Ryan S.'s blog

Fun Around Town with No Money Down


Lots of free entertainment, culture, and education can be found in Monroe County (aren't we lucky?). Here’s a selection for the upcoming week.

Thursday, January 22

Monthly Lunch & Discussion: Who are Asian Pacific Americans? How Our Brains Perceive Race


Asian Culture Center, 807 E. 10th Street, Bloomington

Discussion about the root causes of racial prejudice.  Free to attend, but reservations are required. Contacti acc [at] indiana [dot] edu.

Winter Exploration Hike Series: Pate Hollow Hills, Monroe Lake

Paynetown State Recreation Area


From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website:

DNR’s Winter Exploration Hike Series features off-trail hiking through lesser-known areas of Monroe Lake. These are exploratory in nature so there is no “set” path; they’ll have a general route in mind, but plenty of freedom to veer off as things of interest catch our eyes. Hikers should be prepared for the possibility of rugged terrain, lack of formal toilet facilities, and lots of fun! All of the Winter Exploration Hikes are FREE, but online PREREGISTRATION is required for each hike.

Email jvance [at] dnr [dot] IN [dot] gov for more information.


Friday, January 23

Opening Reception, Secret Impressions: The Reproduction of Erotica Prior to the Camera


Kinsey Institute, 1165 E 3rd St. #313, IU Campus, Bloomington

"Secret Impressions" presents a selection of lithographs, engravings, etchings and woodblock prints from the mid-19th century and earlier. These artworks from France, England, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Japan illustrate the means by which pornographic and erotic images were mass produced before the invention of the camera. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.



IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

Assemblage is a recently rediscovered lost film featuring the groundbreaking dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham and his early dance company performing in a public happening in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square in November 1968.

Open to the public.

Saturday January, 24

The Incredible Shrinking Man


IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

From the IU Cinema website:

A benchmark of 1950s sci-fi cinema, The Incredible Shrinking Man boasts groundbreaking special effects for its time and a surprisingly existential screenplay by veteran Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson.

Open to the public.

2015 Iris Film Festival


IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

The Indiana University Department of Communication and Culture's Iris Film Festival showcases innovative, inspired and engaging films and videos in the short format, many of which originate from members of the Bloomington and Indiana University communities.


Sunday, January 25

Stranger by the Lake/L’Inconnu du lac


IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

This film is presented in partnership with the Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival.    


Monday, January 26

Lunch with Nature Series: The Science of Snow


Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Paynetown Recreational Area

Participants can bring a sack lunch to eat during the main presentation, which is held indoors. Afterwards, the naturalist takes attendees outside for a short hike that follows up on the program’s theme. The Lunch with Nature Series is free, but attendance for each session is limited to 12 people and preregistration is required.

Night Train


IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

An intimate psychological study and a poetic tale of loneliness, Night Train brings two passengers together accidentally in a train compartment. A coquette, bored with her husband, attempts to seduce every available man; a former prisoner of a concentration camp fights his insomnia; old women go on a pilgrimage; and a skirt-chaser seeks his prey. With the arrival of police searching for a murderer, everything changes. It soon turns out that this seemingly average community is able to behave in a most unforeseen manner.


Tuesday, January 28

Zoran Dukic, guitar


Jacobs School of Music, Auer Hall, 200 S. Jordan Ave, IU Campus, Bloomington

Zoran Dukic is one of the most distinguished classical guitarists of our time. His concert performances, both as a soloist or with an orchestra, leave long-lasting impressions on audiences and critics alike.


Wednesday, January 28

University Orchestra David Neely, guest conductor


Jacobs School of Music, IU Musical Arts Center, 101 North Jordan Avenue, IU Campus, Bloomington


Tradition and Authenticity in Southwestern Native American Art


IU Art Museum, 1133 E. 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

Raymond and Laura Wielgus Gallery of the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas, third floor

The terms tradition and authenticity, although commonly used in discussing Native American art, are frequently misunderstood. Emma Kessler, curatorial assistant for the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas, will consider the development of traditions and the nuances of authenticity as seen in objects.


NOTE: Events mentioned here are advertised as free of charge by their sponsors, hosts, or promoters. Though we do our best to verify that these events are completely free, the Library has no control over inaccurately advertised events. We welcome corrections to our listings, but please direct any questions or concerns about a particular event to its sponsoring entity.

