purchase from local or online retailers.

Mediacom office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

The Library Channel is not available to satellite customers; however, programs may be streamed online at

For more information, call the Library at (319) 356-5200 or email

Don’t forget to order your Arts & Crafts Bazaar T-Shirt!

by on October 7th, 2014

Knitted scarves, recycled stationary, beaded jewelry, and other handmade treasures are appearing at the Library each day as we prepare for the Library’s 3rd annual Arts and Crafts Bazaar.C

If you want to show your creativity and support of the Library “on your sleeve,” purchase an Arts & Crafts Bazaar T-shirt!

You can pre-order your shirt by visiting and clicking on the pre-order button. These exclusive shirts feature an inspirational quote from Maya Angelou, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Shirts are available in charcoal-black tri-blend, women’s and unisex sizes XS through XXL. Each shirt is $16 and will be available for pick up at the Library on Saturday, December 6 during the Arts & Crafts Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All shirts must be picked up on this date, so stop by the Bazaar to do your holiday shopping for a great cause!

Proceeds from the sale support the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation to benefit Library programs and collections.

Why are books on a subject shelved in more than one place?

by on October 6th, 2014

While working at the Reference Desk last week, I got a question from a couple of young students.  More than anything I wanted to give a simple answer that would signal to them that the Library is easy to use.  But no such luck, because the question—Where are your books on prairie plants?—resulted in two places to look.

The Dewey Decimal Classification scheme, used in many public libraries, provides a framework for grouping materials together by subject.  More than 100 years old, the scheme has been resilient and adaptable.  But sometimes it conspires to keep similar things apart, if the approach to the subject matter differs.  I think the best illustration for this is the 500s and 600s.  The 500s are “Pure Science” and the 600s are “Technology,” sometimes referred to as “applied science”.

glareless13   Some examples:

The Dewey Decimal classification numbers in the 530s are about physics, with electricity at 537.   But if you are interested in wiring your house, you would look at applied physics in 621.31924.

In the 580s you find books about the natural history and identification of plants; and in the 600s, you find the books about gardening and cooking with plants.

In the classification number 590, you find books about animals—their history and biology.  But look in the 600s to find books about animals in  the subject areas of farming, cooking, and keeping animals as pets.

Doing a subject search in the catalog will help you identify all the places you can look for what you need.   If you do a subject search for “parrots”, the catalog will send you to 598.71 for “Parrots of the World:  An Identification Guide” and also to 636.6865 for books on training and caring for a pet parrot.  If you do a subject search for “prairie plants,” as I did for the students last week, the catalog will direct you to 581.744 for “An Illustrated Guide to Iowa Prairie Plants” and also to 635.95 for “A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction”.  glareless16

Browsing an area of the collection that you know is one way of finding what you need, but there may be similar items of interest in other areas.  We hope that you will check with staff at the Reference Desk whenever you have a question about where to find a subject that interests you.  Chances are there is more than one place to look, and we can help you find them all.

Lost and Found

by on October 6th, 2014

2014 10 lf resizedI often think someone could write a mystery book about a items left in the Library’s Lost and Found.  Maybe it could be an espionage story about a secret message on an item left at the Library or a heartwarming story about a child being reunited with a favorite stuffed animal.  Regardless, there are many interesting items in the Library’s Lost and Found that may be reclaimed at the Help Desk.

Staff at the Help Desk are the stewards of Lost and Found and can share many interesting stories about items left behind.  Today’s items feature one crutch, a cell phone, a wallet, miscellaneous IDs, a few umbrellas, some homework assignments, and a bag full of wet swimsuits and towels (must have been at the Rec Center pool before stopping at the Library).  A clue to that lost item:  “Anderson” is a monogrammed on the bag.

When we are able to identify the owner of an item (often through their Library Card account) we call or eMail to let the person know the item is at the Library.  Library Cards left at the Library are “stopped” and then mailed to the patron.  Stopped cards must be activated again via a call to the Library or visit to the Help Desk.

