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University of Iowa News Release


June 9, 2009

UI Libraries present Iowa City Book Festival July 18

On Saturday, July 18, the University of Iowa Libraries will present the Iowa City Book Festival, a daylong celebration of books, reading and writing. Held in Gibson Square from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. outside the Main Library south entrance, the festival will include a mix of booksellers with new and used books for sale, a small music stage, children's activities, food vendors, book arts demonstrations, and readings and panel discussions.

Nancy Baker, university librarian for the University of Iowa Libraries, said the book festival should help fill a cultural gap in the community.

"We noticed that a book festival was missing from the landscape of our City of Literature," Baker said. "The Iowa City Book Festival will be a place that brings all kinds of writers, readers and book-lovers together in conversation. With the help of Humanities Iowa and our other partners, we hope to make the Iowa City Book Festival an annual tradition."

Highlights of the festival include:

--A pre-festival Author Dinner will be held Friday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the North Exhibition Hall of the Main Library. Tickets are $30 per person. For reservation information, see

--The Shambaugh Author Series in Shambaugh Auditorium starts with Iowa's three Poet Laureates -- Mary Swander, Robert Dana and Marvin Bell -- in a discussion/reading at 10 a.m. July 18 moderated by Julie Englander from Iowa Public Radio.

The series continues at 12:30 p.m. with editors Marv Bergman, Loren Horton and several contributors to the UI Press' "Biographical Dictionary of Iowa," who will discuss the process of making the book and coordinating a team of more than 150 scholars and writers. In addition to adding the physical book to the UI Libraries' collection, staff are developing a digital, fully searchable version of the book in the Iowa Digital Library.

At 2:30 p.m., Christopher Merrill will read from his work and lead a discussion about Iowa City's designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Logan and Noah Miller, twin brothers and authors of "Either You're In Or You're In the Way: Two Brothers, Twelve Months, and One Filmmaking Hell-Ride to Keep a Promise to their Father," will talk about their experience making a feature film with no experience, no money and no contacts. They will also introduce two screenings of their film "Touching Home" starring Ed Harris: Friday, July 17 at 10 p.m. and Saturday, July 18 at 4 p.m.

Peter Feldstein and Steven Bloom, creators of "The Oxford Project," will share their stories in the keynote address at 7 p.m. "The Oxford Project," chronicles the lives of the townspeople of Oxford, Iowa. Feldstein photographed residents in 1984 and again 20 years later. More than 100 residents sat down with Bloom, revealing intimate details of their lives. He wrote vignettes to accompany the photos.

--Author events starting at 12:30 p.m. in the Main Library's Special Collections room include discussions about writing and illustrating children's books, library research for writers, and a session on the history of the Nancy Drew series.

--Starting at 10 a.m. in the Main Library how-to workshops will be held on writers groups, literary blogs, adult literacy, book discussion groups, and library research.

--Throughout the day, the UI Center for the Book will give book-making demonstrations, such as printmaking, papermaking, calligraphy, and bookbinding. There will also be children's activities, coordinated by the local libraries.

-Musicians performing on the Gibson Square stage include the Starlings, Shannon's Fancy, Ben Schmidt, Stable Hands and the Goosetown String Band.

The festival also is a celebration of the 5 millionth volume purchased by the UI Libraries as well as the 40th anniversary of the UI Press. To recognize this partnership, the libraries selected "The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa" published by UI Press the as the libraries 5 millionth volume. In addition to adding the book to the libraries' collection, staff are developing digital, fully searchable version of the book in the Iowa Digital Library.

"The Iowa City Book Festival brings together everything that makes our community so refreshing in summertime: books, reading, writing and sweet corn," said Holly Carver, the editor at UI Press. "As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the University of Iowa Press, we are delighted to be part of this first-but-not-last annual festival."

Humanities Iowa, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, recently awarded $5,000 to the UI Libraries for the Iowa City Book Festival, which also received funding from MidwestOne Bank ($500) and University of Iowa Community Credit Union ($200).

Volunteer opportunities are also available. For more information and a complete Iowa City Book Festival schedule, see

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Kristi Bontrager, University of Iowa Libraries, 319-335-5960; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,