It’s March madness and since my Hawkeye Women’s Basketball team is out of the tournament that takes the pressure off and I can enjoy the final four with no personal involvement. Athletic events are a big draw in Iowa City. As reported by the Corridor Business Journal recently, average annual attendance at Kinnick Stadium for Iowa Hawkeye Football is 472,000 and Carver-Hawkeye Arena averages 330,000. Those two venues together have an attendance of 802,000.
The Iowa City Public Library is the most visited public library building in the State of Iowa, and this year we are on track to match attendance at Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye arena! Busiest time of the year? Summer. Busiest day of the week? Sunday & Saturday average just over 300 people an hour; for weekdays Mondays and Fridays are the busiest.
With some people choosing to download collections from home and so much information readily available online why are people still coming to the library? Years ago when the community was debating the need for an expanded library building some people asked the question, “Why will we need a larger library, no one will come?” People are still coming, and in growing numbers.
Physical books are a preference for many area readers. A survey has shown that Iowa City residents read as many ebooks as their counterparts nationally, but they read twice as many print books! Programming also brings many people to the Library — whether it’s children at storytimes, a teen or adult program, or attending one of the thousands of meetings held each year in our meeting rooms, people come to the library to meet face to face with others, to learn and to engage. In the first six months this year we have had 564 library programs in the building attended by 17,678 people. People without internet access come to use our public access computers (over 50,000 in six months), make a copy, scan or print, or get technology assistance.
Our “March Madness” season is in June when school is out and all our summer programming at full swing — we will have more than 20,000 a week in the building during our peak season. We’re already preparing!