Longtime Marathon library Director Gloria Goodman was feted as the Friends of the Marathon Library 2013 Speakers' Series kicked off Thursday at St. Columba Episcopal Church.
"Gloria loved every little child who went to Stanley Switlik Elementary School," said the school's former principal, Barb Wright. "When we couldn't go to her, she would come to us -- with books."
Goodman, 83, entertained attendees with tales of her world travels, which brought her to the Keys more than three decades ago, to run the Marathon library.
From Kuala Lumpur, to Italy, Hong Kong to Morocco, Goodman's globe-trotting past endeared her to as many attendees as her stewardship of the library.
"I think we have the best library in Monroe County, and it's because of you," said Speakers' Series President Jane Marter, before leading the crowd in a chant of "Hip, hip, hooray."
The series, formerly known as "Books Coffee" recently announced its schedule.
Among the presenters is Ramrod Key businessman Leo Buk Lee Lhu, set to appear on Jan. 17. Lhu's brother Virgo Yee Lee's story is recounted in the book "Born to Kill," about Vietnamese drug gangs in New York City's Chinatown in the 1980s and '90s.
"He's ornery as hell," Marter said. "You never know what he's going to say."
On Jan. 24, Felix Rodriquez, whom Marter calls "America's James Bond," will take the podium. This former CIA operative was part of the team working with the Bolivian Army that captured and killed revolutionary Che Guevara in 1967. He'll discuss and sign copies of his autobiography "Shadow Warrior."
Novelist, Jimmy Buffett photographer and boulevardier Tom Corcoran is scheduled for Jan. 31.
"Tom Corcoran is just lovely," Marter said. "He's a real gentleman, and has been a great friend to us. His Alex Rutledge books are very funny."
Skipping ahead to Feb. 21, Key West author, librarian and musician Hal Howland will discuss his latest book of short stories, "The Jazz Buyer."
And on March 14, award-winning Miami Herald reporter Scott Hiaasen will relate some of his experiences as a big-city reporter.
"I really enjoy his articles in the Herald," Marter said. "I've told him he can talk about whatever he wants. Hopefully he can mention some of the work he's done with (fellow Herald reporter) Marc Caputo. He's a real treat."
Past speakers have included Cuban-American activist Jose Basulto of the Brothers to the Rescue organization, Miami-based attorney Rafael Penalver, known locally for his association with the San Carlos Institute on Duval Street, and Key West poet Rosalind Brackenbury.
The Speakers' Series takes place at 2 p.m. Thursdays. Coffee, tea, and cookies are served at 1:30 p.m., at which time the public is invited to meet the speakers.
The church is at 451 52nd St., Gulfside.
For a complete schedule, visit http://www.keyslibraries.org/2012/friends-of-the-marathon-library-speake...
For more information, call 305-743-5156.