Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation launches 2024 Literary Loot Collection: Book bags with Benefits

Image of bag design When Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation (ICPLFF) Development Director Katie Roche was looking to work with a youth artist to design a limited edition book bag to benefit the Iowa City Public Library, she knew her friend and community collaborator André Wright, Founder of Wright House of Fashion, could recommend an up-and-coming young artist to engage for the project. Wright House of Fashion (WHOF) is an educational facility for creatives located in the Riverfront Crossings area of Iowa City. WHOF provides training in graphic and fashion design, including branding and marketing. Through multi-week courses and specialized workshops, WHOF creatives are provided learning opportunities to advance in the field. And, through fashion events, pop-up shops, and other creative outlets participants learn vital entrepreneurship skills.

Wright quickly identified Liberty High School Class of 2025 student artist Nügget Larkai for the project. Wright knew that Nügget would be the right fit for the “Literary Loot: Book Bags with Benefits” project because of their fun, upbeat personality, and Wright was also impressed with Nügget’s distinctive, hand-drawn illustrations. Though only a junior in high school, Nügget had already worked as an artist and designer through WHOF for projects with RAYGUN designing graphics for apparel and was part of the team that designed the Atlantic Records 75-year celebration merchandise sold at PacSun. 

"I’m part of the Black and Latino Student Union at my school and one day André Wright came in as a guest speaker. I brought my portfolio and signed up for the classes he had that coming summer. He’s been my mentor since then. The opportunities that have been offered to me are because of his guidance," Nügget added.

Roche enjoyed further mentoring Nügget, guiding them through the process of collaborative design between a client and an artist, ensuring that both parties are equally enthusiastic about the outcome. Inspired by Roche’s ICPL colleague Sam Helmick’s positioning of library advocacy as “joyful offense.” Roche and Nügget entered into a five-month-long project, fit between busy work and school schedules. Nügget developed an expressive character, depicted as a youthful hero, positioned to inspire everyone to champion the preservation of public libraries for future generations.

“It has been a rough year for American Public Libraries, with a record number of book bans and other legislation threatening the good work of our Libraries,” added Roche. “When working with Nügget, we talked a lot about why public libraries are important, what we stand to lose if funding, access, and collections are limited or eliminated, and what inspiring people to fight for our libraries could look like in a graphic design.”

While discussing the design, Roche learned that public libraries had played an important role in Nügget’s life. Like many families in Johnson County, Nügget’s family did not have access to the internet for many years. Living near their public library meant that Nügget could utilize the complimentary Wi-Fi for homework before borrowing anime and movie books to enjoy at home with their family, facilitating the exploration of new interests without cost.  

"Libraries are the core of the community. People can meet for business, DnD campaigns, talk to their local politicians, and of course, check out books. For a lot of people, their local library is a safe space where they can learn more about their interests and start new hobbies," Nügget emphasized. ”The world is such a big place full of things one couldn’t even begin to imagine, and for the average person seeing all that it has to offer is out of the question. Libraries show you glimpses into the unknown and snapshots into a life you thought only you lived.” 

The limited edition “2024 Literary Loot Collection: Book Bags with Benefits” totes featuring Nügget's design will be available for purchase at the ICPL Friends Foundation book sale on June 15 at the ICPL, and you can also secure yours in advance at  

As a homage to the spirited advocacy of free speech, intellectual freedom, and access, embodying the core principles of the "Library Bill of Rights," these bags offer an array of perks. Purchasers can enjoy filling their bags to the brim at the June 15, 2024 book sale. Furthermore, they will receive a bonus of 3 free books at our pop-up events on Oct 5 & 19, and an additional 3 books at the Dec. 7 Arts & Crafts Bazaar and Book Sale. Benefits expire May 1, 2025. 

Additionally, these bags serve a philanthropic purpose. When filled with books, they can be donated to the ICPL Friends Foundation in exchange for a voucher for a free book. Plus, the green strapped bag comes with an additional perk: every time you present your bag at The Book End, the ICPL Friends Foundation bookstore on the second floor of the Iowa City Public Library, you'll enjoy a BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free) offer! 

How to purchase a bag
Online purchase:

Purchased bags can be picked up at the June 15th Book Sale. If you don’t pick up your bag at the sale they will be available after the sale for pick up at The Book End.

Purchased bags can be picked up at The Book End in advance of the June 15th Sale. Purchasers will be notified when bags are ready for pick up!

About Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation
The Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the mission and programs of the Iowa City Public Library. The Mission of the ICPL Friends Foundation is to strengthen the Iowa City Public Library through fundraising, advocacy, and promotion of its valuable resources. The ICPL Friends Foundation's vision is to inspire every member of our community to support the Iowa City Public Library as a Library user, volunteer, or donor.

About Wright House of Fashion
Wright House is a non-profit organization that inspires and engages youth in collaborative partnerships with the fashion design community. We create opportunities for youth to build their leadership, teamwork, and citizenship skills through creative expression. Our mission is to empower underrepresented populations with design, fashion, and sustainable principles as vehicles for change so that we develop more conscious citizens who can then contribute positively to their schools, communities, and the world.


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