Local Libraries LIT (Listen, Initiate, Talk), a collaboration between Johnson County public and academic libraries, will welcome author Esmé Weijun Wang on Thursday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. for a virtual conversation and reading.
The event is free and open to all, but attendees must register in advance to receive the online event link. Register here to attend this free online program:bit.ly/LLL_EsmeWeijunWang
Esmé Weijun Wang believes in creativity, resilience, and legacy. She is a novelist and essayist who was named by Granta literary magazine as one of the “Best of Young American Novelists” in their once-in-a-decade list.
Wang’s New York Times-bestselling essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias, won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize and the Whiting Award for Nonfiction. Of the collection, NPR writes, “The Collected Schizophrenias is riveting, honest…we are lucky to have it in the world.” The Los Angeles Times praised the essays as “resoundingly intelligent, often unexpectedly funny, questioning, fearless and peerless.”
Wang’s debut novel, The Border of Paradise, was named a Best Book of 2016 by NPR and one of the 25 Best Novels of 2016 by Electric Literature.
In 2015, Wang was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease, and she also lives with schizoaffective disorder. While these conditions create boundaries, they also inspire her to guide and support others who are dealing with difficult times. Her blog, “The Unexpected Shape,” provides encouragement, advice, and resources for people living with limitations.
The Local Libraries LIT author series is made possible by support from the Community Foundation of Johnson County.
Participating libraries include Iowa City Public Library, North Liberty Library, Coralville Public Library, Oxford Public Library, Solon Public Library, Swisher Community Library, the Springmier Community Library in Tiffin, Kirkwood Community College Library in Iowa City, and the University of Iowa Libraries. Local Libraries LIT has been offering joint online author events since 2021 in partnership with The Tuesday Agency. The goal of this collaboration is to spark action to develop thriving communities.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Sara Pinkham in advance.
Even though the Fall 2022 exhibit has closed, visitors can still visit the exhibition virtually. A virtual tour of A Hub, a Network, an Archive: 55 Years of International Writers in Iowa City is at last available online.
The tour features 360° photos of the Main Library Gallery, which allow the viewer to move from area to area. The text panels and the items on display are clickable, meaning close-up views of most objects are available along with insights from co-curators Nataša Ďurovičová and Lisa Gardinier.
To read about the specific items that were on display in the Main Library Gallery for this exhibition, check out the exhibit guide online. Statements by the co-curators are included.
The University of Iowa Libraries’ Main Library Gallery is now seeking exhibition proposals for spring 2025, fall 2025, spring 2026, and fall 2026.
University of Iowa faculty and staff are invited to submit initial statements of interest for consideration during Round 1 of the selection process through March 31, 2023. Proposals from across campus are welcome, and faculty and staff from all areas of expertise are eligible to curate an exhibition.
Exhibits for the Main Library Gallery must showcase materials from the University of Iowa Libraries. Two key purposes of the Gallery are to increase visibility of UI Libraries collections, and to share unique research from our campus community through those collections.
March 31: Deadline for initial statements of interest (round 1).
April 7: Round 1 decisions are announced. Finalists are invited to write complete proposals (round 2).
July 14: Deadline for finalist exhibition proposals (round 2).
August 1: 2025 – 2026 exhibitions are announced. Four total proposals will be selected for production.
When Madde Hoberg first envisioned an exhibition for the Main Library Gallery, she saw the potential for a space filled with local queer history, joy, resistance, and creativity. Three years after her initial exhibit proposal, Out & About: Queer Life in Iowa Cityis now open for all to visit.
“We invite everyone to explore some of the diverse and complex history of LGBTQ life through an Iowa City lens,” said Hoberg, who is library annex assistant for the University of Iowa Libraries. “The exhibit starts with the foundation of the Gay Liberation Front on the University of Iowa campus in 1970—itself a response to the Stonewall Riots in New York City—and illustrates the evolution of LGBTQ rights, advocacy, community needs, and queer joy through the present day.”
Diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion are important values for the University of Iowa Libraries. The exhibition recounts stories from the recent past about queer student groups, Iowa City businesses and organizations, and publications by showing a variety of documents, photos, artifacts, and ephemera from local archives. Materials on display in the exhibition are from collections in the University Archives and Iowa Women’s Archives at the UI Libraries and from the LGBTQ Iowa Archives & Library in Iowa City.
