Highlights from our past

We've been in six different buildings but we've always been at the heart of downtown. See how your library has evolved with the community, reflecting your needs, supporting digital literacy, and expanding services with outreach.

  • Aug 28 1896

    Local church members meet to discuss creating a public reading and game room for the youth of Iowa City.

    In response to the actions of a group of six drunken young men on August 28,1896 a group of local church leaders met to discuss the possibility of opening a public reading and game room for the young people of Iowa City as an alternative to the number of bars in the community. The meeting took place at the First Christian Church.

  • Sep 6 1896

    The term 'public library' used for the first time, and potential locations suggested.

    At the second public meeting the proposed constitution and bylaws for the new library were presented. The possible downtown locations for the library were suggested: second floor rooms over the C.O.D. Steam Laundry at 211-213 Iowa Avenue; over Startsman Jewelry store at 109 West Washington; and over the former Greer's jewelry store at 106 South Clinton. A motion was made that "a public reading room and library be established" and this motion was adopted. Plans were made for a large public meeting for September 21.

  • Sep 21 1896

    Large community meeting held

    A large community meeting was held at Smith's Armory to discuss a variety of issues in the community, including the proposal for a library. When it came time to discuss the library S.K. Stevenson spoke about the other 26 forward-thinking communities in Iowa that already had public libraries. A dozen additional speakers spoke of the need to help the boys and girls of the community by creating a public library. Near the end of the meeting a committee dubbed "the Council of Thirty" made up of six women and twenty-eight men was appointed - from the University, schools, county government as well as professionals and local business men - to adopt the drafted constitution for the proposed library association.

  • Sep 28 1896

    Iowa City Public Library Association gets its name and a temporary board of directors.

    The Council of Thirty met to approved the new constitution article by article, and this constitution gave the new organization its official name: the Iowa City Public Library Association, and created a temporary board of nine directors. These directors were to begin a community-wide campaign to raise funds for the association library and negotiate for an appropriate site for the new library. The temporary board members were George W. Ball, W.P. Coast, George Hummer, Alice Luscombe, Max Mayer, Bertha Ridgway, Bohumil Shimek, S.K. Stevenson, and Martin J. Wade.

  • Oct 21 1896

    Iowa City Public Library association elects its first board

    On October 21 the temporary board met and their first board officers were eleced: District Judge Martin J. Wade, president; Assistant University Librarian Bertha Ridgway, vice president; Samuel Kirkwood (S.K.) Stevenson, secretary; and George Hummer, treasurer. President Wade then appointed S.K. Stevenson, George w Ball, and George Hummer to continue the search for suitable location.

  • Nov 18 1896

    First location and first librarian chosen

    On November 18 the library association met in the rooms in the Kenyon and Ham building, above the C.O.D. Steam Laundry and approved a one year lease of the 30 foot wide by 100 foot deep space for $375 including heat. At this meeting the 5 applications received for the job of Librarian were reviewed and A.C. Howell, a bookkeeper and member of the "Council of Thirty" was unanimously "elected" for a one year term at the salary of $600. Three separate book committees were appointed to select books for the library.

  • Jan 20 1897

    Pre-Opening dedication held

    A pre-opening dedication was held at the first library location, 211 Iowa Avenue, above the COD Steam Laundry. Many speeches were read, one of which not only congratulated the citizens on the opening of their new library, but reiterated the fact that "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 or creed. Its doors are to be ever open to the workman in overalls with the dinner bucket up on his arm, as well as to the rich or well-to-do." It should be noted that to this point the library - from the construction, installation of electric lights, painting, furniture, bookshelves and the purchasing of the initial book collection - had been done with private money. Beginning with a speech at the dedication, it was was made clear to all that in order for the library to continue and prosper it would need to be tax supported.

  • Jan 21 1897

    Iowa City Public Library opens for business

    The first Iowa City Public Library opened for business on January 21, 1897 on the 2nd floor of Kenyon & Ham building above the C.O.D. Steam Laundry building at 211-213 Iowa Avenue. On opening day the collection contained 1,300 books and twenty magazines and newspapers. During the first three weeks of operation, the library received 4,407 visitors, issued 836 Library cards, and loaned 2,226 books. Adult collections included Fiction, Non-Fiction, Reference, Magazines, and Newspapers. Children's collections included Fiction and Non-Fiction.

  • Mar 1 1897

    ICPL becomes tax supported

    On March 1 1987 an election was held to make the Iowa City Public Library tax supported. The proposition passed with a vote of 1283 to 299.

  • Mar 15 1897

    First Iowa City Public Library Board of Trustees appointed

    The first Iowa city Public Library Board of Trustees was appointed on March 15, 1897, and it was made of the the original nine members of the ICPL Association board: George W. Ball, W.P. Coast, George Hummer, Alice Luscombe, Max Mayer, Bertha Ridgway, Bohumil Shimek, S.K. Stevenson, and Martin J. Wade.

  • Mar 24 1897

    Second Library Director hired

    Samuel H. (Harry) Sperry was selected as the second library director when A.C. Howell left the position in March of 1897. Gilbert A. McElroy was hired as the assistant Librarian.

  • October 1898

    Third Library Director hired

    Gilbert A McElroy was hired in October 1898 when Harry Sperry retired.

  • August 1899

    Fourth Library Director hired

    Leslie Switzer was hired as the Library Director in August 1899 after the retirement of Gilbert A McElroy

  • Feb 1 1900

    Fifth Library Director hired

    Adelaide C. Lloyd was hired as the fifth ICPL Library Director in February 1900 after the retirement of Leslie Switzer.

  • Oct 8 1900

    Lease signed on new location

    On October 8, 1900 a special board meeting was held to discuss a proposal brought to the Library board for a larger space in a building under construction at 212 College Street by W.D. Cannon Jr. and W.I. Pratt. This proposal would give the board the option of designing a space that met the particular needs of the library for things like a second toilet room, two work rooms in addition to the public area, and a six foot wide stairway up to the space. Their lease also promised veto power over the kind of businesses that could rent the first floor, The space would contain nearly 1000 more square feet than the library's original location. A lease was signed for $500 per year plus light and heat on October 8, 1900. The proposed move in date was January 1, 1901, however the move ended up on June 17, 1901. *NOTE 212 College Street, the Cannon & Pratt building, stood where the current ICPL Children's room stands today.

  • Jun 24 1901

    Library opens for business at its second location.

    The Iowa City Public Library moved to its second location, on the second floor of the Cannon & Pratt Building at 212 College Street on June 17, and opened for business again on Monday June 24, 1901.

  • Jul 16 1901

    Library Board and City Council inquire about a Carnegie grant

    Andrew Carnegie was offering grants for the construction of "Free Public Library Buildings" throughout the US. Iowa City was undergoing expansive growth at the turn of the century and the Library Board of Trustees saw the wisdom of building a permanent home for the Library. They sent an inquiry to Carnegie in the summer of 1901. In 1902 twenty-five percent more visitors checked out 21% more books than during the previous year (the year of the move). The library's collection had grown more than 40%, to over 7,000 volumes, since the move.

