Smithsonian Libraries 50th Birthday: A Tribute from 50 Great Authors!
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Smithsonian Libraries being united under one umbrella.
To celebrate this event in an exciting and original way, I invited fifty famous authors to say “Happy 50th Birthday” to the Smithsonian Libraries, and asked each to speak for a few minutes about why he or she loves libraries.
My wonderful ‘film crew’ were the co-producers of the late-great Sirius XM Book Channel: Kim Alexander and Maggie Linton. This year, we three together have had so much fun (and so many surprises) being first to hear the spontaneous recollections and heartfelt tributes of so many individual authors to their love of libraries.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we do! – Katherine Neville
Next up wishing the Smithsonian Libraries a happy fiftieth is the wonderful Raymond Benson. Benson shares his earliest memories in his hometown library in Odessa, Texas – including a presidential handshake!
The marvelous Louis Bayard wishes the Smithsonian Libraries a happy 50th anniversary and shares why he believes libraries are “a distillation of the democratic experience.” Louis Bayard is a New York Times notable author and has been nominated for both the Edgar® and Dagger awards. He is also a nationally recognized essayist and critic whose articles have appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.
The next featured author in our celebration of the Smithsonian Libraries’ 50th Anniversary is the brilliant and talented Rita Dove. Dove is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and author and has served as United States Poet Laureate, special consultant in poetry for the Library of Congress, and Poet Laureate of Virginia.
Dove tells us about her early memories in libraries, wandering through the stacks…
“…and to this day, if I go in to a library, my heart kind of starts to just open up, and I feel like I’m at home, I’ve come home, and my home is the world.” -Rita Dove
The exceptional Margot Lee Shetterly is the next author to be featured in our Smithsonian Libraries’ 50th Anniversary Author Series. Shetterly wrote the #1 NY Times Bestselling book (which inspired the movie) “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” and is the founder of “The Human Computer Project,” which aims to collect the names and accomplishments of the women who worked at NASA and NACA as computers, mathematicians, scientists and engineers from the 1930s to 1980s.
The brilliant Annette Gordon-Reed, winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, is the next author featured in our 50th Anniversary Celebration for the Smithsonian Libraries.
“Libraries brought a new world to me, they opened up so many vistas of opportunity. They made me dream about becoming a lawyer. They made me dream about becoming a writer. The books that I found there told me how to do those kinds of things, and they transported me.” -Annette Gordon-Reed
As the first author ever invited to the Smithsonian Libraries Board, I’ve now served for almost 8 years! In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Libraries joining under one umbrella, I’m asking 50 authors to say Happy Birthday to the Libraries and share their thoughts on libraries, here’s mine!
My friend, fellow author, and fellow board member of the Smithsonian Libraries, Steve Berry, shares his birthday wishes for the institution. Steve also describes why libraries are important to him and his writing practice. Steve also led a tour of the Smithsonian Castle and was interviewed with me on Author Imprint, with our colleague Jeffery Deaver.
“Libraries, for me, also hold a special place, it’s where books first came alive…” -Steve Berry
Immediately after we filmed my marvelous friend Brad Meltzer for the Smithsonian Libraries, his book hit #1 on The New York Times Best Seller list. More news from Brad, his delightful children’s book series is being turned into a TV show.
Brad’s Movie will be uploaded soon. You can watch the film on Katherine’s Facebook page.
Third in our series is my wonderful friend and colleague Jeffery Deaver. Jefferey and I are among the initial 32 sponsoring founders of International Thriller Writers and have worked together in a variety of colorful venues. Jefferey talks about growing up as a ‘nerd’ and his love of libraries.
We also were recently interviewed with our friend Steve Berry (also an ITW founder) by Maggie Orton of Author Imprint, in which we discuss the Smithsonian Libraries Adopt-a-Book program, the difference between mysteries and thrillers, and more.
Watch Jeff’s tribute on the Smithsonian Libraries’ website.
David discusses the amount of time he’s spent poring through library records for research, his personal efforts to build a public library in his community, and why libraries are a crucial “bastion of Democracy.”
Watch David’s tribute on the Smithsonian Libraries’ website.
Our first author is NY Times bestselling children’s book writer: Carmen Agra Deedy.
We met with Carmen in the reading room of the Cullman Library (Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History), which houses the Smithsonian’s collection of rare books about anthropology and the natural sciences.
Watch Carmen’s tribute on the Smithsonian’s website.
Smithsonian Libraries and Me:
Eight years ago, I became the first author ever invited onto the Smithsonian Libraries’ Advisory Board. (We have 21 fabulous libraries, with millions of rare books – all hidden within each Smithsonian Museum and Research Center, from the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in NY, all the way to our Tropical Research Center at the Panama Canal. All these libraries and their books belong to us, the American People.)
I soon invited onto our board my friend, and library-loving author, Steve Berry, former co-president of the organization that we both helped found: International Thriller Writers. Over these past six years, Steve, his wife Elizabeth, and their ‘History Matters’ foundation, have raised money and visibility for the Smithsonian Libraries in myriad creative ways. (Steve wrote a book, The Lost Order, set in the Smithsonian Libraries and and they led a fundraising tour through the secret passages of the Smithsonian Castle.)