Iowa City citizens now have a new reading option at the Iowa City Public Library.
The Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., is home to a literary kiosk for the month of December. The kiosks were created by the University of Iowa Libraries and the UNESCO City of Literature. The kiosks allow on-demand printing of short prose or poetry works, the Public Library said.
The UI Main Library has two kiosks in its lobby. The kiosks are part of a trial phase; the full program will be released in the spring of 2019, with kiosks in five locations throughout Iowa City, Coralville, and Cedar Rapids.
The first kiosk was displayed in MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., during the Iowa City Book Festival in August. One kiosk was placed in the Main Library in October 2018.
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The full release will include pieces by local writers from UI students, faculty members, and community members, said Rachael Carlson, the director of operations for the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, in an email to The Daily Iowan.
“The kiosks are meant to be a publishing venue for beginning as well as advanced writers,” Carlson said. “K-12 teachers, as well as UI and Kirkwood faculty, are encouraged to use the kiosk as a way to introduce students to short genres and teach the value of word selection and narrative flow.”
Iowa City has a long and storied history in the world of literature, and it was designated as the third UNESCO City of Literature in 2008.
Carlson noted that the kiosks are intended to encourage public reading.
“The literary kiosk encourages on-the-spot reading and literacy,” she said. “The kiosk also increases access to literary content while raising the visibility of literature and highlighting the diversity of writers’ voices in our community. Additionally, the project will provide an opportunity for students and others to obtain editing experience.”
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Readers have the option of selecting their reading time and the kiosk will dispense works. A press release from the Public Library announced the arrival of the kiosks and explained how they work.
“First installed in public spaces throughout Europe, the kiosks are now appearing throughout the United States with the goal of encouraging on-the-spot reading and literacy in a quick, easy, and engaging manner,” the press release said. “Users simply press the one-, three-, or five-minute button on the kiosk and instantly receive a free print of literary work.”
Kara Logsden, the Public Library community services coordinator, said she’s has seen the benefits associated with the kiosks.
“Yesterday, [I saw] two people sitting on a bench, and they both had printouts from the kiosk, and they were reading to each other,” she said. “… It was just a little bit of serendipity where I observed a happy moment where there are little serendipity moments of reading, and sharing reading, and talking about what you just read. We live in such a vibrant literature community where there are little snippets makes you appreciate our community.”
Thomas Keegan, the UI Libraries head of digital research & publishing who has worked on the project, said the kiosks have always been thought of as a project to benefit the entire Iowa City community.
“This has always been something that were interested in, promoting literacy and literature and to pull content from the community and share it more broadly,” he said.