  • 1892-1902

    Carnegie Libraries and Iowa

    The first library funded by Andrew Carnegie was in the Scottish town of his birth, Dunfermline, Scotland in 1880. He then funded libraries in and around his adopted home town of Allegheny, Pennsylvania in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The fifth library funded by Carnegie, and the first outside of Western Pennsylvania where Carnegie had no personal ties to was in Fairfield, Iowa on January 15, 1892. In 1897 Carnegie hired James Bertram as his personal assistant, and to field requests from municipalities for funds when the grant program expanded in 1899. The early Carnegie grant questionnaire sent to cities that inquired about a Carnegie grant contained questions about the town’s population, whether it had any other libraries, how large its book collection was, and what its circulation figures were. If a town met these qualifications a second questionnaire was sent asking the amount the town was willing to pledge for the library’s annual maintenance, whether a site was being provided and the amount of money already available. Including Fairfield, there were a dozen other communities that received Carnegie library grants before Iowa City: 1899: Davenport; 1900: Ottumwa; 1901: Fort Dodge, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Hawarden, Eldora and Marshalltown; early 1902: Newton and Estherville. Seven communities received funding on February 15, 1902: Iowa City, Atlantic, Cedar Falls, Denison, Hampton, Maquoketa, Oskaloosa.

  • Feb 15 1902

    Iowa City is awarded a Carnegie grant

    Iowa City was awarded a $25,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie for the construction of a library building.

  • April 1903

    Carnegie aggrees to add an addtional $10,000 to the ICPL grant

    After the intervention of Sentaor William Boyd Allison.

  • July 1903

    Carnegie Library construction begins

    Groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 10, 1903, and construction of the Carnegie Library was begun. Library trustees W.P Coast, George Hummer, and George Ball were formally appointed to the building committee by board president Wade in the summer of 1903.

  • Oct 27 1904

    Carnegie library opens to the public

    On Thursday, October 27, 1904 the Iowa City Public Library opened in the Carnegie library at 212 South Linn Street, the library's third location.

  • Nov 29 1904

    Carnegie library dedication held

    The Carnegie library dedication was held Tuesday, November 29th at Coldren's Opera House

  • 1905

    Children's Periodicals and Reference collections begun

  • 1905

    Children's Picture File begins (prints and photos)

  • November 1905

    Sixth Library Director hired

    Lorene N. Webber was hired as the 6th ICPL Director in November 1905 after the retirement of Adelaide Lloyd

  • 1906

    Welch-Patterson memorial collection established

    In 1905 Mr. and Mrs. Willard Welch gave the library $1000 in memory of Mrs. Welch's father, Lemuel Bausman Patterson, a local lawyer. The following year Mrs. Welch (Lillie Patterson Welch) died after an accident getting off a train. A Christian Scientist, she refused medical attention and died of her injuries. Her will left the library another $1000. Combined, these two back to back donations were the second largest donation ever received, second only to the Carnegie award. The Guidelines developed for the use of this donation, established just before Mrs. Welch's death, were that the funds would used to create "The L.B. Patterson Memorial Library" a permanent reference collection containing biography, travel, history and related subjects. By 1915 the collection scope had expanded to include Art and Literature as well, and contained 815 volumes.

  • May 1906

    First Children's Room opens

    The first Children's room opened in the basement of the Carnegie library

  • November 1907

    Seventh Library Director hired

    Helen McRaith was hired as the 7th Library Director in November 1907 after the retirement of Lorene Webber. Ms. McRaith would become the first long term library director, serving in this position for more than 13 years before retiring.

  • 1911

    Library service to Iowa City schools begins

  • 1920s

    Mystery Fiction and Western Fiction collections added

  • 1920s

    Children's Easy Reader and Picture Book collections begun

  • October 1920

    Acting Library Director hired

    Ethel Tiffy was appointed acting director from October 1920 after the retirement of Helen McRaith. She served until April 1921 when Carolyn Ware was hired as director.

  • April 1921

    Eighth Library Director hired

    Carolyn E. Ware was hired as the 8th library director in April 1921, following the retirement of Director Helen McRaith.

  • October 1923

    Ninth Library Director hired

    Jessie B. Gordon was hired as the 9th Library Director in October 1923 after the retirement of Carolyn Ware. She held the position for 22 years and 7 months..

  • 1924

    "Branch" libraries were established at Horace Mann and Longfellow schools

    In 2018 Library Director Jesse Gordon established two "branch" libraries in Horace Mann and Longfellow, the two schools farthest from the library, and sent ICPL staff there to set up and check out materials one morning each week the schools were open. There were 1400 books between the two schools, and the collections were chosen and delivered each fall and returned to the library for mending and replacement each summer. This service ran until 1946.

  • 1926

    Iowa Library Association annual conference in Iowa City

    ICPL hosts the Iowa Library Association annual conference in 1926 and the Iowa Library association's regional meeting in 1927.

  • Oct 24 1929

    The Great Depression

    With the October 1929 crash of the US stock market the "Roaring 20's" official ended. The Great Depression began and would last until the US entered WWII. The Depression brought almost out-of-control demand for library services, while budgets just as dramatically dropped. The free public library became a haven for citizens in every station of life. Library Director Jesse Gordon's 1933 anual report to the bord stated "Besides the great demand for books on business, we find that people are also reading ot increase their efficiency in the present job or to re-educated themselves for a new one. Books of many kinds which contribute to the maintenance of a spirit of hope and as a substitute for inexpensive reacreation are beoing loaned by the hundreds." Use of ICPL contiuned to climb each year from 1929 to 1933. with 196,000 check-outs occurring in 1933. By the end of that year there were nearly 2,000 card holders and in 1934 more than 41,000 people used the library reading rooms (twice the number recrded for 1930). Library use for 1933 and 1934 was remarkable: each eyar the 9,500+ card holders checked out an average of 20 items per person while Iowa City's 15,240 residence made an average of 3 visits each week to the library.

  • 1930

    ICPL Circulation jumps

    The number of books and magazines checked out form ICPL jumped from 65,000 to 156,500 between 1921 and 1930, and increas of 140%.

  • 1930

    Children's Picture File (prints and photos) ends

  • 1930

    Library staffing has grown

    By 1930 the ICPL staff had increased to five full-time positions plus three part-time assistants and apprentices.

  • 1933

    Library closes on Sundays

    The Libary closes on Sundays due to depression era budget cuts, and would remain without Sunday hours for the next 25 years.

  • 1934

    Great Depression hits the ICPL budget

    For fiscal year 1934, the ICPL budget dropped fro $15,400 in 1933 to $11,600 in 1934 - a nearly 25% cut. The library cut its materials budget by 40% and laid off one full-time and all four part-time staff (in a period of absolute peak use!) leaving a staff of four. Most of the library budget was needed just to pay library overhead: water, lights, fuel, insurance and salaries. The public was urged to bring back their books on time so others could check them out, to read or reread the classics, and search out older titles that they might have missed, and to expect few new titles. Borrowing was limited to four books and four magazines per person, and fine rates were reduced to once cent per day if paid when the books were returned - but remained two cents if the overdue fee had to be mailed to the patron.

  • Jun 1 1934

    ICPL's first Summer Reading Program was held

    In the summer of 1934, the children's room offered its first summer readin gprogram. Children's Librarian helen Davis announched a "new form of hot weather diversion" with book clubs for each grade 3-8with some clubs divided into boys and girls groups.

