Celebrating anniversaries with help from ICPL

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on April 24th, 2019

I recently bought my husband a new grill to celebrate our anniversary. After 20 years, I think I have this marriage thing figured out, as the grill is a present for him, but also me! Isn’t sharing what marriage is all about?

We set a gift budget, made a pact not to go over that budget, then made another pact to ensure that the first pact wasn’t a lie, like when you tell someone not to get you something for your birthday but they do anyway. This time, we really meant STICK TO THE BUDGET!

In order to get the most bang for my buck, and find a grill that would do more than cook burgers, I turned to the Library’s Consumer Reports database. Did you know what you can log on to Consumer Reports FOR FREE any time you are in the Library to check out their reviews on everything from grills to carpet cleaning services? Consumer Reports does not accept advertising dollars and pays for all the products it test, so you know they’re telling the truth when they recommend specific products.

I did my research, bought the grill and we have enjoyed several nights of great meals in the lovely spring air. My husband bought me a bike, in case you were curious. I used Consumer Reports for that, too, and showed him exactly what I wanted.

We’ll definitely make it to 21 years of marriage. 🙂

Learn more about the Library’s great collection of online databases here.

Outreach at Laundromania

by Heidi Kuchta on April 19th, 2019

Iowa City Public Library loves finding new ways to reach people. Currently, 14 different sites in Iowa City either have an ICPL Outreach Library maintained by staff or receive books to distribute to their clients. Sites include the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, Four Oaks youth shelter, and the Crisis Center. Several months ago, a fellow staff member suggested that we give donated books and information to laundromats as a way of expanding our Outreach services. I contacted Laundromania management about leaving books at their laundromats and keeping current copies of the Bookmobile Schedule and Events Calendars posted on their bulletin boards. I have been doing this at the Sycamore Mall and Mormon Trek Laundromania locations for a couple months.

I have been donating mostly kid’s books, but also some popular books for adults. When I went to both locations a week ago, all the books I had left from before were gone. Hopefully this means those books are serving their purpose – to be read and enjoyed. When I put out fresh book donations at the Mormon Trek Laundromania, a little girl was waiting for her mom to finish their laundry. I showed her the kid’s books, and she was immediately interested. She asked if the books were free, and I reassured her that they were. She opened up a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and was smiling and reading to herself as I left. Overall, I think this new Outreach project has had a positive impact at these neighborhood laundromats.


ICPL Bookmobile to Alexander Elementary Spring Bike Rodeo

by Shawna Riggins on April 16th, 2019

The ICPL Bookmobile is excited to be a part of the Alexander Elementary Spring Bike Rodeo this Thursday, April 18. The full event runs from 3:30-5:30 at Alexander Elementary, 3571 Sycamore St., with the Bookmobile in attendance from 4:30-5:30.

The Bike Rodeo is open to the community, and is a collaboration with Bicyclists of Iowa City (BIC), Alexander Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization, NCJC SOAR After-School Program, The South District Neighborhood Association (SDNA) and The City of Iowa City to increase bike safety and awareness before the summer months.

A bike rodeo is an educational workshop for kids and adults. At this rodeo volunteers will provide a bike maintenance check, helmet check and fitting.

Plus, at this event there will be FREE bike helmets, reflective gear and food to go along with the educational workshop in the school parking lot.

This event will cause a slight disruption to regular Bookmobile service – The Bookmobile will not be at Regency Mobile Home Community this Thursday from 4:30-5:00 as a result. If this disruption causes difficulties for any library users, please reach out to the library and we would be happy to work together to resolve the concern.

Wheeled Wonders: a celebration of Bookmobiles

by Mari Redington on April 9th, 2019

Students from Alexander after a bookmobile visit.

National Bookmobile Day is Wednesday April 10th, and all week we are celebrating the second birthday of our very own ICPL bookmobile!

I spend almost half of my work week on the Bookmobile, and my favorite statement that I often hear is, “I loved the Bookmobile when I was a kid.” I hear this from Iowa City residents of all ages with home towns all over the country. For many, visiting a Bookmobile is an experience they will never forget. Bookmobiles are nostalgic, and let’s face it, they’re just neat.