Hoberg was also able to procure a few objects, stories, and statements for display directly from community members. Such treasured items as University of Iowa Rainbow Graduation cords, a Gamma Rho Lambda paddle, and I.C. Kings-related accessories appear in the gallery.
“I am beyond grateful for the people who trusted us with their personal artifacts, their histories, their voices. They enriched the exhibit and made it more ‘real,’” she said.
Some materials from the annex, a controlled environment off-site storage facility for the Libraries that houses thousands of books and collections, also ultimately made their way into the exhibition. One impactful experience for Hoberg while preparing for the exhibit was shelving Steven Allen Carson’s papers [RG02.0009.051], which are now available for research. Many of the materials provide his unique perspective on the emergence and growth of Iowa City’s gay community between the 1960s and 2000s.
“I peeked into the photograph boxes and, while about 15 feet up in the air, used the light on the cherry picker to view the slides. It was an incredible and moving experience,” said Hoberg. “Looking at the full slide sheets really gave me a sense of what Steven thought was beautiful and important, what caught his attention. It showed the complexity of his life as a gay man in Iowa City while also celebrating the simplest of pleasures.”
In addition to her position at the University of Iowa Libraires, Hoberg volunteers as the archives coordinator and interim executive director at the LGBTQ Iowa Archives & Library (LIAL). LIAL, a small nonprofit, is nestled within the Close House in Iowa City. The Close House is owned by local arts organization Public Space One. Hoberg’s support of the queer community and her commitment to queer archival collections made curating this exhibition a natural move.
“I was inspired to work on Out & About by a desire to explore LGBTQ stories of resistance and joy in Iowa City, and also to help humanize queer and trans existence within our communities,” said Hoberg. “While researching for the exhibit, I appreciated digging deeply into collections that I had previously only known by name either through other research or my work at the annex. It gave me a better understanding of our current LGBTQ holdings, and I left with an appreciation for what we have, but also a great longing for more – particularly from BIPOC community members and trans folks. It raised important questions for me as a library worker not just about whose materials we retain but why people may not trust specific institutions with their stories. It left me curious to know what we can do better to assist these exceptionally marginalized communities in preserving their own histories, either in our own repositories or elsewhere.”
From curation to conservation, design, installation, project management, and more, behind-the-scenes contributors to exhibit production are plentiful. “I think the most surprising part of creating an exhibit was the number of people who are involved,” said Hoberg, who is serving in a curatorial role for the first time. “There are so many moving parts.”
One of the people Hoberg worked with was former colleague Aiden Bettine, who is now curator of the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies at the University of Minnesota Libraries. He helped Hoberg make selections of physical items from the several collections available.
“Having just co-curated the We Are Hawkeyesexhibit in spring 2022, he knew quite a bit about the gallery process,” said Hoberg. “Aiden was helpful in developing the idea that the exhibit should look at larger queer issues or experiences through an Iowa City perspective.”
Out & About: Queer Life in Iowa City is important to Hoberg from a professional perspective as a librarian interested in archives work, but also on a personal level. “Even though my spouse and I have virtually no family nearby, we don’t feel alone or like we have to make it totally on our own,” she said. “The Iowa City queer community is our family. Seeing the friendly face of someone who knows and accepts you as your truest and fullest self is an indescribable experience. Everyone deserves that type of love and community support. There are places at the University of Iowa and in Iowa City where you can find safety, support, and validation.”
Hoberg hopes visitors to the exhibit will gain a greater appreciation for their queer and trans neighbors, family, and friends, and that the narratives found in the exhibit will expand understanding of why queer stories are important. For those in the LGBTQ+ community, she says: “We see you. We hear you. We value you. We want you here. You are so important to our history and our future.”
Local Libraries LIT (Listen, Initiate, Talk), a collaboration between Johnson County libraries, will welcome author Kevin Wilson on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 7:00 p.m. for a free online reading and conversation. The Local Libraries LIT author series is offered by public libraries in Johnson County, as well as the University of Iowa Libraries and Kirkwood Community College Library – Iowa City Campus with support from The Tuesday Agency.
