The New York Public Library Announces 2018 Library Lions

Ron Chernow, Francis Ford Coppola, Jessye Norman, Claudia Rankine, and Elizabeth Strout to be Honored at NYPL's Annual Gala November 5, 2018

JULY 26, 2018 - The New York Public Library has revealed its 2018 class of Library Lions: Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Ron Chernow, Oscar-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, GRAMMY-winning opera singer Jessye Norman, Citizen poet Claudia Rankine, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout.

The five recipients of the institution’s highest honor will be celebrated during the Library Lions gala on November 5, 2018. The highly-anticipated annual event -- which has for over 30 years honored luminaries in the literary and cultural landscape -- will be held in the historic Rose Main Reading Room of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

Previous honorees in the fields of arts, culture, letters and scholarship include Margaret Atwood, President Nelson Mandela, Steve Martin, Martin Scorsese, Zadie Smith, Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey, and many more.

"These five icons have shaped our culture in immeasurable ways," said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx of this year’s class. "We live in a world in which freedom of expression, creativity, independent thinking, and scholarship are not only important, but critical. Whether through song, prose, poetry, or film, this year’s class of honorees has embodied the spirit of Library Lions by inspiring others to learn, grow, and explore. The Library thanks them for their contributions, and is sincerely proud to honor them.”

"My writing career started in The New York Public Library,” said Ron Chernow, whose renowned biography of Alexander Hamilton inspired the Broadway musical and phenomenon “Hamilton.” “During the summer after my freshman year at Yale, I sat in the main reading room of the 42nd Street Library and wrote a godawful novel that was never published. As a result, the library must accept all the credit or blame for my subsequent career. I am therefore thrilled to be numbered among this year's Library Lions."

"As a small child trailing after my older brother, I always loved the lions in front of The New York Public Library,” said Francis Ford Coppola. “My brother had told me a story that the young library workers who were below in the stacks moved on roller skates to find the books for the book elevator. I depicted it that way in my first film, which was shot in The New York Public Library. For me, this is a much-appreciated honor and return."

"One of my many lasting memories of growing up in Augusta, Georgia is of the story-telling by the librarian at the Wallace Branch Library,” said Jessye Norman. “This early acquaintance with books and the wondrous stimulation of the imagination made me a life-long lover of libraries. Books take us on a journey and we come back refreshed, renewed, awakened and ready for more. Long live libraries, these cathedrals of exploration. I am thrilled to become a Library Lion!"

"I am honored to be named a 2018 Library Lion alongside these inspiring artists, writers, and thinkers,” said Claudia Rankine. “In our current moment, it is crucial our cultural institutions be given the utmost support to do their work of fostering independence of thought alongside historical perspectives. The New York Public Library is the center of this kind of service, and inspires me as a teacher, artist, writer and lover of books."

“In these times it is wise for us to recall that from the first days of the NYPL, it was a haven for recently arrived immigrants who found a safe place there to read about the culture of a world they had left, and of the world they were now in,” said Elizabeth Strout. “It is essential to the fabric of a community to have a library that reflects the needs of their people, and who opens the door to a broadening of their lives; NYPL does all this splendidly. I am really so deeply honored to be a Library Lion from this library who reaches out to everyone, no matter who they are or where they came from.”

For more information on the Library Lions and to purchase tickets, visit

Media Contact:

Angela Montefinise, Senior Director of Public Relations

About The New York Public Library

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