In spite of the epic snowstorm that walloped the Great Lakes region and Northeastern seaboard last week, the Toronto Public Library Foundation still expects that its 8th Annual Booklovers Ball held on February 7 will raise more than C$500,000 for programs and resources.

About 600 guests mingled with 60 prominent authors at the black-tie event at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Individual tickets sold for $750 and corporate tables for $7,500 to C$10,000, giving those who attended a chance to dine with a celebrity author, such as author, businessman and recently released inmate Conrad Black; CBC and NPR host (and first-time author) Jian Ghomeshi; novelist Lawrence Hill, writer Gretchen Rubin, author (and emergency room physician) Dr. Vincent Lam and writer and actress Meg Tilley. The evening also included a cocktail reception and silent auction.

After dinner, guests were treated to some literary-inspired entertainment as several novels were brought to life in performances. Actress Megan McCandless gave the crowd shivers with her eerie monologue from Andrew Pyper’s latest novel, The Demonologist (Simon & Schuster). Acclaimed pipa virtuoso Liu Fang’s string performance transported listeners to 12th-century China, where Guy Gavriel Kay’s newest novel, River of Stars, (Penguin Group Canada) is set. And a young ballerina, with her skin painted to resemble Degas’ famous bronze sculpture, helped dramatize Cathy Marie Buchanan’s Belle Époque Parisian novel The Painted Girls (HarperCollins Canada).

Since it’s inception in 1997, the Toronto Public Library Foundation has raised more than C$60 million. “The character and quality of a city depend on the resources available to its people — a great library is a fundamental requirement for any city to achieve its full social and economic potential,” said Heather Rumball, president of the Toronto Public Library Foundation. “Through the generous support of Book Lover’s Ball authors and attendees, the Foundation is able to support Library programs and resources that enrich millions of lives.”

Comprised of 98 branches, the Toronto Public Library saw 19 million visitors borrow 33 million items in 2011. In recent times, government funding has been reduced – something that has been impacting libraries the world over in recent years. Funds raised by the foundation are used to enhance collections and services, update technology and revitalize community spaces.