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100 Years Since the War to End All Wars

by on July 31st, 2014

I confess: One of my favorite things to do in the evening is to prepare dinner while listening to NPR and drinking wine (wild life of the librarian, I know). On Monday, I had the pleasure of hearing Tom Ashbrook’s On Point coverage of the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI.

I select books for the American History section of ICPL’s collection, and Ashbrook’s guests reflect some of the great research being published today about WWI. I’m happy to share that we have these new books in the collection. Check them out:

 

The_War_That_Ended_Peace_EditorCopy_EditMargaret MacMillan’s The war that ended peace : the road to 1914

Presents a narrative portrait of Europe in the years leading up to World War I that illuminates the political, cultural, and economic factors and contributing personalities that shaped major events. Read the rest of this entry »

Entries Sought for ICPL’s 2014 Art Purchase Prize

by on July 31st, 2014

The Iowa City Public Library will begin accepting artwork for the 2014 Art Purchase Prize, with winning pieces added to the Art-To-Go collection, on Sept. 1.

The competition is open to artists over the age 18 who live/work/exhibit in the Iowa City or Johnson County area, and have participated in at least one juried or judged contest or exhibit. Previous winners who have had two or more works purchased by the Library are ineligible for entry. Previous winners who have had one work purchased must sit out for two consecutive contests before entering again.

Artists may enter two artworks. Any two-dimensional or low-relief media are acceptable, including: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, collage, paper/textile and mixed media.

Artworks must have been created within the last three years. Only original art will be accepted.

Finished artwork must be at least 12 x 12 and no larger than 36 x 36. Works chosen for final judging should be matted and/or mounted as needed to create a finished piece. Archival or museum-quality materials must be used for printing, mounting and matting. Works must be suitable for framing and covering with Plexiglas.

The Library takes responsibility for framing works chosen for purchase.

To enter, artists should submit a digital image representation of their original work(s), and those should be in .jpeg format, with a minimum resolution of 72 dpi and a minimum size of 1024 x 768 pixels.

Entries can be emailed to csmith@icpl.org, or mailed on disc to Candice Smith at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Iowa City, IA 52240. Entries must include the artist’s name, address, phone number and email, and the following for each artwork: Title, Medium, Size/Matted Size (if appropriate), and Price.

Artwork should be priced under $400.

Entries will be accepted from Sept. 1 through Oct. 3. The first round of judging will begin on Oct. 7, with the final round of judging on Oct. 14.

For more information, visit http://www.icpl.org/art/prize/ or contact Candice Smith (319-887-6031; Candice-Smith@icpl.org).

Teen Lock-In Finale Party!

by on July 30th, 2014

divergent-tris-shailene-woodley-wallpaper-1440x900

The end of the Summer Reading Program is near, and that means it’s almost time for our Teen Lock-In Finale Party!  This Friday, August 1st, from 8-10:30ish, you can hang out in the Teen Center with your friends while the Library is closed.  How cool is that?  We’re going to watch Divergent, eat pizza and play video games.  Ok, so it’s not an actual lock-in because we don’t spend the night.  But who wants to sleep on the floor?  Not me.  Let’s all go home to our beds.  Cool?  Cool.  Be in Meeting Room A by 8:30 to get locked-in.

Changing Collections

by on July 30th, 2014
The Jennie Brubaker Music Room      at the Iowa City Public Library.

The Jennie Brubaker Music Room at the Iowa City Public Library.

Every year I look at the end of the year (fiscal year ends June 30) circulation reports with a lot of interest. I am always intrigued by what’s “hot” and what’s not. Tastes change, availability changes and how people use collections reflects those changes.

An interesting case is that of music. Funded by a $14,000 bequest, the Library opened a state of the art music room in 1950. People could select an LP record and take it to the staff who would put it on the Magnavox Windsor Imperial record player – no individual listening stations, everyone in the room heard your selection.

The music room closed in 1961 “due to an increase in the number of home phonographs and the drop in the price of hi-fi sets and LP phonograph records,” so the library was loaning records instead of providing in-house listening. In the early 1990s, LP records were replaced as the preferred format by compact discs. In recent years, the compact disc is losing out to electronic formats and the Library is restricted from sharing many of the most popular recordings with library users.

We have noticed a large increase of music CD donations as people building their online collections donate their physical ones. Our Local Music Project is one way we can share music in new formats and we are investigating others, but the era when recorded music exists as a physical thing may be ending. Still, the music compact disc collection remains a steady source of entertainment to many.