For more than 100 years bookmobiles have brought a library to those that otherwise may not have access to one. So, in honor of a holiday of celebrating the wonderful services bookmobiles all over the world provide, I have scoured the internet for the most “novel,” whimsical and just plain neat bookmobiles over the past century.


Originating in the nineteenth century, the earliest bookmobiles were horse-drawn wagons filled with boxes of books. However, in the 1920s, Sarah Byrd Askew, a New Jersey librarian, thought reading and literacy so important that she delivered books to rural readers in her own Ford Model T. (From the Multnomah County Library Archives.)




During the Great Depression, there was a fleet of “book women” who delivered books, regardless of weather, to rural communities in Appalachia. These women would ride 100-120 miles every week on horseback, traversing dangerous terrain, to ensure that their readers received their books on time. (From the Kentucky Library and Archives.)







The Biblioburro is a mobile library that brings books to children in remote rural areas of Colombia using two donkeys. It’s been the subject of a PBS POV film and inspired a popular children’s book, Waiting for the Biblioburro. (From the PBS POV Archive.)








Iowa’s first mobile library rolled out in 1926 via the County Library Committee of the Iowa Library Association. The idea of the book caravan, also known as “The Lydia”, was conceived by Miss Lydia Barrette, city librarian at Mason City. Every county in Iowa could secure the use of this library on wheels for a week at a cost of $50, to help stimulate interest in the levy of a tax so that each county might have its own library and caravan.



Here’s some stunning photos of the Utah State Library Bookmobile is traveling near Zion National Park circa 1970. (From the Utah State Library.)






This Bookmobile Tank is a ‘Weapon of Mass Instruction.’ In 2015, Argentine artist Raul Lemesoff created a Ford Falcon-based “tank” that’s armored with free books that he distributes, gratis, to people in and around Buenos Aires.

Garbage collectors in the Turkish capital Ankara decided to give discarded books a new life by creating a unique bookmobile that tours schools in suburban districts to impart the passion for reading in children. With a total population of 5.5 million people, the Turkish large capital province Ankara is divided into 25 districts, where not all schools have the privilege of a usable library. (From the Borneo Bulletin.)

BiebBus is a children’s mobile library from the Netherlands. A traditional bookmobile would be too big for the narrow Dutch streets, so the BiebBus can expand – vertically. The bottom room is filled with shelves with 7,000 children’s books. Through the transparent ceiling you can see the upper room, which is a wonderful reading and playing area. BiebBus has a total space of 52 square meters, and offers space for 30-45 kids.

Green Day’s first tour bus was an old bookmobile van that drummer Tre Cool’s dad refurbished into a unique tour bus. Last year, Green Day donated the dilapidated bookmobile to Wheels For Wishes to be restored, after which it was sent to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland. The proceeds from auctioning this donation will go towards helping Make-A- Wish grant wishes to local children. (From Wheels For Wishes)

The Mongolian Children’s Mobile Library carried by camel to nomadic herding communities and remote parts of the Gobi desert.









This is Bahman Beigi’s mobile library in Iran. Mohammad Bahman Beigi was a passionate activist who devoted his life to educate nomadic communities in Iran. In the 1970s he visited numerous desert villages, bringing in his jeep the books to read.

Last but not least, here are a few photos of our now 2-year old ICPL Bookmobile over the years!

ICPL’s Bookmobile on the day of it’s arrival 2 years ago this week!


Just recently, hitting 10,000 miles, the Bookmobile has been all across Iowa City, helping patrons of all ages in rain and shine, snow and heat, and anything else Iowa weather has to offer.

Please help us celebrate this week and year round by continuing to visit and use the resources our Bookmobile can offer!


Library OPEN During Ped Mall Improvement Project

by Kara Logsden on April 9th, 2019

The Ped Mall Improvement Project begins again on May 13. Phase Two of the project brings updates literally to the Library’s door. Please be assured the Library will remain OPEN during the Ped Mall improvement project; however, access to the Library may change. Please watch for directional signs that will help you navigate to the Library’s entrance.

