Area library publishes online literary magazine

Fourth & Sycamore isn’t just the location of the Greenville Public Library; it’s the title of the online literary journal of the library —

David Nilsen, Greenville librarian and editor of Fourth & Sycamore, says he knows of only one other library-run literary journal in the United States — at the Manatee County Public Library in Florida (

“The journal really started as a blog,” Nilsen says. “When I started here two years ago, the library wanted a news blog that would keep library patrons apprised of events and that sort of thing. But I decided we could do something bigger, something we weren’t seeing other libraries do.”

He started the journal in October 2014. At first, he says, he did most of the writing about local history.

“After a couple of months, we had enough visitors to the journal’s site that we felt we could start calling for submissions,” Nilsen says. “For the last year and a half, we’ve been publishing work from writers all across the United States and beyond.”

For example, one book reviewer is from England; the journal has also featured poetry by writers as far away as from South Africa and Vietnam.

“We publish everything from book reviews, to poetry, to fiction, to personal essays. But we’ve continued writing local history pieces ourselves. Our goal is to have a blend of very local interest in our local history pieces and global appeal in the creative writing pieces,” Nilsen says.

Interest in the site has blossomed, he says, from almost no traffic at its inception to 3,000 to 5,000 unique visitors each month in 2016.

Nilsen himself has a keen interest in writing and literature. He grew up loving books, he says, but after graduating from Greenville High School, entered into banking. Two years ago, he realized he needed a change, and took his job at the library. He likes to write mostly creative nonfiction, but has a growing interest in writing fiction. Learn more about his work at

Though Nilsen is the editor of Fourth & Sycamore, he has two advisory readers who serve as assistants in making the selections for the journal.

“As many journal editors say, we’re not looking for writing on a particular subject,” Nilsen says. “We want good writing!”

He encourages writers to visit the site and look at the submission guidelines, under the “Write For Us” tab.

“I’m really proud of the writers we’ve published and what the library has been able to accomplish with this journal in such a short time,” Nilsen says. “And I’m always happy to talk with other librarians and libraries about starting their own journals, too.”

Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award

This year’s winner of the achievement award, named after the late U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnia peace accords reached in Dayton, goes to Marilynne Robinson. She is the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for “Gilead,” as well as the author of “Home,” “Lila,” and “Housekeeping.” Ms. Robinson has also won the National Humanities Medal and the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. She will receive her Dayton Literary Peace Prize award at the organization’s awards ceremony and dinner on Nov. 20. Learn more about the Dayton Literary Peace Prize at

Upcoming Literary Events:

• Tuesday, August 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Community Room of Oakwood Starbucks (2424 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood) —“So You Wanna Write?” a Word’s Worth Writing Center ( class led by local author and writing coach/instructor Katrina Kittle. For more information or to register, visit the center’s website or call 937-475-5177.

• Thursday, Sept. 1: Deadline for applications for Antioch Writers’ Workshop ( fall writers’ retreat, to be held Oct. 14-16. Visit the organization’s website to learn more about the retreat leaders, location, application guidelines, and other details.

• Monday, September 12, 1:00-3:00 p.m., Washington Centerville Public Library (111 W. Spring Valley Road, Centerville) — As part of the library’s ongoing 2nd Monday Authors’ series, Dayton-area author Raul Ramos Y Sanchez will discuss his newest book, “The Skinny Years,” which follows a family fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba in the 1960s. Also, Cincinnati-area author John Kachuba will discuss his newest book, “The Savage Apostle,” following the tensions in 17th-century New England between colonists and the Native population. Both authors will have books available for purchase and for signing, and both have extensive publishing credentials. See the library’s website,, for more details.

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Sharon Short’s column on literary events and people in the Miami Valley runs every Sunday.