Unfortunately we can also tell stories about liquids oozing out of lunch boxes, mold growing in sippy cups, and other unsavory tales of woe.  Because of this, we have a new procedure to throw away anything that goes into the mouth (sippy cups, pacifiers), personal grooming items, and anything else that may illicit an “eeeewww” or strong gag reflex.

So you might ask, “What happens to all the unclaimed items?” Photo IDs and any items of value that have not been reclaimed after a period of time are sent to the Iowa City Police Department.  Clothing and other miscellaneous items are donated to Goodwill.  Papers are recycled and books are considered a donation to the Library.

If you are looking for a lost item that may have been left at the Library, please give us a call or stop by the Help Desk.  If you are curious about found items around the world, there are a number of webpages that catalog found items including Found magazine and (I should pass along a general disclaimer to the content of these two webpages.  They are not related to the Library and not guaranteed for all audiences. They are amusing though … )

Why do Library Cards expire?

by on October 3rd, 2014

The other day someone asked me what the oddest thing we found left in a book.  I couldn’t think of anything specific, but I do know we frequently have money, checks, photographs, and other items that are accidentally left in Library materials when they are returned.  When we find these items, we attempt to locate the owner.  Updated contact information helps us w2014 10 Library Cardith that.

According to the “Circulation and Library Card” policy, “Library cards expire regularly to confirm address and other contact information.”  We expire cards so that we may periodically check with patrons to assure we have updated information.  Many people are dropping their landlines so this gives us an opportunity to update to a new telephone number.  Also, if you’ve been in the area long, you might feel like half of the town moves on August 1 when leases typically expire.  Cards with apartment numbers expire annually in August so we can touch base with the patron and update an address when needed.

Beyond returning items left in books, we want to make sure Hold Notices are delivered (either via eMail, telephone notification, or U.S. Mail) or we can contact you if you accidentally forgot to return a disc or a puzzle piece that was part of a set.

We also often have keys turned into the Library that have a Library Card attached to the keychain.  Many patrons have breathed a huge sign of relief when the Library calls to tell them a good Samaritan returned their keys to the Library.

We also have contracts with vendors such as OverDrive (eBooks/eAudio) and Zinio (eMagazines) who stipulate we must limit access to people who live in our service area.  The Library’s service area is Iowa City, rural Johnson County, Hills, University Heights, and Lone Tree.  Basically this means that people who live in these areas directly support the Library through their property taxes (thank you!).  Keeping Library accounts updated assures we are meeting the contractual obligations with our vendors.

To help patrons understand why cards expire, we added information to the Library webpage.  If you are wondering what your account expiration date is, you may login to your account.  The date will be listed under your name in the upper left-hand corner.  You may also call us during regular Library hours at 319-356-5200.

If your card is expiring soon, please give us a call or stop by the Library’s Help Desk.  Hopefully you’ll never leave something in a book or lose your keys, but you never know …



Iowa City Public Library celebrates Teen Read Week™

by on October 3rd, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library will celebrate Teen Read Week Oct. 12-18 with special events and programs aimed at encouraging teens to read for fun.TRW image

Teen Read Week is a time to celebrate reading for fun while encouraging teens to take advantage of reading in all its forms — books, magazines, e-books, audiobooks and more. Thousands of libraries, schools and bookstores across the country will hold similar events centered on this year’s theme, Turn Dreams into Reality @ your library. ICPL has several events planned for the annual celebration.

  • Book Bingo: Pick up a Bingo card at the Library and, during the month of October, books that you read for school or leisure can count for a space. Once you complete a line, return to the card to the Koza Family Teen Center for a chance to win a gift certificate to Prairie Lights. Card must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2.
  • Book Spine Poetry: Join us in the Koza Family Teen Center from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, to make book spine poetry. We’ll take pictures of your creations and put them on display in the Teen Center.
  • Book and Comic Book Swap: Do you have a book sitting on your shelf that you’ll never read again? Bring it to our Book and Comic Book Swap from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, and trade with your fellow voracious readers. Hardbacks, paperbacks and comics will be accepted.

