Iowa City Book Festival Receives Humanities Iowa Grant

The University of Iowa Libraries was awarded $5,000 for the Iowa City Book Festival by Humanities Iowa, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities

The grant was one of 17 totaling more than $160,000 awarded at the recent HI board meeting in Ames.

The Iowa City Book Festival will be a daylong celebration of books, reading and writing. The festival also is a celebration of the five millionth volume purchased by the UI Libraries as well as the 40th anniversary of the UI Press. Kristi Bontrager, the library’s public relations coordinator, said it also is a way to thank the public for their help moving books during last summer’s flood.

“It brought back the idea that books are an important part of people’s lives,” Bontrager said. “We saw this as a way to create a dialogue between writers and readers.”

The festival will include workshops on starting a writer’s group, and finding book discussion groups.  There will also be food and music and activities for children.

“The Iowa City Book Festival brings together everything that makes our community so refreshing in summertime: books, reading, writing and sweet corn,” said Holly Carver, the editor at UI Press. “As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the University of Iowa Press, we are delighted to be part of this first-but-not-last annual festival.”

The festival will also include book vendors and book arts demonstrations as well a program by Iowa’s poet laureates, Mary Swander, Robert Dana and Marvin Bell. There also will be a presentation by the editors of “The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa,” David Hudson, Marvin Bergman and Loren Horton; and a keynote address by “The Oxford Project” creators Peter Feldstein and Steven Bloom.

Other programs to promote literacy include workshops on adult literacy, starting up a writer’s group, finding a book discussion group, library research for writers and writing a literary blog among others.

“Books are one of the things that makes Iowa City a special place,” said HI executive director Christopher Rossi. “The Iowa City Book Festival is a great way to celebrate that heritage while also promoting the literary arts.”

Nancy Baker, university librarian for the University of Iowa Libraries, said the book festival should help fill a “cultural gap” in the community.

“We noticed that a book festival was missing from the landscape of our City of Literature,” Baker said. “The Iowa City Book Festival will be a place that brings all kinds of writers, readers and book-lovers together in conversation. With the help of Humanities Iowa and our other partners, we hope to make the Iowa City Book Festival an annual tradition.”

To learn more about the Iowa City Book Festival, check the website www.iowacitybookfestival.org.