September 17, 2010

Friends of Morris Library to hold annual dinner

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For 50 years, the Friends of Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has played a significant role in the library’s success, and the organization will hold its annual gala at the library Sept. 25.

The public is welcome to attend.

The event begins with a reception in the first-floor rotunda at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:45 p.m. in the Hall of Presidents. Author Taylor Pensoneau will be the keynote speaker for the evening. A Belleville native, he holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and was a longtime political correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Pensoneau also enjoyed a long career with the Illinois Coal Association.

He has written a fictional mystery and several biographies, including “Brothers Notorious: The Sheltons: Southern Illinois’ Legendary Gangsters,” a narrative of Southern Illinois outlaws Carl, Bernie and Earl Shelton. His newest tale is “Dapper and Deadly: The True Story of Black Charlie Harris,” the tale of the man who was on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List” and eventually served time in prison for a double murder. Harris frequently gets credit for helping bring down the Shelton gang.

The Friends of Morris Library also announces its annual Delta Award winner, recognizing someone who has written, edited, or published about Southern Illinois. Jeff Biggers, author of “Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland,” is this year’s recipient. The book tells the story of the impact of coal mining on Southern Illinois, woven through family stories and investigative reporting. An editor, journalist, playwright, native of the region and author of three books, Biggers tells of the effects coal mining has had on the environment and society. He is unable to attend the banquet to receive his award.

“For many years, the Friends of Morris Library have supported the administration, faculty and staff of the library,” said Thyra Russell, vice president of the organization and chair of the gala dinner. “We’ve raised and contributed funds to assist in purchasing books and other materials and have helped fund various activities, such as the upcoming exhibit on Global Health. Most recently, a campaign was launched to raise funds for a library patio -- an idea that arose when library employees were planning the ‘new’ Morris Library. This patio will be opened and dedicated on Oct. 8.”

Tickets for the Sept. 25 dinner are $75. The deadline to RSVP is Wednesday, Sept. 22. For tickets or more information about the Friends of Morris Library, contact Kristine McGuire by e-mail at or by calling 618/453-1633.