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Poetic License: Public Access to a Poet Laureate

Toledo-Lucas County Public Library

Problem Statement

With the appointment of a Poet Laureate for Lucas County, the Library took the opportunity to: promote one of its richest and deepest text collections; give voice to a creative community; engage the University of Toledo faculty and students and bridge the town/gown divide.


Building on a series of programs and services designed to build, attract, and cross-pollinate the diverse and enthusiastic poetic audience in Lucas County we designed new initiatives to extend our reach into the online community, the published poets in Northwest Ohio, and the University community. Poetry Speaks @ Your Library is a semi-annual series featuring the best published poets in Northwest Ohio. In April, 2011 the Library and the University are jointly funding visiting poet David Baker. This program runs concurrently with the popular open-mic series. The Online Poetry Anthology is under development as dynamic new feature on our website. In addition to traditional “popular topics” features, this page will invite the community to submit poems which, if selected, will be posted on the Library’s website. This page will also have a curriculum component to aid teachers and students.


60-100 people regularly attend the public poetry events. Evaluations are consistently positive and continually ask for more programming in these areas. As a way of furthering the partnership, Poet Laureate Joel Lipman wrote a successful grant which funded an internship that is a capstone project for a University graduate assistant. This person works at the library 15 hours per week during the academic year and is integral to keeping these initiatives moving forward. That connection has led to activity at the University: presence in a new literary magazine; cross-promotion of events; development of a separate lecture series with the English Department and Office of Research and Innovation. An important aspect of this project is that it allows us to develop models and templates that will be applied to other collection and service areas of vital interest to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library community.