Iowa City Library Launches Local Music Project


“When the Iowa City Public Library (ICPL) launched its Local Music Project at, an effort that makes the music of local musicians freely available to Iowa City library cardholders, it may not have expected the nationwide interest it received. The Project made waves around the country, getting the attention of and other venues, despite being only a few weeks old. So far, there are 49 albums available, and the list is growing.

One of the aspects of the project is that the music is freely available to the Iowa City cardholder to keep forever. Senior Librarian John Hiett said of the payment model, “Typically we pay $100 per record, with a few exceptions. This leases us the right to offer cardholders the right to download and keep the music. The lease runs two years, but the downloads are forever. Authentication software restricts access to our immediate service area.”

The local nature of the project, with its strong sense of place, may be part of its appeal. Artist Catfish Keith said despite touring worldwide he prefers to release his music on his Iowa City-based independent label and remain part of the local scene, and artist Tara Dutcher told LJ that her music students think it’s amazing to have such a resource of their local musical heritage…”

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