THE RED carpet was rolled out Saturday night for "The Library's Epic Journey: A Celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library," one of the crown jewels of the city, presented by the LaValley Foundation and the Library Legacy Foundation. The 374 guests at $250 per ticket strolled past the main entrance windows which held live mannequins from the Toledo Ballet. The Toledo School for the Arts provided the musical welcome into an evening of grandeur in the stately building where one can travel the world for free through books.
Sheer red drapery and sparkling crystal helped set the scene. Literary characters portrayed by actors from the Toledo Repertoire Theatre roamed about as men in tuxedos and suits and women in gowns and cocktail attire mingled over champagne and other concoctions.
Spotted in the crowd were John and Yolanda Szuch, Dave and Hilary White, Jr., Keith Burwell, Bob and Sue Savage, Michael and Carol Anderson, Helen McMaster, Dick and Fran Anderson, Dorothy Price, Paula and Bill Fall, Jim and Pat Appold, and Christy and Spence Stone, Jr.
In from Pittsburgh were Susan and John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade, which was first published in 1835. As a rare book collector, he said books will always be here, and become even more valuable. The Blade Rare Book Room in the Main branch is an example of what Mr. Block is talking about, where one can see a part of history.
His sister-in-law and brother Susan and Allan Block, chairman of Block Communications, Inc., who reside in Toledo, were also present.
At a VIP reception guests previewed the Toledo Museum of Art's Tribute to the 175th Anniversary of the library through artists' impressions.
Strolling about were Michael Dansack, Jr., library board president, Bill and Heather McDonnell, Robin and Dick La Valley, Jr., Dr. Antoinette LaValley, and Denny and Sheila Johnson.
The Toledo Opera gave a grand welcome into the dining area where Library director Clyde Scoles made a toast to Ohio's first free public library, then everyone dined at shimmery golden-covered tables centered with red roses and candlelight. The tasty white glove service meal was by Beirut, Byblos, and Poco Piatti.
Frank Jacobs, Library Legacy Foundation president, introduced guest speaker David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, who spoke about history and the love of learning. Libraries and educational institutions are our cathedrals of knowledge, he said. Reading can take one on a journey of learning, giving one freedom to explore, learn and travel -- and it's free. It's all about excelling, he said.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Toledo Mayor Mike Bell presented proclamations and the key to the City of Toledo. Meanwhile, McCullough fan Spence Stone, Sr. was the first to get an autograph from the famed writer.
Afterwords, Kate MacPherson, who has been best friends since 1971 with Mr. McCullough's daughter, Melissa McCullough McDonald, when they were roommates, said she was glad to see Mr. McCullough and happy that he was recently honored with a bridge named for him for his 80th birthday in Pittsburgh, where he grew up. Her husband, Scott MacPherson, and her mom, Carol Bentley, were there, too, and all have tales of gatherings with Mr. McCullough.
While chatting briefly with Mr. McCullough after the gala, he said life is like a buffet -- you try a little of this and a little of that.
The event raised nearly $40,000 for the Early Literacy Fund of the Library Legacy Foundation.
Thanks go to the more than a baker's dozen sponsors including Block Communications, Inc., PNC Bank, and the Hodge Group.