New York, Chicago 'Lionize' Library Angels

Article excerpt

The week before officially reopening after a year's worth of refurbishment, the Rose Main Reading Room of New York Public Library's Center for the Humanities became the venue for the library's annual Library Lions dinner, which drew several hundred people and $1.7 million in donations. The costs of staging the event were underwritten by the evening's seven benefit chairpersons, who included Oscar de la Renta and his wife Annette.

The November 9 event was a formal Elizabethan-style dinner party that garnered a minimum of $1,500 per plate from several hundred attendees, including former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, George Plimpton, and Bianca Jagger. This year's designated "lion" honorees (who are selected for the special cultural or volunteer link each has to one of NYPL's five library divisions) were author/historian Shelby Foote (Center for the Humanities); IBM CEO and honorary NYPL trustee Louis V. Gerstner Jr. (Science, Industry, and Business Library); theatrical-set designer Ming Cho Lee (Library for the Performing Arts); author/filmmaker Gordon Parks, who is a member of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture's Commission for the Preservation of Black Culture; and children's author Katherine Paterson, who represents the Branch Libraries Division as NYPL's 1997 Anne Carroll Moore Lecturer.

"Without your support and dedication, the library could not continue to acquire the books and materials we need to keep our collections current and vibrant," NYPL President Paul LeClerc told attendees.

Originally completed in 1911, the room was recently renamed in honor of Sandra and Frederick Rose, who gave the library $15 million for the rehabilitation in 1995 (AL, Jan. 1996, p. 22-25).

A month earlier, the Chicago Public Library Foundation celebrated the library's 125th birthday by hosting a black-tie bash in honor of library foundation founder and chairwoman Cindy Pritzker at the Harold Washington Library Center.

Underwritten by Sears, Roebuck and Company, the October 1 affair garnered the library foundation some $300,000 and featured 45 authors who mingled with dinner guests at tables decorated to evoke themes from their writing. Among them were courtroom thriller-writer Scott Turow, whose table sported handcuffs; former ballerina Maria Tallchief, who presided over a tiny toe-shoe centerpiece; and film critic Roger Ebert, whose presence was commemorated with foam-rubber thumbs.

Proceeds from the event are earmarked for collection development throughout the city's 79 branches.

It's Not Just the Money

"We look forward to the day when children from the community and all of Florida can come to the library to learn about their history and create their own bright future," Bob Henninger told some 25 other benefactors of Broward County (Fla.) Library's African American Research Library and Cultural Center October 8. The occasion was an AT&T-sponsored reception for donors at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art, and marked a watershed: raising some $9 million needed to build the facility. Still sought is $2.4 million to outfit and stock the center and $600,000 for an endowment stipulated as part of an NEH grant. …