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Wednesday, October 4

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Events Thu Oct 11 2012

Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner @ The Forum

The Chicago Public Library Foundation is hosting its annual Carl Sandburg Literary Awards dinner this Wednesday, October 17. Chosen for their significant contributions to the written word and international stature, this year's co-winners are Don DeLillo (Underworld, his new short story collection The Angel Esmeralda, among others) and Walter Isaacson (best known for his recent Steve Jobs biography). Also being honored is Nami Mun (Miles from Nowhere), winner of the 21st Century Award, which honors an emerging local literary talent. In addition, over 70 prominent local authors will be in attendance, dining alongside guests, including Scott Turow, Sarah Paretsky, Irvine Welsh and Check Please! host Alpana Singh. Prior 21st Century Award winners are also always welcomed back as guests. CBS Chicago anchorman Bill Kurtis is the master of ceremonies and NPR's Scott Simon will moderate an after-dinner discussion with DeLillo and Isaacson.

The event is set to be held at the 22,000 square foot UIC Forum. Rhona Frazin, president and CEO of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, told Gapers Block "our designer, Bill Heffernan, really transforms the place for the event. There will be a shifting landscape of author quotes projected on the walls. For most events held there, they cover the fold-out bleachers with drapes. Bill projected this intricate design over them. In fact, the UIC chancellor walked by and saw it and thought he'd done a modern sculpture installation." Frazin estimates approximately 700 business and civic leaders are expected to attend.

With tickets beginning at $1,000, the event is the Foundation's major fundraiser for the year. Frazin was eager to talk about the library programs the event helps fund. Some of them include:

  • Teacher In The Library, which employs 59 certified teachers in various library branches after school to help with tutoring.
  • CyberNavigators, a program with about 47 instructors in almost 50 library branches to help patrons use the computers, both one on one and in classes. "Some library patrons have never touched a computer and don't know what a mouse is," Frazin said. "Some need help creating their first résumé."
  • Bookamania, an annual celebration of children's literature held at the Harold Washington Library every year (this year's is November 17). "It's been held the last 15 years," Frazin said. "It's always held the same day as the holiday festival downtown [the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival], so a lot of families combine the two events and make a day of it." Bookamania features authors and illustrators, musicians, craft projects and more. "It's a festival. It's a good time."
  • The YouMedia digital learning space at the Harold Washington Library and three other branches is "where kids can hang out, mess around, and geek out," Frazin said. Kids can play and design video games, there's a recording studio, graphic design stations, and photography tutors. Kids who become certified to use the equipment through on-site classes can check out video cameras to work on their own projects, or projects in conjunction with a class where they have a password protected web platform to critique each other's work. All that, and all you need is a Chicago Public Library card (but you do have to be a teen).
  • The addition of four new branch libraries last year in the West Humboldt, Greater Grand Crossing, Dunning and Little Village neighborhoods. Three more new branches are currently under construction in Edgewater, Back of the Yards and Albany Park. All the new libraries are LEED certified "green" buildings.

Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner, The UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd., Wednesday, October 17. Cocktails at 6pm, dinner at 6:45pm, culminating with the awards program and on-stage conversation with DeLillo and Isaacson. Reservations limited and tickets start at $1,000. Click here for information on tickets.

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