at the Cuyahoga County Public Library
Welcome to the CCPL Writers Center

What do writers want? A room of their own? A room with some writer friends? Books? Magazines? Readers! Listeners! An expert on hand to narrow the choices on google? Speaking of google, how about an internet presence for their work and for inspiration? All, all of this has been created for writers at the newest building in the CCPL system, the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch, home of the Skirball Writers Center.

Inside these doors are several rooms for writers, beginning with a big open lounge space, filled with comfortable couches and chairs fitted with wooden tops for coffee cups or notepads or IPads. (Back in back is a cranny that could serve as a room of one's own, with light streaming in from the windows.) To the right are two walls of periodicals and reference books on writing, in general and on genre, for marketing and for ideas.

Lounge space (See cranny way in back)
Periodicals & Books on Writing

Laurie Kincer
To the left is a Librarian, and most days, that is the Center's Co-ordinator Laurie Kincer, a writer's Dream Librarian. She writes, she knows Cleveland, she knows writers. And she has as much knowledge about writing as most writers I know, and infinitely more patience, by the sounds of a recent reference call I heard her take. She oversees this space and much of the activity related to it in real time and virtually.

The rest of the space includes a reading/lecture room that can be divided into three spaces for small group meetings or opened up to seat 200  people. And a kitchen, where coffee and tea are usually at hand.

If I learned one thing from my college History of Architecture class (other than I have no visual sense whatsoever), it was to pay attention to how space is created and used, and in my four visits to this center, I found such a great feeling of both solitude to work (an afternoon perusing the books and periodicals) and socializing with writers and their readers. The homecoming reading on April 2nd for Cleveland's Amit Majmudar, the new Poet Laureate of Ohio, was a fest of family, friendship, and fans, such a warm afternoon. If you'd like to know more about the variety of readings, workshops, and other events for writers that go on here, go to the CCPL Events Page, click down to "South Euclid-Lyndhurst" and you'll get the many things happening. I counted about 20 for the month of June, including the monthly poetry workshop founded by Cy Dostal in 1974, which moved here when the former Poets and Writers League of Greater Cleveland shut down. Now led by Robert E. McDonough, one of the original members, this workshop is, as far as I have been able to ascertain by research, one of the two oldest public poetry workshops in the U.S., along with the U.S. 1 Workshop in New Jersey, which began the very same month in 1974. Beginning with the group's 40th anniversary in 2014, current members have been holding a fall reading, from which the library has produced broadsides and three online anthologies.
Broadside, "Six for Cy" in memory of Dostal

As libraries go, the William Skirball Writers Center has the best multi-purpose space for writers in  Northeast Ohio, in my book, and one of the tops for writer events, which also include the "William Skirball Writers Series," which the CCPL Foundation sponsors in other spaces, along with Case Western Reserve University. In the past, they have hosted Rita Dove and Robert Pinsky (among many others) at Playhouse Square, and next year's lineup of writers, which you can find here will be at the Maltz Performing Arts Center.

In addition, there is much going on virtually for writers at the William Skirball Center, as a click on its home address demonstrates:

The library has held hugely-attended workshops on e-publishing, which offers writers the possiblity of publishing their e-book on Ohio's SELF-e shelf and another online page, Stories Connect US has writing by children and adults, organized around an outdoor mural for a visit from Kate DiMillo.

And finally, near and dear to my heart is the library's "Read + Write 30 Days of Poetry," a daily blog for National Poetry Month each April for the past three years. (Full disclosure: I curate the blog for the library.) Each day, it features a poetry-writing prompt and a poem by a local poet, which includes the poet's bio and links to the poet's social media outlets-- websites, blogs, and tweets. It includes a comments section, too. The first year, over 800 readers signed up to receive a daily email with the blog; the second year, 1200; and this year, over 2200 readers signed on, and as nearly as we can tell, most of them read, wrote, and/or responded. This is a larger readership than most poetry magazines reach. And the library has kept all the pages up, creating three beautiful online anthologies of this experience.

I have often said that one could not continue such a project for three years running and have so many poets to choose from as we have in Northeast Ohio. (And our list of names is overflowing for next year.) But Northeast Ohio is a pretty amazing area for producing writers, especially poets-- and readers, presses, workshops, and programs, historically and currently.

And currently, we are fortunate to have many institutions that have helped us. Despite my lengthy catalogue here of the many resources for writers at the CCPL Skirball Writers Center, I haven't covered them all. I hope in the comments section, you will mention your favorite events, resources, and moments in its rooms and on its internet feed that I have missed.

Meanwhile, I move on to four other Northeast Ohio Libraries who offer exceptional service to local writers. 


  1. I have attended Eric Anderson's Fiction Workshop in the space, great facility and Eric is a wonderful teacher. the CCPL is a wonderful resource for readers and their electronic emedia is also first rate. Poetry and fiction resources are extended through access to other Ohio public library collections and Ohio College Collections....

  2. Working on your novel, John?