The Iowa Land Records (ILR) system, referenced in the Code of Iowa as the “county land record information system,” was established in 2004, and the website was started
in January, 2005. One of the central and core statutory responsibilities of ILR is to provide online access to the public land registry. Key excerpts from the Iowa Code state:

331.604 (3a) – “developing county and statewide internet sites to provide electronic access to records and information” 

31.604 (3b-3b) Expanding access to records by encouraging electronic indexing and scanning of documents and instruments recorded in prior years.

In the beginning, there were few counties with any records online. Counties had been archiving electronic records for only a few years, and only the larger sized counties could afford to have records posted online. Many county recorders did not have access to a website. Rather than create 99 separate websites, Iowa recorders chose to create a centralized database and website which would be integrated with the individual county land records management systems. The result of this decision was a more cost-effective approach, one that significantly accelerated the rate at which records could be made available online.

By the Numbers

In 2012, after implementing a comprehensive redaction process to remove personally identifiable information from the records prior to being posted online, more than 11.5 million records were accessible online with no required fees. Fast forward to August, 2019. More than 19.5 million records are accessible online. Based on the current rate of posting newly recorded documents on the website – it is projected that more than 20 million records will be online in 2020. ILR has come a long way!

Iowa Land Records also continues to fulfill its statutory mission to expand access to documents recorded in prior years. Two large “back file” scanning and redaction projects will be completed by the end of calendar year 2019. About 115,000 documents from Dubuque County dating back to 1988, and about 124,000 Pottawattamie County documents dating from 1976 will become accessible online. (See Redaction Reserve Fund Depleted.)