Long Live the Book!

by Susan Craig on October 31st, 2017

Libraries usually mirror national trends in how people are getting their information and entertainment and this year (FY17, ended June 30, 2017) was no different.  Overall circulation was down a little, a national trend as the economy improves and people spend more time on their devices.  The mix of what people checkout (that’s a generic checkout that includes downloads as well as borrowing physical items) continues to change.

Even with all the talk about alternative options, print is still our most popular format.  Over 50% of our 1.3 million circulations last year was print — of all items checked out 24% were fiction books, 16% nonfiction books, 13% picture books and readers.

The next most popular format other than print was discs — both DVD (video) and CD (audio which includes music and spoken word).  This format accounts for 35% of all checkouts.

Use of downloadable books and magazines (both to be read on a device and audio) is continuing to grow, but is only 9% of all circulation.  Use of e-books has leveled off, only up 2% last year, but downloadable audio books use is seeing more growth (24% increase last year), probably as people replace older cars that played CDs.  E-magazine use is up 12%.

We look at these trends to know where to spend more or less money from our collection dollars.  Trends certainly come and go — I remember when the Library had slides and 8mm film–, but the print book has always been the most desired and used.  Never fear, the book is not dead.

Recycle your eclipse glasses

by Susan Craig on September 22nd, 2017

Donate eclipse glassesBring those eclipse glasses to the library and we will pass them on to a place that needs them.  We are collecting eclipse glasses as part of an effort of the Astronomers Without Borders and its corporate sponsor, Explore Scientific.  All the glasses will eventually be distributed to schools, libraries and other institutions in South American and Asia for use during several eclipses that will occur in those areas in the next few years.

Please drop off your glasses in the collection box, located near the indoor book returns near the entrance.  Glasses will be collection until November 1.

Kinnick Stadium, Iowa Children’s Museum, Englert Theatre, Hancher Auditorium

by Susan Craig on August 23rd, 2017

Kinnick Stadium, the Iowa Children’s Museum, the Englert Theatre and Hancher Auditorium.  All great destination points.  If you’re lucky you get to visit each of them a couple of times of year.  The number of people who visited the Iowa City Public Library downtown building last year (797,017) is more than the  annual attendance at all of these facilities combined!  Our fiscal year ended June 30th and it was another busy year.  Last year we could boast the busiest public library building in the state, and I think we will keep that honor this year.  We are very happy to serve a community that loves the Library and to be part of a vibrant downtown area with something for everyone.  If you are new to town and haven’t been in yet, be sure to stop by and get a library card.  Make us one of your destination points.

We have the best people!

by Susan Craig on April 24th, 2017

This week I get to enjoy two of my favorite events of the year, both involve our active supporters.  Without them our level of library service would not be sustainable.  The first is donors.  On Sunday I had a great time at our third annual, “Looking Forward” event.  Held in the Library on a Sunday evening after closing, the ticketed event begins with a presentation, then we move to the main library space for food, drink and conversation.  We were very fortunate this year to have Maureen Corrigan as our presenter.  She gave a great talk on how she got into the business of book reviewing and ended with a list of books we should all read.  Most importantly we raised money for the projects that we fund through gift support each year.  Among other things, gifts purchased 8% of the items added to our collection last year, they make the Summer Reading Program possible, they will be supporting the operations of the new bookmobile, and they contributed over $150,000 to the purchase of the bookmobile.

The second event I’m looking forward to is our annual Volunteer Recognition Event.  The theme this year, in keeping with our bookmobile influence, is “Volunteers Keep Us Rolling Along.”  And, boy, do they.  Last year 315 volunteers contributed 9,609 hours of work.  At a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour and calculating for mandatory Social Security and IPERS this is the equivalent of over $110,000.  At the event we will recognize all our volunteers who have reached milestones in their service.  This year we have two people who cumulatively have donated over 1,000 hours each, one who has reached the 2,000 hour milestone and one who has spent 3,000 hours giving back to the Library!  Of the ten largest public libraries in Iowa only Ames has more volunteers who contribute more hours.