For updates about the Ped Mall Improvement Project, navigate to  icgov.org/downtownstreetscape. You can also learn more about this project with this video: https://youtu.be/rAYqwXylMOs

Weekly update meetings are held at the Library on Fridays at 10:00 am in Meeting Room D. Watch for progress updates from the City after these meetings. To stay updated during construction, subscribe to the Ped Mall Improvements Project email list at icgov.org/e-subscriptions.  (While you are there, subscribe to one or all of the Library’s eNewsletters 🙂 ).

You can also follow the City of Iowa City on Facebook and Twitter using #PedProject to follow updates.

The improvements I’m most excited about are the Story Wall and updated concert stage. We’ll see you at the Library soon and we thank you for your patience as our beloved Ped Mall is transformed into a new community space.

Check out an Experience

by Kara Logsden on March 5th, 2019

The Library recently introduced Discovery Kits for children, teens and adults, and they have been very popular! From pickle ball, to astronomy, cake decorating or how to play the ukulele, there’s something for everyone.

Many thanks to the Community Foundation of Johnson County for providing funds for these kits and KWWL for a great news story about the kits.

We invite everyone to check out a new experience.

What’s Up with the Bookmobile and No Heat?

by Kara Logsden on March 5th, 2019

The long winter is wearing on everyone, including the Bookmobile. We’ve thought of the Bookmobile’s two heaters this winter as the “Little Heaters that Could.” Unfortunately, last week they just couldn’t keep up with the extended cold and their attempts to keep the inside of the Bookmobile toasty warm. The good news is the heaters are fixed. The bad news is a fuel pump to one of the heaters is not working. Our good friends at the City’s Equipment Division have a new fuel pump on order. Hopefully the Bookmobile will be ready to roll in time for Wednesday afternoon stops. Many thanks to everyone for your patience this winter. Spring will be here soon, right?

Last chance for a Blind Date With A Book

by Stacey McKim on February 15th, 2019

Did you spend Valentine’s Day without a current read that makes your heart pound?

This weekend’s your last chance to let us set you up on a Blind Date With a Book.  The books are using their first sentences as pick-up lines this year — these are two of my favorites!









Anyone who finishes their Blind Date by the end of the month can enter a prize drawing for this ICPL book bag valued at $29.99.  Return your Rate Your Date bookmarks to the Help Desk.

Your library

No Bookmobile Service on Monday, Feb. 18

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 10th, 2019

The Iowa City Public Library Bookmobile will not be in service on Monday, February 18.

The Downtown Library will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bookmobile holiday hours are always available on the Library’s website.

Remember, even when the Bookmobile isn’t in service, online services are available 24/7 at www.icpl.org. This includes account access and, for those who live in our service area, access to ICPL’s Digital Library including eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, The New York Times and Kanopy video streaming.

We’ll see you back on the Bookmobile on February 19!

Our calendar got an upgrade!

by Alyssa Hanson on January 30th, 2019
Screenshot of new calendar

Screenshot of the new calendar

You’ll notice our calendar looks quite a bit different than it used to. Today we integrated it into the rest of our site to streamline your event finding experience with the rest of our site. Along with the integration, you’ll find some (hopefully!) good improvements.

Now the default view to see events is a list. If you’re browsing for events, you can quickly scan the list and see what’s happening at the library either today, this week, or this month. If you’re looking to request a meeting room, we also still have the grid view available to spatially see when our meeting rooms are available.

We’ve also re-categorized all of our events to make it easier to narrow down to events you’re interested in. See all the events in a single age category or type of event when looking at a month’s worth of events and you can easily see what’s coming up and mark your calendar accordingly.

Add to calendar buttonSpeaking of marking your calendar, you can also now add events directly from the event page to your personal calendar by clicking the calendar icon next to the date. There are several calendars available including Google Calendar, iCalendar, and Outlook Calendar.

Each event also has a list of related events so if you find one you like, you can find more upcoming events like it.

You might have also noticed the homepage changed today as well. Along with upgrading the calendar, we also took the opportunity to update our homepage to a simpler layout. We’re still making improvements and you’ll continue to see more changes throughout the year as we continue working to make our website easy to use.

Have comments or feedback? Feel free to contact us through email or chat, or leave us a note through our Website Feedback form.