  • 1934

    First outside book returned added

    During the depression an outside book return was added so that overdue books could be brought back without embarassment.

  • Nov 26 1935

    ICPL Celebrates Andrew Carnegies birth

    Libraries around the country celebrated the centennial of Andrew Carnegie's birth on November 26, 1835. IPL had an open house with displays and demonstrations on "how a library works." The Iowa City Press-Citizen carried a history of the library and ran a full page of pictures. In 1935 there were 133 public library buildings in Iowa, 99 of them built with Carnegie funds - including ICPL.

  • 1937

    Weekly newspaper column begins

    Jessie Gordon begins a weekly ICPL newspaper column that continues until 1980.

  • 1942

    Trestee Ella Van Epps becomes first woman library board president

  • Jun 4 1946

    Tenth Library Director Hired

    Joyce Nienstedt became the 10th director of the Iowa City Public Library on June 4, 1946 after the retirement of Jessie Gordon. She served 18 years in this position.

  • 1947

    Van Epps donation

    Clarence and Ella Van Epps dontate their personal library of over 1,000 volumes to the Library. Ella Van Epps had spent twenty years on the library board, and was the first woman to serve as president. Clarence was on the University medical faculty for over fifty years.

  • 1948

    "Branch Libraries" opened at all Iowa City elementary schools

    Library Director Joyce Nienstedt opened "branch libraries" at all remining Iowa City elementary schools to mirror those that had been at Longfellow and Mann elementary schools since 1923. She encouraged the Library Board to seek a contract with the school board to pay for those services. This contract lasted for six years, 1948-1953, and ranged from $2,100 to $3,200 per year, which was approximately half the cost of this service. In 1954, the same year that Mark Twain and Hebert Hoover elementary schools opened, the school board terminated the contract and began planning for elementary school libraries. It took close to 10 years before all the elementary school libraries were opened.

  • July 1949

    Hazel Westgate becomes ICPL Children's Librarian

    Hazel Westgate hired as Children's Librarian.

  • 1950

    Music Room opens

    Recordings collection is started from a bequest of Jennie Brubaker and the Music Room opens.

  • 1950s

    Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Young Adult Non-Fiction and LP Recording, and Children's LP Recording collecitons created

  • 1955

    Library service to public schools ends

  • 1955

    Myron J. Walker Trust begins annual income to library

  • Jun 4 1962

    Referendum on Carnegie building addition passes

    A referendum on building an addition to the Carnegie library is approved by 83% of the voters (2,929 to 742)

  • Nov 10 1963

    Dedication ceremonies for new building addition are held

  • March 1964

    Eleventh Library Director hired

    Sallie Helm was hired as the 11th library director after the retirement of Joyce Nienstedt.

  • 1965

    8mm Film and Art Reproduction collections created

  • 1965

    Iowa City Public Library and the Seven Rivers Library System

    ICPL becomes the headquarters for the Seven Rivers library System

  • 1966

    Large Print Book Collection created

  • 1967

    Service to shut-ins begins

  • August 1968

    Twelfth Library Director hired

    Mary Croteau was hired in August 1968 as the 12th Library Director after the retirement of Sallie Helm.

  • Sep 1 1968

    Service to residents of rural Johnson County begins

    Former Library director Helm and the Library board negotiatied a $5,000 contract with the Johnson County Board of Supervisors for ICPL to provide services to rural Johnson County residents that began on September 1, 1968. By the October '68 library board meeting staff had already issued 177 library cards to rurual residents. Six months later, in March 1969, the number had risen to 460.

  • 1969

    Young Adult Non-Ficiton merged with Adult Non-Fiction collection

  • 1969

    Paperback Collection created

  • 1969

    Services to businesses begins

  • 1969

    Iowa City Public Library reopens on Sundays

    The Library reopens on Sundays for the first time since 1933.

  • 1970

    Recorded Book Collection begins

  • 1970s

    Children's paperback and Book/LP collections being

  • August 1970

    Acting Library Director appointed

    Lolly Eggers was appointed Acting Library Director in August 1970 upon the retirement of Mary Croteau, and she served for four months in this position until Jack Hurkett was hired as Director.

  • November 1970

    Thirteenth Library Director hired

    Jack Hurkett was hired as the 13th ICPL director in November 1970.

  • 1972

    Children's Framed Art reproduction minatures collection begins

  • 1972

    Music on Casette tapes and 16mm Film collections begun

  • 1974

    Seven Rivers system ends and state-funded East Central Library system headquarters open in Cedar Rapids

  • 1974

    First used books sale is held

    ICPL holds the first used books sale

  • 1974

    Reciprocal borrowing with area libraries begins

    Reciprocal borrowing the area public libraries including Coralville and Cedar Rapids begins

  • 1974

    Library service to county jail begins

  • June 1974

    Lolly Eggers returned as Acting Director

    Lolly Eggers served for a second time as Acting Director from June 1974 when Jack Hurkett retired.

  • 1975

    Planning for new library building begins and building consultant is hired

  • March 1975

    Lolly Eggers officially becomes the Fourteenth Library Director

    Lolly P. Eggers was hired as the 14th Library Director in March of 1975. Lolly served as either Director or Acting Director for 20 years and 4 months.

  • 1975

    Casette Tape collection (Music) ends

  • 1976

    School board beigns to share cost of services to elementary schools

    The Iowa City School board begins to share the cost of library services to all elementary schools.

  • 1976

    Friends of Iowa City Public Library

    The organizing of the Friends of the Library group began in 1974, as soon as the trustees saw the posibility of a new library building in the future. One of the original goals for establishing a friends group was to build public support for the library and its possible expansion. By the fall of 1976 bylaws and articles of incorporation had been completed with Ann Bagfor serving as the chairman. By the end of June 1977 the Friends had over 300 members, $3000 in the tresury and newly elected co-presidents Dottie Ray and Ann Feddersen to carry the Friends forward.

  • 1976

    First Audiovisual Librarian is hired

  • 1977

    Comic Book Colleciton begun

  • 1978

    The Art To Go Collection, Sculpture Reproduction Collection, VHS collections (movies & nonfiction), Slides and Filmstrip Collections begun

  • Nov 7 1978

    Referendum for new library passes

    The referendum on bonds for the new library is carried by 62% of voters (7,424 to 4,944)

  • 1979

    Children's Book/Cassette collection begins

  • 1979

    $31,000 grant helps build audiovisual collections.

  • 1979

    First volunteer policy adopted

  • Oct 1 1979

    Computer-assisted circulation system goes online

  • Oct 1 1980

    Library's online public catalog is the first in a U.S. public library

    Two "touch" terminals near the card catalog enabled the public to search the catalog by author, title, or subject. From that date we no longer updated the printed card catalog. The touch screens allowed the public to access the catalog without having to use a keyboard.

  • Oct 11 1980

    Groundbreaking ceremony for new library held

  • November 1980

    ICPL Cable Channel begins

    The Library Channel was provided through Iowa City's first cable franchise agreements with Hawkeye Cablevision. A cable studio and control room were built into the new building, and provided office space for Hawkeye Cablevision and the city's broadband cable television specialist in the Library.

  • 1981

    Children's Toys & Games and Filmstrip collections beguns

  • May 25 1981

    Carnegie library closes

    The Carnegie library closes on Monday, May 27 1981 after 77 years of service.

