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April is National Poetry Month: Celebrating Poems & Communities with Data

April is National Poetry Month: Celebrating Poems & Communities with Data

Siouxland LibrariesDid you know the entire month of April has been National Poetry Month? It’s true. We monkeys love a good rhymeand supporting artists, educators and fellow fans of verse with high quality data collection is yet another (big) love of ours. On a daily basis, we’re constantly impressed by our diverse range of customers who rely on the feedback they gather from surveys to help them make better decisions.

From airlines to middle school students, survey-making (and taking too) can run the gamut of organizations as well as functions. And this applies to our latest customer spotlight on Siouxland Libraries in South Dakota. After all, the concept of poetry and surveys may sound a little funny, but we doth protest—great poetry can indeed be found in great data.

Please welcome Dan Neeves, a librarian specializing in Information Services and Interlibrary Loan at Siouxland Libraries, who guest blogs about just that.

The mic is all yours, Dan!

Our community is within the Cathedral Historic District—recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places—and we’re working with residents on fostering an appreciation of poetry and of the many beautiful historical homes in their neighborhood. As part of this initiative, the Cathedral District neighborhood group applied and received a grant to imprint poems in sidewalk pavers and decided to organize a Sidewalk Poetry contest.

Surveys as promotion tool

The group created a poetry contest because they wanted to use original poems created by local poets. The rules were simple, but the group needed help promoting and running the contest. Contest organizers did not have the time or resources to distribute posters and entry forms throughout the community. Nor did they have the people-power to collect and process paper entry forms. That is where the local public library system, Siouxland Libraries, and SurveyMonkey came into play.

Our library promoted the poetry contest, advertising it on the library’s webpage, through its social media outlets, and through press releases. We also served as a resource for local poets, providing poetry workshops and answering questions about the contest. SurveyMonkey’s design and features were easily adapted to run the poetry contest.

Data collection as an art form

The SurveyMonkey entry form collected information about each poet along with the poems. Because the winning poems were to be imprinted in neighborhood concrete sidewalk panels, the poems had to be short—a maximum of eight lines and no more than 35 characters per line. Each poet could submit two poems, and two winners would be selected. The winners, one adult, and one child, along with having their poem on the sidewalk, would also win a prize of $100.

Over 80 poets used SurveyMonkey to submit their poems through a featured link on the library’s website. Entries were then exported into an Excel document and prepared for judges. Since the contest was open only to local poets, it was important that judges not know the names of contestants. The poems were then imported to a Word document, reformatted for readability, and emailed to a select panel of judges. Each judge recommended five poems from adult participants and three poems from child participants. And it was exciting that our own South Dakota Poet Laureate David Allan Evans selected the final two winning poems.

Collaborating with the SurveyMonkey platform and the library was crucial to this project’s success. The poetic use of SurveyMonkey resulted in the efficient use of limited time and resources—a win-win for everyone.

You can learn more about Siouxland Libraries here and about National Poetry Month!

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