I attended a talk in the Library yesterday titled, “Creative Matters,” by Sunil Iyengar, Research and Analysis Director for the National Endowment for the Arts. He was sharing information about world-wide efforts to begin to quantify and measure the contribution to a country’s GNP from arts and culture activities.
Measuring beyond counting is a hard thing for single public library. We can count the number of things checked out, the number of people at a program, the number of questions answered, or the use of our computers. However, the most meaningful measures indicate how lives were changed in positive ways, and for that we have mostly anecdotal evidence.
I am confident that we contribute substantially to the vitality and economy of downtown Iowa City. We are a destination point with over 800,000 visitors a year — not a number to sneeze at! Many of those people come to the library to attend a class, a program, or a meeting.
From Sunday, September 20, through Saturday, October 3, we have 88 meetings, programs and classes offered at the Library. Seventeen children’s programs include Book Babies (choose English one week, Spanish the next!), traditional story times, Minecraft and video games, a family concert and a Mary-Poppins sing-along. Teens have special tech times as well as group activities.
It’s a busy time for Library or Library co-sponsored programs with many choices that are part of the Intellectual Freedom Festival or of the City of Literature’s Iowa City Book Festival, including 12 authors, one book discussion and a poetry reading. Music is the Word programs account for live music programs for all ages, films and a book discussion. Adults can also learn to organize and share digital photographs, improve their financial literacy, attend a showing of the documentary of the Postville Raid or the Gallery Walk: Rummage ReDux.
If that’s not enough you may be coming to the Library to go to one of 57 non-library meetings or programs scheduled during this two week period. A few of the groups associated with these meetings are The Society For Creative Anachronism, League of Women Voters, Catholics in America, Old Capital Toastmasters, Open Meditation Group, Korean Cultural Festival, Friends of Hickory Hill Park, and Hawkeyes for O’Malley– truly a cross section of the Iowa City Community.
Iowa City has an active creative economy – one that is fully supported in many (hard to measure :)) ways by the Library. So many things to do….so little time.