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Library Conduct and Usage Policy

The Poetry Foundation Library is a special library that was established to fulfill the Poetry Foundation's mission of placing the best poetry before the largest possible audience by providing the public access to the Poetry Foundation's unique collection of books and resources. In order to maintain an environment that is both safe and conducive to the use of library resources by patrons and staff, it is required that all visitors to the library be engaged in library-related activities.

Children under the age of fourteen must be accompanied by an adult guardian when visiting the library. The library reserves the right to ask patrons visiting the library to provide proof of age. Patrons who cannot provide appropriate proof of age will be asked to leave.

We ask that all patrons refrain from engaging in behavior that is disruptive or disturbing to others. Unacceptable behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Loud conversation or laughter which is distressing to others
  • Using offensive, abusive, or threatening language
  • Tampering with or attempting to disable library computers and software
  • Use of cell phones, radios, or iPods inside the library
  • Photographing other patrons or staff members
  • Viewing of sexually explicit or offensive images on one's personal computer
  • Willful destruction of or damage to property
  • Intimidation
  • Fighting
  • Bringing animals other than service animals into the library
  • Removal of library property from the building
  • Use of library for meetings, loitering, or panhandling
  • Soliciting or selling of any kind
  • Distribution or posting of notices not specifically authorized by the Poetry Foundation staff
  • Consumption of food or beverages
  • Following staff or others around the building, or other harassing behavior
  • Rearranging or moving any library furniture or equipment from one location to another
  • Sleeping
  • Failure to wear shoes or a shirt
  • Children who are not properly supervised by an adult patron
  • Attempting to access employee-only areas

Any library patron who engages in the behaviors outlined above will be notified by staff that their behavior is inappropriate. If the behavior continues, the visitor will be asked to leave. Disruptive behavior on the part of a library patron may result in immediate suspension of an individual's library privileges, on a permanent or temporary basis, to be determined by the Librarian. Please note that we reserve the right to inspect library materials and personal items prior to entry and upon departure from the library.

Library Conduct and Usage Policies: Children and Young Adults

Access to Library Resources
The library does not monitor a minor's usage of print, web or audio library materials. Parents are encouraged to help their children select material that adheres to personal family standards. While the library does not provide unrestricted access to the internet, the views, esthetics, and ideologies espoused within the poetic and critical content of websites accessible on the public access computer stations, and within the collection in general, may be objectionable to some patrons.

Unattended Children
Children under the age of fourteen must be accompanied by an adult caretaker when visiting the Poetry Foundation Library. The caretaker must remain in the library with their child throughout the duration of the child's visit. Children who are over the age of eight but unaccompanied by a caretaker will be asked to leave the library. A child under the age of eight who is left in the library during operating hours without a caretaker will be asked to contact their parent or guardian. If the child's guardian can't be located to pick up the child within thirty minutes, library staff will contact the Chicago Police Department to pick up the child.

Disruptive Behavior
All children are expected to abide by the Library Conduct and Usage Policy. If a child engages in any of the disruptive behaviors outlined in the Library Conduct Policy, they will be informed that their behavior is inappropriate. If the behavior continues, they will be asked to leave. A child who repeatedly engages in disruptive behavior may have their library privileges suspended, on a permanent or temporary basis, at the discretion of the Librarian.

Library Internet Policy
The computer stations in the Poetry Foundation Library are intended to provide access to the library's website and catalog, as well as other poetry-related websites and databases. The stations do not provide access to email, social networking sites, or general web browsing. Patrons attempting to disable library software or access non poetry-related websites are in violation of the Library Conduct Policy and may have their library privileges revoked, on a permanent or temporary basis.

The library provides Wi-Fi services to patrons wishing to connect to the internet via their own laptops. Laptop setup should not obstruct patron walkways or interfere with library equipment. Viewing of sexually explicit, racist, or generally offensive images on one's own computer is prohibited. Patrons who access inappropriate content while in the library will be asked to leave, and may have their library privileges revoked permanently. Viewing of child pornography is illegal and subject to federal and state prosecution.

Selection and Acquisition Policy

Titles are added to the collection at the discretion of the Librarian, and are assessed on their consistency with the Foundation's mission of discovering and celebrating the best poetry.

Selection Criteria: General Collections and Children's Collections

Titles are added to the library's collection based on the following criteria:

  • Reputation of author
  • Reputation of publisher
  • Historical value
  • Popularity with general public

Selection Criteria: Journals

Journals are added to the library's collection based on the following criteria:

  • Reputation of journal
  • Percentage of poetry content

Accessing Titles in Special Collections

Titles held in special collections may be viewed by the public during the library's daytime hours of operation, by prior arrangement. Patrons will be asked to leave one form of identification (a driver's license or state ID) with library staff during the duration of time spent with special collections material. Patrons may be asked to wear gloves while handling certain titles. Patrons are typically only able to view one item from special collections at a time.

Prior approval must be obtained from the librarian in order to photograph materials in special collections. Ink of any kind is not permitted for use with special collections materials. Materials may not be removed from the library's main reading room.

Donation Policy

Due to space considerations, the Poetry Foundation Library does not generally accept donations from individuals. The library does consider exceptional titles on a case by case basis. Please contact the librarian if you are interested in discussing a potential donation. Please note that the library does not typically collect self-published or author-subsidized publications.

Publications sent to Poetry magazine for review may be added to the Poetry Foundation Library's collection at the discretion of the librarian.


11AM – 4PM
Extended Hours
Saturday, February 9, 11–4PM
Tuesday, February 19, 4–7PM
Please Note

Building Closures:

The building will be closed early at 2PM on Friday for maintenance.