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Beyond the Books: mobile library improves access to reading

The Iowa City Public Library BookMobile sets up by Willow Creek Park.

The library is a great place to read a book, but not everyone has a means to get there.

Iowa City residents are in luck, as the library launched its BookMobile to meet the demands of those who may not have access to the downtown branch.

A library on wheels, the BookMobile has traveled more than 400 miles in a month, even reaching the outskirts of town.

The mobile book center offers a broad array of books and movies, and conjures memories for many adults.

"Parents are always saying, 'I remember going on a bookmobile as a kid,' so it's kind of like a nostalgic thing," said Mari Redington, children's library assistant with the Iowa City Public Library. "Kids aren't as fascinated by it as adults I think. They just immediately go to the books. They're like, 'Alright, I'm getting down to business, picking out what I want.'"

The summer service also provides a series known as Stories in the Park.

On this particular day, the stories are in song form.

The singing at Willow Creek Park in Iowa City is thanks to a partnership between the library and West Music.

"What a great thing to bring books to children - books and music - what a great thing," said Becky Foerstner, the director of Sing and Play and Learn Today, a program promoting youth musical engagement.

Familiar melodies ring out to the children's delight.

"Some of the kids get involved right away," said Foerstner. "They're dancing. They're singing right along with me. They love it. Their parents see how much they love it. And then, if they haven't thought about music yet, they might start thinking about, 'Oh, maybe we should get them in a music class.'"

The Iowa City Public Library summer schedule runs through August 18, with the staff currently in the works to unveil the fall schedule.

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