Press Releases

The Des Moines Public Library Launches the 2018 Adult Winter Reading Program!

Adult Winter Reading Challenge

Read novels, magazines, children’s books, and more - it all counts toward the reading challenge!

Calling all readers in Des Moines! The Des Moines Public Library is happy to announce the launch of the 2018 Adult Winter Reading Challenge! The challenge runs from January 1 through February 17. It takes place online at through Beanstack, our online reading log. All you have to do is keep track of the time you spend reading and enter it in the reading log. For every 15 minutes you spend reading, you receive an entry into our weekly drawing. Winners will receive a $20 gift card to a local Des Moines merchant.

“We want to involve everyone in the community, so every kind of reading counts!” says Sue Woody, Community Engagement Librarian, Des Moines Public Library. “Whether you’re reading books, magazines, articles online, or stories to your kids or grandkids, you can enter it in your reading log on Beanstack. Reading improves your memory and health, and bedtime stories are a great way to bring families together.”

You can register for the program right away. It’s easy! Go to and click on the Adult Winter Reading Challenge on the front page. There, you’ll find instructions on how to sign up for Beanstack and fill in your reading log. There will also be a bonus drawing for people who try a course through the Des Moines Public Library. The challenge begins January 1, but you can register now or anytime during the challenge. Let’s get Des Moines reading! Tell your friends and sign up for the Adult Winter Reading Challenge today!

About 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.

The Iowa Author Fair Returns Sunday to the Des Moines Public Library!

Meet twenty authors with Iowa ties and discover new great books!

Find your next great read and discover new writers at the Iowa Author Fair! The fair returns to the Central Library on Sunday, October 8, from 1:00-3:00 PM.  Twenty Iowa authors will be sharing their latest works with the public. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, share interesting conversations, and have fun! There will also be door prizes and refreshments. With authors of several different genres in attendance, there is something for everyone!


Larry Cotlar has been involved in sports journalism for nearly 40 years. His book, The Biggest Rolodex in Sports, reflects on his life in the field, including interviews with Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Muhammad Ali, among others.

Debra Closner Franklin has been an addiction counselor for more than thirty years. Her book, Intervention for America: A Country in Need, taps into her professional experience to explore how America has become “a nation of addicts” and what can be done to right the ship.

Dr. Hugh Hammond is a retired college professor who taught English as a Second Language in Estonia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. His novel, The Sinking of the Estonia: The CIA Knew, recalls the true story of the 1994 sinking of the car ferry Estonia in the Baltic Sea.

Catherine Haustein writes comedic novels with a scientific twist. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Iowa's chemistry department, she has been teaching chemistry at Central College for more than 30 years. Her newest novel, Mixed In, was published this past March.

Ken Keffer has written seven books meant to connect families to the outdoors and nature. As a professional naturalist, Ken has spent his career highlighting the importance of nature and encouraging people to explore the outdoors.

Joanne Seymour Kuster has been helping families become financially literate for decades. A native Iowan, she has lead the Money Smart Week initiative statewide and understands how building financial skills at any age paves a path to success.

Jeanne Martz, a graduate of Iowa State University, has a love for Iowa, the rural Midwest, and small-town American life. This fueled the writing of her books, The Creekers and The Women of Swenson Farm. She lives in Pleasant Hill with her husband, Jim.

Lana Jean Mitchell has been writing for six decades, beginning in her hometown of Cincinnati. Throughout her career, she has written for newspapers, magazines, and radio. Her children’s book, A Birthday Story, was inspired by someone whose birthday did not fall during the school year.

Otto Mondesi, of Des Moines, has spent several years traveling the United States and Canada in search of adventure and the great outdoors. Otto’s literary influences include the splendid tales brought to life by Vince Flynn, Stephen King, Suzanne Collins, David Hosp, and John Grisham. His book, It Just Takes One, follows the aftermath of an influenza pandemic both in American and abroad.

Cheryl Mullenbach is an award-winning author of history books for young adults and middle school readers. Her books have won recognition from the American Library Association, International Literacy Association, and more. Her books inspire readers to scratch beneath the surface of historical facts to discover the rich stories that make history real.

