Heaven?

No, it’s lying in a field in Iowa

staring at the heavens, stars streaking

the sky, their auras pulsing out, in…

--Mary Swander

The Bettendorf Public Library has a little-known collection that should be of interest to local history buffs: the Iowa Collection. It is located on the shorter shelves in the same row as reference materials across from the study rooms.

Included in this collection are Bettendorf Beacon and Pleasant Valley Valenian high school yearbooks as well as city directories going back to 1931. The city directories contain name, address and telephone indexes. In the early years, additional information like occupation and place of employment were included. The Bettendorf city code and city budgets are shelved in this section as well as histories of Iowa and of many municipalities and counties.

In fact, the whole spectrum of the Dewey Decimal System is represented from library histories to ghost stories, business guides to travel guides, and wildflower identification guides to poetry. For biking enthusiasts, there’s “Iowa’s Bicycle Trails” (IOWA 796.6 IO) as well as “RAGBRAI: America’s Favorite Bicycle Ride” by Greg Borzo (IOWA 796.6409 BO). For golfers, there’s “Golf Courses of Iowa” by Roger Aegerter (IOWA 796.352 AE). For sports of all sorts, there’s “Iowa Sportsman’s Atlas: Your guide to Iowa’s Outdoor Recreations” (IOWA 917.77 IO). The biography section contains books about famous Iowans like Bill Bryson (“The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” IOWA BIOG BRYSON) and Roswell Garst who famously hosted Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev on his farm in 1959 (IOWA BIOG GARST).

If browsing the New Materials shelves, look for the green “IOWA” tape at the bottom of book spines for some fascinating discoveries like “Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality” by Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen (IOWA 346.777 WI); the two volume set “The Saloon & Liquor Trade of Davenport, Iowa & Scott County” by Mike R. Burggraaf (IOWA 647.95 BU); “Schoolhouse: Lessons on Love and Landscape,” a memoir by Marc Nieson (IOWA 818.603 NI); and “The Sacred Cause of Union: Iowa in the Civil War” by Thomas R. Baker (IOWA 977.702 BA).

Another potentially useful historical tool is the Quad-Cities Newspaper Index that some of the area libraries have been contributing to for several years. It can be accessed by going to the “Read & Research” tab on our homepage at bettendorflibrary.com, then clicking on “Do Research Online” for an alphabetical list of the databases the library subscribes to. The library owns copies of the “Bettendorf News” from 1957 on. The earlier editions are on microfilm and the most current are in hardcopy. They are indexed from 1995 to the present-day with on-going sporadic indexing of earlier editions. The index doesn’t include full-text articles, so someone looking for a particular article would need to use the library’s microfilm reader-printer to look it up. A librarian can help you get started.

Browse the “heavenly” Iowa Collection sometime soon. You’re likely to find your interest newly piqued.

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