Come Explore Our Library! Tool Library!!

Did you know that we have a Tool Library?? We are one of the few academic libraries in the country that have one!  There are hand tools, measuring tools, LabQuest, technology tools AND a MaKey MaKey! All available to for you to check out!  Check our Circulation Policy for complete details and information.

11 Piece Computer Toolkit

11 Piece Computer Toolkit

Tired of digging around trying to find just the right tool to separate those little plastic pieces while working on your computer? We’ve got an 11-piece computer tool kit – complete with scissor clamp tweezers and 2 nylon spludgers! Looking for just the right size Hex Key while you are putting together your new furniture? We have both an SAE set and two metric sets. We have pliers, a socket set (standard and metric), wrenches and screwdrivers, including a screwdriver set specifically for video games! Be sure to check our hand tool section!

Or maybe you want to find out how much it is going to cost to run your refrigerator, sound system, television, gaming console and computer all at the same time? We have a power monitor that can show you the operating costs of household appliances. Need to measure your room to see if that new couch will fit? Check out our Laser Distance Measurer. It has a 100′ range and has +/- 3/22″ accuracy. We have a number of measuring tools – light meters, sound meters, infrared thermometers, Each tool has a link to a pdf file of the user manuals.

LabQuest 2 available in our Tool Library

LabQuest 2 available in our Tool Library

We have the LabQuest 2 complete with the tools needed to use it. The LabQuest Force Plate will measure the forces that are developed with stepping, jumping and other human-scale actions; the EKG sensor will measure the electrical waveforms produced during the contraction of the muscle – helping you determine the axis of the heart, and investigate the effect of the central nervous system has on reflex amplitude.  Check out all the LabQuest tools we have available. Each tool also has the user manual in pdf form and is available from the link.

We have Raspberry Pi 2 in our technology tool section! A credit-card sized computer created for learning and experimentation! Check out our August 28th blog specifically on Raspberry Pi!

MaKey MaKey Kit Engineering Tool Library Technology Tools

MaKey MaKey Kit
Engineering Tool Library Technology Tools


We have another great way to experiment and interact with your computer – MaKey MaKey! You plug it into your computer and you can use everyday conductive objects as new inputs to perform actions! Want a banana piano? You can make one with MaKey MaKey! Or you can draw a joystick and use it to play video games. You can even learn how to send an email using alphabet soup…


The Tool Library is made possible through donations from Geb Thomas, the Engineering Electronic Shop and Engineering Computer Services. Be sure to tell them “Thank You!” – we really appreciate their help in making our Tool Library one of the best! We are frequently adding new tools, so be sure to check out the webpage regularly!

Come and explore our library and investigate our Tool Library!



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Learn how to search for genetic information on NCBI at our free workshops this Fall

Overwhelmed by the number of databases that the National Center for Biotechnology Information has to offer on nucleotide sequences, genes and proteins?

Wondering which database you should always start with?

Would you like to learn how to set up an NCBI account to link articles in PubMed to records in other databases?

Do you know about PubMed’s Gene Sensor? Are you familiar with the concept of linear navigation? Learn all of these tips and more in this session that is designed for anyone who needs to search the NCBI databases for genetic information.

Our sessions this Fall

Tuesday, September 1st, 3:00 – 4:00pm (Location: East Information Commons)
Tuesday, October 13th, 9:00 – 10:00am (Location: East Information Commons)
Tursday, November 5th, 10:00 – 11:00am (Location: West Information Commons)

Register online for this or any of our other free workshops.
If these times don’t work for you, you can request a personal session.

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News from Special Collections 8/28/2015

Staff Changes:

1. Saying Farewell to Olson Graduate Assistant Jillian Sparks

JillianJillian Sparks will complete her two years as Olson Graduate Assistant here in Special Collections this week. The Olson GA’s participate in the department as junior staff for twenty hours a week; working at the reference desk and answering email reference questions, teaching classes, planning events, writing about collection items for social media, and assisting with a myriad of other duties that come up in day to day life here in Special Collections. Above and beyond those duties Jillian worked on a project adding copy specific notes about types of bindings, marginalia, and provenance information to our catalog records for the earliest English language books in the collection and prepared an exhibition about her work that can still be seen in the cases outside Special Collection on the 3rd floor of the Main Library, or online here. Jillian recently completed her Masters of Library Science here at the University of Iowa along with a certificate in book studies from The Center for the Book, and is seeking employment in the field. Her contributions to this department over the past two years cannot be measured. It was an honor and a privilege to work with such a talented librarian.