Randal Nerhus graduated from Iowa State University in 1982. From 2013 to 2016, he lived in the Amazon jungle studying under a Cocama shaman, and parts of that experience were incorporated into his novel. That book, Red with Native Blood, is available now.

Alan Simon, Jr. was born and raised in Des Moines. He served in the Air Force and attended Iowa State University. His first book is the thriller The People Downstairs Are Killers.

Francis Sparks grew up on a farm in Iowa. In his early thirties, Francis began chasing his dream of becoming an author, and his debut novel Made Safe was published in 2015. Francis Sparks currently lives in Des Moines with his amazing wife, Kelly. If he’s not working on his next novel or short story, you can find him teaching his children about dragons.

Pat Underwood, of Colfax, is known for both her poetry and her children's prose. She is the author of Portraits, Gatherings, Whisker Tag, At Coloring Zoo, and The Last Supper, a play kit. She is also a contributor to Voices on the Landscape: Contemporary Iowa Poets, The North American Review, and more.

Jan Walters grew up in Des Moines and currently lives on a farm in Warren County. She is the author of the A Ghost and a Cop series, which is set in Des Moines. Each book in the Ghost and a Cop series takes place on a different street in the Des Moines urban area and features a different type of supernatural killer.

Brian Webb was born and raised in Kentucky and currently lives in Des Moines. Shortly after graduating, Brian suffered an intracranial hemorrhage. He turned his life’s struggles into a way to provide hope in others through inspirational books. He’s the author of Chasing the Miracle and Don’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up.

Sara J. Weis is a creative and passionate teacher who has inspired children for over eighteen years. She leads kids’ yoga classes and is the bestselling author of Go Go Yoga for Kids: A Complete Guide for Using Yoga with Kids and the creator of the Kids Yoga Challenge Pose Cards.

Daniel Willers grew up in Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University. A practicing engineer involved in the design of water and wastewater treatment systems, Daniel loves to figure out how things work. He lives in Des Moines with his wife and fantastic daughters. He writes fantasy mystery novels starring Blake Heira, a mage and priest of Morn, God of Justice.

Author Ross Caligiuri has spent most of his life writing and performing within the music industry. Life often is the university that provides us with the tools we need to create. Discover more about his book, Dreaming in the Shadows, at

Dr. Eric L. Johnson currently serves as the chief consultant with Strategies to Succeed, a company that supports professional and organizational development. He has authored three inspirational books: Beyond Self Help: A Journey to be Better, 10 Deadly Aspects of Pride, and Livin’ in the Shade: Implications of Father and Son Relationships Explored.

About 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.



Celebrate your love of reading this fall with our Bookwalk, brought to you by Des Moines Parks and Recreation and the Des Moines Public Library. You don't have to sit down to enjoy a good book; read along while you enjoy a different book each month at one of these parks!

November: Bundle up and head out to the Waveland Trail near the Franklin Avenue Library for a great late fall read!

Enjoy the Solar Eclipse at the Des Moines Public Library!

All open branches will have eclipse sunglasses available for the public

solar eclipse

Experience the solar eclipse with the Des Moines Public Library! On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse will be tracking across the continental United States for the first time in nearly 40 years. Des Moines will experience a partial eclipse of 95 percent, and our library branches are celebrating! Des Moines Public Library branches will be handing out solar eclipse glasses for free on the day of the eclipse. These glasses are designed to protect people’s eyes so they may safely view the eclipse as it occurs (NASA safety tips for viewing the eclipse).

The Franklin Avenue Library is hosting a special eclipse viewing event! This starts at 12:00 PM with a lesson on viewing the eclipse safely. They’ll be handing out 500 pairs of glasses on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11:30 AM. We will be handing out the glasses on the west side of the building, and they are limited to one pair per person.

The Central Library, East Side Library, Forest Avenue Library, and South Side Library will each have 100 pairs of sunglasses that they’ll be handing out on a first-come, first-served basis. The Central Library will begin handing the glasses out at 9:00 AM, and the East Side, Forest Avenue, and South Side Libraries will begin handing glasses out at 10:00 AM. Again, each pair of glasses will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis, and each person is limited to one pair. We will not be taking reservations for glasses over the phone.

