For immediate release | February 22, 2011

ALA and Poets House partner to showcase “The Language of Conservation”

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office is joining with Poets House, a national poetry library and literary center, to promote “The Language of Conservation,” a program designed to deepen awareness of the environment through poetry installations in zoos and corresponding programs in public libraries.

The “Language of Conservation” features poetry installations in zoos, which are complemented by poetry, nature and conservation resources and programs at public libraries. Working with five zoos and four public libraries in New Orleans, Milwaukee, Little Rock (Ark.), Jacksonville (Fla.) and Chicago, Poets-in-Residence collaborated with wildlife biologists and exhibit designers to curate exhibitions in zoos that feature poems celebrating the natural world and the connection between species. The Language of Conservation is made possible with funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

As part of this collaboration, the ALA Public Programs Office will present two events at the 2011 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans:

  • The Language of Conservation: A Case Study in Library-Zoo Partnerships (Monday, June 27, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.) Award-winning poet Mark Doty and representatives from Poets House, the New Orleans Public Library and the Audubon Zoo will share information regarding their collaboration on “The Language of Conservation” and discuss how you can use poetry to create vibrant partnerships that engage the public in a dialogue around culturally significant issues.

    Speakers: Missy Abbott, manager, Milton H. Latter Branch, New Orleans Public Library; Mark Doty, New Orleans Language of Conservation poet-in-residence; Reginald Harris, Poetry in the Branches coordinator, Poets House; Brenda Walkenhorst, director of education/volunteers, Audubon Zoo.
  • The Language of Conservation at the Audubon Zoo (Monday, June 27, 5 – 7 p.m.) This ticketed event will feature a wine reception, 45-minute train ride/guided tour through the Audubon Zoo to see the groundbreaking Language of Conservation poetry installation, as well as a slide show and poetry reading by nationally acclaimed poet and Audubon Zoo Poet-in-Residence Mark Doty. Shuttle buses will be provided for attendees. Tickets are $20 and available for purchase with Annual Conference registration (event code: PPO1)..

For more information about Poets House and “The Language of Conservation,” visit

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes cultural and community programming as an essential part of library service in all types and sizes of libraries. Successful library programming initiatives have included the Let’s Talk About It reading and discussion series, traveling exhibitions, film discussion programs, LIVE! @ your library and more. Recently, the ALA Public Programs Office developed, an online resource center bringing librarians timely and valuable information to support them in the creation of high-quality cultural programs for their communities. For more information on the ALA Public Programs Office, visit

Founded in 1985 by the late U.S. poet laureate Stanley Kunitz and arts administrator Elizabeth Kray, Poets House is a 50,000-volume poetry library and literary center that is free and open to the public. The Poets House collection is among the most comprehensive, open-access collections of poetry in the United States. After residing in a SoHo loft for many years, Poets House moved to an 11,000-square-foot, eco-friendly “green” space at 10 River Terrace in Lower Manhattan in September of 2009. A leading presenter of literary events, Poets House hosts panels, talks, readings, workshops, exhibitions and more. For more information, visit or call (212) 431-7920.


Angela Thullen