Library Checklist

What is a poetry Friendly Library?

A place where new readers can discover poetry, existing readers can develop their knowledge and writers of poetry can improve their skills.

What it should have:

  • A good coherent stock of poetry.
  • Staff who are able to promote poetry and assist poetry readers with their needs and inquiries.
  • Information about the local and national poetry scene.
  • Imaginative and effective methods of promoting poetry.

Do you have the right stock?

What's your poetry collection like?  It may be small, but if it's rational and understood that's better than a huge, chaotic and incoherent list.

How to improve your core poetry list

  • Refer to the "60 after 60" list.
  • Talk to regular library users and local literature workers.
  • Aim for a balanced poetry list that reflects local interest as well as a choice that wouldn't be available otherwise.

Is your stock in the right place? Is it easily found by people who might use it?

Bradford Libraries put poetry books on spinners close to the desk as part of their 'Getting into Poetry' project and found issues increased dramatically. A slim volume of poetry being the equivalent to the sweets at the check out.

Create a Poetry Resource Centre

This is an area with desk space and comfy chairs, with poetry books, 'how to write'books, reference books (e.g The Writer's and Artist's Yearbook), literary magazines national and local, a display board for local poetry and information about classes, competitions and events plus reviews of new poetry books from newspapers and supplied by staff and users.

Run Writers' and Readers' Groups

Writers groups work in libraries wherever staff are keen. Put up a poster and or a set of press releases asking for those interested to come to an initial meeting - see who shows. A group may run on a purely self-help basis - you supply a space and a coffee, they look after themselves - or talk to your local Literature Development Worker, Adult Ed. Centre or regional Arts Board about finding and paying for a tutor. Beware the voluntary, self-styled leader who can take over the group and be hard to shift. Make it clear that the group will have regular reviews to ensure that the library and all the members are happy with how it is running.

Ask the group to put something back into the library - to display their work on a noticeboard, give public readings, hold free workshops, advise on poetry stock or whatever seems appropriate.