IL2009 – Tuesday Keynote: Libraries of the Future

holdengraberPaul Holdengraber, Director, Public Programs, NYPL, interviewed by Erik Boekesteijn (ShanachieTour)

Quotable statements I saved to clarify my thinking, grow ideas from, and trot out later as needed:

The library is a place where ideas are exchanged.

I believe in the friction of dialogue.

Schools are overrated; teachers don’t get to the button of curiosity, otherwise they might turn it off. Most of what I learned, I learned outside of school.

Cognitive theatre – inspire others to read more.

I want to make the library irresistible.

Live from the NYPL – Previously, average age of program attendees was 63; wanted to attract younger people – “I want to do …”  “At the library we dont … ” – Just do it! (and get forgiveness later.)

Flash Rosenberg (artist in residence at NYPL) – conversation portraits

Q. (Erik) How can  you make something surprising and entertaining?

A. (Paul) Why would you want to make an event people don’t go to? It’s hard to get the great authors, politicians, artists, etc. to come to the library; it’s a struggle to do what i do every day – to make it all happen at the library; the resistance can be tremendous. Get to know your audience, what they want, and then give them something that surprises them and, if your’re lucky, surprises you! Make it an event; and less desperate than the other things the library has been doing.

Q. (Erik) Should the users rule? or the library dictate?

A. (Paul) A dialogue. It may not be wise to try to get a younger audience at all costs – gaming – does it lead to anything else?

I love the privacy a book affords you in the company of no one else but yourself and the pages – you and the work, not just the entertainment factor.


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