Library News

Jazz Up Your Summer at the Central Library

The Fred Gazzo Band is set to play at the Central Library as part of Jazz in July

jazz in julyThe Des Moines Public Library is excited to take part in this year’s Jazz in July concert series, presented by the Metro Arts Alliance! The Freddy Gazzo Band will headline the show that takes place this coming Sunday, July 17, on the Central Library’s front lawn.

The fun starts at 5:30 PM as the Waukee High School Jazz Band performs. At 6:30 PM, the Freddy Gazzo Band takes the stage. Gazzo is a nationally known entertainer who spent ten years performing in Vegas before returning to Des Moines. He is especially known for Vegas-style cabaret. The free event will also include a craft project for kids and food vendors. Bring out your lawn chairs and blankets and join us for this wonderful night of music and fun!

Jazz in July is the city’s longest-running concert series. It engages area residents with live music, while promoting Iowa musicians and the American legacy and art form of jazz. For more information on Jazz in July and other concerts in the metro, go to

Des Moines Public Library Branches Designated as Public Cooling Center

The dog days of summer are upon us – July and August are traditionally the hottest months of the year. If you need a place to cool down this summer, stop by the Des Moines Public Library. All six branches have been designated as public cooling centers by the Polk County Health Department.

Dangerously hot temperatures puts people at risk for heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Those especially vulnerable to the heat include young children, older adults, individuals with chronic health conditions, and anyone spending significant time outdoors. Just spending two hours in air conditioning can greatly reduce the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

The Polk County Health Department has designated daytime cooling centers in and around Polk County for people to come in during regular business hours to cool off; the library is proud to now be on that list. So when the hot temperatures come around, duck inside the Des Moines Public Library. We’re here to serve your needs – including a place to cool off! To learn when each Des Moines Public Library branch is open, please visit our Locations and Hours page.

Jenny Lawson Gets Furiously Happy in Des Moines

The bestselling author will appear as the final author in the Des Moines Public Library’s 2016 AViD series

jenny lawsonJenny Lawson will be in Des Moines as the final speaker in the Des Moines Public Library’s 2016 Authors Visiting in Des Moines (AViD) series. Lawson will speak at Des Moines University on Thursday, July 7, at 7:00 PM.

Lawson is the bestselling author of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things. In that book, Lawson explores here lifelong battle with depression and anxiety in the hysterical style for which she’s become famous. Lawson also wrote a memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, which became a New York Times bestseller in 2012. Her blog,, has been nominated for multiple awards and recognized by Forbes and The Huffington Post. Lawson was also a contributor to the “Good Mom/Bad Mom” blog for the Houston Chronicle.

Lawson first began blogging about her life as a wife and mother about a decade ago, quickly gaining recognition for her humor and quick wit. Not long after, she began writing openly about her depression, anxiety, and mental well-being. Lawson covers a wide range of topics in her books and talks, from how she uses humor as a coping mechanism to crazy stories about therapy ponies. Lawson enjoys engaging with her readers, whether it be in-person, on her blog, or on her popular social media feeds.

The 2016 Summer Reading Program Begins Today!

Great books and great activities help kids fight the “summer slide”

summer readingOn your mark, get set, read! The Des Moines Public Library’s Summer Reading Program begins today! The popular program takes place at all six Des Moines Public Library branches, featuring musicians, puppets, animals, art, and, of course, reading. The Summer Reading Program helps counter-act the “summer slide” through reading and fun activities.

The “summer slide” is the name for the tendency for children to lose reading achievement during the summer months. “66% of teachers spend three-to-four weeks re-teaching course material,” said Patty Graham, an educator at Lovejoy Elementary School, during a recent episode of the DMPL Podcast. “When children don’t read over the summer, they can fall two years behind (in reading achievement) by fifth grade.” Graham also said that reading just six books over the summer helps significantly in keeping reading achievement from declining before the beginning of the new school year.

The Summer Reading Program offers different activities and events that are tailored to each child’s age. Children of all ages are eligible to take part in the program, and there’s even a program for adults.

