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The Young Literati

by Lisa Miller

Saint Louis’ literary community continues to amaze me with its talent, dedication, and variety.  A few months back, while doing some research on one of the many things St. Louis has going on for those of us interested in writers, writing, and the world of literature generally, I ran across these words in my browser – “The Young Literati.”  I was immediately curious, then incredibly pleased with what I read on their website:  “The Young Literati of the St. Louis Public Library Foundation is a group of St. Louis professionals ages 20s and up who promote the programs, events and services offered at the St. Louis Public Library’s 17 locations.  The Young Literati strive to build relationships with others who share a passion for the Library’s work and are committed to the Library’s continued growth and success.”  This was a group I wanted to know more about!  To that end, I contacted Sarah Pritchard, a Development Associate at the St. Louis Public Library Foundation and a member of the Young Literati.   Sarah was kind enough to answer my questions as well as provide some great pictures of the folks associated with this group.

What is The Young Literati of the St. Louis Public Library Foundation about? What do you do?

2008 Kickoff

The Young Literati is a group of young St. Louis professionals who support the St. Louis Public Library’s programs and services through advocacy, fundraising and by building relationships with others who share a passion for the Library’s work. To engage the young professional community, the Young Literati host social events like our monthly Book Swap, where people can meet other young urban intellectuals in a fun and relaxed environment and learn about the St. Louis Public Library and all it offers our city. We also provide volunteer opportunities that support the Library’s mission, as well as raise funds for the Library’s educational programs.

 How did your group come about?

In 2008, the St. Louis Public Library Foundation was approached by a group of civic minded young professionals about their desire to support the Library and its Foundation. The Library Foundation then hosted an Open House Kickoff to introduce the St. Louis Public Library to young leaders and give them the opportunity to learn about the many services it provides our community. From there the Library Foundation developed a steering committee comprised of young professionals representing the many facets of our city.

Author Stefan Merrill Block with Young Literati in the CWE

With the leadership of our steering committee, the Young Literati hosted their first membership event, Friday Night Fright – a Halloween party in the historic downtown Central Library.  Friday Night Fright featured scavenger hunts, spooky tours of the Library’s stacks, and Accidental Demon Slayer Series author, Angie Fox. Most recently, Young Literati member events included a Literary Pub Crawl downtown, partnering with Trailnet in a Literary Bike Ride in the Central West End, and the Young Literati Book Swap, held monthly at Schlafly Tap Room.

Young Literati @ Book Swap (Erica, Michelle, Jenny, and Emilie)

The Young Literati Book Swap takes place on the second Tuesday of every month at Schlafly Tap Room from 6pm to 8pm. The event is free and open to the public – you don’t have to be a member of the Young Literati to come. The Book Swap is a way for young professionals to meet other people interested in literature, music and movies (all of which you can find at the St. Louis Public Library) in a casual environment over drinks or appetizers. Just bring a book you don’t mind parting with and get ready to trade books with other attendees, or you can always choose a book from our Young Literati Traveling Library. Some people occasionally bring more than one book, so sometimes it’s possible to go home with more books than you brought! The Young Literati Book Swap has rotating themes for each month – August’s theme is Memoir, followed by Non-fiction in September, and Mystery/Thriller in October. But we’re not sticklers about it – we won’t throw you out on your ear if you bring a novel during non-fiction month.

Who are your members? Can other people join? How? Who would you like to join your group?

Our members are a diverse collection of young St. Louisans who support the St. Louis Public Library and envision a thriving vibrant downtown. Our members’ interests are as diverse as the Library’s stacks: art, fiction, education, cycling, law, politics, urban renewal, community organizing, finance, urban farming – if you want to talk about a subject, there’s probably another Young Literati who does too. New members can join online at slplfoundation.orgor by calling us at 314.539.0359. Or, drop by our monthly Book Swap to check us out – all are welcome!

Young Literati @ Book Swap

 What do you think about the St. Louis literary community? How does your group contribute?

St. Louis was recently ranked as the 9th most literate city in the country by Central Connecticut State University (click here for the complete list).  In this same study the St. Louis Public Library has consistently ranked in the top five urban libraries in nation for the past seven years. In fact, the St. Louis Public Library is the only library system to hold this distinction. We’re excited to be part of such a vibrant literary community and to play a role in bringing together so many different people interested in literature – everyone is welcome at the Library! Within the lively literary calendar that St. Louis enjoys, sometimes it can be difficult to actually meet a community of people with shared intellectual interests. The Young Literati provides that. Our monthly Book Swap is a much needed forum for young intellectuals to meet, share ideas, and actually talk to one another while building friendships and community.

What is the best way you think people can promote the literary arts?

Get involved! Join the Young Literati, volunteer for the Library, help us get the word out about all the services and programming the Library provides.

What are the Young Literati reading these days? Why?

The Young Literati read a wide range of books. Our Traveling Library is made up of extra books that people keep trading back and forth, some of which have become group favorites. It’s very diverse: mysteries, literary fiction, young adult, memoirs, beach reads, science, bestsellers, fantasy – you name it. In July our theme was historical fiction, so many of us are delving into the past this month. This month we’ll be swapping memoirs to stave off that end-of-summer nostalgia. We’re particularly looking forward to November when we’ll be trading cookbooks to get ready for Thanksgiving and the onslaught of holiday cooking!

Be sure to check out this group on Facebook!

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