Rare Book Showcase on August 10th in Cedar Rapids

Lovers of old books and good stories are invited to a Rare Book Showcase where six special and rare books from around the Iowa Valley region will be shared. The set of books is diverse, ranging from the Benjamin Franklin 1734 edition of Constitutions of the Freemasons which guided the establishment of Masonic lodges in America to a children’s story titled Peter and Polly which was inspired by Grinnell native Cornelia Clarke’s photographs of her pet cats dressed in clothing. As part of the showcase presentations, an excerpt from each feature book will be read. The audience will enjoy hearing German spoken aloud by Amana Heritage Museum Director Jon Childers as he shares ecstatic speech from the 1719 Wohl und Weh and Czech spoken aloud by Jenda Váňa in a reading of Arabesky from the library at Clutier’s ZCBJ Lodge & Museum. Julie Piper, a 1982 graduate of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, will read aloud from Gospel of Matthew and Mark, a braille version of the bible used in chapel services when Mary Ingalls was a student at the school. Lois Kovar, great niece of Mildred Benson, will share her early edition of The Secret of the Old Clock as well as personal memories of Mildred who practically no one has heard of but whose pen name, Carolyn Keene, is quickly recognized.

What ties this event together is both a love of books and a love for the places that house them. Participants hope that this event can connect people to the region in a new way and perhaps even inspire travel to these lesser known libraries and their communities. This event is possible through the efforts of the recently formed Iowa Valley Cultural Council whose volunteer members span a six-county area. The council is interested in sharing the art, history, and culture of its region (Linn, Johnson, Benton, Iowa, Tama, Poweshiek Counties) in new, engaging, and collaborative ways. Events like this book showcase are meant to connect new audiences to vibrant stories. Support is from Iowa Valley RC&D as well as a Partnership Grant from the Iowa Arts Council/Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and a USDA Rural Community Development Initiative grant.

The Rare Book Showcase will be Thursday, August 10th from 3-5pm in the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s Whipple Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public. Questions about the event can be directed to Iowa Valley RC&D Director Jessica Rilling at 319-622-3264.