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A Perfect Storm author to speak at Literary Voices event

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Award-winning author and journalist Sebastian Junger will be in town April 14 as guest speaker at the annual Literary Voices event, a fundraiser that supports Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System.

Sebastian Junger is the author of A Perfect Storm, which was turned into a major motion picture starring George Clooney. Junger went on to write War, which highlighted the stories of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan; A Death in Belmont, which covered the rape and murder of Bessie Goldberg by the Boston Strangler in the 1960s; and Fire, a collection of articles that addressed dangerous regions and occupations.

As a journalist, Junger has covered major headline news such as the peace talks in Cyprus, the Kosovo War and the hostage situation in Kashmir. He shares his journey as an international journalist with a presentation, The Front Lines of History: 20 years of Reporting from Around the World. His discussion draws parallels between the war zone and corporate America and their connection to having a competitive edge over the competition.

Selection process

Catherine Armitage and Karen Delaney are the event’s chairwoman and co-chairwoman. They pointed to Junger’s diverse background and his coverage of a wide range of topics as reasons he was selected to present at this year’s event. Junger’s popularity in Oklahoma, a state whose residents value the military, might stem from his expositions on the hardships of veterans.

“He is very passionate about the military and how to support soldiers who have risked their lives protecting our freedom when they come back to the United States,” Delaney said.

A committee was organized to implement a vetting process to select this year’s speakers. Working within a confined budget, committee members used range of literary work and available funds as criteria to choose a guest speaker.

“We go through authors based on popularity and also compare them with who we’ve had in the past,” Delaney said.

Supporting services

Funds raised at Literary Voices help pay for various services the public library offers to visitors each year.

“We raise money to also pay for capital improvements for our Metropolitan Library System because taxpayer dollars are not enough to pay for all programs and improvements as the library is aging,” Delaney said.

There are 19 libraries within the Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County, and each one offers classes that serve its community. The Edmond Public Library is one of the largest in the system.

“Edmond has a great variety of programs that are obviously driven by the public but supported by the library,” Delaney said. “They have a chess club, Shakespeare for Kids and classes for kindergarten, and they bring those people in for those programs.”

Some of the public library’s free services tackle problems within the community. Its Reading with Dogs program helps children with reading challenges.

“It encourages them to read without being afraid of making mistakes,” Delaney said.

Armitage and Delaney are volunteers who serve as board members of the Library Endowment Trust, which supports the public library with additional capital and resources. The event is sponsored by the trust, a nonprofit group that has served the community since 1986.

“It’s the body that collects funds for the library, and we invest them wisely and distribute them when the library is in need of large capital expenditures,” Delaney said.

Fundraiser schedule

Literary Voices begins with a patron gathering for the library system’s highest donors. It is followed by a dinner and Junger’s presentation, which is expected to last about an hour. Also, an award ceremony will honor Steve Payne, a Library Endowment Trust board member and community volunteer, with the Lee B. Brawner Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes community members who make outstanding contributions to literacy and the library system.

The Junior League will receive the trust’s Institutional Award. The league has worked to encourage literacy within the community and just switched its campaign efforts to health issues.

“We are honoring it for its 10-year focus on literacy,” Armitage said.

Full Circle Bookstore will sell copies of Junger’s books at Literary Voices. Junger will sign books before and after the event.

The Midwest City Library and the Humanities Council will host a Q&A session with Junger 8:30 a.m. April 15.

Literary Voices happens at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, 7000 NW Grand Blvd. Tickets are $175.

Print headline: Community crusaders, The Library Endowment Trust’s annual Literary Voices event raises funds for the library’s community programs.

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