Upcoming Events:

1. Special Guest Lecture, Alison Altstatt, University of Northern Iowa

Vellum leaf of a medieval music manuscript

“Re-membering the Wilton Processional: a Manuscript Lost and Found”

Friday, September 4, 2015


Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA

This talk concerns a notated leaf of an English medieval manuscript held in the Special Collections of the University of Iowa Libraries. Musical, textual and codicological evidence supports the identification of the leaf as a fragment of a processional from Wilton Abbey, an important center for women’s Latin learning from its tenth-century foundation to its sixteenth-century dissolution. The recovery of the University of Iowa leaf, along with more than thirty others, provides a window into the abbey’s musico-poetic tradition, its processional liturgies, and its dramatic rituals.

2. Iowa Bibliophiles First Meeting for 2015-2016, Wednesday September 9th

calligraphyThe first Iowa Bibliophiles meeting of the 2015-2016 season will feature University of Iowa Center for the Book calligraphy instructor Cheryl Jacobsen speaking about calligraphic hands featured in Medieval manuscripts held in Special Collections.

6:00PM – Stop by to view a repeat showing of the livestream video of Alison Altstatt’s September 4th talk

6:30PM – Refreshments served

7PM – Cheryl Jacobsen’s talk

Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.

Recently on the Web and Social Media:

1. Olson Graduate Assistant Kelly Grogg’s IFLA Conference Report

Image of Kelly GroggAs we reported earlier this month, Kelly Grogg recently received a scholarship and attended the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in Capetown, South Africa. She wrote a blog post, “IFLA: Putting Action into the Philosophy of Libraries.”



2. Jillian Sparks’ Last Social Media Post

Close of of the gold decoration on the spine of a bookJillian wrote a farewell Tumblr post about the History of Hydraulics collection that you can see here.  You can also view all of the posts she made for our Tumblr in her time in Special Collections here.




3. U. Iowa Curriculum Featuring Special Collections Materials Featured in “In the Library with the Lead Pipe” Article

Image of Tom KeeganArchives Alive!: librarian-faculty collaboration and an alternative to the five-page paper

Tom Keegan, Head of the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio in the UI Libraries, and former Undergraduate Services Librarian Kelly McElroy published an article about Archives Alive!, the primary source based curriculum for the Rhetoric Department that has students transcribing, analyzing, and interpreting historic documents from Special Collections in DIY History, the University of Iowa Libraries volunteer-based document transcription site. The curriculum was originally developed in partnership with a campus curriculum development project, Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning (IDEAL).

4. “Weekly Squint” On Tumblr

Several  libraries on Tumblr this week featured a “Weekly Squint” which includes a close up view of a collection item. The Huntington Library Tumblr began the “Weekly Squint” feature on Tumblr and invited other libraries and institutions to participate. Our post was a close up view of the Columbian Press in the 3rd Floor hallway.

Close up view of the gears of a hand press Full view of the Columbian hand press

New Acquisitions:

1. Early 20th Century Astronomy Slides

With the July 14 New Horizons flyby of Pluto, there has been a surge of interest in astronomy. A recent acquisition by the Special Collections department shows that interest in the heavens has been with us for a long time.

These slides were used by Bishop Simeon Arthur Huston (1876-1963), Bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Olympia, WA from 1925 to 1947. He had a life-long love of astronomy and after his retirement, he wrote a regular astronomy column in his local newspaper on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He gave frequent talks on astronomy, using these slides to illustrate his talks. There are approximately 50 slides in the collection.

These slides were generously donated by Simeon Huston’s grandchildren Matt Huston, John Huston, Jr., and Elisabeth LeLion.

Slide showing Mars Slide showing the moon Slide showing the two dippers

2. The Gazetteer

The Map Collection’s merge with Special Collections in 2013 has resulted in a heavier focus on the history of cartography. Although Labbé didn’t advertise this work as a gazetteer, it is one of the earliest works on place names in France. Nicolas Sanson, a famous cartographer, heavily criticized the book for plagiarism; perhaps that explains why this was the only edition!

Phillipe Labbé. Pharus Galliæ antiquæ. Moulins, 1644.

