Did you know that the Cedar Falls community boasts five best-selling writers, more than any other town in Iowa? Bess Streeter Aldrich, Ruth Suckow, Nancy Price, James Hearst, and Robert James Waller all have significant ties to the Cedar Falls Community as well as the University of Northern Iowa. To celebrate these renowned authors, the Cedar Falls Authors Festival was born.
The festival is a year-long celebration of Cedar Falls authors featuring events each month, including tours of historic Cedar Falls sites, movie screenings, and lectures by local authors. The purpose of the Cedar Falls Authors Festival is to teach the community this unique part of Cedar Falls history through learning about famous authors from the area. Additionally, the festival increases community collaboration, community engagement, and promotes current local authors.
Rod Library and UNI Museum Bring the Celebration to Campus
Rod Library and the University of Northern Iowa wanted to partner with the Cedar Falls Authors Festival because of the important role that UNI plays in the history of the community. Rod Library, UNI Museum, and the departments of English, theatre, and education are all festival contributors and have helped plan, organize, and publicize a variety of events. Through this collaboration, UNI hopes to engage the public with the Cedar Falls Authors Festival, teach people about Cedar Falls and UNI history, and give faculty an opportunity to showcase their work.
Since the festival’s beginning in May of 2017, Rod Library faculty and staff have played a role in many of the events on the schedule. UNI Museum Assistant Director and Chief Curator Nathan Arndt, Dean of Library Services Chris Cox, and Cataloger Librarian Clint Wrede volunteered to serve on the festival’s planning group and helped spearhead many collaborations between Rod Library, UNI Museum, and the Cedar Falls Authors Festival.
One major project that has come about from this collaboration is the Herb Hake Exhibit at UNI Museum. Arndt believed that it was important to bring the story of Herb Hake, another important author from Cedar Falls history, to the public. With the help of many donors from the community, Arndt and UNI Museum curated an exhibit to give tribute to Hake’s work in radio broadcasting, writing, and drawing. To engage the community with UNI Museum even further, Arndt also coordinated satellite exhibits to be displayed at the Cedar Falls Public Library. These exhibits allowed those who are unable to get to UNI Museum to have the opportunity to learn about authors such as Herb Hake and James Hearst.
Other Rod Library contributions include presentations given by faculty and staff. David Hoing, library associate, has presented on getting the details right when writing historical fiction, Jim Kelly, instruction and liaison librarian, will be presenting a brief history of UNI athletics, and Mark Grey, professor in sociology, anthropology, and criminology, will be presenting on the Postville raid.
Additionally, materials from UNI Museum and Special Collections & University Archives have been collected by Professor James O’Loughlin from the Department of Languages and Literatures, culminating in a digitized archive of the life and work of James Hearst. This digital archive offers members of the public an easy way to access information about Hearst’s life and poetry through UNI's website.
Rod Library and UNI Museum’s involvement in the Cedar Falls Authors Festival has been a great way to establish new collaborations with the Cedar Falls community and has drawn many people to campus for various events. Additionally, many UNI faculty members, including David Hoing of Rod Library, Mark Grey of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology, and Jim O’Loughlin of the Department of Languages and Literatures, are also Cedar Falls authors and have benefitted from being able to showcase their writing.
Chris Cox, dean of library services, Rod Library
"It is rare that you live in a community with such a rich literary history. It has been our pleasure to participate in the planning for and support of this exciting event, which brings the Cedar Falls community together to celebrate literature and writing."
For more information about Cedar Falls Authors Festival and for a complete listing of upcoming events, please visit the Cedar Falls Authors Festival website.