Our community has a long history of supporting the Iowa City Public Library. Whether it’s breaking records for seasonal reading program sign-ups, the number of materials circulated, or the number of Library cards in use, our curious, engaged, and literary community consistently demonstrates that they value intellectual freedom and access through strong participation in the community-building power of our public library. With about 120 people through our doors every hour, we should all feel a sense of pride that the Library is one of our most robust and active public services. With outreach services engaging people in neighborhoods throughout the community, we continue to adapt and offer new and improved programs and services to people of all ages and backgrounds, meeting Library users where they live, work, learn and play.  

A landmark merger 31 years ago between the Iowa City Public Library Foundation (founded in 1982) and the Friends of the Library (founded in 1974) resulted in a new organization called the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation (ICPLFF) that stood poised to respond to the changing needs of the Library and the greater community. In celebration of three decades of service to our Library, the ICPLFF staff and Board of Directors recently engaged in a strategic planning process to reimagine the impact our organization and supporters could have on the Library, today and into the future. Informing our planning, we recognized that these are historically challenging times.    

According to PEN America (, censorship of library materials in schools and libraries is at an all-time high with a record number of book challenges and legislation negatively affecting library operations and public education. One particularly impactful piece of legislation passed during the 89th General Assembly in 2023 was HF718, which removed direct allocations of special levy dollars dedicated to libraries. In our community, the Library levy received overwhelming community support when it was voted into place in 1991, with 68% of voters in favor. Those dollars are still being assessed through taxation, but now must be requested by ninety-seven communities, including Iowa  City, in order to be allocated to library services.     

We are in unprecedented times. We understand clearly that we are in a strong position to motivate the next generation of informed Library users and advocates. The ICPLFF will focus our next three years to that end. Inspired by the words of ICPL Community & Access Services Coordinator, Sam Helmick, we began our work to advocate that, "the best way to support your Library is to use your Library card.” From there, we created a new vision statement for our organization, one that strives to invite every member of our community to the table as a Library supporter.  

To help members of our community find the best way or combination of ways to support the ICPL, we are proud to announce our first website,, where you can learn more about who we are, what we do and ways to give your time, talent, or treasure in support of one of our most cherished community resources. And because we believe that engaging in advocacy is an important part of civic engagement, we’ve included resources from the American Library Association and Iowa Library Association where you can learn more about the legislation and issues facing libraries today and access tools and contact information to energize your advocacy. 

Thank you for having a positive impact on the future of the Iowa City Public Library. Whether you are checking out a book, donating used materials to one of our book sales, attending one of the hundreds of free programs, advocating, volunteering, or contributing financially, your support makes our Library a vibrant center of community life. Together, we can maintain future where everyone has access to the resources and experiences they need to learn, grow and thrive. 

This article was featured in the Winter 2023 edition of The Window. View the full issue at 


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