  • Jun 14 1981

    Dedication ceremonies for new library

    Dedication ceremonies for the new library at 123 South Linn Street are held on Sunday, June 14, 1981.

  • Jun 15 1981

    Library opens at 123 South Linn Street

    Library opens at it's 4th location, a new 47,000 sq.ft building at 123 South Linn Street on Monday June 15th.

  • 1981

    Children's Book/LP and Framed Art Reproduction Minatures collections end

  • 1981

    Sculpture Reproducation collection ends

  • 1982

    Games Collection begun

  • 1982

    The Audiovisual lab opens to the public

  • 1982

    Iowa City Public Library Foundation established

  • 1983

    "Library Priorities for the '80s" the first long-range plan approved

  • 1984

    8mm Film collection ends

  • 1985

    Centennial Endowment Fund established by the ICPL Foundation.

  • 1985

    Children's Video collection begins

  • 1985

    Foreign Language Films and Easy Reading (Adult new literates) Collections begun

  • 1985

    Library awarded a $125,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant

  • Dec 31 1985

    Children's Filmstrip collection ends

  • 1986

    Library receives a $125,000 bequest from Edwin Green

  • 1986

    16mm Film collection ends

  • 1987

    Software (on Floppy Disc) Collection begun

  • 1987

    Compact Disc Collections begun

  • 1988

    "On Track for the '90s" second long-range plan approved

  • May 17 1988

    Children's Librarian Hazel Westgate passes away

    ICPL Children's Librarian Hazel Westgate began her career at ICPL in 1949, and she worked at ICPL until her death on May 17, 1988. Known as "the Library Lady" by the thousands of children she helped in her 39 years at ICPL, Hazel left her mark on the lives of all of them. Hazel selected over 30,000 books for the children's room during her time at ICPL, but that wasn't all. During her tenure she increased the number of story hours, provided video programming, and developed outreach programming, bringing storytime to city parks and daycare centers. She was an expert in children’s literature and shared her love of stories with everyone in the Children's Room. She was skilled in matching a reader to their book, but she also believed libraries were a place of imagination and play. On June 19, a public memorial service and reception were held in her honor.

  • 1989

    Open Access, state-wide reciprocal borrowing program begins

    Open Access enables eligible Iowans to check out physical materials at over 600 participating Iowa public and academic libraries. As a result, Iowans have greater access to more library resources, more choices in library service and the convenience of using a library where they work, shop or visit.

  • 1990

    Children's Compact Disc collection begins

  • 1990

    Public Libraries of Johnson County Association formed

  • August 1990

    Circulation Desk remodeled

    In August of 1990 the library circulation desk was remodeled to better handle the 290 checkous each hour. Additional stations were added, and a faux marble countertop were added.

  • Oct 1 1990

    COMPASS, the ICPL on-line catalog premiered

    On October 1, 1990 the Library's new online catalog, COMPASS, was introduced to the public. This happened exactly 10 years to the day from the premiere of our fully automated catalog on Oct. 1, 1980.

  • Dec 20 1990

    Happy 90th Birthday Irving Weber!

    On December 20, 1990 a birthday party was held at ICPL for local historian Irving B. Weber. More than 135 joined ICPL staff to celebrate his 90th birthday.

  • 1990

    Software (on Floppy Disc) Collection ends

  • 1991

    Children's Board Book collection begins

  • Feb 14 1991

    Begin With Books program begins

    On Valentines Day 1991, ICPL's Begin with Books program began, delivering a packet of information and a children's book to each new baby born at Mercy and the University of Iowa Hospitals. Funding for this new project came from Hills Bank.

  • Apr 14 1991

    ICPL's Tadashi Grand Piano

    The Friends of Historic Preservation loaned the Library a 1985 Tadashi Grand Piano in 1988. This piano was used by community groups for piano recitals and for Library programs and events. In the spring of 1990, the FHP offered to sell the piano to the Library for $9,600 (approximately half its value.) Herb and Janice Wilson donated $4800 and John Crawford donated $4000 toward its purchase. The Foundation developed the "88 Piano Key" campaign, "selling" each of the 88 piano keys for $50 each to raised the needed remaining funds and, if possible, to start an endowment fund for the piano's care and upkeep. By the end of December the Foundation had raised $12,450 and the Tadashi officially became the Library's Piano. A public reception was held April 14th, 1991 when the Foundation presented a check to the Friends of Historic Preservation and then presented the Piano to the Library.

  • Nov 7 1991

    Permanent Special Levy for Library approved

    The referendum on a permanent special levy for the library approved by 68% of voters (6,426 to 3,041)

  • 1992

    Refnet, CD-ROM reference network, installed

  • 1992

    Children's outreach plan odopted

  • 1993

    Children's Recorded Books collection begins

  • 1993

    First year of 1 million loans...

    First year of 1 million loans, 100,000 reference questions, and 20,000 new items added to the collection.

  • 1993

    Ellen and John Buchanan Challenge

    The Ellen and John Buchanan challenge bequest of $525,000 raises $1.5 million in deferred gifts for the ICPL foundation.

  • 1993

    Friends of the Library & The ICPL Foundation merge

    Friends of the Library and the ICPL Foundation merege and become the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation.

  • 1993

    Space needs study begins

    A space needs study for library expansion begins.

  • 1994

    Children's Music on Cassette collection begins

  • 1994

    "Building on a Century of Service", the third long-range plan, approved.

  • Jul 1 1994

    Fifteenth Library Director Susan K. Craig

    On July 1, 1994 ICPL Assistant Director Susan K. Craig took the reins as the 15th Library Director. Susan served as Library Director for 24 years and 6th months, making her the longest serving director to date. She had been the Assistant Director since 1986. Susan Craig grew up in Waterloo, and came to Iowa City in 1970. She started working at ICPL in 1975 as a work/study employee the same month started her graduate library degree. She became a substitute Information Librarian after she completed her degree, becoming a permanent Librarian in 1980. Then was appointed the the technical services manager in 1982. She became Assistant Director in 1986. With her retirement in December 2018, her career at the Iowa City Public Library lasted for over 43 years.

  • 1994

    First ICPL Book Gala at Prairie Lights

    The first ICPL Book Gala took place at Prarie Lights in 1994.

  • 1994

    Children's LP Recording collection ends

  • 1995

    Multimedia collection begun

  • 1995

    Audiovisual lab closed

  • 1995

    Public internet access begins

  • September 1995

    First Carol Spaziani Intellectural Freedom Festival

    Named for former ICPL Librarian Carol Spaziani to honor her 26-year career at ICPL and her life-long commitment to the freedom of ideas, this annual event affirms everyone's right to freedom of thought and expression.

  • 1995

    Games collection ends

  • 1996

    Celebration of the Iowa City Public Library's Centennial begins

  • 1996

    City council denies board-recommended building expansion

    The city council denies the Libary board-recommended building expansion, wants the library in a multi-use facility.

  • 1996

    Public access to the World Wide Web begins

  • 1996

    LP Recording Collection ends

  • 1998

    First Iowa City City-Wide Spelling Bee held

    The first Iowa City Spells city-wide spelling bee was held in 1998

  • June 1998

    ICPL Information Kiosk installed at Sycamore Mall

  • March 1999

    Iowa City Voters defeat Joint Use proposal including the Library.

