With daily stops scheduled all around town, the Antelope Lending Library has begun its third year of slinging books and taking names in Iowa City.
Several years ago, Cassandra Elton started the book lending project — a small, traveling library that makes various stops around Iowa City — with help from her friend, Beth Camp. They’re both librarians who studied together at the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa.
Elton recognized the need for a bookmobile when she spoke with young people on the Southeast side of Iowa City, where she works as a Before and After School Program (BASP) manager at Mark Twain Elementary. Too often, children told her they didn’t go to the Iowa City Public Library (or downtown in general), and school libraries are closed in the summer.
Elton and friends launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign in 2013 that brought in over $13,000 to purchase a bookmobile. Since 2013, donations have rolled in from other sources, including the University of Iowa, the Community Foundation of Johnson County and a PIN grant from Iowa City.
The library collection consists of discounted books and materials from Prairie Lights and Daydreams Comics, as well as donations from the local community.
“A lot of kids who don’t enjoy or have trouble reading traditional books can get into reading comics or graphic novels,” said Daydreams owner Zach Power. He supports Antelope by donating comics and offering discounts for schools and libraries.
“Motivating kids to read is always important, regardless if it’s traditional books or comic books,” he said.
Last year, Antelope signed up almost 100 new readers, loaned out nearly 1,000 books and gave away over 400 books to teachers and young people.
This year the bookmobile has laptops for patrons that are powered by solar cells (installed last year by Moxie Solar).
Elton said the best part of her project is seeing return patrons week after week, adding that she’d like to run the library all year instead of just in the summer.
“I want to do more than we can actually do,” she said, “My dream would be that I just run the bookmobile and we do programming and services year-round.”
You can help Antelope reach more readers
This Saturday, June 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Antelope Lending Library will host a book sale fundraiser to secure new brakes for the bookmobile at 1122 Fifth Ave. in Iowa City. Those wishing to volunteer at Antelope bookmobile stops can sign up here.