Library: Iowa City 2fer: Carnegie & New

On a recent literary themed day-trip to Iowa City with some friends, a must-see on my list was the old Carnegie Library. The new public library is right across the street. Below are some pictures of both.

First, the old…

Carnegie Library

212 South Linn Street
Iowa City, IA

Dedicated: October 27, 1904
Cost: $35,000
Current use: apartments
We thought it was very cool that the Carnegie Library building is now used as apartments . . . until we got closer.  No offense to those who live there, but the building has that aura of neglect that often infects older dwellings in college towns. I’ve lived in my fair share of those, but never one so cool as an old library.
The tiny people in front from left to right are me, Missy, and Ruth.
Can you see the fake owl circled above? The landlord or someone is trying to keep the pigeons away . . . but judging from the amount of pigeon poop directly below, unless the owl was a very recent addition, it is not working. My aunt once tried a fake owl on her apartment balcony and it didn’t work for her either.

Sign in one of the apartment windows. Apparently pigeon poop around the front entrance isn’t the only problem tenants face.
Neat gate . . . probably Poe-creepy at night.
Now the new…

Iowa City Public Library
123 South Linn Street
Iowa City, IA

Diagonally across the street from the old Carnegie library.
Originally opened: 1981
Designed by: Engberg Anderson Design Partnership of Milwaukee, WI
Built by: Knutson Construction
Renovated & expanded in 2004
Square feet: 81,276

2010 statistics:

  • Library card holders: 67,036
  • Visits: 746,556
  • Circulation: 1,513,052
  • Books: 175,589
  • Non-print items: 36,062
  • Print & electronic references: 6,789 
  • Periodicals & newspapers: 527
The new Iowa City Public Library. Picture taken from the steps of the Carnegie building.
The new library is in the Ped Mall, the heart of downtown Iowa City. Library in the background. Pictured are my road trippin’ book buddies: Missy, Cayt, and Ruth.
Inside view near circulation.
The Book End: the library’s used bookstore. I purchased a copy of Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife here for $5. Hardcover. A steal. My friend Cayt was reading it and highly recommended it. The librarian looked at it forlornly when she was ringing me up as she didn’t know they had a copy. This was before the book won the Orange Prize, back when Emma Donoghue’s Room was the top contender for the award.

A model of the Carnegie Library on display in the reference section.

Take note: cameras in the restrooms.
What kid wouldn’t want to run through this colorful entrance into the land of books? Or, if they prefer, the stairs to the right lead to a slide that little ones may use to enter their section of the library.

 

Playhouse made of books in the kids section. I want one.
The new library is open and airy throughout. This is the main foyer.
Plaque in the main foyer
My next post will feature some of the non-library literary sites that we visited in Iowa City.

Author: Chris Wolak

I'm cohost of the podcast Book Cougars: Two Middle-Aged Women on the Hunt for a Good Read and write about books and libraries on my blog, WildmooBooks.

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