Thank you to all donors and volunteers.  You are family.  We could not do it without you.

Seeking Library Board Members

by Susan Craig on April 4th, 2017

The City and the County are currently seeking applications for the Board Of Trustees of the Iowa City Public Library for three six-year terms (one for a rural county resident, two for Iowa City residents) that begin July 1, 2017.  The Board has nine members, eight from Iowa City and one from rural Johnson County, and every three years three members are appointed.  Applicants must be 18 years or older.

Board members set library policy, plan for the future of the library, and advocate for library needs.  The Library Director reports directly to the Board.

Information about the rural County position can be found here:

http://www.johnson-county.com/dept_blank.aspx?id=2075  (click on the button on the top of the page and then choose Iowa City Public Library Board of Trustees).

Applications for Iowa City residents can be found here:

https://www.icgov.org/city-government/boards-commissions-and-committees  Applications may also be picked up at the Iowa City City Clerk’s Office, 410 E Washington St, or the Help Desk at the Library, 123 S. Linn St.



Happy Birthday, ICPL — 120 and going strong!

by Susan Craig on January 20th, 2017

cod-steam-laundryHappy 120th Birthday, Dear ICPL. The Iowa City Public Library  first opened it’s doors on January 21, 1897. The effort to establish a public library in Iowa City started in 1896 so we get confused about whether the institution’s “real” birthday started with the egg (the organizational efforts) or the chicken (opening the door).   I think opening the doors is a good thing to celebrate. The first library location was two rooms measuring 100 X 30 feet over the newly constructed brick building at 211-213 Iowa Ave. The ground floor was occupied by the C.O.D. Steam Laundry.

The directors hired a librarian (a bookkeeper who received a annual salary of $600), and three committees were appointed to select books and periodicals. They also purchased bookcases, newspaper racks, tables, chairs, a desk for the librarian, five hundred sheets of letterhead, blank library cards, thirteen 16-candle power lamps with porcelain shades, board games (crokinale, archrena, checkers, chess and Parcheesi) as well as some basics like a wastebasket, ink stand, stamp pad, broom and dustpan.

The first library was open ten hours a day six days a week and four hours on Sunday to anyone age ten or older. People could borrow one book at a time with a five cents a day fine on books past due. One hundred and twenty years later we serve people of all ages and are open eleven hours four days a week (M-Th), ten hours one day (Fri), eight hours on Saturday and five hours on Sunday (3 total hours more than in 1897) and our fines are 25 cents a day for most things — well under the inflation rate.

At the opening ceremony the words of speech written by president of the Iowa City Public Library Association still remind us 120 years later of the core mission of the public library. “…this library is and will be public in the fullest sense of the word.  It belongs to no person nor class of persons. It is to be under the control of no particular race nor creed. … Parents may feel that their children in coming here for books, whether they be rich or poor are placing themselves under obligation to no one. They are simply exercising a right… Every person in the city shall feel perfectly free to seek the advantages of this library.”

If you want to learn more about the history of ICPL look for Lolly Eggers’ book, A Century of Stories:  the History of the Iowa City Public Library, 1896-1997. where I found this historical information.

Public libraries have transformed my life and I hear stories every day of the impact this library has had on others’ lives. Happy Birthday, ICPL! May you prosper for another 120 years.

Don’t let the bedbugs bite!

by Susan Craig on December 28th, 2016

We’re always learning at the Iowa City Public Library and recently we have learned a lot about bedbugs, because we found some at the Library. Bedbugs have been a growing problem in many places, including  libraries.  After we had single spotting last fall we set up regular inspections – by a bedbug sniffing dog no less!—and educated ourselves on how to recognize and get rid of these pesky insects.  Our knowledge came in handy when some bugs were spotted on a recently returned book by a library employee.

You may have noticed some book shelves that are empty, this is because in an abundance of caution we removed all the books from any section where a book was thought to possibly have bedbugs in it. The shelving where the books were have been treated chemically and the books themselves are currently being treated with temperature – bedbugs will die if exposed for a certain length of time to either high or low temperatures.   We tracked back the first book and every book that patron had over the last 45 days and they have all been pulled for treatment as well.  We also contacted everyone who had checked out anything that had been returned.

