About Amber

Public Information Officer and Adult Programming Coordinator

We Dare You! This Summer at the Cedar Rapids Public Library

The Cedar Rapids PButton-image-for-web-and-newsletterublic Library (CRPL) is daring YOU to take summer reading to a whole new level in 2015! The CRPL Summer Dare is not your average summer reading program. It is a newly designed twist on conventional summer reading programs that challenges the entire community to read it, picture it, celebrate it, move it, write it, share it, explore it, imagine it, make it, change it, learn it, and wing it!

“Summer reading has traditionally been a way for libraries to help keep kids from losing ground on their literacy and learning during summer break,” said Amber Mussman, Community Relations Manager at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. “The Summer Dare takes that challenge one step further and encourages everyone to read but also to engage with their community and each other in a brand new way.”

The CRPL Summer Dare is a reading challenge for all ages, weekly themed activities designed to encourage life-long learning, intergenerational programs, and unexpected experiences at the library and beyond. The program begins June 1 and runs through August 22. Participants can register online at http://summerdare.crlibrary.org or beginning May 30 at both the Ladd Library and the Downtown Library.

To complete the program, participants must read 300 minutes and complete eight “dares” as listed in the Summer Dare program by August 22. Dares are based on the theme of each week. Some can be done in the library but many can be done throughout the community.

Participants can stop in to either library location throughout the summer and visit the Dare Desk to register, record their progress, turn in their completed reading logs, and get tokens to add to the Dare Drop. The Dare Drop is a physical representation of all the reading and dares being done throughout the summer.

The CRPL Summer Dare Kick-Off Party will be held at the Downtown Library on Saturday, May 30, from 10 am to noon. Everyone is invited to attend and get a sneak peak at the dares for the summer, get registered for the program, and enter to win a new bike! (The bike drawing will be held at noon and you must be present to win.)

We encourage participants to share their progress with us on social media using the hashtags #2015summerdare and #notyouraveragelibrary.

Programs for all ages will be held throughout the CRPL Summer Dare. For a complete list of programs, visit our event calendar on our website at www.crlibrary.org or pick up a CRPL Summer Dare program at the library.

Cedar Rapids Public Library wins AIA/ALA Library Building Award

4th Ave entire exterior during dayThe Cedar Rapids Public Library, designed by OPN Architects, has been named one of six recipients of the 2015 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards. Biennually, representatives from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association (ALA) gather to encourage and recognize excellence in the architectural design of libraries.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library, designed by OPN Architects, was selected based on its many features, including abundant natural light, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and daylight harvesting strategies to minimize the buildings energy use. The green roof and use of permeable pavers across the site allow the building to retain 90% of all annual rainfall on site in underground storm water collection chambers. Inside, a spacious two-story lobby brings together all of the core patron services in a hub and spoke system. A motion-activated light wall dramatically highlights the monumental stair. Out are the imposing book stacks, the massive circulation desk and the security systems at the doors; in are shelves capped at 69 inches tall (48 inches in the children’s department), friendly checkout kiosks scattered throughout the building and a busy café / coffee shop. A 24,000-square-foot publicly accessible green roof is a prime spot for library programs and community events.

Award recipients also include:

  • Claire T. Carney Library Addition and Renovation, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; North Dartmouth, MA
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center; Little Rock, AR
  • Mission Branch Library; San Antonio, TX
  • Slover Library; Norfolk, VA
  • Vancouver Community Library; Vancouver, WA

The jury for the 2015 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards includes: Christine Verbitzki, AIA (Chair), GUND Partnership; Drew Harrington, University of Portland; James Richärd, AIA, richärd+bauer; Clyde Scoles, Toledo Public Library; Doug Stieve, AIA, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. and John F. Szabo, Los Angeles Public Library. For more information on the award, visit http://www.aia.org/press/releases/AIAB105944.

In addition to the AIA/ALA Library Building Award, the Cedar Rapids Public Library has received the following honors:

  • 2014 Merit Award – American Institute of Architects – Central States Region
  • 2014 Interior Design Honorable Mention – American Library Association and the International Interior Design Association
  • 2014 Design is…Award – Shaw Contract Group
  • 2014 “Best Curb Appeal” Honorable Mention – GALE “Libraries Are Beautiful” Photo Contest
  • 2014 Merit Award, Illuminating Engineering Society
    First Place, 2014 ASHRAE Technology Award (Midwest region)

For more information on the Cedar Rapids Public Library, visit www.crlibrary.org or call 319.261.READ.


YOU Out Loud!


Submit your video and tell us why YOU should be the one to introduce one of our Out Loud! Authors this summer: Maureen Corrigan, Rainbow Rowell, or Piper Kerman.