Free Event: Help a High Schooler With College Financial Aid


PHOTO: moodboard

If you're close to someone who's in high school, you know that cost is a major factor in their decisions about where—even whether—they go to college. You'd hate to see them miss the opportunity for higher education; is financial aid an option?

Let an expert answer your questions about navigating financial aid next Tuesday, January 27 at 6pm at a free program called College Planning: How to File for Financial Aid here at the Library. Chase McCoySenior Assistant Director of Admissions at IU-Bloomington, goes over the FAFSA application process, calculating the true cost of college, and choosing the right aid package for your family.

No registration is necessary; find more information about the program on the Library's events calendar.

Money Talks—Are You Listening? The Ins & Outs of Money on WFHB


The It's Your Money project helps our community get money smart in lots of ways—including over the airwaves. On The Ins & Outs of Money, our weekly radio segment on Bloomington's own WFHB, my guests and I give you quick, practical tips on managing your money, point you toward free resources in our community, and more.

The Ins & Outs of Money airs twice every Tuesday—right around 7:55am and 5:55pm—at the tail-end of WFHB's excellent Daily Local News. You can also listen to and download past episodes, or get the show as an RSS feed. See you on the air!

Fast, Free & Certified: Tax Help at MCPL Is Back!


Back—and better than ever!

Again this year, the Library is proud to serve as a Free Community Tax Service site for anyone who earned less than $53,000 (household) in 2014. In partnership with United Way of Monroe County and the Financial Stability Alliance, a number of community organizations—including both branches of the Library—offer help with completing and filing income tax forms this tax season. It's free of charge, tax refunds are fast, and all assistance is provided by IRS-certified tax preparers.


 Free tax help at MCPL

Beginning in February, both the Main Library in Bloomington and our branch in Ellettsville offer free tax help, but the hours and procedure for meeting with a tax preparer are different for each location:

  • Tax help at the Main Library is available from Feb 2 to April 14 on Monday and Tuesday evenings from 2-6 and on Fridays from 2-5:45pm. Preparers are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and it is recommended that you arrive as early as possible.
  • The Ellettsville Branch offers tax help Feb 5 to April 11, by appointment only. Appointments may be made for Thursdays from 6-8pm or Saturdays 10:30am-12:30pm; there are also extended hours on April 4 (12:30-6pm) and April 11 (10am-6pm). You may call 812-876-1272 to make an appointment.

Other options

In addition to the full-service tax help sites, there are a few other ways you can get free tax help this year:

Self-Service. Use a computer at WorkOne Bloomington to complete your taxes online. A tax preparer will be on location if you need help.

Mobile Sites. These tax-help-on-wheels outfits go to even more locations in the community—including Spanish-language help at St. Paul's Catholic Church. You may get specific dates and times by dialing 211.



Would $5 Million Motivate You to Cut Down on Your Energy Consumption?


It's a no-brainer: we save money by turning off lights we aren’t using, lowering our thermostats, and limiting the amount of water that goes down the drain. But Monroe County stands to gain something—five million dollars, actually—if we win a national competition aimed at community-wide reductions in energy consumption.

Of the 50-plus communities competing, the Georgetown University Energy Prize will be awarded to the one with the best plan for long-term energy efficiency. Our area’s big effort, called the Monroe County Energy Challenge, kicks off today—and it’s an ambitious project.

As MCEC's Molly O'Donnell explained on our radio spot on WFHB recently, cities, schools, and utility companies across Monroe County are partnering to reduce our total energy consumption by ten percent. That’s a big number across the board, so MCEC is breaking everything down into manageable steps; each “Task of the Month” adds up to significant energy (and money) savings if we all do our part.

Several organizations in our area also offer services geared toward making your home more energy-efficient, often at no cost to you. There are other ways you can help the effort, too. For more information you can contact the Challenge directly. Go team!

More Talk to an Expert Sessions Added!



Great news—our Talk to an Expert program has become so popular, we've added extra sessions! TTAE now offers free, unbiased advice on getting control of your money twice a month in January, March, and May (and still once a month in February and April).

As always, your 30-minute session with a financial expert is private, one-on-one, and confidential, and you won't be given any sales pitch. Talk about anything money-related, including:

  • Creating a budget
  • Saving/paying for college
  • Managing debt
  • Buying a home
  • Sound investing

Appointment slots fill up fast—you don't want to miss out! You may request an appointment online, call the Information Desk at 812-349-3228, or email rstacy [at] mcpl [dot] info.