(Note: the North Side Library is closed on Mondays and will not be participating in this event).

The eclipse itself will begin at 11:42 AM in Des Moines, reaching its peak at 1:08 PM. The moon will continue to move across the sun’s path after that, and the eclipse will end at 2:33 PM.

You can prepare for the eclipse during a special program on Tuesday, August 15! Dave Lynch, a member of the Des Moines Astronomical Society, will be at the Franklin Avenue Library to talk about his eclipse stories. Lynch has chased solar eclipses for forty years, making trips to ten countries and two oceans in the process. He’ll share stories and photos of his fifteen eclipse trips and talk about why he finds the phenomenon fascinating.

We welcome the public to gather outside our buildings to watch the sky during this incredible event!

New Online Resources Added

database icons

Get news, financial information, product reviews, and more – for free – through the Des Moines Public Library

The Des Moines Public Library has added new resources to our Virtual Library! People across Des Moines want to learn new skills that advance their careers. They want to know the latest national news. They’d like to be able to do more maintenance to their vehicles by themselves. The library strives to fulfill the needs of our community and provide access to information through technology. We’re happy to announce the addition of the following resources, available for free with a Des Moines Public Library card: is an on-demand learning solution designed to help you learn business, technology, and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. Whether you want to learn programming and coding, develop design techniques, or master video production, can help you. Get enrolled in one of thousands of classes today – for free!

Des Moines Public Library’s Virtual Library now has an extensive auto repair and maintenance database! Chilton has a long history of providing information to consumers regarding auto labor and parts. They continuously and carefully craft information so that automotive enthusiasts, students, and service professionals know what to look for. Take simple repairs into your own hands.

Reach your financial goals with help from Morningstar Investment Research Center. Learn about smart investing and staying ahead of the market. Morningstar offers easy-to-use portfolio tools and comprehensive financial information about thousands of stocks, funds, and bonds. Stay up-to-date on the latest news and information through curated articles and videos about current financial events. Add Morningstar to your financial toolbox!

Consumer Reports
Find the product that’s right for you! Receive free access to product reviews on appliances, cars, home products, and more. Consumer Reports is known as a trusted, unbiased source of information for shoppers. The library offers free access to new reviews as well as archived reviews dating back to 1991!

Digital Access to The New York Times
Never run out of your monthly allotment of stories and columns – get digital access to The New York Times for free through the Des Moines Public Library. No newspaper in history has won more Pulitzer Prizes, showcasing the breadth and scope of their staff’s reporting skills. Whether you need to know the breaking news of the day or want to read in-depth investigations, get it free with your Des Moines Public Library card!

These are just a handful of the databases and resources that can be found at our Virtual Library. To see everything that’s available, go to Lifelong learning is for everyone – take advantage of all we have to offer today!

Simple Steps to Success

Simple Steps Logo

Des Moines Public Library Launches Simple Steps to Success
Read. Write. Sing. Play. Talk.

The foundation for a child’s success in school and life begins the moment they’re born. The more words young children hear, the more likely it is they’ll be ready to read when they start school. Parents and caregivers have an important role in exposing children to new words, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Word development is a family opportunity that requires little time, is free, and will make a big difference to their child’s long-term scholastic success.

To help parents and caregivers understand their critical roles, the Des Moines Public Library is excited to announce a new community awareness initiative called Simple Steps to Success. The goal of the program is to increase awareness about the five pre-literacy skills of reading, writing, singing, playing, and talking.

“We want every family to understand the importance of these five skills,” says Sue Woody, Community Engagement Librarian. “Whether you’re in the car, at the laundromat, or playing at home, it’s easy for families to incorporate these practices into their daily routines.”

Simple Steps to Success will provide parents and caregivers with examples of how those pre-literacy skills can be introduced in a way that takes little time, wherever they are. Through posters, flyers, television and radio campaigns, and outreach in the community, parents and caregivers will be given support and guidance on the ways they can help their children succeed.

