BEYOND WORDS WAS A NIGHT OF FIRSTS
On December 1, 2016, our new signature event launched Wally Lamb’s new novel, I’ll Take You There.
And we celebrated Louise Blalock, former Chief Librarian for Hartford Public Library, as our 2016 recipient of the first Caroline M. Hewins Medal, presented by Wally Lamb.
Louise Blalock served as Chief Librarian of the Hartford Public Library from 1994 to 2008.
She oversaw a $42 million project to add 45,000 square feet to the Downtown Library, expanding reading rooms, adding classrooms, the ArtWalk, and a giant atrium.
She remains a strong advocate of improving literacy, community outreach, and helping immigrants become citizens. Free access to computersand job assistance were also important concerns.
Blalock was named the National Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal in 2001, and the Library received the National Award for Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Service.
Wally Lamb’s latest novel, I’ll Take You There, features Felix Funicello, a film professor who runs a Monday Movie Club in a haunted old theater.
He will be launching his new book in a new format called Meta Book, an Apple app that includes the text, an original soundtrack, a cast for an audio drama of the story (including actress Kathleen Turner), and a documentary about Lamb, shot in the movie theater that inspired the story.
Wally Lamb grew up in Norwich, which he revisits in his Christmas story (and later a move) “Wishin’ and Hopin’” set in 1964. That’s where we first meet Felix as a fifth grader. Lamb is the author of two novels that were picked by Oprah Winfrey’s book club, “She’s Come Undone,” and “I Know This Much is True.” He also wrote “The Hour I First Believed,” “We Are Water,” and edited two nonfiction anthologies, “Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters” and “I’ll Fly Away,” which evolved from writing workshops at York Correctional Institute, a maximum security prison for women.
He taught high school English for 25 years at Norwich Free Academy, and taught English at the University of Connecticut, where he directed the creative writing program.
The Caroline M. Hewins Medal recognizes an individual who embraces the City of Hartford and its people, who breaks the mold and provides service of a revolutionary kind, who stretches the boundaries of a social or cultural institution with a humanistic approach to public service, and who shows strong guardianship of and advocacy for the basic right of equal access to information and opportunity.
Caroline Maria Hewins was a revolutionary librarian and advocate who helped establish the Hartford Public Library and significantly enlarge the very idea of what a public library could be in America. She came to Hartford at age 29 in 1875 to serve as librarian at the Young Men's Institute of Hartford, worked through its merger with Hartford Library Association four years later, then oversaw the institution's transition to a free public library serving all the city's citizens in 1892. She served as librarian until her passing in 1925, helping embody her belief that everyone should have access to libraries, books, and the gateway to learning and opportunity which they represent.