NHFPL Fundraiser Gets Festive

Kapp Singer | February 21st, 2024

NHFPL Fundraiser Gets Festive

Mardi Gras  |  New Haven Free Public Library  |  Arts, Culture & Community

IMG_4172Andy Rubenoff, who managed the design for the Mardi Gras event. Photos Kapp Singer.

Masks, beads, and music abounded in the typically quiet lobby of the Ives Main Library downtown as the New Haven Free Public Library’s 27th Mardi Gras got underway Tuesday.

Though the annual event was postponed a week because of snow, the celebration drew about 200 people and raised over $50,000 for the Elm City’s library system.

“I think it’s great that they chose Mardi Gras, because there’s only one message, which is festive,” said Amy Beth, director of library services at Southern Connecticut State University. “So often people think about libraries as a serious place, but we’re about joy!”

Beth, who recently moved to New Haven from New York for her job at CCSU, was excited to support NHFPL.

 “We have to keep people and libraries strong,” she said, emphasizing the need for academic and public librarians to “hold together.”

IMG_4214Amy Beth.

As part of the festivities, NHFPL celebrated writer Ray Boyd for his “outstanding contributions to the literary culture of New Haven and for his work advancing social justice in the community and beyond.” 

Boyd, who currently works at Yale Law School’s Racial Justice Center, is the author of the 2021 book The Model Inmate, which explores the 30 years he spent in prison after being incarcerated at the age of 17.

“This recognition holds profound meaning to me, not only as a writer, but as someone who understands the vital role libraries play in the fabric of our community,” Boyd said to the audience after receiving the award.

IMG_4305Ray Boyd speaks.

“At the end of the day, why I’m here is because Ray Boyd’s story is important to all of us,” said State Sen. Gary Winfield. He said that he typically would never miss a minute of a legislative hearing—one was in session during the event—but when he heard Boy was being recognized, he knew he had to be there.

“Ray Boyd’s a special person, but there are a lot of special people who we’ve never heard their names, who are trying to get their lives back on track, and we need to celebrate all of them,” Winfield said.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy also was recognized with  the Noah Webster Award for his “steadfast support of the library in its mission for diversity, inclusion, and excellence in service.” Murphy was not in attendance, but NHFPL Foundation President Mary Ellen Savage commended the senator for nominating the library for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, which NHFPL won in 2019.