“With the Simple Steps program, we want parents and caregivers to understand how easy it is to have a positive impact on their child’s life,” says Woody. “You don’t need to be an expert. It’s about taking advantage of the time you already spend with your child. Even just a few minutes a day makes a big difference.”

This program was initiated by the Des Moines Public Library through a grant provided by Polk County Early Childhood Iowa. A number of community organizations are assisting with the program, including Head Start, Hispanic Educational Resources, Iowa Public Television, Lutheran Services in Iowa, Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, and Price Chopper.

Materials regarding the Simple Steps to Success initiative are being distributed through preschools and daycare providers across Des Moines. Those materials and additional information about the program are also available on the Simple Steps website –

Polk County Early Childhood Iowa logo

2017 AViD Series

AViD logo Des Moines Public Library Announces Six Authors for AViD Lecture Series
Presenting meaningful conversations with highly acclaimed authors such as Jon Ronson, Nathan Hill, and Eloisa James.

The Des Moines Public Library is excited to announce this year’s full lineup for our Authors Visiting in Des Moines (AViD) lecture series! Now in its 17th year, AViD is a highly acclaimed, free lecture series that connects world-famous authors with an audience from across the state.

Michelle Hoover will open the series on Tuesday, March 7. Her newest book, Bottomland, has been selected as the 2017 All Iowa Reads title. It’s the story of a 1920s Iowa family searching for their two missing daughters. On Tuesday, March 21, renowned romance author Eloisa James will join us in Des Moines. James has written 27 novels and has been recognized with several RITA nominations, solidifying her status as one of today’s best romance writers.

On Wednesday, April 12, Jon Ronson will take the stage. His newest book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, looks at public shaming as an internet phenomenon and examines the effects the events have had on those who have been shamed. Maureen Corrigan will take part in AViD in conjunction with the Wonder of Words (WoW) Festival on Saturday, April 22. Corrigan has served as the book critic for the award-winning NPR program Fresh Air for more than 25 years.

Iowa native Nathan Hill comes to Des Moines on Thursday, May 11. Hill is the author of the best-selling novel The Nix. His debut novel, The Nix was recognized by several outlets as one of the best books of 2016. Finally, Heather Gudenkauf wraps up the lecture series on Tuesday, May 30. Gudenkauf, who lives in Dubuque, will be celebrating the release of her seventh novel, Not a Sound.

“This year’s AViD lineup is filled with wonderful speakers,” says Sue Woody, Community Engagement Librarian. “We think our audience will be thrilled to hear from such a distinct and intelligent group of writers. This year’s series includes several people with local ties, worldly thinkers, and discussions on a wide variety of subjects.”

With support from the Des Moines Public Library Foundation and other local donors, including Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities, AViD celebrates great reading, great writing, and the pursuit of life-long learning.

Senior Winter Reading Club Begins in January

senior winter readingSeniors across the metro are invited to take part in the first ever Senior Winter Reading Club! This new book club will bring seniors together for an engaging dialogue about popular books, with a common title connecting people around the city. The first title chosen for the book club is Boys in the Boat, the best-selling book written by Daniel James Brown. The non-fiction book uncovers the story of the nine American rowers that competed at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Brown describes how they overcame difficulties and came together to win the gold medal at those Olympics, which were held as Adolf Hitler was coming into power in Germany.

During the initial meeting in January, participants will be given a free large-print copy of the book, a book bag, and other book-related items, while supplies last. During February’s meeting, librarians will serve as moderators, leading discussions about the book. There will be snacks and refreshments at each meeting, and you are not required to be at the first meeting to attend the discussion portion in February.

The Senior Winter Reading Club will give seniors an opportunity to learn more about library services that are available and how they can be useful in their daily life.

The program is being provided by the Des Moines Public Library in partnership with American Enterprise.


