Here is the response I received from the Iowa City Public Library:

“Circulation of materials to persons outside of our direct service area
(Iowa City and contracting areas of rural Johnson County, University
Heights and Hills) is provided through the State Library of Iowa’s Open
Access program. Under this agreement, libraries are permitted to limit
the materials they choose to circulate to persons outside of their
direct service area. At Iowa City Public Library, we do not circulate
equipment to persons outside of our direct service area for a number of
reasons: The equipment is in high demand, the equipment is expensive,
and additional staff time is needed to support the circulation of
equipment (we must inspect every item upon its return to assure it is in
good working condition and all the pieces are intact).

Unfortunately, it is not a simple matter of not wanting to circulate
items to Coralville, but a part of the broader scope of providing
services within the Open Access program. I am sorry that this is not
the answer you wanted.”

Hmm…it sounds to me that’s exactly what it’s about…a simple matter of not wanting to circulate items to Coralville. She says herself that under Open Access, libraries are PERMITTED to limit the materials they choose to circulate. That doesn’t mean they have to; it just means they can. If they don’t want to share their toys, they don’t have to.

She didn’t address the issue of why do the chess pieces circulate for 24 hours anyway? I DON’T WANT TO TAKE THEM HOME; I WANT TO USE THEM THERE! And so do most people who use them, I would think. If I want to borrow a regular chess set and use that in the library, I can do that. The lady at the desk told me so when she told me she couldn’t let me reserve the large pieces.

They didn’t even respond to Preteen’s letter at all. Not only is he a lowly Coralville resident; he’s a Coralville KID. That must make him lower than a second class citizen.

Response from the Iowa City Public Library

2 thoughts on “Response from the Iowa City Public Library

  • September 5, 2006 at 4:46 pm


    That is so sad. I’m sorry they didn’t respond to your son. In such a literate, educated town, you’d think they’d work a little harder to reach out to their audience.

    What a very strange issue to begin with. I wonder why they are so protective of that set?

    • September 5, 2006 at 6:20 pm

      Re: Sad

      I wish I knew. My understanding of Open Access is that the whole purpose is to make library materials available to more people, not to make things more restrictive. So…without Open Access, I could use my Iowa City library card and check out the pieces?

      I can check out books, videos, DVDs, audiocassettes, CDs, computer software, art prints, magazines, and educational kits. I can reserve a meeting room. I can even participate in the summer reading program (talk about additional staff time and expense…it always surprised me that I could take part in this program when I wasn’t an Iowa City resident…I even get a free book and I get to be in drawings…believe me, I’ve cost them more as a summer reading program participant than I could EVER cost them just playing chess!). The only thing I can’t do at the Iowa City Public Library is place and Interlibrary loan or check out a DVD player, VCR, CD/cassette player, camcorder, overhead projector, slide project, large chess or checkers pieces. I can play regular board games in the library (just not the large version). I can use all that other equipment in the library. And I can place my Interlibrary loan or check out any other piece of equipment at the Coralville Public Library (I can even check out CAKE PANS from the North Liberty Public Library).

      The only thing I cannot do ANYWHERE is play with the large chess (and checkers) pieces!

      Sorry for the long comment…just getting my thoughts together for the next step (which will either be a letter to the director of the library or a letter to the newspaper).


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