The Nashville Public Library Foundation Announces Virtual Format for 17th Annual Literary Award Weekend

Celebrations, including a Virtual Public Lecture and Stay-at-Home-Gala on Nov. 14, will kick off yearlong community engagement campaign Literacy as the Great Equalizer.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the first time in the Nashville Public Library Foundation (NPLF) Literary Award Weekend’s 17-year history, the celebration’s multiple festivities during the weekend will be entirely virtual. Activities on Nov. 14, which include a Virtual Public Lecture and Stay-at-Home-Gala, will serve as the beginning of a yearlong community engagement celebration of Literacy as the Great Equalizer highlighting the Nashville Public Library Foundation’s (NPLF) commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion through the support and promotion of Nashville Public Library’s (NPL) life-changing literacy programs. The event will be chaired by Wanda Lyle and Gail Williams. 

“At the Nashville Public Library Foundation, we believe that the heart of a strong city is a strong library, which has truly been exemplified during the challenges of the last few months,” said Shawn Bakker, president of the Nashville Public Library Foundation. “As you can imagine, this 17th anniversary of the Literary Award Gala will look quite different, but we promise it will be equally meaningful and memorable. Our events on Nov. 14, followed by curated NPLF and NPL programming in the year ahead, will highlight that we are more than a place for books (though there are plenty of those in print and digital), as we celebrate together how the library serves as a community to connect our neighbors to learn and find inspiration in each other.”


Nashville will have two opportunities to participate in NPL’s Literary Award Weekend on Saturday, Nov. 14 beginning first with the Virtual Public Lecture, which invites the general public to have a free, front row seat to the stories of how diverse families across our city have been impacted by literacy and the work of NPL. The morning’s virtual live stream will feature a montage of family stories each individually introduced by select local authors, including Ruta Sepetys, Higgins Bond and Jamie Sumner, as well as Nashville Reads author Yuyi Morales. This virtual event will also serve as the platform to announce the yearlong activities that will incorporate engagement with two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead, who will be honored at the 2021 Literary Award Weekend.


On the evening of Nov. 14, the annual Literary Awards Gala will be celebrated as a Stay-at-Home-Gala through hosted in-home parties around town. These smaller gatherings will allow patrons to safely celebrate the successes of NPLF and NPL with a few friends or from the comfort of their own couch and will feature a one-hour, fully produced program filled with inspirational library stories, special appearances from past Literary Awards honorees, surprise guests and more.


To learn more about or to participate in the Virtual Public Lecture or Stay-at-Home-Gala, visit




The Nashville Public Library Foundation (NPLF), founded in 1997, is a 501(c)3 organization with focus on supporting and fundraising for Nashville Public Library (NPL). As a department of Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, the library depends on public funding to support operations and maintenance; however, it thrives because of private investment. NPLF has raised over $50 million to advance the impact of NPL programs and initiatives, as well as extend the reach and essential nature of NPL. These gifts allow the library to encourage young minds to read, give teens a safe space to explore state-of-the-art technologies and provide training and resources to adults and new Americans in need of support.