Kevin Wilson is the author of two collections: Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, which received an Alex Award from the American Library Association and the Shirley Jackson Award, and Baby You’re Gonna Be Mine. In addition to the upcoming We Are Fugitives and 2019’s Nothing to See Here (selected by Jenna Bush Hager for the Read with Jenna book club, and a Best Book of the Year according to The New York Times, Washington Post, People, TIME, Entertainment Weekly, and more), Kevin is also the author of the novels The Family Fang—a NYT bestseller adapted into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman—and the critically acclaimed Perfect Little World.
This special speaker series is offered at no charge to participants, though donations are welcomed to help sustain and grow Local Libraries LIT. Local Libraries LIT strives to grow a community which shines with diversity, equity, and inclusion.
This program is open to people of all abilities. If you need an accommodation in order to enjoy the program, please contact Amy at the North Liberty Library: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (319) 626-5781.
Local Libraries LIT (Listen, Initiate, Talk), a collaboration between Johnson County libraries, will welcome author Ann Patchett on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. for a free online reading and conversation.
This is the sixth virtual author event in the series offered by public libraries in Johnson County, as well as the University of Iowa Libraries and Kirkwood Community College Library – Iowa City Campus with support from The Tuesday Agency.
Exciting News! Ann Patchett has asked her dear friend (and fellow writer/Iowa alum) Elizabeth McCracken to join in her conversation on Oct. 27. Elizabeth’s new novel The Hero of this Book was just released. Don’t miss this fantastic exchange between authors!
Local Libraries LIT strives to grow a community which shines with diversity, equity, and inclusion. This special speaker series is offered at no charge to participants, though donations are welcomed to help sustain and grow Local Libraries LIT.
This program is open to people of all abilities. If you need an accommodation in order to enjoy the program, please contact Amy at the North Liberty Library: email@example.com or call (319)626-5781.
Ann Patchett is a celebrated author, devoted reader, and a champion of literary culture. She has written thirteen books and has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Ann published her first story in The Paris Review while still a student at Sarah Lawrence College. Her novel Bel Canto, was awarded the Orange Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2016, Ann released her seventh novel, Commonwealth. It was selected as a New York Times Best Book of the Year, a TIME Magazine Top 10 Selection, and was a NBCC Award Finalist. In 2019, she published her first children’s book, Lambslide, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, as well as a novel, The Dutch House, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and has sold more than 1 million copies. Ann’s latest, These Precious Days: Essays, is a deeply personal collection that reflects on home, family, friendships, and writing.
Nataša Ďurovičová, senior editor at the International Writing Program and adjunct faculty for the MFA in Literary Translation, submitted an initial proposal to the University of Iowa Libraries in fall 2019. Not long after the exhibition was approved, Lisa Gardinier signed on as a co-curator.
Gardinier, curator of international literature for the University of Iowa Libraries, began sifting through Special Collections & Archives materials in earnest the following autumn. A key contributing collection for this exhibition was the Paul Engle Papers, which contains correspondence and so much more from founders Paul Engle and Hualing Nieh Engle.
“I spent a lot of the first year or so of the pandemic with Paul Engle,” said Gardinier. “Or, rather, his archival ghost. When our proposal for this exhibit was approved in early 2020, I planned on starting archival research that summer. Thankfully the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t delay preparation by much. Special Collections reopened for the Fall 2020 semester with limited appointments. While most of my coworkers were still entirely working from home, I was coming in two to four afternoons per week that academic year to look through the Paul Engle Papers (msc 514) and then the International Writing Program Records (RG06.0012.009) and a few archival tangents as they presented themselves.”
The curators examined box after box, working to assemble a history told through photographs, cables and letters, campus publications, books and book art, artifacts, and articles.
“Considering the amazing size of IWP-related holdings in the University of Iowa Libraries, the amount of historic documentation stored in Special Collections & Archives, and the two decades-plus of administrative materials in digital form so far generally not available as open source, another ten objects could have been chosen for each item that made it into the show,” said Ďurovičová.
