116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Public Library and Iowa City Parks and Recreation have teamed up to offer a new activity that combines reading and walking.
In June, the city installed a permanent BookWalk installation at Willow Creek Park, 1117 Teg Dr. Angela Pilkington, Children’s Services Coordinator at the library, said the project was done as part of the library’s 125th anniversary.
“How do we get out into the community and really let people know this is our 125th year and what’s something new we haven’t done?,” Pilkington said. “It’s another great partnership with Iowa City Parks and Rec. This was just something really exciting both of us could do together to encourage people to read and get outdoors in a different way.”
Pilkington said the BookWalk consists of 24 steel frames placed along a path that begins in Willow Creek Park and ends at nearby Kiwanis Park. Each frame has a number, the page from a book and a map.
“Each post has a page of the story,” she said.
Planning for the BookWalk began in March, Pilkington said. She reached out to Parks and Recreation Director Juli Seydell Johnson to ask “for permission to dig 24 holes and put in a steel frame structure that was never going to move,” Pilkington said jokingly. Seydell Johnson was immediately on board.
Pilkington said she originally pictured the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area as an ideal location for the installation, but Seydell Johnson mentioned Willow Creek as being closer and within a neighborhood. A new playground, restroom and shelter were completed at the park last year.
The BookWalk currently features the book, “Creekfinding: A True Story,” by local author Jacqueline Briggs Martin and local illustrator Claudia McGehee. Pilkington said the book tells the true story of a farmer who rebuilt a creek.
Pilkington said the book featured in the BookWalk will change monthly between February and December. The next book to be featured is “Yoga Animals” and Pilkington said they hope to feature more local authors and illustrators in the future.
“It was definitely the emphasis for the first book,” she said. “We have tons of local authors and illustrators. It is definitely something we have in mind.”
BookWalks have grown in popularity in recent years and Iowa City is not the only library to implement such a project, Pilkington said. BookWalks have been installed in Coralville, North Liberty and Solon as well, she said.
“It’s just a great way to get people out in the outdoors to do something together,” she said.
The project was funded by the library’s Friends Foundation, Pilkington said. She said staff already are exploring ideas of doing other BookWalks in Iowa City parks and featuring other kinds of literature, including adult books and poetry.
“It’s a permanent fixture,” she said. “We plan to do this for many, many years.”
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