    A proposal presented to Iowa City voters for a joint facility including the library, public auditorium and cultural center was defeated in March 1999.

  • September 1999

    The Bookend - ICPL Friends Foundation Book Store opens

    The bookend opened at 115 South Linn Street.

  • Nov 7 2000

    Voters of Iowa City pass tax referendum for expansion of the Iowa City Public Library building

    The Board of Trustees of the Iowa City Public Library began studying studying space needs and various options to meet those needs since 1993. A proposal presented to Iowa City voters for a joint facility including a public auditorium and cultural center including other projects was defeated in March 1999. The Iowa City City Council approved the placing of an $18.4 million property tax referendum for expansion of the library on the November 7, 2000 ballot. Iowa City voters voted YES to the proposed ICPL expansion with a resounding 2/3rds majority in favor of expansion. The expansion was completed in 2004.

  • Jan 2 2001

    Movies on DVD available for checkout

    The library began circulating movies on DVD on January 2, 2001. We had more than 400 items in the collection on that first day. Checkouts were limited to 2 items per library card, and went out for 7 days with no renewal. We had one DVD player for use in the building and one for overnight checkout.

  • October 2001

    Sections of the Lenoch & Cilek Mural saved from demolition.

    In 1993 students from the Iowa City Community School's Community Education Center (CEC) painted a 26 foot long mural in the hallway of the Lenoch and Cilek Building just west of the Library. In 2002 this building was to be demolished to make way for the addition to the Library. In 2001 a group of community members requested that the Library Board preserve and restore the mural before the building was demolished. An ad hoc Mural Committe was developed, including ICPL Assistant Director Liz Nichols, Library Trustee, Jim Swaim, former Trustee, Winston Barclay, and representatives of the original artists and their families, including Dr. Hani Elkadi, Donna Van Bibber, and Matt Preciado to oversee the mural project. Dr. Hani Elkadi, who taught Art and Science at CEC and who supervised the original mural project, made it a class project in the spring 2001 trimester to restore the mural to its original condition. In October Howard Horan, Horan Studios, photograph the mural. It was impossible to remove the entire 26-plus ft. wall in one piece, so the mural was sectioned into its original components in order to preserve the most significant mural scenes. There were twelve discrete scenes composed by various students from the CEC program with the assistance of artists in the community. Expert advice and volunteer assistance from several individuals in the building trades: Contractor, John Loomis, helped to plan the extraction of the wall pieces, and worked along-side a group of volunteers from Carpenters Local 1260. One Saturday in October 2001, after several saw blades and one burnt out saw, all but one major piece of the mural had been saved. The volunteers who spent a morning painstakingly removing wall sections were Local 1260 members, Patrick Hughes, Jake Babcock, Edward Dallago, Mike Meggers, Michael Pickett, Steve Stewart, architect, Paul Nichols, Hani Elkadi, John Loomis, and Liz Nichols. Eight of the pieces were given a final restoration by Dr. Elkadi and were then framed by a collaboration of The Woodworkers (David Naso) and The Art Mission (Kathy Rash). Currently, one of the mural sections hangs in the Koza Family Teen Center in the Iowa City Public Library. The other framed pieces are out on "indefinite loan" to various agencies and businesses in the community.

  • Oct 22 2001

    All Johnson County Reads the Same Book

    A community reading project sponsored by the UI Center for Human Rights, ICPL, Coralville Public Library, Iowa City Human Rights Commission, UI International Writing Program and Prairie Lights Bookstore began on October 22, 2001. Every adult and adolescent in Johnson County was encouraged to read "The Last Summer of Reason" by Tahar Djaout. Cosponsors included Hancher Auditorium, the UI Institute for Cinema and Culture, the UI Book Store, Iowa Book, and the Iowa City Press Citizen. Also participating were the Iowa City Community Schools and the West High Library.

  • Feb 11 2002

    Demoliton of the old JC Penny's / Lenoch & Cilek building to make way for the library's new west wing

  • April 2003

    Library moves to new west wing.

    The Library is closed for two days to move into the new west wing so renovation can begin on the original library building.

  • May 31 2004

    Library closed to move into the newly remodled space

    The Iowa City Public Library was closed from Monday, May 31 through Fiday, June 11 so that the Library could move back into the renovated space of the old building. The Grand Reopening took place on Saturday, June 12th at 11:00am following a ribbon cutting.

  • Jun 12 2004

    ICPL Grand Reopening

    The Grand Reopening of the Iowa City Public Library in newly expanded and remodeled library was on Saturday, June 12, 2004 at 11:00 am.

  • June 2004

    Wireless Internet available at ICPL

    Wireless internet access became availalbe at ICPL when the renovated building opened in June 12, 2004.

  • Jan 27 2005

    Big Brain with Ben Kieffer broadcasts live from ICPL

    Public radio's new show "Big Brain" with host Ben Kieffer, the show "that answers life's little questions" broadcast live from ICPL's Meeting Room A in front of a live audience. January 27, February 24, March 10, and April 21 2005.

  • Spring 2005

    Library fines can be paid online!

    In the Spring of 2005, ICPL Patrons were able to pay their fines online through the catalog 24 hours a day by logging into their account in the catalog.

  • Feb 25 2006

    ICPL's first Anime and Manga Festival

    February 25th was the ICPL's first Anime and Manga Festival. It was so popular it was decided to make this an annual event.

  • March 2006

    Circulating DVD/VHS players become available

    DVD and Vhs players were changed from "reservation equipment" to regular circulating items and their loan period was changed from 3 to 7 days to match the loan period of the DVD movies. This means that DVD and VHS players can now be searched in the catalog, and holds may be placed.

  • Apr 13 2006

    F2 Tornado strikes downtown Iowa City. ICPL closed for one day.

    The F2 tornado that hit downtown Iowa City just after dark on April 13, causing severe damage in the downtown area. The Iowa City Public Library was lucky, having only minor damage, and was closed for only one day.

  • May 19 2006

    Friday hours extended to 8pm

    ICPL Friday hours were extended from 6pm to 8pm

  • Jun 1 2006

    ICPL begins providing service to residents of Hills and University Heights.

    On June 1, 2006 the Iowa City Public Library began service to the residents of University Heights and Hills. This was provided through contracts for library service negotiated between ICPL and the governments of each city.

  • September 2006

    Sunday hours changed from 1-6 to 12-5

  • September 2006

    Community Writing Center began

    The Community Writing Center began in September 2006 as a partnership with the UI Department of Rhetoric to provide free public access to writing tutors for adults and teens.

  • 2007

    ICPL Digital History collection begun

  • February 2007

    V.I.T.A - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program premieres at ICPL

    In partnership with the Tippie School of Business Beta Alpha Psi accounting fraternity the VITA program began in February 2007

  • Spring 2007

    Friday hours expanded in the evenings until 8pm

  • Jun 5 2007

    Summer Library Bus service began

    The Summer Library Bus service began in June 2007 as a partnership between ICPL and Iowa City Transit. Three specific library transit routes were developed to encourage library visits by school-aged children during the summer break. Two east side routes and one west side route were designed to run between 9am and 3pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays for 10 weeks (June 5-August 9). The routes were designed to reach the Title 1 elementary schools in Iowa City and the neighborhood centers. Input from ICCSD and the City's Community Development office helped determine locations in need, and the program was a great success. Support for this pilot program was provided by grants from Procter & Gamble and the West Bancorporation Foundation.

