2021 - 2022 Pen Pals Season Line-Up
In-person & Virtual Tickets Now On Sale!
Friends of HCL members receive $5 off per ticket (phone sales only).
Check out the Friends Fall Events Guide!
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Friends of the Hennepin County Library is committed to making in-person attendance at our Pen Pals events as safe as possible during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Our current policies are as follows.
- Masks are required for all guests inside Hopkins Center for the Arts (HCA.)
- To attend an in-person Pen Pals event, all guests are required to have proof of a complete COVID-19 vaccination series or a negative test result taken within 72 hours prior. Find a vaccination location near you here.
- Acceptable documentation to provide at event entry includes: physical vaccination card, photo of the card on a mobile device, or similar proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test. Ticket holders who do not comply with these policies will not be admitted.
- A virtual backup option will be provided to all ticket holders for events in the 2021-22 season, should they be unvaccinated or feel safer staying home. Ticket holders to both sessions will automatically receive access to a livestream of the evening event, and a link to an on-demand recording will be sent the day following. This recording will be viewable for three days.
- HCA ventilation systems were updated to improve filtration and circulation in November 2020. These updates bring the auditorium and venue up to air purification standards like those found in commercial aircrafts.
- Ticketed food and wine receptions following evening lectures will be suspended until further notice. Book signings following evening and morning lectures will only continue at the discretion of the author, and updates will be communicated either via email prior to each event, or from the stage.
- Hand sanitization stations will be available throughout the HCA lobbies.
The above policies are subject to revision based on current recommendations from health agencies. Ticket holders will be notified via email with any event protocol updates. Ticket purchases are only refundable in the unlikely case that both the in-person and virtual events are canceled.
Thank you for your partnership in keeping all Pen Pals audience members safe and healthy.
Friends of HCL strives to make our Pen Pals lectures accessible to all patrons. Below is a description of available services and amenities. Please call our box office ((612) 543-8112) with questions.
Open Captioning (OC) provides a live, real-time transcription of Pen Pals lectures. The service is open to all audience members for viewing without any special equipment necessary. An open captioning monitor screen will be located on the right-hand side of the main floor for all lectures.
Closed Captioning (CC) provides a similar transcription for virtual events on Zoom. To activate during a Zoom presentation, click the icon and select “Show Subtitles.”
Assistive Listening Devices
Assistive Listening Devices amplify and clarify sound by cutting down ambient noise, and may be used from any seat at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Devices, headphones, and earbuds may be borrowed from the Pen Pals box office at all lectures.
Accessible and companion seating can be reserved on the main floor and balcony levels of Hopkins Center for the Arts. Please call our box office directly to purchase accessible and companion seating.
Accessible parking is available at the rear of Hopkins Center for the Arts and on the street level of the public parking ramp.
All in-person Pen Pals programs are held at the Hopkins Center for the Arts—offering great sound and sight lines for the entire house. Just 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and 28 minutes from Saint Paul, Hopkins Center for the Arts offers free convenient parking as well as numerous nearby restaurants. Please click the button below to download a detailed directions and parking guide.
Hopkin Center for the Arts
Hopkins, MN 55343
Worn copies of a favorite book clutched in a hand; a heart giddy with joy upon getting a favorite author’s photograph; a car ride home, lively with discussion about an author’s story and writing process--these once-in-a-lifetime moments and connections are what bring audiences back to Pen Pals year after year.
Starting in 1997, Pen Pals has brought some of the best and brightest literary minds to the Minnesota literary community, fostering thought-provoking conversation, creating genuine connection, and building community through a shared love of books.
Pen Pals has been an important fixture in the Minnesota literary community as well as a source of funding for the library. Proceeds from these talks with masters of contemporary literature benefit Hennepin County Library, helping to bring resources and opportunities to people from across the county.
What difference does a ticket make?
Since 1997, Friends of HCL has brought the best and brightest in literary talent to the Pen Pals stage. Explore the legendary writers featured in past seasons.
2020 - 2021
2019 - 2020
2018 - 2019
Min Jin Lee
2017 - 2018
2016 - 2017
2015 - 2016
Terry Tempest Williams
2014 - 2015
Joyce Carol Oates
Doris Kearns Goodwin
2013 - 2014
Luis Alberto Urrea
Tracy K. Smith
2012 - 2013
2011 - 2012
2010 - 2011
2009 - 2010
William Kent Krueger
2008 - 2009
2007 - 2008
2006 - 2007
2005 - 2006
Alexander McCall Smith
2004 - 2005
Anna Deavere Smith
Stephen L. Carter
2003 - 2004
Naomi Shihab Nye
2002 - 2003
2001 - 2002
2000 - 2001
1999 - 2000
1998 - 1999
Mary Higgins Clark
1997 - 1998
Doris Kearns Goodwin