When It Comes to Debts, Don't Just Pay — PowerPay!


PowerPay homepage

A big challenge with keeping track your money is the difficulty of visualizing exactly what's going on when you earn, spend, or save—especially over the long term. It's easy to lose sight of the big picture as this month's bills roll in and another paycheck sneaks by without anything put aside for savings.

Living expenses calculatorPowerPay, a free web-based money management tool (now also available as an iOS app) created by Utah State University Extension, is designed to help you get a handle on all that. With its various tools and calculators, PowerPay crunches your household's numbers and shows you, in black and white, where you stand—and where you're headed—with your money.

After setting up a free account, just plug your particulars into PowerPay: income, expenses, debts, savings, and so on. PowerPay then analyzes your finances in detail:

Your expenses. See what percentage of your income goes to which expenses, and whether those percentages fall within suggested ranges.

Your debts. Calculate where you can save money on credit card and school debts by making "power payments," consolidating, or even just choosing which debt you tackle first.

Your savings. Set savings goals, calculate interest earned on savings over time, and estimate how long a lump sum of money will last.

Your credit. Determine how much you may borrow based on a lender's debt-to-income requirements.

Other tools. Track how much your car is really costing you with the transportation calculator, discover the power of making extra payments, and more.

Loan qualifier calculatorUnlike some other popular online personal finance calculators, PowerPay doesn't require you to enter actual credit card or bank account numbers, you won't be bothered with ads or spam, and your contact information will never be shared with another party. All in all, PowerPay is an eye-opener for anyone who's been thinking of getting organized with their money but may not know where to start. 

Food Workshop Goes Sour

People at the Fermentation Workshop Make Starter Jars of Sauerkraut

Growing up, we were taught to be careful about leaving food out too long; every family has a cautionary tale involving a hapless uncle and sun-warmed potato salad. But at IYM’s Food Fermentation workshop Wednesday night, our friends from Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard showed us how to safely let some foods sit—and sit—for delicious, nutritious results.

Unlike most foods, MHC's Kayte & Stephaniewhich simply spoil or mold when they’re not properly stored, many vegetables and fruits—and even some dairy products—go through fermentation under certain conditions. The result is often (but not always!) the sour, tangy taste we’re familiar with in foods like sauerkraut and yogurt.

MHC's Kayte and Stephanie shared with us how to prepare different foods for fermentation, and how to protect against spoilage (short answer: your chances of contamination are almost zero). But the highlights of the evening were sampling the many different fermented treats on hand like kefir soda and kimchee, and even taking home “starters” for sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha.

So what does food fermentation have to do with being money smart? For starters, it’s cheap. The cost of fermentation supplies and the foods you ferment are low, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. The live cultures found in fermented food also contribute to good health, which is always a money saver. And fermented food keeps very well, making it a good addition to your weekly or monthly menu planning.

If you’d like to give fermenting food a try, check out some of the many books the Library has on food fermentation.

You can find more free opportunities to get money smart at the Library on the It's Your Money events calendar.


Name tag

Along with a new look for our page, MCPL’s It’s Your Money project is working hard to help you get control of your money—no matter how big (or small) your income or family is.

Among all the great money tools here on the IYM page, we’ll focus on these basic topics:

Spending, saving, and budgeting. Often find yourself asking “Why’s there always so much month at the end of my money?” Check out the articles and links we’ll post regularly for practical, unbiased tips on getting organized with your finances. It’s easier than you think!

Managing your debt. Whether you’re prone to getting drastic with your plastic, struggle with student loans, or cringe when you think about how much you still owe on your car or mortgage, you’ll learn lots about how and when to take on debt—and how to best pay it off.

Big purchases. If you’re thinking about buying a home, a car, or another big-ticket item, you’re probably also thinking “Where do I start?” Keep your eye on this page for the most reliable information.

Investing wisely. Maybe you’ve already tried your hand at investing, or maybe you don’t know a stock from a Roth IRA. Either way, there are numerous ways to grow your money, and we’ll discuss many of them here.

We'll be adding lots of practical information and useful tools soon, so check back here often. See you around!

Find great stuff faster with More Search Options

With so much to choose from at the Library, it can sometimes seem overwhelming to find exactly what you're looking for quickly. Watch this video (linked from MCPL's Facebook page) to make your online Library catalog searches faster and more precise.

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