Saturday, June 9, was a glorious, sunny day and the weather was only half the story. That afternoon, Pepperdine University Libraries celebrated Gary Hudson’s donation of the Round Table West Collection to our Special Collections with a garden party at Robert Barbera’s beautiful San Marino home.
Round Table West was a unique Los Angeles institution; a book and authors club that met three times a month for thirty years. Founded by Marylin Hudson and Margaret Burk, these two extraordinary women brought together three authors at every event, with the range of speakers running from Joseph Wambaugh to Walter Cronkite, Steve Allen to Wolfgang Puck, and Dean Koontz to Maya Angelou.Robert Barbera, Chair of the Library Committee of the Campaign for Pepperdine, welcomes guests to his home.
The gathering of the readers and authors who loved the Round Table West at the Barbera home celebrated the donation of nearly 3,000 autographed books, tapes, and program notes from Round Table West meetings.
Dean of Libraries Mark Roosa introduced the afternoon’s speakers by citing Ray Bradbury on libraries: “Libraries raised me. Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”
Roosa continued: “Ray Bradbury would be pleased to know that the future of the library at Pepperdine is bright. Just two months ago we added ACE, our new Center for Academic Excellence, and a new digital publishing platform. Over 25 speakers appeared in the library this year and in August we begin a new season of speakers. Our Special Collections, headed by Melissa Nykanen, is a home for research and collections such as our Malibu Historical Collection and rare books such as the Saint John’s Bible. Today, we are happy to welcome the Round Table West collection to Pepperdine. It’s a wonderful collection of great books, and a celebration of Los Angeles history.”
As in Round Table West gatherings of old, three authors spoke: Pioneering newscaster Kelly Lange regaled the audience with memories of Round Table gatherings, and hilarious newsroom bloopers. Martin J. Smith, editor ofOrange Coast Magazine, and Marylin Hudson’s editor, spoke warmly about her love of literature and his pleasure that the collection would be preserved and used at Pepperdine Libraries. Author Michael Reagan (another member of the Library Committee) spoke eloquently about his father’s love of reading and quoted inspirational speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones: “Readers are leaders.” To conclude the program, Gary Hudson, donor of the Round Table West collection, spoke movingly about Marylin Hudson’s legacy.
Author and commentator Michael Reagan reminds the audience that “Readers are leaders.”Kate Fuglei sang a song uniquely appropriate to the afternoon: “I Could Write a Book.” And a silent auction featured autographed novels from veteran Round Table West authors Joseph Wambaugh and Carolyn Roos Olsen; best-selling novelist Bruce Cameron, Round Table West co-founder Margaret Burk; a baseball signed by astronaut Scott Carpenter at a Round Table event – and one of the last books Ray Bradbury ever signed, a copy of “Dandelion Wine,” which his daughter sent on to us just three weeks before he passed away.
Over the coming months, the Round Table West Collection will be catalogued and archived. Invaluable tapes of Round Table West meetings will be digitized for preservation. The collection will eventually be open for scholars and the public, as part of the renovated Special Collections Wing.
From left: Director of Public Affairs Ken LaZebnik; Tray Burk (son of Margaret Burk, co-founder of Round Table West); Marie Burk; singer/actress Kate Fuglei; Head of Special Collections Melissa Nykanen.