Iowa City Public Library “Lobby Stop” program brings the books to retirement communities

The Lobby Stop program brings books, magazines, and other materials to four retirement homes in the Iowa City area.


Hannah Kinson

The Iowa City Public Library is seen on Monday, September 16, 2019.

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

The Iowa City Public Library’s bookmobile program brings books to the community — but when retirement-home residents struggled to make it to the bookmobile in the parking lot, the library brought books to their lobbies.

The Iowa City Public Library Lobby Stop program brings a mobile library of books, magazines, and more to residents of four retirement homes across the Iowa City area. 

Heidi Kuchta, an outreach assistant for the library, said the idea for lobby stops originated when the staff realized not all residents could access the library’s bookmobile stops. 

“Some retirement homes we were serving with the bookmobile — the less mobile residents were unable to make it to the bookmobile on time, or with a winter storm, they just weren’t willing to leave the front doors,” she said. 

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On Wednesdays, Kuchta brings materials that retirement home residents specifically request, along with large-print books and popular titles, she said.

Kuchta visits Legacy Retirement Community, Bickford Senior Living, Walden Place, and Emerson Point retirement communities. 

Leah Colbert, life-enrichment coordinator for Bickford Senior Living, said a familiar program such as the lobby stop can be a comforting resource for people living with dementia. She said she has seen residents with no interest in the bookmobile stop use the lobby-stop program. 

“Bringing it inside takes a lot of the unknown out of it — especially for our residents with dementia,” she said. “An unfamiliar face or place may overwhelm them.”

Kara Logsden, the library’s community and access services coordinator, said the lobby brings the feeling of a community fostered inside a library into retirement homes.

“We’re seeing that the use of lobby stops is growing, as people find out about it, as people create a rapport with our staff. They really look forward to lobby stops,” Logsden said. “What we see is some people, they don’t always come to the library for the materials. They come to the library because we’re a community center.” 

Kuchta said her programs typically draw five to eight regulars, and other residents drop by occasionally. 

“Lately, I’ve seen a lot more people who I’ve never seen before who are getting new cards and might be new to the area or recently moved into that retirement home, so it’s good to see some growth there,” she said. 

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Kuchta said Iowa City retirement homes often draw residents who are not from the Iowa City area and are searching for health-care and social services. Providing a sense of community for these residents can be helpful, she said.

“We have a lot of great retirement services for people — I didn’t realize this going into this library work. There are a lot of people in retirement homes in Iowa City who aren’t from Iowa City,” she said. 

Colbert said the lobby-stop program helps engage residents with magazines and books, even if it’s only for a short while. 

“Even if they don’t end up checking it out it’s something that engages them in the moment,” Colbert said. “That’s a big thing with dementia. They don’t remember past or future moments. Focusing on their happiness in the present moment is a big thing that the lobby stop helps with.”