Friday, April 8, 2022

Friends of the Key West Library 2022 Speaker Series--It's a Wrap!

 

LUCY BURDETTE: I have spent a ton of time and energy this winter working on programs and more for the Friends of the Key West Library. It's been so much fun and so much work, and we are so proud of what we've been able to donate to our library:

photo by Bill Carito

You may recognize some familiar faces, as I was able to wrangle a few New England pals into the group (Pat Kennedy and Barbara Ross.) I wanted to write a blog about the successful speaker series we completed last month, but then realized Pat had already written a wonderful article on the same subject...so I share it here!

It's a Wrap! by Pat Kennedy

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our resourceful Speakers Series team, eight popular presenters ‘visited’ Key West in 2022. Also, our attendees raved about our first-ever fund-raising event, featuring New York Times Cooking founding editor, Sam Sifton. If you missed any of these delightful presentations, good news: Just click here to view them on our YouTube channel.

Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta, novelist and screenwriter best known for his novels Election and Little Children, read from his latest novel Mrs. Fletcher and answered questions about character development (“Is a character fully formed in your mind when you begin a novel?”) and writing (while a man) about a woman’s discoveries about pornography (“Is this a morally fraught act?”). Both Tom and his wife Mary commented on our charming Palm Garden venue, with sparkling café lights and the warm “winter” evening.  The Perrottas had just arrived in Key West directly from Boston where the temperature was 10 degrees, so no surprise they both agreed: “We’ll be back.”

Watch the presentation here: Tom Perrotta youtube

George Cooper

George Cooper

Next up, George Cooper illustrated Key West’s allure for writers and artists in a talk about his recently published Guide to The Key West Literary Pantheon. Cooper cleverly took a quote from many of the litterateurs’ work to illustrate a particular Key West charm. According to James Leo Herlihy, “The place was mysterious, funky, indescribably exotic. It had much of the charm of a foreign country, but you had the post office and the A&P and the phone worked, so life was easy.” With an eye-twinkle, Cooper updated Herlihy’s quote to mention that the A&P is now Fausto’s and the phones work even better due to cell-towers. 

Watch the presentation here: George Cooper youtube

S. A. Cosby

S. A. Cosby

S.A. Cosby’s turn at “the podium” via Zoom presented a real challenge when he lost power (and Internet access) in his southeastern Virginia neighborhood. Board member and interviewer Barbara Ross nimbly filled in for nine long minutes until Mr. Cosby’s Internet connection was restored. He was worth the wait! Mr. Cosby discussed his novels including his latest, Razorblade Tears, which debuted number 10 on the New York Times bestseller list and is nominated for a prestigious Edgar award for best mystery. His previous novel Blacktop Wasteland also garnered a landslide of awards. Both novels have been optioned for films. An engaging speaker, Mr. Cosby commented that even though his novels are traditionally described as Southern-noir, they are also social commentaries which address issues of being poor, Black and southern in America today.

Watch the presentation here: S.A. Cosby youtube

Sam Sifton

Ellen T. White and Sam Sifton

Our audience had a special treat when board member Ellen T. White interviewed Sam Sifton, assistant managing editor of The New York Times and founding editor of New York Times Cooking. A gifted raconteur, Sifton charmed all when he answered questions about personal disasters in the kitchen, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 25, and whether he enjoys cooking or entertaining the best.  He had everyone laughing when he answered which three condiments he would choose to take if stranded on a desert island: “Chili crisps, Old Bay seasoning, and maple syrup,” he replied.

Following the conversation, guests moved to Williams Hall across the street from the library for a gala reception.

Watch the presentation here: Sam Sifton youtube

Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff

Board member Emily Berg interviewed Jenoff, the author of several historical fiction novels including the New York Times bestseller The Orphan’s Tale.  Jenoff warmed hearts when she declared that “I am passionate about libraries and am so thrilled to be doing this event tonight.”  She discussed her WW II novel The Winter Guest, the story of twin girls living in the countryside near Krakow, Poland.

Watch the presentation here: Pam Jenoff youtube

Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot, Key West’s own, introduced The Princess Diaries, a movie which was based on her young adult novel of the same name. She told us about her wonderment that Julie Andrews was not only involved producing the movie but playing a starring role and that a very young actress Anne Hathaway would star as the princess-to-be.  A first for our speaker’s series, this movie was shown at The Tropic Cinema. 

Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris

Board President Roberta Isleib interviewed the talented and prolific author Charlaine Harris, best known for her book series The Southern Vampire Mysteries, which was adapted as the TV series True Blood.  We learned that she has always been a fan of mysteries and wrote an entertaining series about librarian Aurora Teagarten—combining both libraries and mysteries.  “Very clever, I thought.” One fun fact she shared: “I love to drop in on my characters to let them tell me what they’re up to since I last visited with them.” And “outlining a novel” is like “painting by numbers.”

