Library Laureates Go By the Book
You can carry an encyclopedia in your pocket, but there is still nothing quite like a good old-fashioned visit to the library. Especially when it is the striking architectural marvel of San Francisco’s Main Library in Civic Center, which celebrated its 20th year with a gala Library Laureates reception and dinner honoring one of its greatest supporters, Roselyne Chroman Swig. The much beloved honoree, known to friends as “Cissy,” served as a member of the San Francisco Library Commission for many years, along with decades of service to dozens of community organizations. Twenty years ago, she founded the Library Laureates evening to honor local authors and raise funds; on this evening, the Friends of the San Francisco Library gathered to honor her. The Friends offer support to the Main library, and San Francisco’s 27 neighborhood libraries, where free access to technology, programs, and services is offered to all ages. The evening began with a reception under the glass-covered rotunda, where Swig was lauded with proclamations and effusive tributes. Then groups repaired to various floors for the ultimate library no-no – drinking and dining amidst the stacks, making joyously noisy conversation with the Laureates, who each held forth at an individual table. There was no shushing – even the librarians got in on the festivities.
Guests dined on Paula LeDuc’s delectable grilled asparagus tartlet, game hen with artichoke, pea and potato hash, and alternating decadent chocolate or strawberry poppyseed crepes, leading to lots of friendly exchanging of plates and ideas. Guests also received a copy of a tome written by the Laureate at their table, although no book reports were required over coffee. Instead, paddles were raised for a fund-a-need, and spirits were raised by the knowledge that the library helps communities and individuals thrive through literacy, education, and its presence. The Laureates and guests departed the library, as one invariably does, fully enriched, smarter, and happier.
This year’s Laureates included Samina Ali, Robert Mailer Anderson, A. Igoni Barrett, Natalie Baszile, Daniel Levin Becker, Carla Blank, Jeff Chang, Brian Christian, Frances Dinkelspiel, Cory Doctorow, Perical Everett, Mary Ellen Hannibal, Jack Hirschman, Eli Horowitz, Jessica Jackley, Richard Kadrey, Gary Kamiya, Paul La Farge, Beth Lisick, Seanan McGuire, Kathryn Ma, Wendy MacNaughton, devorah major, Joyce Maynard, Janic Mirikitani, Alejandro Murguia, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Orner, Ishmael Reed, Matt Richtel, Mary Roach, Christian Robinson, David Talbot, Colin Winnette, and Mathew Zapruder.