Iowa City Public Library may serve alcohol


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Alcohol could soon be served during fundraisers at the Iowa City Public Library and other city buildings.

The Public Library Board of Trustees discussed and approved the measure — which still needs to receive an OK from the Iowa City City Council — at its meeting on Thursday.

The change would support efforts of the Iowa City Public Library Friends Foundation, which holds annual fundraisers, usually offsite.

Officials discussed the proposal in 2006, but they did not receive council approval because of numerous aspects of a city ordinance, said Eric Goers, an Iowa City assistant city attorney.

“A person shall not use or consume any alcoholic beverages in any city building, except a city building covered by a license or permit,” that ordinance said. With approval from both the city manager and City Council, the Public Library Friends Foundation could be allowed to serve alcohol in any city building.

Library officials wanted to begin hosting fundraisers at the library in effort to cut costs on renting facilities.

Acquiring a license to serve alcohol would cost the library anywhere from $41 for beer to $232 for liquor, wine coolers, beer, and wine. Library officials can avoid obtaining a license, however, if the beverages are provided by a catering service.

Though it may seem costly, in the end, it would be huge savings for the organization, said Library Director Susan Craig.

“We want to be able to say thank you to our donors for their donations right here in the library,” said Development Director Patty McCarthy. “One in five new books are made possible by donations, and it would be much more dramatic to be able to take our donors to the shelves and show them the books we have received because of their donations. “Building the Collection” is one of the events hosted by the library, and it is held at hotelVetro. It gives us a very generous discount, but it would be more marvelous to be able to do this right here in the library.”

In the past, the city has given permission to other city organizations to serve and sell alcohol in public. The Riverside Festival Stage in Lower City Park serves alcohol during its events. Iowa wineries are allowed to distribute samples of wine at the Iowa City Farmers’ Market, and other vendors sell homemade beer and other beverages at the market.

Throughout Iowa, other city buildings allow alcohol to be served in their public libraries, including Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque, West Des Moines, and Davenport.

The Iowa City Public Library will join with the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee in addressing City Council, likely at the council’s next meeting. The Parks and Recreation Committee intends to build a new facility at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area with similar intentions to host fundraising events.

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