Are you open yet?: An Update on Library Services

Many Iowa City residents have read the proclamation Governor Reynolds made on May 13th, which permits libraries (and several other types of businesses and agencies) to reopen within set parameters.  This has generated some questions about when the Iowa City Public Library will reopen.

We understand that the Library’s closure impacts many peoples’ lives.  We understand that this impact ranges from a slight inconvenience to a significant barrier to accessing tools and resources needed in daily life.  We understand that many people will assume that Governor Reynold’s proclamation means we will be open this weekend, and we are sorry that it isn’t that straightforward.  We miss serving our patrons, we miss seeing fellow staff members, and we are anxious to begin offering onsite services.  A critical component of our current work is balancing that desire to open our doors with our commitment to protecting the health and safety of our community.       

At ICPL, we continue to seek ways forward that do not comprise the wellbeing of our staff, patrons, or community.  We are actively working on a staged reopening strategy, which will focus on contact-free holds pickup first, then move on to address other core library services.  We are intentionally building a model that can be dialed forward or pulled back, depending on the evolving impacts of COVID-19 in our area.

We are carefully monitoring the guidance and recommendations made by local, regional, and federal health experts, and our rollout dates will reflect these endorsements.  We are also developing operative occupancy and capacity guidelines for our building and our distinct service areas, preparing to have plexiglass barriers installed at service points and other high-contact areas, and stocking cleaning supplies and PPE for staff.  When we open—which again, will be in a staged process—we will do so with a sustainable service model, adequate supplies, and a confident, well-equipped staff.  And we will be so excited to see you.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, you will see public libraries reopening in different ways.  Each community has distinct needs and each library administration will interpret guiding resources in their own way.  While we are certainly interested in learning from other libraries, our focus is on what will best serve the Iowa City community in a safe, sustainable way, and we will continue to forge our own path forward.

Thank you for your patience, your voracious use of our online resources at, and your inquiries about our plans.  Stay well.

As always, I am more than happy to speak with you about our reopening plans or anything else that’s on your mind.  My direct phone number is 319.356.5241 and my email address is

Thank you,

Elsworth Carman


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Dear Elsworth Carman,
Thank you for the updates. I appreciate all the help you have already provided to the community since the closure of the library building in March. I also deeply appreciate your decision to prioritize the safety of the staff and users of the library. I trust that you will make the best decision for the community and look forward to hearing updates in the future.
Linda Park

As an older reader I am so looking forward to receiving my on hold books by US Mail again. What fun I will have!

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