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Recent Press Releases

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

150thThe Des Moines Public Library Celebrates Arbor Day on April 29
A new tree is being planted in honor of the annual holiday

A new tree is being planted at the Central Library in Des Moines in celebration of Arbor Day. On Friday, April 29, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Des Moines City Council Member Skip Moore, kindergarteners from the Downtown School, Tree Des Moines board members, and Des Moines Public Library Administration will gather at the Central Library to plant the tree. The tree is being donated by Tree Des Moines. The planting will take place at the east side of the Central Library at 9:30 AM. The public is welcome to attend the ceremony.

Arbor Day is an annual holiday that promotes the care and maintenance of trees. In America, Arbor Day began in 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. As the holiday became more popular, many states set up their own Arbor Day celebrations. In 1970, President Richard Nixon declared the last Friday of April to be National Arbor Day, which is when Iowa celebrates it now.

Des Moines Public Library Begins Sesquicentennial Celebration
DMPL hosts “Celebrations in the City” during the first week of May at all six branches

Join the Des Moines Public Library as we begin our sesquicentennial celebration! From May 2-5, each of our branches is hosting their own “Celebration in the City” in honor of our 150th anniversary.

“For any organization to be in place for 150 years is an incredible accomplishment,” says Greg Heid, Director of the Des Moines Public Library. “As the world has changed, the Des Moines Public Library has stood as a constant institution where anyone can access information and the public can gather to discuss ideas and opinions. We’re proud of the fact that the library has been a pillar of the community for the past 150 years, and we look forward to supporting the evolving needs of the community for the next 150 years.”

Illustrator and storyteller Tim Read will kick off each event with an interactive family storytelling program. Read teaches about the power of creativity through entertaining and engaging illustrations, incorporating suggestions from the audience into elements of the story he tells. Each kickoff party will also have games, drawings, and snacks, creating an event that will be fun for the whole family.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to share this momentous occasion with the community,” says Sue Woody, Community Engagement Librarian. “Having a party at each location is a great way to say thank you to the entire city. We couldn’t be a successful community partner without the support of the public.”

The date and time for each branch’s celebration is as follows:

  • South Side Library: Monday, May 2, 3:30-5:00 PM
  • Forest Avenue Library: Monday, May 2, 4:30-6:00 PM
  • East Side Library: Tuesday, May 3, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
  • Franklin Avenue Library: Wednesday, May 4, 3:30-5:00 PM
  • North Side Library: Thursday, May 5, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
  • Central Library: Thursday, May 5, 12:00-1:30 PM

There will be several special 150th anniversary programs in the months following the kickoff events at each branch, with subjects including literature, music, the arts, and Iowa history. All events will be posted on our website,, and can be found on the events calendar.

david morrellRambo Creator David Morrell to Speak at AViD
Morrell is a critically acclaimed author best known for his thriller and action novels.

Best-selling and critically acclaimed author David Morrell will take the stage as part of the Des Moines Public Library’s Authors Visiting in Des Moines (AViD) series on Friday, April 29, at 7:00 PM at the Central Library.

Morrell is best known for his novel First Blood, which served as the basis for the Rambo movie series starring Sylvester Stallone. His most recent work is a Victorian-era mystery series featuring the real-life character of Thomas De Quincey. During the program, Morrell will about talk the series and specifically about De Quincey, who was well-known for his book Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. De Quincey is considered one of the patriarchs of addiction literature, openly writing about his recreational drug experience for a wide audience.

Morrell is an Edgar and Anthony finalist, a Nero and Macavity winner, and a three-time recipient of the distinguished Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association. He taught English Literature at the University of Iowa for sixteen years. His numerous New York Times best sellers include the classic spy novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, which served as the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. The International Thriller Writers organization gave him its prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master Award. Overall, Morrell has written thirty-nine books and novels, as well as comic books featuring Captain America, Spiderman, and Wolverine. With eighteen million copies in print, his work has been translated into twenty-six languages.

Morrell will also be hosting a writers’ workshop on Saturday, April 30 at 9 AM at the Central Library. The cost is $40 and includes a copy of Morrell’s newest book, Inspector of the Dead. To register, call 248-6402 or go to

bilingual storytimeDes Moines Public Library Begins Bilingual Storytime Program
The new program expands services and creates new opportunities for the Des Moines community

The Des Moines Public Library is happy to announce the launch of a bilingual storytime program for families! The Library is excited to bring Marlu Abarca aboard as our new storyteller. Abarca is trilingual and has experience in programming, translation, interpretation, and library storytimes. The storytimes will feature stories, rhymes, and songs in both English and Spanish, as well as crafts. Activities will embrace Latino cultural diversity.

“The program will offer benefits for both Spanish and English speaking families, creating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all involved,” says Nikki Hayter, Supervising Librarian at the Forest Avenue Library.

“As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, it’s important to stay in tune with our community and adapt to its evolving needs,” says Sue Woody, Community Engagement Librarian. “A program such as this one is a great example of how the library continues to be relevant in an ever-changing world.”

The program will initially run on Thursdays at 6:30 PM at the Forest Avenue Library, starting on Thursday, April 14th. Beginning in May, the program will expand to twice a week, as the Forest Avenue Library hosts an additional bilingual storytime on Saturdays at 10:15 AM. Activities will promote childhood literacy, a critical skill that is indicative of future success in the classroom.

“Activities like talking, playing, singing, reading, and writing help children develop emotionally, physically, and mentally,” says Abarca. She adds that bilingual children have better attention spans and are better at switching between tasks. “The benefits of learning to read, speak, and write in more than one language are endless both cognitively and culturally.”

Abarca is a Grinnell College graduate and serves on the board for ¡Al Éxito!, an Iowa organization that prepares Latino youth to succeed in school, engage in the community, and develop positive relationships through adult mentors and leadership training. She is a recent graduate of the Latina Leadership Initiative of Greater Des Moines.

young childDes Moines Public Library Celebrates “Week of the Young Child”
The Library will host two events as part of the week-long celebration

The Des Moines Public Library is celebrating the youngest members of our community as part of Week of the Young Child in Des Moines! The annual celebration, taking place from April 11-17, promotes the needs of young children and their families and recognizes the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

The Des Moines Public Library is hosting programs Thursday and Friday as part of Des Moines’ week-long series of events. On Thursday, April 14, at 10:15 AM, the Des Moines Art Center will be hosting “Artsy Expression” at the Central Library! During this special storytime program, families can hear a story and then make a special family craft inspired by Andy Warhol.

On Friday, April 15, families can celebrate their own special story at all open branches of the Des Moines Public Library! Stop in at anytime during the day with your family to get your photo taken and decorate an “All About Me” poster to take home.

These are just two of several events going on around Des Moines for Week of the Young Child. Other programs throughout the week are being hosted by the Science Center of Iowa, Drake University, Des Moines preschools, and Merle Hay Mall, among other locations. Check out posters at your local Des Moines Public Library branches for more information on these events.

150thAbout the Des Moines Public Library

Founded in 1866, the Des Moines Public Library is the public library system for the City of Des Moines. With six branches and a collection of more than 550,000 items, the Des Moines Public Library is the largest public library system in the state of Iowa. The mission of the Des Moines Public Library is to be the bridge to a world of information and ideas for personal enjoyment and community growth. The Des Moines Public Library is the recognized leader in expanding the universe of opportunities, imagination, innovation, and lifelong learning benefiting its diverse community.

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