Libration 2014: Good Fun/Good Cause



Do you know that a wine bottle fits perfectly inside the drawer of an old-fashioned library card catalog?

If you don’t know, you’ll find out during the “wine pull,” one of several events lined up for Libration 2014, the two-day fund-raising series of events put on by the Memphis Library Foundation and co-sponsored by Memphis magazine, sister publication of the Memphis Flyer. This year’s Libration is Thursday and Friday, October 16th and 17th, and it comes in three “chapters.”

“Chapter One” will take place at the Galloway Mansion in Midtown, and it will include a meet-and-greet with this year’s Libration guest author, Jess Walter, who will be on hand to chat with partygoers and sign copies of his best-selling, critically acclaimed novel Beautiful Ruins. Heavy hors d’oeuvres from Bari Ristorante’s Chef Jason Severs — in keeping with the novel’s Italian setting — along with fine wines and an open bar are included in the “Chapter One” ticket price of $200 per person.

“Chapter Two” — free and open to the public — takes place Friday morning. Beginning at 11 a.m., Walter will speak at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar), meet with readers, and sign his book.

“Chapter Three” on Friday night — 7 to 10:30 p.m. — continues at the Central Library with another party. Tickets are $75 per person (or $125 per person for the VIP treatment, which includes champagne, an open bar, and gift bags). The celebration will include: live music; a silent auction; a photo booth; a food buffet; a beer garden; a costume contest (come dressed, if you’d like, as your favorite book character); personalized poetry typed on the spot by Adam Maldonado (aka “Adam the Poet”); a signature cocktail, One Flew Over the Cosmo’s Nest (designed especially for the evening by Bari bartender Brad Pitts); a “flaming donut” dessert from Wade & Company Catering; a “silent disco” (shhh, this is a library, so dancer earphones, together with a choice of play lists, provided); and that card-catalog wine pull.

Think of the wine pull as a takeoff on the TV game show Concentration, and call it “Libration Concentration.” Diane Jalfon, executive director of the Memphis Library Foundation, does.

“A guest pays for a chance to pull the drawers of the card catalog to see if they can match the wines inside,” Jalfon explained by phone late last week. “Pull two drawers containing the same two wines, and you win both bottles. It’s a perfect concentration game.”

Libration is a perfect way to donate to the Memphis Public Library — and have fun while you’re doing it. This year, your participation will help fund the library’s citywide system and in particular the future Teen Learning Lab at the Central Library, which Jalfon said is very much in the works.

“The big emphasis right now is on the Teen Learning Lab we’re building,” Jalfon said. “It’s a big project and the first capital project we’ve done since building the Central Library. We’re breaking ground on it in December, and we reached our construction goal of $1.5 million as of last week. But we still have technology dollars and programming dollars to raise.”

At Libration 2013s costume contest: Diane Jalfon, executive director of the Memphis Library Foundation; Hampton Sides, guest author; and Keenon McCloy, director of Memphis city libraries
  • At Libration 2013's costume contest: Diane Jalfon, executive director of the Memphis Library Foundation; Hampton Sides, guest author; and Keenon McCloy, director of Memphis city libraries
Last year’s Libration was the first such celebration — a brand-new concept, a brand-new everything, according to Jalfon. “We netted almost $40,000, which isn’t bad for a first year,” she said. “But we’re hoping to increase that amount this year.”

And this year, it’s author Jess Walter who’s been invited to appear, and who knew there was such a strong Memphis connection with that best-selling author?

“Members of the board were tossing around names of different authors we’d like to invite to Libration, and someone mentioned Jess Walter,” Jalfon said. “Kate Duignan [wife of former Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck and a library foundation board member] said, ‘Oh, I know him.’ We all looked at her, stunned. Kate said, ‘I made his wife’s wedding dress!’

“Kate, who designs part time, and Chris are from the Spokane, Washington, area, as is Jess. Jess, in fact, used to work for the paper there.

“Jess was on our wish list. So he seemed the perfect choice. Jess keeps up a busy schedule, but he’s a big library advocate too. He agreed to come.”

Memphians of all ages come to the Central Library. “Our library is very well used,” Jalfon said, and to prove it, she cited a surprising statistic:

“More people visit the library annually than attend all Grizzlies games, all U of M football and basketball games, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the Southern Heritage Classic, Graceland, and the Memphis Zoo combined.”

By late last week, Jalfon was attending to loose ends: getting auction items ready for Libration 2014, selling tickets. And there’s another end still loose: Jalfon’s own outfit for Friday night’s literary costume contest. “Well,” she said when asked what she had in mind, “I’m still trying to decide.” •

For tickets to Libration 2014, go to and click on “Donation Center” or call the library at (901) 415-2831. To follow the Facebook page of Libration 2014, go here.

And don’t forget: The next semiannual Friends of the Library Book Sale is Friday and Saturday, October 24th and 25th, at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. More than books, however, the sale includes donated records, cassettes, magazines, videos, and CDs — books and other items individually priced from $2 on down to 25 cents. For more on the sale and hours, go to

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