A new event series, “Think in Public: Libraries in the Life of Cities and Communities,” will kick off Oct. 16

Bobst Interior. Copyright Olivo, Courtesy of NYU Photo Bureau

NYU Libraries will host a conversation in partnership with digital magazine Public Books about the role of libraries in shaping urban life. The event will be held October 16 at NYU’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 8th floor, 70 Washington Square South.

Louise Bernard, Director of the Obama Presidential Center Museum, and Eric Klinenberg, Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge, the Helen Gould Shepard Professor in the Social Sciences at NYU, and author of Palaces for the People, will be in conversation about the issues that arise around civic life and social infrastructure when libraries and cities intersect.

This event is the first in a new series called "Think in Public: Libraries in the Life of Cities and Communities," which will explore the different roles that libraries can play in the lives of cities, individuals, and culture at large. Nicholas Dames, Theodore Kahan Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and Section Editor at Public Books will introduce the series and the event.

“Libraries have long played a crucial role in cultivating the intellectual life of communities. They serve as a refuge for revolutionary ideas and all forms of creative expression. They document the evolution of society and culture to help us better understand the world around us. And they spark our creativity, enabling us to imagine better futures,” said H. Austin Booth, Dean of NYU’s Division of Libraries.

“As one of the most important research universities in the world, NYU is the perfect place to explore the role of libraries on a deeper level. We’re thrilled to introduce this new event series,” she continued.

All events in the series will be a partnership between NYU Libraries, Public Books, and the Institute of Public Knowledge at NYU. Future events will explore the evolving role of the library in the digital age and the responsibility of libraries to serve as public spaces.

“Think in Public: Libraries in the Life of Cities and Communities” will be held October 16 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 8th floor, 70 Washington Square South. Please click here to RSVP. Reporters wishing to attend should contact Sarah Binney at 212.998.6829 or sarah.binney@nyu.edu.

Learn about the speakers:
Louise Bernard, Ph.D., Director, Museum of the Obama Presidential Center

Louise Bernard is the founding Director of the Obama Presidential Center Museum. She was formerly Director of Exhibitions at the New York Public Library. As a Senior Content Developer and Interpretive Planner in the New York office of the museum design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates, she worked on the design team that developed the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, along with other international projects. She previously served as Curator of Prose and Drama for the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale, and as Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University. She received a BA Hons in Drama from the University of Manchester, an MA in Theatre History and an MA in English Literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale. Her current research engages with the literary archive, material culture, museology, public history, and interpretive planning and design.

Eric Klinenberg, Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge, the Helen Gould Shepard Professor in the Social Sciences at NYU, and author of Palaces for the People.
Eric Klinenberg is Helen Gould Shepard Professor of Social Science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life (Crown, 2018), Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (The Penguin Press, 2012), Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media (Metropolitan Books, 2007), and Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2002), as well as the editor of Cultural Production in a Digital Age, co-editor of Antidemocracy in America (Columbia University Press, 2019), and co-author, with Aziz Ansari, of the New York Times #1 bestseller Modern Romance (The Penguin Press, 2015). His scholarly work has been published in journals including the American Sociological Review, Theory and Society, and Ethnography, and he has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, and This American Life.

About NYU Libraries
From the time of its founding in 1831 until 1973, New York University housed its library collections in various campus locations. A major gift from Elmer Holmes Bobst and his wife, Mamdouha, enabled the university to bring its various collections together in a new library on Washington Square in 1973. The striking, 12-story Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, is the flagship of a 10-library system that provides students and faculty members with access to the world’s scholarship. Located on Washington Square South, Bobst Library is at the center of the University community’s intellectual life. When school is in session, Bobst receives 10,500 visits per day; a total of 3 million visits annually.