  • Jun 12 2007

    ICPL Celebrates 5 years in the "new" library with a week-long celebration

    A week-long celebrations began with the Friday night concert on June 12th. Throughout the week a variety of events were held, including a concert, and events with our first author-in-residence Jack Gantos,

  • Jul 3 2007

    The Book End's new home

    The Book End reopened on July 3rd in it's new location on the second floor of the Library. It moved from it's former location just across the alley on Linn St. The Bookend, which is staffed by Friends Foundation volunteers, was open Noon to 7pm Monday through Thursday, Noon to 5:30 on Friday and noon to 4pm on Saturdays.

  • Jul 21 2007

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released

    The final book in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling came out on July 21, 2007. We ordered 51 copies of the book, and they were kept in hiding until the morning of July 21. These Library copies arrived early so that we could catalog and process them and have them ready for the public on July 21.

  • Fall 2007

    Express Non Fiction collection beings

  • Aug 20 2007

    eAudio collection premiered

  • September 2007

    Live Homework Help was launched

    A joint venture between ICPL, Coralville Public Library and the North Liberty Community Library, Live Homework Help (LHH) directs students from the various library websites to the Homework Help site. Kids can long in with their library card for free live tutoring in Math, Science, Social Studies, and English. Grades 4-12 and College Intro supported. This service is offered in both English and Spanish.

  • Sep 6 2007

    Teen Tech Zone

    During the summer of 2007 the Teen Tech Zone was one of our most popular teen activities. Teens could access computers in the computer lab for up to four hours a day three days a week. When school went back in session in September we extended TTZ to every Thursday afternoon from 230-5pm.

  • Fall 2007

    ICPL gets a Facebook Page

    Iowa City Public Library's Facebook presence began in the Fall of 2007

  • Oct 17 2007

    ICPL's Community Reading Month Book Talks turn 20!

    The Teen & Adult Book Talk Lunch on October 17th was the kickoff event for the 20th annual Community Reading Month. Events were held at ICPL, North Liberty Community Library, and the Cole Library in Mount Vernon. Community Reading Month is a joint project of the Iowa City Public Library, The Iowa City Community Schools and Hills Bank and Trust.

  • Oct 20 2007

    Popo the puppet celebrates 20 years at ICPL!

    The annual Popo's Puppet Festival, named after the lively puppet who has been appearing at ICPL story times for the last 20 years, the festival celebrates and introduces children to the wonder of puppetry as an art form. Professional puppet troupes are brought in to perform, and Popo and Dave appear (courtesy of Deanne Wortman and Dave Panther).

  • Oct 30 2007

    Event Manager online meeting room software premiered

    On October 30, ICPL's new online meeting room reservation software premiered. Event Manager allows both staff and the public to view meeting room calendars online and make reservations for meetings and events online 24/7. All reservations put in the system go to ICPL staff to approve before being posted to the live calendar. This system made our very popular meeting rooms much easier for the public to use, and best of all it enabled ICPL staff to finally graduate from our triplicate paper based meeting room registration forms!

  • Nov 27 2007

    Former President Bill Clinton surprises ICPL staff with a visit

    President Bill Clinton, in Iowa City during the Iowa Caucus, stopped by the Iowa City Public Library before we opened on Tuesday November 27, 2007. He asked for a tour of the building and met and talked with all the staff who were in the building that morning.

  • Dec 31 2007

    Ron Prosser retires after 34 years at ICPL

    Ron Prosser, a face in the library's Circulation department for over 34 years retired on December 31, 2007.

  • Jan 13 2008

    Author Michael Pollan visits ICPL

    Michael Pollan, author of "The Ominvore's Dilemma" read from his new book "In Defense of Food." This event was sponsored by ICPL, the New Pioneer Co-op and Prairie Lights Books and Iowa Public Radio. Video from this event can be found at icpl.org/video

  • February 2008

    Chat Reference premieres

    ICPL's Chat Reference service went online.

  • Apr 11 2008

    ICPL's YouTube page "TheLibraryChannel" premiered

    ICPL began streaming videos on our own YouTube page "thelibrarychannel".

  • May 1 2008

    Movie DVD collection rearranged by genre

    ICPL's Movie Collection became large enough that it was divided into genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Foreign, Musical, SF/Horror and Suspense. Changing the layout of the collection made it easier to browse.

  • May 1 2008

    Movies on VHS and Fiction on Tape collections ceased

    Due to the shift from VHS to DVD and cassette tape to CD, these two collection formats were retired.

  • June 2008

    The Flood of 2008

    The Flood of 2008 began around June 8, 2008 and ended about July 1. By Saturday, June 14th the Iowa river had seriously risen and warnings were issued for people to prepare to evacuate from the 500-year-flood floodplain. Rains caused the Iowa River to rise, and it topped the spillway at the Coralville Reservoir for 10 days, peaking on June 15th. The out of control Iowa River was out of its banks in Coralville, Iowa City and other communities downstrem. Thankfully ICPL sits well above that floodplain. Public programs were cancelled beginning June 13 at the request of the Iowa City City Manager to dissuade people from coming downtown. In response to the flood ICPL extended loan periods for checked out materials, charged no fines for flood damaged items, and made computer access easier for those effected by the flood.

  • Jun 10 2008

    Every Bus is a Library Bus!

    Growing out of last years Library Bus program, Iowa City Transit has partnered with ICPL to make Every Bus a Library Bus! Beginning on June 10th, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, children through grade 12 and their adult caregivers with them can show their ICPL library card for a free bus ride to downtown between 9am and 3pm. Ride home free anytime the same day with a Ride & Read bus pass, available at the Checkout Desk. Limit 1 per day, twice a week. The program runs June 10-August14.

  • Nov 20 2008

    Iowa City becomes UNESCO City of Literature

    On November 20, 2008, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) designated Iowa City as the world's third City of Literature (joining Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia), making part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

  • Dec 4 2008

    Video Game collection premiered

    ICPL's video game collection premiered December 4th 2008 with games for Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.

  • Dec 15 2008

    Abraham Lincoln - A Self Made Man exhibit opens at ICPL

    A traveling exhibit from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum entitled "Abraham Lincoln - A Self Made Man" opened on December 15th 2008 and remained on exhibit until January 8, 2009. Part of the Iowa City Public Library's "Thinkin' Lincoln" series of events, this series began in the Fall of 2008 to celebrating the the bicentennial of President Lincoln's Birthday (February 12, 1809).

  • January 2009

    20th Anniversary of Ellen Buchanan's local history program One of A Kind

    In January 2009 the Library Channel and Ellen Buchanan passed a milestone: One of A Kind, the history interview series produced and hosted by Ellen Buchanan for the Library Channel passed its 20 year mark. A public event was held on May 15, 2009 to honor Ellen. Programs are now available on the Library's video stream: icpl.org/video

  • Jan 16 2009

    The Thinkin' Lincoln Penny Pressing machine debuts

    As part of our Thinkin' Lincoln celebrations, the Thinkin' Lincoln Penny Presser debuted at the Library. The Pressed Pennie machine had four special images available: The Iowa City Public Library; Reading Makes Cents; President-elect Barack Obama, and the University of Iowa Tiger Hawk.