Magazines are another area where formats have changed significantly in recent years. We circulated just over 22,000 magazines last year, almost evenly divided between print and downloads. Five years ago we checked out 16,000 magazines, all print. Overall, our magazine collection is geared more to popular interests than research oriented. The research material is now available on the internet.

One area of increase, as expected, was downloads of electronic books which grew by 22 percent in the last year. At 46,964 our circulation of electronic books is still dwarfed by our physical book circulation of 763,328.

A community survey completed in FY14 shows that people still rely heavily on the Library for materials in all formats – 76.7 percent of all those surveyed said they checked out materials during their last visit. The same survey revealed that, on average, Iowa Citians read twice as many books (24) per person in a year than the average for the country as a whole. That kind of readership keeps our collection fresh as we do our best to keep up with the changing interests.

Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation Arts & Crafts Bazaar Call for Donations

by on July 28th, 2014

Plans are underway for the Third Annual Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation Arts & Crafts Bazaar and we need your help.C

This year’s bazaar will be held on Saturday, Dec. 6, and the Library is seeking donations. Items should be new, handmade arts and crafts that are easily moved and transported by volunteers.

Popular items at previous bazaars included knitted or crocheted hats, scarves, and blankets, greeting and post cards with an Iowa or Iowa City theme, ornaments, jewelry, ceramic bowls and mugs, small quilts and wall hangings, children’s toys and baby items.

Donations may be dropped off at the Library, 123 S. Linn St, beginning Sept. 2. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 4.

For more information, and a donor form, visit https://www.icpl.org/artsandcrafts or call (319) 356-5200.

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

The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones

by on July 28th, 2014
The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones Cover Image

I have been looking forward to reading this latest and perhaps last tale from the late and fantastic, Diana Wynne Jones, ever since it was announced. Finished by her sister Ursula, The Islands of Chaldea is a fitting bookend to such a long and varied career. The story begins as Aileen, a young magic user in training, discovers that she doesn’t seem to be all that magical. Devastating news for a girl from a long line of powerfully magical Wise Women of Skarr. Aileen is not given any time to dwell on this as she and her no-nonsense Aunt Beck are sent on a quest by the king of their stony grey island. Their quest is in response to a prophecy, that only a Wise Woman and a man from each of the four Islands of Chaldea will be able to remove the barrier that separates them and reunite them as one kingdom. At the end of the last battle between the islands, Logra was magically sealed off from Skarr, Bernica, Gallis, with the barrier in place for most of Aileen’s life. They set off accompanied by Ivar, an arrogant prince of Skarr, and Ogo, a Logran abandoned during the war.

After an eventful start involving poisoned clothes and a sometimes invisible cat, the companions arrive on Bernica. As they wander through rolling green hills, a traveling monk joins them, bringing with him a bird who may tell the future. After Aunt Beck runs afoul of a queen and her donkeys, Aileen begins to come into her own as a leader. She gets them all safely to Gallis, where spells are sung and a religious order reigns supreme. Here they find the relatives of Aileen’s long lost father, who offer them a way over the barrier to Logra, via hot air balloon. Together with her newly discovered cousin and his size changing dragon, they make it over the barrier only to crash land and be taken prisoner. In the capital, the companions find that the poor Lograns have blamed the barrier on the other three islands, and hope for its removal as much as the rest of Chaldea. Who then put up the barrier in the first place? As a decades long conspiracy begins to unravel, Aileen must become the Wise Woman she was meant to be and bring together the four magical guardian animals of Chaldea to overcome the great evil intent on keeping the islands apart.

A great read for fantasy fans, The Islands of Chaldea is a fantastic coming of age adventure, full of the magical comedy Diana Wynne Jones was best known for.

The Story of a Crime

by on July 24th, 2014
The Story of a Crime Cover Image

Many of you are fans of Scandinavian crime fiction such as Mankell’s Wallander, Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole and the girl with the dragon tattoo.  But if you haven’t discovered Martin Beck, it’s time.  There is a series of ten crime fiction written in the 60′s and early 70′s by a team of writers named Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö that are arguably the origin of modern police procedurals.  The side stories for the characters evolve over time, so it is best to read these in order. The books are well written and have a certain melancholy timbre that a lot of these Scandinavian crime stories seem to have.  They also have their own sense of time.  The stories will slow down to a crawl and you feel the long agonizing wait for some clue to surface.  Taking place in the 60′s, there is a Madmen-esque nature to the scenes as well.  LOTS of suits and smoking.  And being written in the 60′s, there is also an interesting leftist political thread that runs through the novels.  If you don’t happen to be a Marxist, that’s OK, the politics don’t get in the way of the stories.