The Gazetteer book binding The Gazetteer book inside text The Gazetter book title page

News and Announcements:

1. Iowa State Fair Recipe Contest

Special Collections and the Old Capitol Museum co-sponsored a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair.

The following is a quote from the results page from the Iowa State Fair Website:

Contestants in the Szathmary Collection of Historic Recipes competition, judged Tuesday at the 2015 Iowa State Fair, were part cook, part historian and part detective. Entrants were challenged to interpret a recipe from 1874, maintaining the original recipe’s integrity, while filling in the gaps and adapting to modern measurements, equipment and ingredients

Celeste F. Bremer of Urbandale won first place. Natalie Ridgway of Johnston earned second place and Lindsey Pepper of Boone claimed third place.

The recipe for Sponge Pudding from from Emily Netuzed’s handwritten cookbook from 1874 reads as follows:

Handwritten Recipe image

See this item, MsC 533, EN32,  in the Iowa Digital Library:

“Put two eggs into the scale, then take their weight in flour, butter and lump sugar; first beat the butter in to a cream, powder the sugar and mix with it, beat in the eggs and lastly the flour, butter some little moulds and take ½ an hour in rather a quick oven.”

The Iowa State Fair Food Department is the largest of any state fair in the country. There are 228 divisions, 850 classes and over 10,600 entries at this year’s Fair. Food Department judging is held in the Elwell Family Food Center sponsored by Wells Blue Bunny.

The judges for the contest were members of the “Historic Foodies” group in Iowa City.

Congratulations to all the winners!

2. A Final Reminder to Sign Up for Fall Semester Class Sessions or Group Visits

Students looking at materials in a Special Collections classSpecial Collections and University Archives already has 40 professors scheduling classes with us this fall. You should bring your students too! We have a staff of librarians with expertise in areas ranging from medieval manuscripts to science fiction, all available to help design curricula to complement your learning objectives. Submit your request here to learn more:


Coming Soon: Mark Your Calendars

1. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art ExhibitionBrave New World: Selections from the Hevelin Collection

October 2, 2015 – January 17, 2016

1930's Science Fiction FanzinesThe James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Collection encompasses more than 10,000 science fiction “fanzines” – amateur publications produced by enthusiastic supporters of the science fiction genre for others who shared their interests – housed in Special Collections & University Archives at The University of Iowa Libraries.  Initially written for a limited audience and distributed via subscription and personal connections, fanzines include stories from some of America’s most famous authors: Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and, more recently, George R. R. Martin.  Hevelin collected fanzines from his childhood in the 1930s until his death in 2011, and this exhibition focuses on those collected from the 1930s to 1950s, showcasing the development and golden age of America’s fascination with science fiction.  The dynamic cover illustrations, many depicting varieties of space crafts, astronauts, and life on other planets are especially remarkable when one remembers that the artists were depicting technologies and worlds that man was only beginning to imagine.  Other illustrations portray scenes that would become tropes of the science fiction genre, such as a woman in distress or a hero battling a monster.  These selections from the Hevelin collection, created and distributed by non-professional fans of the nascent sci-fi genre, demonstrate the importance of fan involvement to drive the genre forward.


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DIY for the Weekend – Raspberry Pi

Classes have started and you need a project to take your mind off all that homework you already have…. Try Raspberry Pi – it is more than just a yummy dessert!

It’s a small computer – credit-card sized – that is inexpensive and was designed with hacking and computer experimentation in mind.  The introduction to Raspberry Pi Projects by Andrew Robinson and Mike Cook, likens learning to use computers with learning to cook – everyone should have those basic skills. That doesn’t mean that everyone will become professional chefs or computer programmers, but it is good to know those basics. Eben Upton developed Raspberry Pi while working with computer science students at Cambridge University. He found that students weren’t “tinkering” with their computers. So he developed an inexpensive – around $25 – computer that is designed to be hacked and used for experimentation. Raspberry Pi is a great way to learn the basics of Linux or Python programming, and electronics.

Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2

Want to geocache from the comfort of your car? You can do that with Raspberry Pi! Maybe the only kind of pet you are allowed to have in your dorm or apartment is fish. Trying to maintain the proper water temperature can be tricky.  So, make a smart, communicative thermometer to let you know when the water in your fish tank fluctuates to a dangerous degree.  You can do it using Raspberry Pi. Or how about making a lamp that creates mood lighting, but can also check your Twitter messages? You can, with Raspberry Pi.

