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Bookish Venues for Bestselling Events

By M+E Staff

Want to add a literary flavor to your next event–literally? Host a gathering at a library to add a scholarly tone to your fête. You could even go all-in with a literature-themed dress code. Here are some suggestions for a “novel” approach to event planning.

Houston Public Library

The Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building offers an elegant setting with a rich history. The 1926 building features Spanish Renaissance architecture that reflects Texas’s Spanish-Mexican heritage. The building hous- es the Houston Metropolitan Research Center and is named for the first head librarian of the Houston Public Library. As director of the library, Ideson oversaw its growth through two world wars and the Great Depression.

The building’s romantic interior features reflective Spanish brick floors, high arched windows and a grand staircase. Artwork includes an original mural depicting the first fundraising campaign for the library, which took place in the 1800s. Planners  can  rent the Tudor Gallery, which is framed by large marble pillars and oak trim, and crowned by an elaborately detailed ceiling. The Reading Room, with its original wood fixtures, is also available for private events.

The African American Library at the Gregory School was built in 1926 as Houston’s first public school for African Americans. Today, it’s home to treasured archival collections of African American history. The building features a glass lobby with city skyline views, pavers embedded with traditional West African symbols and a 3-foot-tall wall of pat- terned oxidized copper panels. Groups can reserve its two meeting rooms, the foyer or the reference room.

The library’s historic Clayton House was built in 1917 by William Lockhart Clayton as a private residence. It was deeded in 1958 to the City of Houston to be used as a library and today houses the system’s genealogy collection. The Victorian home includes a number of spaces for gatherings.

And the system’s Central Library includes a variety of spaces for private events, including the 2,100-square-foot Program Place and the 1,781-square-foot concourse Meeting Room.

Please note: Not all spaces are available for use by private groups—some are restricted to civic, educational and nonprofit organizations. Be sure to check the meeting room guidelines provided online.

Austin Central Library

Austin’s Central Library, located in the city’s Seaholm EcoDistrict, has a number of spaces to choose from when planning a private event or meeting. The building overlooks Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek and is across from the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. The library’s 4,749-square-foot special event center offers floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake, prefunction space, a coatroom, greenroom, a covered patio area for open-air networking, and barn-style doors leading backstage. The space includes projectors, an in-room audio system, lecterns, a stage, chairs and tables. It can accommodate groups of up to 474.

Planners can also reserve the lake-view roof garden, which includes a deck. The 3,600-plus- square-foot garden—which features a live oak as well as other indigenous plants and trees—includes indoor seating for inclement weather, and the deck is partially shaded. It can accommodate up to 225 for a reception.

For intimate outdoor gatherings, the library’s amphitheater features stone seating and excellent acoustics for readings. It can accommodate 25.

The library’s gallery features rotating art displays. Located on the second floor of the building, the room boasts views of the lake. It can accommodate up to 175 for a reception or 100 for a banquet.

A demonstration area was created for cooking presentations, but it can also be used for lectures or panels, offering fixed seating for 80.

George W. Bush Library and Museum 

Your guests will get the presidential treatment at this venue  located on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Spaces can accommodate up to 400 guests and include the 2,850-square-foot main lobby, the 2,550-square-foot Freedom Hall and the 4,692-square-foot Ceremonial Courtyard, which is adding a 4,500-square-foot climate-controlled clear tent this spring. In addition, on-site restaurant Café 43 is available for seated dinners of up to 96 and indoor-outdoor receptions for up to 150 guests.

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum houses millions of documents and records from the George W. Bush administration. The venue’s exhibits include a full-size replica of the Oval Office, “Nation Under Attack,” and the interactive Decision Points Theater.