The story behind the series is also intriguing.  [See this Guardian Article].   Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö were lovers and formed a family though they never married.  They planned and wrote all the stories together. They would trade chapters or sometimes take different characters. There were ten books over ten years, each book having thirty chapters.  They envisioned the ten novels as a cohesive set that together would tell the story of a larger crime: the decay of Swedish society.  The end of the series also coincided with the end of their relationship.  Per Wahlöö became terminally ill and died before the final book was published.

ICPL has the entire series in print, ebook and e-audio.

Help Yourself

by on July 24th, 2014

The thought of reading self-help books makes me uncomfortable.  I imagine sitting down in an office with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer (both of whom I’m sure are wonderful people) and having this feeling that something really bad is about to happen and that it’s going to involve their teeth. However, when I speak to people I trust who’ve read self-help books, it sounds like I’m missing out.

ScottAdamsSo I read one. How to fail at almost everything and still win big by Scott Adams. He’s best known for being the Dilbert creator. Adams is funny and values simplicity a great deal. Throughout the book, he reminds the reader to be skeptical of the wisdom he’s imparting; he’s a cartoonist, not a guru.

Here are some of the topics he covers: why systems are better than goals; your programmable mind; the importance of tracking your personal energy; and doing sleep, fitness, and diet right (avoid relying on willpower).

Adams also writes quite a bit about his own life. He’s self-deprecating and owns up to his mistakes. “Some of My Many Failures in Summary Form” is the title of Chapter Four.

A revelation for me was in a section entitled Simplifiers Versus Optimizers. He makes the “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” argument in a way that validates the worthiness of simplifiers in a world that tends to appreciate optimizers. This section alone makes the book worth reading.

You’ll find most self-help books in the 158.1 area. This one, both memoir and self-help, is in with the biographical works about cartoonists and graphic artists at 741.5092.

And the Dark Sacred Night

by on July 23rd, 2014
And the Dark Sacred Night Cover Image

Ten years ago I fell in love with Julia Glass’ writing. It was a rainy day and I was in Positano, Italy, looking out over the aquamarine Mediterranean and delighted to have survived a white-knuckle drive along the Amalfi Coast. I curled up with Three Junes, a book I’d been meaning to read for a long time, and fell in love with the writing. Most notably I was pulled into the stories, loved the characters, and grieved for the one of the main characters, Malachy Burns (who was dying of AIDS) and his beloved friend, Fenno McLeod (who lovingly cared for him). I look forward to each new Julia Glass book and enjoy her storytelling and how she weaves stories, characters, and places together.  It’s like canoeing down a meandering stream, encountering interesting people along the way, and enjoying the journey as much as the moment.

I was delighted when Malachy and Fenno popped up in Glass’ new book, And the Dark Sacred Night.  Once again readers are taken on a journey and details are not shared until Glass is ready to share them. The book begins with the main protagonist, Kit Noonan, and a view into his stalled life. Kit is an unemployed art professor who is struggling in his roles as husband, father, and (not by choice) person designated to manage his household. When it’s obvious he must be jarred from his rut, his wife’s wish for a separation serves as the catalyst to send him on a journey of personal discovery.  The journey begins in Vermont at the home of Kit’s Stepfather.  From there readers are propelled through time and memories in a story woven together in classic Julia Glass style. I was sad when the story ended, but enjoyed the journey and always appreciate a great story!

Take the 5-in-10 Challenge!

by on July 22nd, 2014

Think you can’t read 5 books in 10 days? If more than 2.7 million people can attempt the 30-day Ab Challenge, then a goal that only challenges you to find leisure time rather than workout time should be no sweat.

ICPL’s Adult Summer Reading Program asks you to either read 5 books between June and August or read 3 books and attend 2 SRP events. Why take this challenge? Not only can you meet the first SRP goal and get a free book and lunch on us, you can experience books you never would have thought to read otherwise. And you can mix and match!

Find the 5-in-10 crib sheet that follows. The idea is that you books in each category shouldn’t take you longer than a day or two to read. These books are also easy to pick up and jump right in whenever, so if you have downtime with coffee in the morning, or a 10-minute bus ride home, you can squeeze some reading time in. Read the rest of this entry »