  • Feb 6 2009

    Project Lincoln Log event held

    As part of Library's celebration of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday, the Project Lincoln Log event was held. Teams of 3 were given one hour to build something out of two boxes of Lincoln Logs, Teams were allowed to prep their base before the event. The Best In Show went to a recreation of the 100 Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh.

  • Mar 7 2009

    12th Annual Iowa City Spells Spelling Bee

  • Apr 7 2009

    Augusten Burroughs at ICPL

    Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and other titles gave a talk at the Iowa City Public Library on April 7, 2009

  • Summer 2009

    ICPL gets more public computers

    in the Summer of 2009, we expanded the number of public computers available to 40, added 4 public scanners and made faxing available at the second floor page station.

  • Jun 12 2009

    ICPL sponsored the Friday Night Concert Series with the Beaker Brothers.

    As a kick off to the ICPL's 5th Anniversary in the "new" library building, ICPL sponsored the Friday Night Concert event on June 12th with a performance by the Beaker Brothers.

  • Jun 13 2009

    Jay Waljasper speakes at the Iowa City Public Library

    As part of the Library's 5th Anniversary Celebration, journalist, author Jay Walljasper presented “Everything I Need to Know I Learned at the Public Library: Important Lessons Drawn from Books, Librarians, Neighbors and Life Itself”

  • Jun 17 2009

    Jack Gantos becomes the first Iowa City Public Library author in residence

    Jack Gantos, author of the Rotten Ralph series, becomes the 1st ever author in residence at the Iowa City Public Library in honor of the ICPL's 5th anniversary in our new building.

  • Jun 22 2009

    ICPL became the busiest single library in the state

    On June 22, 2009 ICPL checked out its 1,500,000th item in fiscal year 2009 (July 1, 2008 to June 30,2009), making us the busiest single library in the state of Iowa.

  • Summer 2009

    ECO Iowa City program begins

    ECO Iowa City, a partnership between the Iowa City Public Library, the City of Iowa City Public Works Department and the Iowa City Landfill & Recycling Center was created through a grant from the ICMA to create an 18-month-long series of programs on environmental sustainability.

  • July 2009

    The first Iowa City Book Festival was held

    The first Iowa City Book Festival was a daylong celebration of books, reading and writing was launched by the University of Iowa Libraries to celebrate the 5 milllionth volume purchase by the UI Libraris as well as the 40th anniversary of the UI Press.

  • December 2009

    Ebook collection debuts

    The library's ebook collection debuts.

  • January 2010

    The new RFID system

    When ICPL switch to a new RFID (Radio-frequency Identification) system, over 230,000 items need to be retagged. Starting in January, every single item had to go through the hands of a staff person who placed a new tag in/on it and then programmed the tag with a special device to match the item's barcode to the tag's frequency.

  • Feb 1 2010

    The Big Read: Fahrenheit 451

    ICPL, the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature participated in thie 2010 National Endowment of the Art campaign "The Big Read" with many other community organizations including Summer of the Arts and the Public Libraries of Johnson County. The "The Big Read" kicks off in February with Ray Bradbury's “Fahrenheit 451.” There were events and activities throughout Johnson County running through the beginning of March, from book discussions, lectures and even Ray Bradbury film festivals.

  • April 2010

    30th Anniversary of the Library's Volunteer Program

    The 30th anniversary of the ICPL volunteer program was celebrated

  • April 2010

    Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature office opens in Iowa City Public Library

    The nonprofit IC-UNESCO City of Literature office opened in the Administrative Offices of the Iowa City Public Library in April 2010. Jeanette Pilak served as the first director.

  • Jul 15 2010

    John Coy is the 2nd ICPL Author In Residence

    Young Adult Author John Coy was the 2nd Iowa City Public Library Author in Residence in June 2010. The author of picture books and sports-theme books for school-age children and young adults. He presented multiple programs at the library on July 15-17,

  • March 2011

    ICPL begins streaming of Library Channel programs

    ICPL begins on-demand streaming of Library Channel programs in March, to make library programs available to those who do not subscribe to cable.

  • April 2011

    14th Annual Iowa City Spells

    The 14th Annual Iowa City Spells city-wide spelling bee was held in April 2011.

  • Apr 1 2011

    Book Nook playhouse debuted in the Children's Room

    The Book Nook playhouse was constructed by Nathan Nissen out of hundreds of discarded children's books. It was painted and finished by Deanne Wortman and Eric Wortman.

  • May 3 2011

    Tech Tuesdays began

    Tech Tuesdays, designed to provide one-on-one technology assistance began in May 2011. Beginning on May 3rd, staff from the Reference and Fiction desk were available on Tuesday mornings to provide help with library technology or patron's personal gadgets like cell phones.

  • Oct 6 2011

    ICPL opens the Pepperwood Plaza Public Computer Access

    October 6th was the grand opening of the new Pepperwood Plaza Computer Access site. Housed in the lobby of the east side Iowa City Police Department's Pepperwood substation, the facility was open 2 hours a day, twice a week with free internet access and printing capability. Hours were 10-noon on Tuesdays, and 1:30-3:30 on Thursdays, and ICPL Librarians were on site during all hours.

  • Jan 14 2012

    Another Book Festival is born: One Book Two Book - A celebration of Children's Literature

    The inaugural One Book Two Book Children's Literature Festival took place on Friday - Sunday, January 13-15. Hosted by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature and the Pearson Foundation, the festival featured a number of literature-related events aimed at kids and their parents. From book character meet-and-greets, guest authors, music, and rides on the Hawkeye Express train between Iowa City to North Liberty, crowds also visited the Iowa City and North Liberty libraries for fun activities. More than 3000 book lovers took part in the event.

  • Feb 16 2012

    The 15th, and final, Iowa City S-P-E-L-L-S Adult Spelling Bee

    Iowa City S-P-E-L-L-S Adult Spelling Bee took it's final bow on Thursday, February 16th. 30 teams of three took part this year ICPL Friends Foundation event, in what turned out to be the longest bee of all. After 30 rounds, the Kirkwood Killer Bees took home their 7th win with the word "Isinglass."

  • Apr 21 2012

    US Olympic Wrestling Trials come to Iowa City.

    The United States Olympic Wrestling Trials were held at Carver Hawkeye Arena on April 21/22, 2012. The Iowa City Public Library held a variety of events to celebrate. On April 19th ICPL hosted a program "Scoring Olympic Wrestling" with Iowa City wrestling legends Tom Lepic (UI Wrestling 1971-1975, and former Iowa City West wrestling coach) and Jeff McGinness (UI Wrestling 1994-1998, two-time NCAA wrestling champion, three-time All-American, undefeated Iowa City High wrester 172-0) to explain how Olympic wrestling is judged. Iowa City High School Wrestlers demonstrated various moves and holds. Iowa Olympic Gold Medalist, world gold medalist, two-time NCAA Division I national champion and University of Iowa Head Wrestling Coach Dan Gable was the featured speaker at a program on Friday, April 20th and he signed autographs after the program. The Library also featured exhibits with treasured books and memorabilia from Gable's personal collection as well as posters and other items from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.