The exhibition is an introduction to the International Writing Program for those who are unaware of its history, and a visual celebration of the writers – both visiting and local – who have made the program what it is today.
“If this exhibit piques your curiosity, please know that this is truly the tip of the iceberg,” said Gardinier.
A Hub, a Network, an Archive: 55 Years of International Writers in Iowa City will be on display in the Main Library Gallery until December 16, 2022. Admission to the Gallery is always free. Visit lib.uiowa.edu/gallery for information about open hours and upcoming exhibit-related events.
The International Writing Program, now celebrating its 55th anniversary year, offers a robust schedule of programming both for its visiting writers and for the public during the Fall Residency. Learn more about the 2022 Fall Residency on the IWP website, and subscribe to the IWP mailing list to find out about public events such as readings, film screenings, panels, and more. Plus, keep up with IWP on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The “Stories from Ukraine” project is a series of videos that offer a chance for viewers to better understand Ukraine, its rich culture, and its people. The project is a collaboration between the Lviv Public Libraries, the Lviv UNESCO City of Literature, Ukraїner, and the Ukrainian Library Association. It is being presented in Johnson County in partnership with the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, the Iowa City Public Library, the Coralville Public Library, the North Liberty Community Library, and the University of Iowa Libraries.
The four local libraries will show the videos in their public spaces for free during the week of June 13. Each video is between one and two minutes in length, and highlights a town, attraction, or region in Ukraine.
The videos were created between June 2016 and October 2018, and cover all 16 historic regions of Ukraine. The organization Ukraїner sought to capture stories from these areas to share with Ukrainians who had moved from rural to urban regions or who had emigrated from the country. With the increased interest in Ukraine after Russia began attacks in spring 2022, the series became an opportunity to teach the rest of the world about the country.
Lviv, in the west of the country, and Odessa to the south, are both UNESCO Cities of Literature. They have asked colleagues in other Cities of Literature around the world to help share their story. Here in Iowa City, we continue to seek ways to support our fellow Cities of Literature, and know that learning about Ukraine is the best way to start. See a sample video below from the historic Galicia region of Ukraine, which is home to the city of Lviv.
At the University of Iowa Libraries, “Stories from Ukraine” videos will be screened on a continuous loop in Group Area C in the Main Library’s Learning Commons between Food for Thought Cafe and the Service Desk. All are welcome to drop by any time between June 13 – 17 during open hours to watch the videos, which include music and captions but no spoken words.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Sara Pinkham in advance at 319-467-1805 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The current Main Library Gallery exhibit, We Are Hawkeyes: Celebrating 175 Years of Student Life at the University of Iowa, provides a glimpse into many facets of campus life over the decades. Part of the exhibition focuses on the scholarly achievements of Iowa students. An ordinary-looking composition notebook sits in one display case, open to a handwritten journal entry from 3:30 a.m. on February 1, 1958: “Success!! The first U.S. satellite is in orbit. It looks like a good one,” wrote graduate student George Ludwig, who had been working with Professor James Van Allen and his team to build the Explorer I satellite. The journal is part of the George H. Ludwig Papers [RG99.0004] in the University Archives.
In this short video, University Archivist Emeritus David McCartney provides more in-depth information about Mr. Ludwig’s journal and the Space Race. The launch of the satellite “was an absolutely magical moment for the U.S. space industry and, of course, for young George Ludwig,” said McCartney.
Explorer’s Legacy: Learn more about the Explorer I and its legacy, James Van Allen, and the discovery of the Radiation Belts in an online exhibition featuring images from the University of Iowa Libraries’ digital collection.
While the 1960s and early 1970s are remembered for protests against the Vietnam War and other injustices, campus was not quiet in the decades that followed. Students have always used their voices to advocate for change at the University of Iowa, and continue to do so.
One section of the Spring 2022 Main Library Gallery exhibition, We Are Hawkeyes: Celebrating 175 Years of Student Life at the University of Iowa, explores student-led protest through photographs, flyers, petitions, and other artifacts. The earliest protest item in the exhibit is from 1910, while the most recent images are from 2021.
In this short video from the Main Library Gallery, Community and Student Life Archivist Aiden Bettine talks about the long legacy of student protest on our campus: