« Back to Education

Denton Writes

Denton Public Library – North Branch

Innovation Leader: Juli Gonzalez, Public Services Librarian, juli.gonzalez@cityofdenton.com

Problem Statement

The city of Denton, TX is a university town with more emphasis on its creative, alternative roots than its football. With that said, the city was lacking a showcase for its citizens’ written talents. The Denton Public Library decided a creative writing contest would be a great way to allow for such creative expression, while emphasizing the importance of education and lifelong learning.

Innovation

It started as a small idea to allow for creative expression with an excuse to put our citizens’ on ALA READ Posters, but we didn’t realize how popular it would be and how many people want to share their stories and words. It was a contest for teens and adults, but has grown to include children age 8 and up. We have worked closely with local schools asking teachers to encourage their students to share their writing with the community and have received many entries from this partnership. We accept fiction, nonfiction (memoirs, essays, articles) and poetry. We select winners in each category as well as an honorable mention. Once winners are selected and photographed for posters, a reception is held to showcase the winners as they read excerpts from the winning material. Winners are given certificates, a small prize, their READ poster (after being displayed in the library) and a book which we publish of all the winning and honorably mentioned pieces. The reception has a formal, prestigious feel, which allows for mingling, eating and the sharing of a congratulatory cake to celebrate the winners.

Progress

The success for Denton Writes has been seen through the numerous submissions, over 200 last year. In addition, along with many of the submissions come personal notes thanking us for offering a place for people to express themselves and participate in the art of writing. Another positive feature of our contest is that it is open to anyone age 8 and up. We have had winners from as far away as Indiana. It feels great to honor such talent, especially younger children, giving them a place to channel their imagination and recognizing them, hoping they continue to write. We are able to feature winners on our blog as well as in the Denton Writes book, Versifico, which is Latin for to write verse. The library catalogs a copy for each branch and every writer featured receives a free copy, thanks to the Friends of the Denton Public Libraries. The community loves this contest and start asking about it before it is announced for the present year.