Associates of the Boston Public Library’s 34th Annual Literary Lights Recap

In Events, News

The Power of Words: The Associates of the Boston Public Library's Unyielding Support for Literature Amidst Book Bans

In an era marked by troubling trends of book burning and banning, the Associates of the Boston Public Library's 34th annual Literary Lights Dinner stands as a beacon of resistance and celebration. Held on April 21st at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, this event celebrated esteemed Northeastern writers and raised over $445,000 for preserving the BPL’s Special Collections. 

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The evening began with a cocktail reception where authors and attendees mingled. Concurrently, the Associates hosted their inaugural “Read Carpet,” a new feature that allowed attendees to take photos with their favorite books from the honored authors and have the opportunity to be interviewed by our “Read Carpet” Host, A.J. Hernandez, a notable Boston lifestyle influencer. 

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Associates Board Chair Alyce J. Lee gave the opening remarks for the dinner program, followed by David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library, and then the Dinner Co-Chairs Lisa Pierpont and Christy Cashman.

During the dinner program, the honorees and presenters treated attendees to memorable moments that underscored the importance of free access to literature. Dan Shaughnessy highlighted that Boston is a great place for sports journalism due to the passion from the fans who are great readers. Alison Bechdel recounted how a library card catalog was instrumental in her journey of self-discovery, illustrating the personal impact of public access to information. 

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William Landay shared anecdotes of crafting his narratives in the quiet grandeur of the BPL’s Bates Hall. Poet Kevin Young added a touch of lyrical beauty to the evening with a reading of his poem, "Russet," captivating all the poetry enthusiasts present. 

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The highlight of the evening was Stacy Schiff’s keynote address. The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer passionately spoke about the crucial role of preserving written history. She shared vivid tales of sifting through moldy and crumbling papers in libraries and archives, emphasizing the critical work of the Associates—preserving, digitizing, and cataloging the BPL’s treasures. Stacy’s address reinforced the importance of these efforts, especially as they allow future generations to own their history and culture amid current challenges to literary freedom. 

Literary Lights presenter Heather Cox Richardson described the BPL’s Special Collections as “truly astonishing—a gem not only for the city of Boston but for the United States of America and for the world.” Her words highlighted the universal value of these collections and the global impact of preserving such treasures. 

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The Dinner Co-Chairs were Lisa Pierpont and Christy Cashman; Honorary Chair Thomas N. O’Brien, CEO of HYM; and Author Nominating Committee Chair William Martin. Emcee Jared Bowen, GBH Executive Arts Editor and Host of The Culture Show, engaged 350 guests from Boston’s business, literary, arts, and philanthropic communities. Notable guests included Congresswoman Katherine Clark; Chair of the BPL Trustees, Priscilla Douglas; MathWorks CFO and Senior Vice President, Jeanne O‘Keefe; Executive Vice President and Head of Wealth Management at Cambridge Trust, Jeffrey Smith; Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Trinity Financial, Patrick Lee; Co-Founder of Marble Harbor Investment Counsel, Paul Davis; and Peter R.V. Brown, Nutter partner and former Chair of the Associates’ Board of Directors. 

The night was magical, full of literary excellence and appreciation. We hope to see you at our 2025 Literary Lights! 

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