The rules are simple. You must be a valid library card holder in the Metro Library Network (consisting of Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, and Marion Public Libraries). Your video must be no longer than three minutes. It should make a compelling case for why you should be the one to introduce one of our three 2015 Out Loud! Series Authors—Maureen Corrigan, Rainbow Rowell, and Piper Kerman. A committee made up of staff from the three Metro Libraries will select a winner for each author. The winners will be invited to introduce their selected author at the Out Loud! Author Series this summer.

How to submit your video
You may submit your video one of two ways:

Online Submissions

1. Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo.

2. Send an email to outloud@metrolibrarynetwork.org, including:

a. A link to your video
b. Your name and contact information (email and phone)

3. We will send you a confirmation email that we received your video within 24 hours.

Snail Mail or In-Person Submissions

1. Save your video to a CD, DVD, or flash drive

2. Put it in an envelope addressed to Hiawatha Public Library, Out Loud! c/o Pat Struttmann, 150 West Willman St., Hiawatha, Iowa, 52233. Inside the envelope, please include:

a. Your name
b. Your contact information (email and phone)

3. Submissions must be received ten days before your author’s program.

Contest Timeline
Deadlines for submitting videos:

  • Maureen Corrigan – Friday, June 5 by 5 p.m.
  • Rainbow Rowell – Friday, June 12 by 5 p.m.
  • Piper Kerman – Friday, June 19 by 5 p.m.

The Metro Library Network will select finalists by Monday, June 8, 15, and 22. Winners will be contacted by Wednesday, June 10, 17, and 24.


Entries will be reviewed for eligibility and compliance with the contest rules. A panel of judges drawn from within the Metro Library Network will judge the entries on the following criteria:

  • Creativity: 30%
  • Persuasiveness: 30%
  • Speaking Ability: 30%
  • Engagement: 10%

Contest Rules

  • You must be a valid library card holder in the Metro Library Network (consisting of Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, and Marion Public Libraries).
  • Videos will be judged according to the following criteria: creativity, persuasiveness, speaking ability, and engagement.
  • Your entry must obey all laws, including all applicable copyright and privacy laws. This also applies to any music samples used in your video.
  • You agree to let the Metro Library Network place your entry on respective YouTube channels and Facebook pages, and use your video in its promotional and educational efforts.
  • Your video should be no longer than three minutes. Videos longer than three minutes will be disqualified.
  • Entries must be submitted by the indicated deadline to be eligible. No extensions. Anything submitted after these deadlines will not be considered.
  • Entries may not contain commercial, sexually explicit, disparaging, or libelous content; promote any product or service; or contain any trademarks, copyrighted works (including music that is not within the public domain), or other intellectual property not owned by the submitter(s).
  • The Metro Library Network reserves the right to reject or return for editing any video that doesn’t comply with these guidelines.

Questions? For more information, contact: Pat Struttman, Hiawatha Public Library at struttmannp@hiawatha-iowa.com or 319-393-1414.

Download the You Out Loud! flyer (pdf).

Out Loud! Author Series to Feature Corrigan, Rowell, and Kerman in 2015

Out Loud! The Metro Library Network Author Series is thrilled to present three outstanding authors in 2015. The collaborative program of the Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, and Marion Public Libraries will present Maureen Corrigan, Rainbow Rowell, and Piper Kerman in free events at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center.

Maureen CorriganMaureen Corrigan will open this year’s series on Friday, June 12 at 7 p.m. Corrigan is one of America’s most trusted and loved book critics. For more than 20 years, Corrigan has been the book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air. She is also a columnist for The Washington Post and the critic-in-residence at Georgetown University where her courses are very popular, as well as a critic for The Village Voice. She is the author of two books of her own; Leave me Alone I’m Reading and So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures, which was named one of the ten best books of the year by Library Journal in 2014. Aside from her writings for The Washington Post and The Village Voice, Corrigan has also written reviews for The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Nation among others. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism. In 2012 she served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. (Register for Corrigan.)

Author Rainbow RowellRainbow Rowell will continue the series on Friday, June 19, at 7 p.m. Rowell is the New York Times bestselling author of Fangirl, Eleanor & Park, and Attachments. Her latest book, Landline, received the Goodreads Choice Award for best fiction in 2014. Her work spans the young adult and adult genres, appealing to people of all ages. Formerly a columnist and ad copywriter at the Omaha World-Herald, Rowell’s two young adult novels, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl were released in 2013 and both were named by The New York Times as among the best young adult fiction of the year. (Register for Rowell.)

