Students dress up for the heroes and villains library party two years ago.
Thanh-Ha Nguyen / Chronicle File Photo
Students dress up for the heroes and villains library party two years ago.

After a one-year hiatus, the annual library party will be held Feb. 21 despite ongoing renovations to Perkins and Rubenstein Libraries.

Organized by Duke Marketing Club, the party will have a French cabaret theme this year. The club hopes to raise $50,000 to $60,000 to cover the costs of entertainment, catering and other aspects of the event, which they expect 2,500 to 3,000 people to attend.

“Of course, because we didn’t have a party last year, we want this to be the best library party ever, but it will be really similar to the party two years ago in terms of scale,” said senior Rosa Toledo, who is in charge of overseeing the party. “People are focusing on the budget, but they shouldn’t be. They should be focusing on the party itself.”

Last year, the start of renovations to Rubenstein Library made the logistics of hosting the annual party too difficult, said Aaron Welborn, director of communications for Duke University Libraries.

“It was all hands on deck here in the library to start moving people and collections out of that building,” Welborn said.

He noted that although construction persists, the library staff is no longer occupied with the renovations and work is “sort of back to normal,” making the party a feasible option.

Marketing Club faculty advisor George Grody, visiting associate professor of markets and management studies, said the club is dependent on fundraising to finance the party.

“We’ve got to go out and fundraise,” Grody said. “The provost [Peter Lange] is great and donates some, and after his first library party, President [Richard] Brodhead started donating, too.”

Other funds typically come from the Student Organization Finance Committee, the Duke Student Government senate and various academic departments including the markets and management studies program.

The budget covers lighting, furniture, draping and music, which entails both a live band and a DJ. Grody said that the club hopes to raise more than $60,000, because in the past he has needed to put in extra money to cover things. He noted that there is the added pressure of the library needing to be ready and usable for students by the Saturday morning after the party.

Grody said that the library party is a “cool Duke thing” similar to K-ville. He noted that the Board of Trustees meeting is the night before, so trustees will be escorted to the event. President and Mrs. Cindy Brodhead also usually attend.

“Students, undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff get dressed up in cocktail attire,” Grody said. “It’s a time when the University comes together and other than fraternity and sorority formals, it is the only time many undergraduates get dressed up.”

The Marketing Club threw its first library party in 2011, when the theme was “Madmen and Madwomen”—focusing on advertisement culture in the 1950s and 1960s. The club blew up old images of advertisements found in library archives as decorations. Grody said the party is meant to be both educational and fun.

This year, the theme will center on Paris and Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, Grody said.

Welborn said that a library exhibit going up just a few days before the event inspires the theme. The exhibit is about Parisian cabaret in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The theme always has some connection to material we actually have here,” Welborn said. “It is a way of highlighting those materials and doing something fun with them.”

Grody noted that there had been some debate about alcohol being served at the event. People who are of age can get wristbands for up to three drinks. However, Grody noted that drinking is not the focus of the event, unlike other student-organized social events.

“After his first year at the library party, President Brodhead said that alcohol fills a void and if you have a great party, people do not feel the need to drink,” Grody said.