Watch the presentation here: Charlaine Harris youtube


Les Standiford

Les Standiford, our very last speaker, took us back to the library’s Palm Garden for a talk detailing his latest book Battle for the Big Top about the rise and eventual demise of the American Circus. Standiford is a prolific writer applauded throughout the Keys for his book Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean. Before writing history, Standiford mentioned that he wrote ten novels including at least one situated in Key West itself. Sadly, Standiford described being in the audience for the very last circus presentation.

Watch the presentation here: Les Standiford youtube

Can’t Wait for the 2023 Series!

It was a great year for the Speaker’s Series but only the prelude for the 2023 series.  So be sure to check our website late next fall for what promises to be an exciting season to come.


LUCY AGAIN: In addition to the speaker series, our board ran five book sales in our library's palm garden, plus revamped the entire back of our house--meaning implementing technology that brings our organization to the current century. As Pat mentioned, we also ran a fundraiser featuring New York Times Cooking founding editor, Sam Sifton. That meant we made a second donation, this one earmarked for improvements in the lighting and AV systems in the garden, where the events took place:


speaker series committee members turn the loot over to librarian Kim Rinaldi (photo by Bill Carito)

We are tired and happy, and already planning events for next year! Reds, have you been involved with your local library's Friends group? What has your experience been like?

61 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your super-successful programs and fund-raising for the library . . . and such a diverse and talented group of speakers . . . what an amazing accomplishment.
    [Thanks for all the links . . . it's a treat to listen to all the speakers . . . .]

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  2. What a great list of writers/speakers the program included. Congratulations on such a successful endeavor, Lucy. I plan on listening to some of these amazing people. I've only ever been by the Key West Library. Next trip, and I'm hoping there will be a next trip, I plan on going inside.

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  3. Wow, Lucy! What an amazing season of speakers and the successful fundraising! I hope to listen to some of the recordings this weekend. Your group of volunteers had to really put in some long hours to accomplish what you did and it is truly incredible! It certainly sets a standard for FOTKWL. Woo-hoo!

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  4. Lucy, the recap of your library's speaker series sure made for interesting reading. My local library is relatively small so while they do have events with authors from time to time (among other events), it's not nearly as prolific as what you have going on.

    I'm not involved with the Friends group for the library myself. To the best of my knowledge they have a group of people doing that and I just don't want to get into committing myself to anything these days. I do participate by going to their book sales and author events when I can (and don't completely forget it is happening like I did when Sharon Ward was there). I was also part of the library's mystery book club before the pandemic killed that off. While it was running, Edith Maxwell (in person) and Ingrid Thoft (by video) were kind enough to make appearances.

    With the previous library director, there were some open seats on the library trustees board (or whatever the official title is) and he suggested I apply for one of them. I passed though because again, don't want to commit and then not be able to follow through.

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    1. The pandemic definitely threw us for a loop, both years. 2021 speakers were all virtual, this past year we had to scramble to change venues when omicron hit. Luckily for us, in Key West, we can do a lot outside.

      I'm glad you support the library in the ways you can Jay!

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  5. Kudos for putting in the work, Roberta, to create such a successful series!

    I've only participated as a speaker at my library, which is not lucky enough to have a palm garden, so there have been no events for over two years. But we do have an active Friends group, and in the before days I've benefited from the museum passes they provide.

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  6. ROBERTA: Great job! I enjoyed watching Shawn and Charlaine's interviews this year. Sadly, the Friends of the Ottawa library has been inactive since March 2020. But they recently restarted their monthly booksale in March 2022.

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    1. It's so much easier to make plans if meeting outside is a choice. You can't do that during an Ottawa winter!

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    2. True. The Ottawa speaker events were always held in the Main branch auditorium and that has been shut down during the past 2 years.

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  7. WOw--fantastic! what an incredible lineup! How do you come up with your decisions? Who is your dream guest?

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    1. We have a committee of dedicated Friends and we all generate ideas. Some of the guests are local. Our beloved librarian Michael Nelson usually has ideas about that, plus ideas about who might be coming to KW. We Books and Books in town, and their manager Emily is also on our board, and the speaker series committee. It's a powerhouse! This year our board member Ellen White had a connection to Sam Sifton, so that's how we got lucky to land him. We don't pay speakers so that's a limiting factor...

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    2. Yes, I am on the programming committee of my local library, and they don't pay either. Something I am working on, in fact... :-)

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  9. Wow! This series sounds fabulous! As the daughter of two librarians, I completely applaud your efforts.

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  10. Congratulations to your library on such an awesome line up! We are so excited that we are able to bring in local authors again this year! All of these authors are fantastic. I personally would have loved the S.A. Cosby talk. His books grab you with the first page!
    Thank you also for your support of your local libraries. It's amazing what libraries are able to do with their funding , but donations allow us to offer so much more to our patrons and community.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, we love what we're doing! You would enjoy listening to the Youtube with Barbara Ross interviewing Sean Cosby--very entertaining!

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  11. Having been on a committee as a speaker chair, I know how much effort it took to coordinate so many speakers, Roberta. Well done. What a fantastic lineup of topics, too.

