Annual Gala

Member tickets for the Friends’ Annual Fundraising Gala will go on sale on December 15. Gala tickets for non-members and a limited number of free tickets for the Talk-Only portion of the evening will be available for both members and non-members on January 2nd.

  • Time: The Talk will begin at 6:00 p.m. The Gala will take place immediately afterward.
  • Date: February 19, 2024
  • Location: Key West Public Library and Palm Garden, 700 Fleming Street

We look forward to a wonderful evening.

About the 2024 Gala

Our gala not only raises critical funds for our beloved Key West Library, it also gives us a chance to celebrate our Friends. This year, we are ‘bringing it home’ in many respects.

The gala will honor our own Key West celebrity Judy Blume, who has experienced a banner year with many notable appearances. Her book Summer Sisters was chosen as Jenna Bush Hager’s August Today Show book club pick in August, and the documentary film Judy Blume Forever earned two Emmy nominations.

But being the fabulous Judy Blume has its complications. Over the decades, Blume’s books have been the subject of controversy, censorship, and bans.

A Lively and Timely Conversation

Judy Blume and Pat Scales will appear in a conversation that will shed light on what’s happening with the Book Banning in America, why it’s happening, and what we can do about it.

Judy Blume

Judy Blume has been writing for more than 50 years. Her work has been read and loved by millions. She has been named a Literary Legend by the Library of Congress and received the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.  She was named one of Time’s 100 most Influential People of the Year in 2023. 

With all that, her books have been banned. Honest descriptions of young peoples’ lives and concerns have made them a target for removal from school libraries around the country. For more than forty years Judy has been a champion of intellectual freedom, working to support teachers and librarians in their fight to keep challenged books on their shelves. 

Pat Scales

Pat Scales is a passionate free speech advocate. A middle and high school librarian, creator of innovative programs, writer of books, articles, and a recipient of numerous awards – including the 2023 Roll of Honor award from the Freedom to Read Foundation of the American Library Association. Her writing in Banned Books for Kids shows the way for both children and their parents to come to terms with provocative titles. She is a master lecturer to teacher and librarian groups across the country.

Judy and Pat have known each other and worked together since the early 1980’s, when the Regan-era of censorship began. Now they come together to discuss the new era of government sponsored censorship of books. Book bans have become an agenda in which multiple titles are being challenged at the same time, often cavalierly. Last year over 40% of all book bans occurred in school districts in Florida.  

We are thrilled that Pat will be in Key West to talk with Judy about their shared and solo experiences with censorship – sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying – and their celebrations of Intellectual Freedom.

And a Fabulous Party Afterward

This year our party following the talk will be held in the Palm Garden of the Key West Library, which will be transformed into a fairyland–tented if it should rain. Join us in this magical and intimate evening of plentiful nibbles and libations from Catered Affairs. Sit a while and gnosh with Judy, Pat, and the Library’s Friends.

Get Involved

Before this year’s gala is upon us there are a few ways to get involved or stay in loop:

  • Early Access to Tickets: If you are interested in early access to gala tickets please become a member. Visit our become a member page by clicking here.
  • Become A Sponsor: If you would like to become a sponsor of the gala please visit our become a sponsor page by clicking here. We are welcoming sponsors for the speaker series and gala.

Past Galas

Each winter we host an exclusive gala benefiting the Key West Public Library. The event centers around a very special literary guest speaker and cocktail reception. Our 2023 guest was Carl Hiaasen and it was an incredible evening in Key West. In 2022, we hosted Sam Sifton, the founding editor of New York Time Cooking for a fabulous evening of talk and food and talk about food.

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