We have resources to help you get started with your Raspberry Pi experimentation. For the reader who has never used it before, Raspberry Pi from the “Teach Yourself Visually” is available. For those ready for a more in-depth manual, check out Mastering the Raspberry Pi.  We have books with Raspberry Pi projects and hacks that will walk you through working with both software and hardware, from games like Minecraft to controlling a LEGO robot to creating a one person band.

Piqued your interest? Want to try your hand at using a Raspberry Pi? We have one in the Tool Library!  We also have many other tools to help you as you tinker and explore. The lamp that creates mood lighting and checks your Twitter account calls for a multimeter – we have that in the Tool Library, too.  Incidentally, the mood-lighting-Twitter-checking lamp is called a “Giraffe Mood Lamp” in Make: raspberry Pi and AVR projects. You’ll have to check it out to find out why! Don’t have a Twitter account yet? We have Twitter for Dummies.

We have what you need to get started with Raspberry Pi – and it could be just the project you need for this weekend!


Hoile, Cefn. 2014. Make: Raspberry Pi and AVR projects. Sebastopol, CA : Maker Media, Inc. Engineering Library QA76.8 .R15 H65 2015

Suehle, Ruth. 2014. Raspberry Pi hacks. Sebastopol, CA : O’Reilly Media. Engineering Library QA76.8 .R15 S84 2014

Wentk, Richard. 2014. Raspberry Pi (Teach yourself visually). Indianapolis, IN : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Engineering Library AQ76.8 .R15 W46 2014

Robinson, Andrew. 2014. Raspberry Pi projects. Chichester, West Sussex : Wiley. Engineering Library QA76.8 .R15 R53 2014

Gay, Warren. 2014. Mastering the Raspberry Pi. Berkeley, CA : Apress. Engineering LIbrary QA76.8 .R15 G39 2014

Raspberry Pi 2. Lichtenberger Engineering Library Tool Library

Multimeter (Voltmeter). Lictenberger Engineering Library Tool Library.


Other Resources:

Raspberry Pi official website

Raspberry Pi 2: Six things you can (and can’t) do. February 11, 2015.  Information Week.

Build a Raspberry Pi powered joke machineMaker Media. Date Accessed: August 25, 2015

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Come Explore Our Library! Subject Guides

Are you looking for resources pertinent to your Engineering major? Check out all the subject guides we have available right from our webpage. We have lots of information and links and multiple ways to search for that information. The “Subject Guides” tab will take you to a number of helpful links and information. What you need to know is all located in one convenient place. The A to Z links above the Subject Guide tab will take you to links for library-wide scholarly journals, magazines, and databases.


As you begin to look ahead and plan your research for the semester we can help from the beginning to the end. Whether you are studying Biomedical Engineering or Mechanical and Industrial Engineering – you can start your research by searching Compendex. It is the most comprehensive bibliographic database of scientific and technical engineering research available, and it covers all engineering disciplines. It includes millions of bibliographic citations and abstracts from thousands of engineering journals and conference proceedings. When combined with the Engineering Index Backfile (1884 – 1969), Compendex covers 120 years of core engineering literature. An Xpress class on Compendex will be held on November 19th from 2:30 t0 3:00 in the Engineering Library Multipurpose room.

We also have a subject guide on Standards which what a standard is and where to find detailed information about them. There are also links to websites where you can begin your search. There is even a section on how to cite standards in your paper. The Standards Xpress class will be held on October 8th. Our Patent subject guide explains everything from what a patent is, what can be patented and what you need to know for a patent application. There is also detailed information on how and where to search and how to cite patents.

Wondering about product liability, but have no idea were to even begin looking? We can help with that, too! Our Product Liability subject guide will help you find out about laws and regulations, find links to useful blogs, and find out what books we have here in our own library. A few of the other subject guides cover Engineering Ethics, ADA and Universal Design, and a Citation Guide.

Be sure to check out the Xpress classes that we offer. Each class provides valuable information about the resources that are available to you. Librarians will introduce you to the tools and provide you with a basic understanding of how they may be used. The instructors are more than willing to talk with you personally, answer your questions and help you find the resources that will be most helpful to you.

Prepare yourself for this semester’s projects – explore our website and check out all the information that is available in the subject guides!!