  • May 2012

    The Local Music Collection debute

    The Local Music Project is a free digital music collection composed of eastern Iowa musicians. The Local Music Project was the first of its kind for libraries and has inspired many other communities to create similar programs celebrating local music. In its first five years ICPL has leased the rights to a revolving catalog of more than 160 different albums from over 80 regional solo artists and bands.

  • Dec 7 2012

    First Annual Friends Foundation Arts & Crafts Bazaar held

    The first annual Friends Foundation Arts & Crafts Bazaar was held. Donations of handmaid arts and crafts from patrons and staff were sold to benefit the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation, which supports the Summer Reading Program and other Library programs and collections.to raise money for the ICPL Friends Foundation,

  • January 2013

    Second-annual One Book Two Book children's literature festival

    Sponsored by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature and partners The Pearson Foundation and the Iowa City Public Library.

  • Oct 10 2013

    5th Annual Iowa City Book Festival

    The Iowa City Book Festival celebrates and supports literature on a local, regional, national, and international level, connecting readers and writers through the power of story. Launched by the University of Iowa Libraries in 2009, the Book Festival moved to the auspices of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature in 2013. With the move came a change of date, shifting from the traditional July dates to a four day celelbration of all things books and writing on Oct. 10-13.

  • Nov 12 2013

    Koza Family Teen Center Opens

    The Koza Family Teen Center is a space designed specifically for teens from grades 7-12 to hangout, have fun, be creative and comfortably do homework. Named after the family of John S. and Patricia C. Koza whos donation enabled the creation of the space.

  • 2014

    Major renovation to Children's Room completed

    Several major changes and improvements were made including a redesigned service desk, shelving areas and computer space.

  • Jun 16 2014

    FIFA World Cup watch parties at ICPL

    Between June 16 - 30th, we had watch parties for 7 of the games of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in the Library's large meeting room.

  • Jun 27 2014

    Library Links Golf Classic

    The Library Links Golf Classic presented by University of Iowa Community Credit Union was held Friday, June 27, at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City. This annual fundraiser on the green is held to raise green for the Annual Fund of the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation. All funds raised at this event were used by the Library to continue providing dynamic collections, programs, and resources that make it the busiest public library in Iowa.

  • Sep 16 2014

    Melissa Gilbert at Iowa City Public Library

    Actress and cookbook author Melissa Gilbert was at the Iowa City Public Library to discuss and give readings from here new book My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours" the evening of Tuesday, September 16, 2014

  • Jul 7 2015

    Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton at ICPL

    Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton attended a Hillary for Iowa campaign organizing meeting in the Library’s first floor meeting rooms Tuesday morning on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.

  • Oct 26 2015

    Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiley visits Iowa City Public Library

    Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiliey came to Iowa City Public Library to discuss her new book "Golden Age" the final novel in her Last Hundred Years trilogy.

  • 2015

    Self-checkout machines debuted

    To help patrons better enjoy their experience at ICPL and to help save time, several self-checkout stations were brought online. They became quite popular very quickly.

  • 2016

    Circulation of laptop computers begins

    To further provide necessary resources and tools to the community, ICPL began lending laptops and hotspots to cardholders.

  • 2016

    Digital Johnson County launched

    To share online, electronic resources the Coralville, North Liberty and Iowa City libraries joined in a consortium to share resources more widely and reduce costs.

  • Aug 31 2016

    Author Lois Lowry visits

    Author Lois Lowry visited the Iowa City Public Library to read from her book "Son."

  • Apr 11 2017

    ICPL Bookmobile arrives in Iowa City

    The new ICPL Bookmobile arrived in Iowa City after being constructed in Colorado.

  • Apr 12 2017

    ICPL Bookmobile premiered at the Bookmobile Day Celebration

    ICPL introduced the brand new Bookmobile at a Bookmobile Day Celebration at Mercer Park on April 12th. People were able to tour the brand new bookmobile, which did not yet have books on board, and enjoyed opportunities to create crafts, enjoy live music and visit another local bookmobile The Antelope Lending library.

  • 2017

    Bookmobile hits the road

    A dream spanning several decades, the Bookmobile was realized and officially rolled out, providing service to all four corners of Iowa City and the neighboring community of Hills, receiving great support and enthusiastic response from the community.

  • Apr 24 2017

    Books loaded onto the bookmobile for the first time

    Starting on April 24th ICPL staff began loading the shelves on the bookmobile. Check out the time-lapse video to see the loading in action.

  • May 1 2017

    ICPL Bookmobile at the Iowa City Farmers Market

    The Iowa City Public Library Bookmobile was open for business at the Saturday Farmer's Markets in both May and June.

  • Jun 1 2017

    Bookmobile starts its first summer schedule

    The first summer schedule for the Bookmobile began on June 1 and ran through August 18th. It visited a number of elementary schools, neighborhood parks and retirement communities.

  • Jun 2 2018

    Digital Media Lab opens

    Located on the second floor, the ICPL Digita Media Lab is an open, flexible workspace with technology for creating digital media projects. The space is designed to be used by the public independantly, through library-sponsored classes or workshops, or as a location for library gaming events for children or teens.

  • January 2019

    Sixteenth Library Director hired

    Elsworth Carman began as the Library Director in January 2019 after the retirement of Susan Craig.

  • Jun 1 2019

    Children's and Teen's materials go fine free

    In an effort to remove barriers to access and to provide a more equitable youth patron environment, ICPL stopped collecting late fines on all materials borrowed from the Juvenile and Young Adult collections.

  • Dec 16 2019

    ICCSD student AIM Card program launched

    Through a partnership with the Iowa City Community School District, the libraries of Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty began loaning library materials to students through their school ID cards. These newly updated AIM cards, which stands for Access to Information and Materials, will allow all ICCSD students in kindergarten through 12th grade to check out up to three items, including books, books on CD, magazines, and digital materials, from any of the three public libraries. This gives library access to all ICCSD students even when the school libraries are closed.

  • March 16, 2020

    ICPL Closes due to COVID-19

    The global COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Iowa City in early March 2020. When community spread was announced by the Johnson County Public Health Department the Iowa City Public Library officially closed to the public and all events in the building were cancelled until further notice starting on March 16th. All non-critical Library staff were out of the building beginning by March 25, and those who were able began working form home. Virtual programming began in early April. On May 4th the Library Switchboard and phone and online Information Services went back up, with staff working from home Monday-Friday 10-6.

  • Jun 4 2020

    ICPL begins Cubside Holds Pickup

    On June 4th, the Iowa City Public Library began offering Curbside Holds Pickup service. Library patrons with holds currently available were asked to sign-up for a scheduled time for Curbside Holds Pickup or request their items be sent to their home via US Mail. Curbside Holds Pickup was offered Monday-Friday 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

  • Jun 26 2020

    ICPL's reopening plan announced

    ICPL staff worked hard to develop a plan for reopening. Quickly shifting information, organizations offering conflicting suggestions, and no clear benchmarks to hold onto make providing specifics hard. ICPL’s reopening plan reflects our focus on safety which we have maintained since closing our doors in March. Our plan is arranged in phases, and is designed to allow the reintroduction of our services in a way that may be dialed forward or back to respond to this quickly changing environment. These phases are indicative of the information we have now, but may change as we our planning continues.