As both an author and library employee, I’m intrigued by libraries that publish literary magazines. Since so many libraries offer services for local writers and writer organizations, it seems like a natural extension.
In fact, last month I had the pleasure of being a judge—along with authors Sarah McGuire and Peter Raymundo—for the Osceola Library System’s third annual literary contest for kids aged 8–17. The theme was “There’s a Monster in My Lit Mag!” and while the ceremony for the winners has been cancelled, the winners will be read in an upcoming episode of the library’s Nonfiction Friends podcast by Jonathan, the amazing Youth Specialist who coordinated the contest.
805 is a literary and art journal published both in print and online by the Manatee County Public Library in Florida since 2015. They put out six online issues, an annual teen issue, and an annual print anthology. They publish both fiction and nonfiction in addition to poetry and original art. Submissions are free, year round, and (except for the teen issue) open to any adult from anywhere in the world. You can read their past issues for free on their site and sign up to receive future issues via email.
Word Fountain is a biannual publication of the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. They aim to “feature 40 to 60 pages of the best writing we can find” with a focus on poetry, short stories, and flash fiction. While they love to feature local writers, submissions are open to writers from all over the world. Submissions open and close throughout the year, but submission guidelines are available on their site at all times. Local readers can access print copies at their branches, but worldwide readers can find digital copies on their site for free or order print copies by making a suggested donation to the library.
The Lilly Library in Florence, Massachusetts, puts out an annual all-ages community lit and art mag each fall. They provide some physical copies for patrons to take home from their library and add one copy to their catalog for in-library use. The 2019 issue, their second, is available for download on their website. Submissions are collected during the summer, so we’ll have to wait to see how they work for 2020, but the 2019 issue states “Submissions were open to all ages and restrictions were few.”
Mason Street is an online literary magazine published by the Newark Public Library in Newark, New York. They feature fiction, nonfiction, art, photography, poetry, and spoken word videos. They publish three issues a year, but are currently taking submissions for a special summer zine featuring pieces with a speculative bent under 1000 words. Submissions are open to ages 12 and up and detailed instructions are available on their site. Readers can see all of their pieces on the website, as well as a feature from Lois Lowry for their new “My Library Memories” column.
Messages from the Hidden Lake
Messages from the Hidden Lake is a publication from The Friends of the Alamosa Public Library in Colorado that now has 11 editions featuring art, poetry, fiction, and more with a local focus. The magazine is available for sale at the library, but at least six editions are also available for sale on Amazon. Submissions are currently closed, but keep an eye on the Friends page for when they open up again.
Tapestries of Tuscarawas County is an annual project from the Dover Public Library in Ohio that seeks to preserve the county’s culture as part of their historical initiative. County residents can submit up to four pieces of stories, art, or photography for consideration for each volume. The library also offers a first- and second-place prize with a monetary award. Physical copies are available for sale at the library or online for free. This library also puts out a teen literary magazine, featured below.
The Chicory literary magazine was published by the Enoch Pratt Free Library from 1966 through 1983 and was filled with artwork, poetry, and prose that addressed topics such as love, poverty, black pride, and racial discrimination. Rutgers professor Mary Rizzo ran across the magazine while doing research in the Pratt Library archives in 2014 and helped the library to digitize the magazine’s 126 volumes on the Digital Maryland website. (source)
Teen Lit Mags
Even more libraries host teen writing contests and publish limited-edition collections from those contests, like the one from Osceola Library mentioned earlier. Some of these libraries publish impressive lit and art mags as part of these efforts and make them available online for anyone to read. Check out these offerings:
- Tornado Alley from the Dover Public Library
- Imazine from the Delaware Libraries
- elementia from the Johnson County Library in Kansas
- Large Print from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
- Write On from the Solano County Library in California
I found as many of these literary magazines as I could by searching and also by reaching out to those in my online library communities, but I’m sure I missed many more because a lot of libraries don’t publish their lit mags online. I chose to focus on lit mags with issues online available to readers, but would love to hear about any mags I missed.