IOWA CITY – Beyond the checkout counter and behind stacks of books at the Iowa City Public Library, patrons can find a wall full of works of art, art library goers can take home with them.
For two months at a time, the library lets people check out up to two pieces from their posters and paintings collection. Just like a book, all that’s needed is a library card.
“So, if I’m going to have a dinner party and going to have some fancy guests over, I could get a couple of classical pieces,” Ethan Sahker said.
The program is called Art-To-Go. It began in the 1960s.
“[It] started with just a small collection of framed posters, I would imagine maybe 30 to 50 items. Now, we have right around 400,” said Candice Smith, a librarian.
About half of those are pieces from local artists that have been purchased by the library after an annual competition of sorts.
“We have an art advisory committee, who works with the library. They invite a certain number of works to be brought in. Then, they pick from those the ones that we purchase,” Smith said.
Smith said at any time, 60 percent to 70 percent of their collection is checked out by businesses or teachers. Right now, about 80 percent is gone, because some of the biggest users of the program, students, are back in town.
“[I’m] trying to get settled into my apartment. It’s a long process but having the art to put in the place really makes it feel a lot more homey,” Christian Latino, UI graduate student, said.
Smith said as posters and paintings wear out, or get damaged, they’ll be replaced with new works. That way the collection stays fresh.