'A Novel Night Out' on Thursday to raise money for Lenox Library

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LENOX — The town library will be rolling out a "READ-Carpet" on Thursday evening to greet patrons attending its gala fundraiser, "A Novel Night Out."

The event, from 5:30 to 11, includes libations provided by Jim Nejaime's Spirited Wines, food donated by Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort and a jazz cafe with celebrity chanteuse Margot Bingham, best known for her role as a jazz singer in the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire."

A midevening "Tale of Two Cities" live auction with auctioneer Charles Flint features four box tickets and a VIP parking pass for a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and a set of four front-row seats to a Yankees game.

A silent auction will be highlighted by a week at a private home in the south of France (air fare not included), a private in-home wine-tasting dinner party, a pair of Shed tickets at Tanglewood, a spa and golf day at Cranwell, a spa day at Canyon Ranch, a day at Chesterwood, book picks by The Bookstore owner Matt Tannenbaum, and the use of A-List Luxury Car Services for the baseball games or other destinations.

A "Censorship Room" will display volumes such as "Huckleberry Finn," "Catch-22" and "Ulysses" that have been banned at times by some libraries.

A dessert and dance party in the stars-illuminated Dome Room with DJ BFG will cap the evening.

Tickets at $75 per person include several drink tickets and are available in advance by visiting the library or calling 413-637-2630, ext. 115, online at www.lenoxlib.org, at novelnightout.eventbrite.com or at the door.

As of Monday, about 150 tickets had been sold, said Lenox Library Association Development Manager Robert Ireland. The annual gala is among the library's major fundraising efforts, along with the annual book sale in late August.

No specific goal has been set for the gala — "We're shooting for the stars," Library Director Amy Lafave said. Most of the offerings, including food, are underwritten, keeping the library's expenses at a minimum. In addition, there are multiple in-kind donations, Ireland stated.

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Raffle tickets at $10 each, or a package of 12 for $100, will offer prizes from local businesses, galleries and Shakespeare & Company.

Even though town government took over operations of the library as of Jan. 1, the private Lenox Library Association remains responsible for $132,000 in support per year toward the total $470,000 budget covering basic library services, Lafave said.

In addition, the association needs to raise an extra $75,000 to $100,000 for the development staff, programming and upgrades to the 1855 building.

"I'm not sure that everyone is aware that the library association still has a substantial contribution to make," Lafave explained. "I sometimes think that there's an assumption that the town is picking up the whole dime, so that's why we're still having fundraisers."

Lafave and her nine staffers — 6.2 full-time equivalents, made up of three full time, the rest part time — are municipal employees under the new agreement with the town, which purchased the building in 2007 and leased it back to the association for $1 a year. The private association, with three staffers, continues to own the building's interior assets, including the collection, and the endowment funds worth about $1.5 million.

According to Lee-Lenox Chief Administrative Officer Christopher Ketchen, two major goals for the library in the coming year are to enhance youth programming and promote the town's history. A town-funded glass partition to wall off the second-floor Dome Room for patrons who prefer a more traditional quiet environment is planned.

"For over 160 years, we've benefited from the generous and enthusiastic leadership of the Lenox Library Association," Ketchen said.

"Lenox is incredibly fortunate to have such strong support for all our public services, including the library. The town and the LLA complement each other's strengths exceedingly well."

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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