I was recently visiting my son and his family in Brooklyn, New York, and I’d like to share an encounter I had with a young father at a park. My grandson was in school and I was taking my three-year-old granddaughter out for the morning. First we visited the nearby branch library and then we went to a park.
Approaching the park, I saw a young father carrying his maybe two-year-old daughter out of the gate. The young girl was wearing an Iowa sweatshirt. I smiled and inquired what their connection to Iowa was, explaining I was visiting from Iowa (luckily I had my Iowa shirt on that day, too!). We quickly determined that Iowa City was a common connection and the man asked me what I did. When I told him I worked at the Iowa City Public Library, his face lit up and he said, “That is the BEST library. We miss it SO much! We’ll never have another library as good at the one in Iowa City.”
Similar stories have been shared with me by many people, both personally and secondhand. We hear from people scattered across the country, and even the globe, who miss ICPL. People share with friends and family who still live here, through our Facebook page, or even with an occasional phone call. (“I just knew you would know,” they’ll tell us.)
When the cartoonist Berke Breathed left town in 1985 he did a cartoon for the local paper that highlighted the things he would miss most about Iowa City and one of them was, “the swellest library in the known universe.”
The known universe is a pretty big place, but I have found the Iowa connection is strong wherever you go. Once you’ve found the Iowa connection, you can probably find an Iowa City connection. It’s wonderful that one of the most memorable things about Iowa City is a great public library. Just what the only City of Literature in the western hemisphere should be known for!
While in New York I took my son, who works in the film industry, the Raygun Iowa City Downtown District t-shirt that says, “DOWNTOWN IOWA CITY: from tree sweaters to unsupervised pianos – anything goes.” He says he’s had some interesting conversations every time he wears it and sometimes even the library is mentioned.