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A Farewell Blog from Emily, our High School Intern

This week I’m finishing up my summer internship at Special Collections. I’ve had so much fun here this past month and no two days have been exactly the same. I’ve done all sorts of things, from helping with reference questions and pulling materials, to listening to Oral History interviews and exploring the collections. One of my favorite things I had the opportunity to do was create a series of Tumblr posts featuring postcards from the World’s Fair Collection. I even got to create a display for the display case in the reading room with the postcards from my posts.

Another thing that I really enjoyed was getting to meet with all the people in the department individually. Through these meetings I learned so much about what each person does and how they got here. I loved hearing everyone’s stories and I have a much greater appreciation for all the work everyone does here.

I also had the opportunity to pull items for the upcoming comics program for the Iowa City Public Library summer reading program. The nerd in me loved going through the boxes of old comics to help chose what to show at the event, (I especially loved the Dazzler comics). Everyone here must have really strong arm muscles though, because some of those boxes are very heavy.

This internship has given me a greater appreciation of all the work that goes on behind the scenes, that most people never see, and all the amazing people that work here. I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity and I’m going to miss coming in every morning. Have a wonderful summer everyone.


We certainly enjoyed having Emily with us this summer, and we miss her already!  If you’d like to check out Emily’s wonderful tumblr series, follow this link!

News from Special Collections 8/21/2015

News and Announcements:


1. Plat Books

Photo of a stack of plat booksThe Map Collection sent out a call to the Auditors of Iowa Counties for current plat books to update our collection. So far, over 40 counties (of 99) have donated current and back issues of plat books for our collection!  Thanks Iowa!

Plat books are atlases, drawn to scale, that show property ownership and land divisions.


2. Special Guest Lecture, Alison Altstatt, University of Northern Iowa

“Re-membering the Wilton Processional: a Manuscript Lost and Found”

Vellum leaf of a medieval music manuscript

September 4, 2015


Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA

This talk concerns a notated leaf of an English medieval manuscript held in the Special Collections of the University of Iowa Libraries. Musical, textual and codicological evidence supports the identification of the leaf as a fragment of a processional from Wilton Abbey, an important center for women’s Latin learning from its tenth-century foundation to its sixteenth-century dissolution. The recovery of the University of Iowa leaf, along with more than thirty others, provides a window into the abbey’s musico-poetic tradition, its processional liturgies, and its dramatic rituals.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.

3. World Con

U.I. Libraries Table display in the dealer's room at the World Con Science Fiction ConventionThe World Science Fiction Convention is going on this week in Spokane, Washington and Special Collections has a table in the dealer’s room to talk to the fans about our Hevelin Collection fanzine digitization project.

Want to stay up to date on our project digitizing 1930s-1950s fanzines?  Follow the Hevelin Collection Tumblr or read our FAQ page.


4. State Fair Continues

Image of the mobile museum and the world war 2 exhibitOver 5,000 people have already checked out the Over Here From Over There: Iowans in World War II exhibit in the Mobile Museum at the State Fair as of Wednesday. The fair continues through Sunday, August 23rd so check out the exhibition if you head out to the fair this weekend.


Recently on the Web and Social Media:


1. Man From U.N.C.L.E. Posts Recap

Memorabilia from the Man From U.N.C.L.E. tv showLast week to coincide with the release of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, we featured a post here on our blog with an overview of our related collections and some information about the history of the show and also a related post on our Tumblr about memorabilia in the collections.



2. An exquisitely illustrated Lutheran Theological Text was featured on Tumblr

Image of Magnum Mysterium a fold out image from a 17th century text

This theological text was written by Jacob Boehme (Jakob Böhme), a Lutheran theologian. The majority of his writings concern the nature of sin, evil, and redemption. These themes can be seen in some of the detailed images.

xBV5080 B5 1682

View the post with many more illustrations here, or stop by the reading room on the 3rd floor to take a look!


Final Reminders Before Fall Semester:


Students looking at materials in a Special Collections class

Reminder to Sign Up Early for Class Sessions

So far this fall, we have 25 faculty members working with us to bring their classes into special collections.

You can too! Sign up using our form:


Image of a clockReminder That Evening Hours Change Next Week

Our new hours are:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays: 8:30 AM – 5 PM

Tuesdays: 8:30 AM – 7 PM