  • Southside Senior Center: Wednesday, January 18, & Wednesday, February 15, 12:30-2:30 PM
  • Central Senior Center: Thursday, January 19, & Thursday, February 16, 1:00-3:00 PM
  • North Senior Center: Friday, January 20, & Friday, February 17, 1:00-3:00 PM
  • Northwest Senior Center: Monday, January 23, & Monday, February 27, 12:30-2:30 PM
  • East Side Senior Center: Monday, January 30, & Thursday, February 23, 1:00-3:00 PM

More Storytimes in 2017 at Des Moines Public Library

teddy bear There are more opportunities than ever to go to storytimes at the library! The Des Moines Public Library is expanding its storytime schedule in 2017. Each branch will be hosting one evening storytime a week and one Saturday storytime a month. The goal is to help accommodate working families and families with schedules that do not lend themselves toward our traditional weekday morning and afternoon storytimes.

“Storytimes are a great way for children to connect ideas and pictures with words,” says Janeé Jackson, Youth Services Librarian. “These connections help prepare children to learn how to read. When we tell stories, we’re not just saying words aloud. We’re engaging with the kids, using music, songs, finger plays, and other interactions that are full of energy and excitement.”

Storytimes are a vital part of the library’s mission to model early literacy skills for young children and their families. Children that are consistently read to at a young age are more likely to develop a passion for reading themselves. Storytimes expose children to new words and sounds in an exciting and entertaining fashion.

For parents, storytimes also offers the opportunity to get out of the house and connect with other parents and caregivers that have young children. Parents also learn about all the resources that the library has to offer.

“We have a fantastic selection of books, movies, and music at the library,” says Jackson. “There’s something for every member of the family in our collection. You’ll be able to keep your family entertained for hours on-end.”

Take advantage of all that we have to offer at the Des Moines Public Library! Our storytimes range in ages and themes – be sure to check out the ones that interest you and your child!

Our storytime schedule is as follows:

Baby Rhyme Time | ages 0 – 18 months
Social storytimes for babies and their caregivers featuring rhymes, songs, bounces, and a story.

  • Tuesdays, 10:15 AM | Franklin Avenue Library
  • Wednesdays, 10:15 AM | Central Library

Toddler Storytime | ages 18 months – 3 years
Introduce children to reading with engaging activities.

  • Tuesdays, 10:30 AM: Toddler I (ages 18 months – 2 years) | East Side Library
  • Tuesdays, 11:00 AM: Toddler II (ages 2 – 3 years) | East Side Library
  • Wednesdays, 10:00 AM | South Side Library
  • Wednesdays, 10:15 AM and 10:50 AM | Franklin Avenue Library
  • Thursdays, 10:30 AM | North Side Library
  • Fridays, 10:15 AM | Central Library

Preschool Storytime | ages 3 – 6 years
Children will learn valuable skills for school while listening to stories and participating in songs, rhymes, and activities.

  • Mondays, 10:15 AM | Franklin Avenue Library
  • Wednesdays, 10:15 AM | Forest Avenue Library
  • Thursdays, 10:00 AM | South Side Library
  • Thursdays, 10:15 AM | Central Library
  • Thursdays, 10:30 AM | East Side Library

Evening Family Storytime | entire family
Bring the entire family for stories and activities.

  • Mondays, 6:30 PM | South Side Library
  • Tuesdays, 6:15 PM | Franklin Avenue Library
  • Tuesdays, 6:30 PM | Central Library
  • Wednesdays, 6:30 PM | North Side Library
  • Fridays, 5:00 PM | East Side Library (Thank Goodness It’s Friday Storytime)

Citizen Budget Engagement

Speak Up DSM

Help Support Our Library!

The City of Des Moines Has been hosting a series of Citizen Engagement Meetings to discuss the 2017-2018 City of Des Moines Budget and how it will affect city departments.

The next meeting will concern Operating and Capital Budgets. For the library, this means hours of operation, staffing, and other library services.

The meeting will be held on:

Date: Monday, December 12
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Franklin Avenue Library, 5000 Franklin Ave, Des Moines, 50310

For more information call 283-4152.

We need your input during this very important discussion!

Learn more about upcoming Citizen Engagement meetings for the City’s budget »

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