SLIS Discusses the Future of American Public Libraries

February 25, 2016

Visiting Scholar Dr. Wayne Wiegand brings discussion of public libraries to students and faculty

Simmons SLIS thanks Dr. Wayne Wiegand, the SLIS 2016 Allen Smith Visiting Scholar, for bringing the future of the American Public Library to SLIS. Wiegand presented “Thinking Differently About Libraries: Part of Our Lives as a Test Case,” which included research for his book, Part of Our Lives: A People's History of the American Public Library to show major functions of public libraries that have been overlooked and undervalued, for centuries, for their contributions to the daily lives of public library users. In addition to informal discussions with SLIS students, Wiegand participated in a panel discussion, “Reading/Place/Makerspace: The Future of the American Public Library” with Amy Ryan, Chair of the Digital Public Library of America and former director of the Boston Public Library, and Jeffrey Schnapp, Director of metaLAB@Harvard and author of The Library Beyond the Book. In a conversation moderated by SLIS professor Melanie Kimball, the three panelists discussed the present and future role of American public libraries as physical space, information repository and beloved-yet-threatened community institution.

Wiegand visited SLIS from February 22-25, 2016, as part of the Allen Smith Visiting Scholars Program, established in 2009 by Allen Smith’s family to honor the memory of this illustrious teacher and scholar. Allen Smith Visiting Scholars are distinguished practitioners, educators, or researchers renowned for their work in reference, oral history, or the study of librarianship and information service in the humanities.

An interview with Dr. Wiegand will be posted to the SLIS News page within the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out the conversation on Twitter via Storify