DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines Public Library has asked Des Moines’ City Council for $1 million in ARPA funding to support a literacy initiative aimed at improving reading rates in the community.

Literacy rates, or the number of children in a district who are reading at their grade level, are returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, for the Des Moines Public School District, the pre-pandemic reading rates were still lower than neighboring school districts.

Sue Woody, the Director of the Des Moines Public Library, said that the library would partner with DMPS with their literacy initiative for outreach.

“We really love working with the schools and we know our role and the role of the schools,” Woody said, “It is not our job, we could not possibly teach kids how to read, that is the purview of the schools. Our job is to teach that love and excitement for reading and that’s what we want to do we want to get kids excited about reading.”

The funding for the library’s literacy initiative would pay for staff that can go visit classrooms with books and other supplies for literacy and reading activities.

Woody said that the future of libraries is outreach.

“We work with teachers, we work with daycare providers, we work with all of these nonprofits, and there’s so much we can do but if we just stay in our libraries we have to wait for them to come to us,” Woody said. “The model our world has changed and we want to go out and meet people where they are.”

The Des Moines Public Library expects the city council to have an answer soon on whether it will receive the funding needed for its program.