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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 26, 2005

Libraries Celebrate Sesquicentennial With Nov. 3 Video, Lecture

The University of Iowa Libraries will celebrate its sesquicentennial with a day of activities on Nov. 3, capped by an appearance from Mark Edmundson, author of the book "Why Read?"

Other events include an open house in the Main Library from 1 to 4 p.m. with refreshments and behind-the-scenes tours of the library. The events are free and open to the public.

Evening activities begin at 7 p.m. in Shambaugh Auditorium in the Main Library and include the appearance by Edmundson, who will deliver this year's Ada Stoflet Lecture, "Why Read?" In his book, Edmundson makes the argument that reading can change your life for the better. The book, rooted in an article Edmundson wrote for Harper's Magazine in 1997, exposes universities' ever-growing consumerism at the expense of a challenging, life-altering liberal arts education. Edmundson encourages educators to teach students to read in a way that can change their lives for the better, rather than just training and entertaining. He argues that questions about the uses of literature -- what would it mean to live out of this book, to see it as a guide to life -- are the central questions to ask in a literary education. Right now they are being ignored, he said.

Also in the evening will be the debut of the library history video that will feature historic photos of the library, along with interviews with retired and current faculty, staff and students, as well as UI President David Skorton, provost Michael Hogan, University Librarian Nancy Baker and Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack.

A dessert reception will follow in the North Exhibition Hall of the Main Library. Guests will also be able to preview the exhibit chronicling the history of the UI Libraries.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,