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Poetry Foundation Library
Browse the library's collection of over 30,000 volumes.

Please Note

Guest Requirements:

Guests who wish to enter the Poetry Foundation building will be required to follow the policies outlined in our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines.

Library Hours

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday: 11 AM - 5 PM

Thursday: 11 AM - 7 PM

Friday: 11 AM - 5 PM

Saturday: 11 AM - 5 PM

The library will be hosting an event to celebrate the opening of Kara Walker: Back of Hand on February 15, 5-7 PM. Guests who prefer a quieter library environment are encouraged to visit at an alternate time.

Shelf Life

  • Illustration of colorful figures using pencils and pens to make lines on notebook paper. The figures float on books on a yellow background.

    Library Book Picks

    Our library collection includes chapbooks, art books, poetry for young people, and more. See our librarians’ picks from our 30,000 volumes.

  • Book Pick
    Picked By Fran Grinnan March 2024

    March 7th, 2024, will mark five months of a brutal war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and other occupied Palestinian territories....

Learning Activities

  • Learning Prompt

    Stretch your mind to think about what the earth looked like before people lived in it. What did the earth beneath your...

  • Video
    From Poetry Explorers

    Today we’ll make a loom, a very old tool that weavers use to make beautiful textiles and fabrics, and weave a story...

About the Library

The Poetry Foundation Library is the Midwest’s only library dedicated to poetry. Visitors to the library may browse a collection of 30,000 volumes, experience audio and video recordings in private listening booths, and view exhibits of poetry-related materials. In addition to providing public access to its collections in the form of a reading room, the library hosts interactive programs to inspire a wider readership for poetry in people of all ages.

The Collection

The origins of the library are in the working collection of Poetry magazine. Titles originally sent to the magazine for review or acquired for editorial needs now comprise a distinctive collection of the poetry of the past century.

The library’s current collection aims to present the best poetry, in English or in translation, of the modern and contemporary era, and to include representative selections of the major poetic works of all eras. The collection contains individual author monographs, anthologies, journals, rare and limited editions, broadsides, chapbooks, criticism, and prose works by poets. Audio archives include restored recordings of poets, like Gwendolyn Brooks and Czeslaw Milosz, reading their own work.

Search the collection here.

Contact the Library

To contact the librarian, please email [email protected] or call 312.799.8057


Thank you for thinking of us for your donation of materials. Due to the high cost of processing unsolicited materials, we do not typically accept donated items.

We do consider rare books, artist books, and large (100+ volumes) of poetry on a case-by-case basis. If you have a collection you would like us to consider for donation, please email [email protected].

Items we do not accept for donation include:

  • Textbooks
  • VHS tapes
  • Poetry books that are widely available from commercial publishers
  • Self-published collections.

We suggest reaching out to local shelters, nursing homes, and thrift stores if you have items to donate.

Appraisal Services

The Poetry Foundation does not provide any appraisal services. If you are interested in locating a qualified bookseller in your area for assistance, we suggest consulting the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America’s Directory.

Poetry Magazine Archives

Poetry magazine’s archives are held at the University of Chicago and the Lilly Library in Bloomington, Indiana. You can research these materials here:

University of Chicago

Lilly Library