November 16, 2010
Spotlight on The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) was among the most influential postwar American authors, especially in the field of science fiction.  Best known for his deeply philosophical books such as Slaughterhouse-Five, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (both of which are in our Novel Conversations lending library), Cat’s Cradle, and Breakfast of Champions, Vonnegut’s experimental, darkly humorous writing has influenced generations of world writers.  A native of Indianapolis and descendant of the Vonnegut family of Indianapolis architects, he attended Shortridge High School before attending Cornell University and serving as an infantryman in World War Two.  His literary works, produced in a career lasting more than 50 years, include 14 novels, seven plays, several short story collections, and a children’s book (many are also available through the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library).

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

Housed in the Emelie Building (former home of the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art) at 340 North Senate Avenue in downtown Indianapolis, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library opened to the public on the 88th anniversary of Kurt’s birth.  It is presently only open on the weekends, but will offer full hours starting in January. 

Funded in part with grants from the Lilly Endowment and the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation for both immediate renovation and long-term planning, The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is a public benefit, nonprofit organization championing the literary, artistic, and cultural contributions of the late writer, artist and Indiana native. The Library’s board is creating a library that will also serve as a cultural and educational resource center, functioning as a museum, art gallery, and reading room for readers, writers, and students. In addition, the library will support language and visual arts education for the local community.  For more information, email info@vonnegutlibrary.org.

News and links on Kurt Vonnegut and the Library

“To Be a Native Middle-Westerner” (http://www.indianahumanities.org/pdf/Vonnegut.pdf), Vonnegut’s 1999 article for NUVO Cultural Institute.

“Indianapolis honors its literary native son” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/20/us/20vonnegut.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=kurt%20vonnegut&st=cse), New York Times 19 November, 2010.

“New library will showcase Vonnegut’s life” (http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201011110309), The Indianapolis Star 11 November, 2010.

“Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library opens” (http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/books/ct-books-1113-vonnegut-library-20101112,0,4758763.story) , Chicago Tribune, 12 November, 2010.

“Vonnegut memorial library to open this fall in Indianapolis” (http://www.ibj.com/vonnegut-memorial-library-to-open-in-indianapolis/PARAMS/article/21742), Associated Press 18 August 2010.

Kurt Vonnegut’s official website. (http://www.vonnegut.com/).

The Kurt Vonnegut Society. (http://www.vonnegutsociety.net/vonnegutsociety.net/Welcome.html).

The Lilly Library at IU-Bloomington also has a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s papers and correspondence (http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/lilly/mss/html/vonnegut.html).

Posted In: Spotlight

2 responses to “Spotlight on The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library”

  1. Rodney Allen says:

    KV’s major influence on American writers was not “especially in the field of science fiction.” He was an early pioneer of postmodernism, which was much more important an influence on his his fellow American writers than was his dabbling, early on, in sci-fi. KV said over and over again that he feared being put into the “box” of sci-fi. He was much, much more than that.

    Again, thanks for your help in getting out the word on the KVML.

    Rodney Allen, KVML Board Member

  2. Kitty Smock says:

    What a wonderful use for a vacant building. I read my first Vonnegut novel, PLAYER PIANO, about thirty years ago and have been reminded of it’s current relevance now that jobs are disappearing in the United States. Vonnegut asks, what happens to society in a predominantly unemployed population where even engineers have made themselves obsolete? I’d like to read the book again, after three decades, to see whether recent experience makes the story even more ominous.

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