Teen Read Weekis a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association. It is held annually during the third week of October.

For more information about Teen Read Week, visit

For more information about the Iowa City Public Library’s Teen Read Week activities, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.

The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

by on October 2nd, 2014
The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell Cover Image

David Mitchell is my favorite writer and I was so excited for this book to arrive.  Like many of his earlier books (Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas) this is another novel broken up into novellas/chapters focusing on different characters that are interwoven to create a more nuanced tale. This changing point of view can be tricky because just as you find yourself settling in with a character it ends and you’re shuttled off a decade in the future and a different setting.  I thought it worked so well in Cloud Atlas, possibly because he brought us back to the characters through the second half of the book but probably more that it read like an audacious novel puzzle.  In The Bone Clocks I thought at least three of the stories either weren’t necessary or just lacked the payoff he meant them to have.

The story mostly follows a path around the life of Holly Sykes, beginning with her angsty teenage years living above a pub with her raucous family and ending in a all-too-believable post-climate change crash Ireland.  Her brother vanishes early-on and she finds out it is probably a supernatural kidnapping. She soon encounters various people that are sort of immortal, they are being reborn into new bodies but retain prior knowledge.  They are secretly battling another form of predatory immortals who have devised a way to harvest innocent souls in a special ancient church to grant extended life.

Despite my reservations about some of the chapters, Mitchell remains a master of language and character building.  There are many positive reviews out there for this novel (and a 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist nod) so it’s probably one to try if you’re a fan of Mitchell’s earlier books.  If you’re new to him, I would instead recommend the classic Cloud Atlas.

Bob Books are back!

by on October 1st, 2014


By popular demand, Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen and John R. Maslen are back on our shelves. I’m so thrilled these wonderful readers are available. They fit perfectly in a child’s hands, have brightly colored jackets, and have colored illustrations throughout which makes reading so much more fun for our youngest patrons!   images

I’m frequently asked by families and homeschoolers for early reader recommendations. We have a variety of readers marked with all reading levels, but levels on these books can be confusing. One publisher labels a book level 1; another publisher marks a similar book as level 2. Many early readers contain words that are too difficult for a child who has just learned the sounds of the alphabet. So many parents are looking for readers to help make this process simple, positive, and fun, which is why I recommend the Bob Books.

Parents, do you want to capture your child’s interest in reading? Do you want your child to feel confident reading? It’s so good to hear your child say, “I read the whole book all by myself!” The Bob Books series makes learning to read so simple. I think these are the “best learning to read on your own,” books.

30349The next time you visit the Children’s Room, look for fun Bob Books apps on our children’s ipads and AWE Early Literacy Station. This app makes Bob Books characters come alive!

ICPL announces October Classes for Adults

by on October 1st, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library wants to encourage creativity in the month of October. The computer classes offered in October will introduce patrons to free software and free online tools which can make creating a personalized card or editing a video easy and fun. Each class will last two hours, giving patrons time to ask questions and create on their own.

The Library will start things off with Beginning Graphic Design at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 4. Learn how to use GIMP, a free, graphic design and photo editing software, to make invitations, cards, or other graphics.

Want to enhance or correct your digital photos? Join us from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 13, for Digital Photo Editing. Find out how to make basic corrections like red-eye removal, cropping, and sharpening blurred images.

Digital Photos: Organizing, Sharing, and Basic Editing will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, October 24. Getting all of your digital photography organized and in print worthy condition can be pretty daunting. Bring in your digital photos and learn how to batch process and tag items to quickly and easily edit and organize your images.create_interface_image

Our digital devices make it easy to capture the great moments of our lives, but making keepsakes you can share with others out of these videos can be tricky. Bring in your digital video and learn to upload and use YouTube to safely edit and share your videos online. Join us from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 28 for Editing Digital Video.

All classes for adults are held in the Library’s Computer Lab on the second floor. Classes are free, but space is limited to 10 people per program, so patrons should register early. Visit to register online. You can also register by calling the Library at (319) 356-5200.