    My only library volunteering as an adult is as a Little Free Library steward. Which was wildly popular during the year and a half since we opened it. Perfect timing, I guess, with the pandemic.

    Is that a photo of Dana Cameron by Charlaine's dog's bed? Or am I hallucinating?

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  12. Lucy, that is awesome! Congratulations on your successful season.

    I am on the board of the Friends of the Worthington Libraries, the friends group for the WONDERFUL multi-award winning library system that serves one of the large suburbs of Columbus, OH. We are blessed with a pretty healthy endowment, courtesy of a former shut-in who left his entire estate to the library in gratitude for their regular home-delivery of books in his later life. Of course, that doesn't mean we don't still have to do fundraising.

    When I came on the board our signature fundraiser was a Books & Brews event, where we had local microbreweries set up in the library for a tasting and everyone got to vote on a winner. The first year of the pandemic we did it as a virtual event and last year we didn't do it at all, so we are right now involved in reviving it and figuring out what parts still work and what must be different in a post-pandemic world.

    Serving on this board gives me great personal satisfaction and it is one of the things I am looking forward to giving more of my time after a retire later this year.

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    1. Susan, before I moved to Mt. Air, I lived in Worthington for many years. A walk to the library was always a pleasure--getting there and browsing was one of my favorite things to do. I loved that library!

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    2. Worthington used to be such a great area for readers! I wonder if that great used book store in the old house is still there.

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    3. Karen, I am sad to report that it closed, maybe a year or so before the pandemic.

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    4. Susan, what a fun event! We would love to have events with cocktails in our Palm Garden, but since it's county-owned, that's not allowed. Your group will be lucky to have more of your time!

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    5. Oh, that is a tragedy, Susan. It was a wondrous place to visit, although I had not been there in at least a decade.

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  13. Not going to babble this morning. Only saying Superb job, Roberta, The Key West Friends are the stars of Florida Friends IMHOP. Thankyouforyourservice.

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    1. Thanks so much Coralee. We love our library and our board!

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  14. What a terrific line up of speakers, Lucy! Congrats to all involved.

    My local library has a Friends group, but the most I've contributed is a box or two of books for their annual sale. But I would run to attend a speakers series such as the one you organized in Key West!

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  15. If only! Key West in the winter sounds such a treat! Well done, Lucy & co.!!

    Our local library does have a Friends' group. They have book sales and provide a great breakfast once a year to library personnel. Library events--like any speakers--are funded by the library. The Friends has been aggressively 'managed', shall we say, by a trio of spinster sisters for several decades and new-ish ideas aren't received well. But time is on our side; sadly, the sisters are now two and the group now has a slightly younger president.

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    1. Oh it's so hard when the old guard doesn't want to entertain new ideas. Volunteer groups are fascinating that way and could easily be the subject of a murder mystery. Hmmmm

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  16. It was a pleasure to take part in person two of these great events! And running into Roberta on the street was an added bonus as was meeting her precious dog. Fingers crossed that 2023 all events can be held in person.

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  17. What a great list of speakers and events! Congratulations on your success!

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  18. Congratulations on a successful fund-raising winter season. When we lived in the Keys, we made it a point to attend an number of library speaker events. Always a fun time.

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  19. I envy the people who attended that event! It must have been a dream come true, thanks to all the hard work you and others put into it.

    DebRo

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    1. Thanks DebRo. It's not the same by any stretch, but I hope I'll see you at Barnes and Noble in Milford in August:)

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  20. Lucy,

    It looks like I am late again this morning. Congratulations on a successful fundraising event! It looks like your event had a versatile cast of authors from historical fiction to cozy mysteries. My Friends of the library in my local area had a panel of young Adult mysteries (authors) before the pandemic.

    Question: Did Ernest Hemingway visit the Key West Library when he lived in Key West?

    Diana

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    1. Diana, I probably should know the answer to that, but I don't

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    2. Lucy, I asked because I thought perhaps there was a local story. Thanks, Diana

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  21. I've never been involved with my local library as more than a patron and occasional visitor to their events. Maybe I should fix that.

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  22. Fantastic! Well done, you and yours.
    We just watched the Burn's special about Benjamin Franklin. We can thank him for the concept of a public library.
    Lucy/Roberta, you hair has gotten so long! Impressive look.

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    1. Hurray for Benjamin Franklin! About the hair, I'm thinking some of it has to go:)

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  23. What a fantastic result! Congratulations. Libraries are so worth it.

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  24. What a great line-up, Roberta, and Pat!!! I can't wait to dip into some of these talks, especially Sam Sifton!

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  25. SUCH a great series! Tremendous group of people working to put it together. Goes to show what can be done. So impressive. I had the wonderful good fortune to hear Les Standiford speak and come to one of the book sales. Wish I'd heard Sam Sifton!

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  26. Les Standiford was one of the leaders of a fabulous writers conference I attended in the early 2000s. I learned so much from him.

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