We hope this doesn’t happen again, but it may. You can help by letting us know if your residence has been treated recently – often bedbugs can move around within an apartment complex for instance.  If you ever see a bedbug on library materials put them in a sealed plastic bag with a note and let us know right away.  You can protect yourself by learning more about bedbugs and how to recognize them.  There are many good websites –I have visited them!  Here are two I found very helpful:



Knowledge is power!

Don’t forget the ICPL Friends Foundation on this Giving Tuesday!

by Susan Craig on November 29th, 2016

We do like to name things:  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday.  I appreciate the concept of Giving Tuesday because it gives us a specific reminder at a very hectic time of the year.   Often the end of the year comes and I think, I meant to give to this or that local cause, and I probably have a mail or e-mail appeal lingering somewhere, but I just never got around to it.  Well, today’s the day.  Break out your checkbook or credit card and support the institutions and organizations you believe make our community better and stronger.  Do it today.

And, when you do, please consider a gift to the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation.  You can find all you need to give online or send a check here.  The Library is one of the most heavily used cultural, educational, and recreational institutions you will ever find, serving people of all ages, abilities and cultures.  Gifts to the Foundation support the purchase of library materials, our important Summer Reading Program, building improvement projects, entertaining and informing programs for young and old, outreach to people who can’t get to the library, and making sure technology is accessible to all.

Watch for The Window newsletter in your mailbox in early December with great stories about the Foundation and a milestone they are celebrating.

Thank you for your support of a local organization that touches so many people in a positive way.

It Could be Worse : Dystopian Fiction

by Susan Craig on October 6th, 2016
It Could be Worse :  Dystopian Fiction Cover Image

The days are getting shorter, the political sniping is at an all- time high (or is that low?) and won’t end for  weeks (or is it perpetual?), up north they just had a serious flood and down south they are evacuating for a hurricane.  It’s time to read some dystopian fiction to give you some perspective.

Wikipedia says, “A dystopia …is a community or society that is undesirable or frightening.  It is translated as “not-good place”, an antonym of utopia, …Dystopian societies appear in many artistic works, particularly in stories set in the future. Some of the most famous examples are 1984 and Brave New World. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society..”

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of dystopian fiction written for young adults (think of the Hunger Games and Divergent series), but I’ve recently read several novels aimed at adults that fall into this genre.  After hearing a radio interview with the author,  I wanted to read Underground Airline by Ben H. Winters.  All our copies were checked out so I had to put a hold on it, and in the meantime I read the author’s Last Policeman series.  These are very engaging books.  The last policeman is Detective Palace.  He is trying to do the right thing as civil society disintegrates around him in the face of earth’s collision with a massive asteroid that will happen in 6 months.  The scenario in Underground Airlines is worse somehow because the fault lies in humans, not some natural outside force.  The story takes place in modern day United States, however, Read the rest of this entry »

Do Not Miss These Programs!

by Susan Craig on September 12th, 2016

BikesBikesBikes_BuildaBikeIowa City is going to be hosting an international event on September 24 in a sport few Americans know much about — Cyclo-cross.  In preparation the Library has planned three programs so people can educate themselves about the sport.  Last week you missed a great documentary, For the Love of Mud.  I learned a lot and gained a real appreciation of the sport.  Luckily, it is now in our collection so you can watch it at your leisure — perhaps this winter when the snow is falling and you want to see people covered in mud carrying bicycles up hills and throw them over creeks (this is fun!?).BikesBikesBikes_JingleCross

This week we are featuring University of Iowa professor, Dr. Steve McGuire who will be talking about the fabrication and design of bikes — Wednesday, September 14, 7:00, Meeting Room A.  Next week we have the founder of our Jingle Cross event and key figure in bringing the World Cup Cyclo-cross event to Iowa City, Dr. John Meehan — Tuesday, September 20, 7:00, Meeting Room A.

Let’s show our international visitors that we appreciate this exciting, family oriented sport.  For more information see the website.