Author Piper KermanPiper Kerman will finish the series on Friday, June 26, at 7 p.m. Kerman is the author of the best-selling memoir Orange is the New Black, which was adapted into a critically-acclaimed series of the same name. The memoir chronicles what the author calls her “crucible experience”, the 13-months she spent in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. Since her release, Kerman has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of prison and criminal justice reform. (Register for Kerman.)

Alternately, patrons may send an email to events@crlibrary.org.

All Out Loud! authors will take questions from the audience and sign books following their presentations.

More information about the Out Loud! Author Series is available at www.metrolibrarynetwork.org/outloud.

Out Loud! The Metro Library Network Author Series is supported by the Giacoletto Foundation with media support from The Gazette and event book sales provided by Barnes & Noble Booksellers.


On the first Wednesday of March every year, World Read Aloud Day calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories. The Cedar Rapids Public Library celebrates this each year with a Readaloudathon on March 4 at the downtown library.

Readers will begin reading stories out loud at 9 am, when the library opens, and continues until the library closes at 9 pm. For those twelve hours someone will always be reading. Everyone is invited to come listen to the stories and share in the fun.

9:00 Chris Earl (KCRG), Marcy Jones (KGAN), Dara Schmidt (CRPL), and
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett
9:30 Children’s Stories from the Family Connections Library
11:00 It’s Just Right, Goldilocks and the Three Bears in Five Languages
NOON City Leaders Tell Tall Tales
1:00 Classics in the Commons
3:00 Cedar Rapids Roller Girls “Bridge to Reading”
4:00 Teen Angst in the Union
5:00 Theater and Speech Selections from area High School Students
6:00 VoiceBox Poetry
7:00 Poetry Slam

10 From 26: The ABC Family Reading Program

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One of the prized pieces of the Zerzanek Collection is this original illustration by Maurice Sendak.

The cold weather means a lot more time for indoor activities! The Library wants to help you read and play together with “10 From 26: The ABC Family Reading Program.” This inter-generational reading program is designed to get you and your little one’s reading together!

Visit the Library and check out a bag of 10 family-friendly books, read them together, and receive a prize! Each book was hand selected to fit 10 of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

This reading program is being done in conjunction with the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art’s newest exhibit: “The ABCs of Children’s Book Illustrations” highlighting the Zerzanek Collection of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

The program and exhibit run through May 17. For more information on Evelyn Zerzanek and the amazing collection of illustrations, click here.


Unbeknownst to many in the Cedar Rapids community, the
Cedar Rapids Public Library possesses an extraordinary collection
of original children’s book illustration. Starting in the 1950s, an
exceptional children’s librarian, Evelyn Zerzanek, asked children’s
book authors and illustrators to donate a work for the children
of Cedar Rapids. Over the course of fifteen years, the collection
grew to more than 1,400 pieces, representing various scenes and
characters from childhood classics. The Cedar Rapids Museum
of Art, which has housed the collection since 2008, is partnering
with the Library to present a major exhibition of this little-known
collection to a much broader audience.

The ABCs of Children’s Book Illustration presents several works
from the Zerzanek Collection of Original Art from Children’s
Literature. The exhibition is organized not by artist or date of
production but rather in the form of an ABC book, spread out on
the wall. While most of the illustrations are from published books,
others were drawn specifically for the Library and have never been
published. Still others were made for well-known books but for
one reason or another were not included in the final version. Also
in the exhibition are some pieces of correspondence that include
original drawings, for example a letter from H. A. Rey with an image
of Curious George, and another from Dr. Seuss with an original
drawing of his dog Owlser. On display are also a few retirement
wishes Miss Zerzanek received from various authors and illustrators,
again including original artwork. In all cases, these works exemplify
a golden age of children’s literature and illustration and are truly a
treasure of this community.

This exhibition is made possible by Rockwell Collins, the Program
Grant Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation,
members of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and contributors to
the Museum’s Annual Fund.

STEM Festival February 24

The downtown Cedar Rapid Public Library will be buzzing on Tuesday for the STEM Fair STEM logofrom 4 – 8 pm. Over 40 exhibitors and community presenters will be on hand demonstrating STEM technology and careers. Representatives from Rockwell Collins, Iowa BIG Academy, the City of Cedar Rapids, and so many more organizations will be on site to show how STEM education can lead to a career you may have never considered.

Activities are geared at kids of all ages, from Pre-K through high school. Robots will be taking over the first floor of the library. A portable planetarium will invade the Whipple Auditorium. Students can try CAD technology in our Tech Classroom. Or come to the YA library to learn how to code! This is just a small sample of the fun we’ll be having.

There’s no need to register and no fee to attend. Just drop by and check out all the amazing activities for yourself!

Thanks to the sponsors:
The University of Iowa
Kirkwood Community College
Southeast Iowa Region Governor’s STEM Advisory Council