Children receive a free book upon signing up for the program, and they can receive up to two additional free books as they complete “tasks” on a task sheet. They’ll also be eligible to take part in grand prize drawings, which include LEGO sets, huge stuffed animals, and Kindle Fire tablets.

Sign up is on-going at each Des Moines Public Library branch, with activities scheduled through July 16. Check with your local branch to find out the dates and times of each of our special Summer Reading Program events! You can also register for the Summer Reading Program online at To learn more information about the Summer Reading Program and the importance of countering the summer slide, listen to the DMPL Podcast! You can find the Summer Reading Program episode at

Make this a gold medal summer – sign up for the Summer Reading Program right away!

Inspiring the Community to Explore the Outdoors

Author James Edward Mills to Speak in Des Moines as Part of AViD

James Edward Mill, Adventure Gap Join the Forest Avenue Library for a day of discovery and exploration! Authors Visiting in Des Moines (AViD) hosts author and documentary producer James Edward Mills at the Forest Avenue Library on Saturday, June 4.

First, Mills will speak at 3:00 PM about his book, The Adventure Gap. In that book, Mills tells the inspiring true story of the first all-African American summit attempt on Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America. Using that setting, Mills explores why minority populations are less likely to seek recreation and adventure in the wilderness and what can be done to bridge that gap. Mills’ goal is to inspire minority communities to look outdoors for experiences that will enrich their lives and to encourage them toward greater environmental stewardship.

At dusk, the Forest Avenue Library will host a showing of the documentary An American Ascent at Evelyn Davis Park. An American Ascent, produced and co-written by Mills, captures on film the story of that same summit attempt on Denali. The film was named Best Feature Film at the Mountain and Adventure Film Festival and Best Documentary at the San Diego Black Film Festival. It was also nominated for Best Documentary at the American Black Film Festival and was screened at the White House last year.

Mills has worked in the outdoor industry more than 25 years as a guide, outfitter, writer, and photographer. His expeditions include mountaineering, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and kayaking.

Mills has written for several publications, including The Wisconsin State Journal, The Capital Region Business Journal, Madison Magazine, Madison Sports Monthly, and Wisconsin Trails. Mills’ radio production credits include Wisconsin Public Radio, the Public Radio Exchange, American Public Media’s Marketplace, and the Public Radio International programs To the Best of Our Knowledge and The Tavis Smiley Show.

Please join the library for this inspiring day of outward and inward exploration!

Des Moines Public Library Opens New Art Gallery

Local artists will be showcased in the Central Library’s inviting new space

The Des Moines Public Library is excited to announce the Grand Opening of the Art Gallery at the Central Library! A reception will take place on Wednesday, June 1, from 6:00-8:00 PM, at the Art Gallery, which is located on the Central Library’s second floor. Judith Eastburn and Igor Khalandovskiy, the two artists being featured in the inaugural exhibit, will be on-hand to answer questions and discuss their work. Refreshments will be provided.

In opening the gallery, the Des Moines Public Library is reviving a 100-year-old tradition. The Library opened a gallery space in the former Main Library building in 1916, in partnership with the Des Moines Association of Fine Arts. The two organizations worked together for more than 15 years. Eventually, the Des Moines Association of Fine Arts moved their gallery to Walnut Street, then to Grand Avenue, where they renamed the organization the Des Moines Art Center.

Exhibitions at the Art Gallery will feature Iowa artists and will be exhibited for approximately two months.

“The new Art Gallery offers an accessible and welcoming environment for Iowa artists,” says Nyla Wobig, Central Library Manager. “These art exhibitions will engage and enrich the local community and bolster the creative expression of local artists.”

Artists interested in potentially exhibiting their work can find an application online at or at any Des Moines Public Library service desk. If potential exhibiters have questions, they may email or call the Library at 515-283-4152 and ask for Burke Shiffler.

Igor Khalandovskiy, Neverending Journey

Igor Khalandovskiy, Neverending Journey

Judith Eastburn, Winter Pines

Judith Eastburn, Winter Pines