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Aurora Free Library

The Aurora Free Library is located in a Tudor building that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

As the child of a working single mother, I was a “latchkey kid.” My home after school, and before my mom came home from work, was our local library. For an early and avid reader, that little library was not only homey; it was like a little bit of paradise: So many books yet to be read! Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve discovered the library. And once I had children, we were regulars at every story hour and program. I volunteered at their school’s libraries, realizing I could never be a librarian because I read more books than I shelved. When I moved to Aurora, the first place I sought was the library — and what a find! Aurora is blessed with a library housed in a spectacular Tudor building donated in 1899 by Louis Morgan Zabriskie, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Gracing the second floor is the perfectly preserved Victorian-era Morgan Opera House. I introduced myself to Sandy Groth, the library director, and offered to work in the garden. Before I knew it, I was a library volunteer, then on the library board, and eventually serving as its president.

As a historic structure, over the years the library building has required extensive preservation efforts, so a Preservation Committee was formed and it initiated a fundraiser to raise seed money needed to apply for historic grants. In an idea she “borrowed” from the Denver Public Library, Denise Brady, the first chair, founded the Aurora Book Lovers' Ball in 2004. Once the seed money had been raised for the Preservation Committee’s efforts, the ball’s purpose changed, and all funds raised now go toward the operating budget of the library. These funds allow the library to continue to provide a wide range of services, including free Wi-Fi, computers for public use, a huge selection of DVDs, programs for all ages, a preschool story hour and, of course, access to all the books in the Finger Lakes Library System. Last year, the ball raised more than $19,000 thanks to the generosity of the ball’s benefactor, The Inns of Aurora, as well as the numerous sponsors, silent auction donors and attending guests who support the ball. All ball materials now proudly feature the new logo created and generously donated by Coburn Design.

I am proud to co-chair this important fundraiser with Marie Dentes, along with silent auction chair Kelly Brown and amazing committee members Donna Cerza, Judy Jordan, Lori Kupiec, Charlie Myers, Erica Ryan, Rebecca Staehr and Kelley Zabriskie, all of whom are hard at work preparing the 14th annual Book Lovers’ Ball, which will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at the Aurora Inn. The ball features the award-winning cuisine of the Aurora Inn paired with wines from Cayuga Lake’s eastern shore wineries: Bet The Farm, Long Point, Treleaven, Heart and Hands and the newest addition, Bright Leaf, as well as craft beer from Aurora Ale & Lager. The silent auction offers items for every budget, and a highlight of the evening is dancing to the area’s favorite dance band, The Destination.

Each year, the ball has grown and evolved. In 2009, Amy Dickinson, whose memoir “The Mighty Queens of Freeville” had just been published, was the ball’s first featured author. Since then, many more authors have graciously donated their time; fortunately, they love libraries! This year’s featured author is Angelina Mirabella, author of "The Sweetheart," a novel about the lady wrestling circuit of the 1950s, which The New York Times called an "impressive coming-of-age novel." Ms. Mirabella will be at the ball to sign books, and at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, she will give a talk at the Morgan Opera House. Books will be available for purchase at the ball and at the library after the presentation. The talk is free and open to the public.

The ball is a magical evening in support of a vital community asset! Dust off your dancing shoes and join us: All are welcome! For more information, contact me at (518) 339-0541 or ukrad@aol.com. Tickets are available at bookloversball.com, or checks can be sent to the Aurora Book Lovers’ Ball, P.O. Box 345, Aurora, NY 13026.

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Robin Driskel is co-chair of the annual Book Lover's Ball and a member of the Aurora Free Library's Preservation Committee.

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