Iowa is not unique in its Open Access policy—the policy that allows residents of just about any Iowa town acquire a library at any other town. However, Iowans take advantage of this program by the thousands; I’ve never seen anything like it. Despite the small population size, Iowa ranks 8th in the country in registered borrowers.
Many people ask me if they can qualify for a Waukee Public Library card even though they live elsewhere. I’m very happy to give library cards to residents in other communities. We have card-holders from as far away as Storm Lake, North Liberty and Dubuque.
In fact, 31.2% of the Waukee Public Library usage is by residents of other towns or rural Dallas County. We have 1,548 children and teen card-holders residing in other cities. It’s safe to assume that most of those are students enrolled in the Waukee Community Schools and come from the neighboring cities of Urbandale, Clive and West Des Moines. The schools are one of our biggest markets, 90% of our card-holders live in cities served by the Waukee Community Schools. Last year 2,140 children and teens from other cities attended programs and events held at the Waukee Public Library. In 2011, the Waukee Public Library lent out 26,805 children’s books to residents of other towns.
It’s a good idea to get library cards at multiple libraries. Some libraries have items that others don’t. You can get on the waiting list for the newest bestseller at a couple of libraries, thereby improving your chance at getting to read the book sooner.
When the word gets out that we freely give cards to any Iowa resident, we’ll surely see more people with four or five library cards.