News / USA

    Stars Rock New York's Public Library

    Libraries try a different approach to reach that new generation of readers

    Entrepreneur and rapper Jay-Z signs a copy of his book, 'Decoded,' for a young fan at the New York Public Library.
    Entrepreneur and rapper Jay-Z signs a copy of his book, 'Decoded,' for a young fan at the New York Public Library.

    A lecture series at the New York Public Library has become so popular that it often sells out in minutes. The crowds range from a few hundred to over a thousand - rock star numbers for a library program - and that's exactly the draw.

    Along with Noble Laureates such as author Toni Morrison, the series includes appearances by musicians like Patti Smith, Keith Richards and Jay-Z. Movie producer John Waters has also participated. Combining music icons and Hollywood notables with celebrated authors reflects the library's new approach.  

    Rapper JAY-Z at the New York Public Library with Cornel West (left) and lecture series director, Paul Holdengräber.
    Rapper JAY-Z at the New York Public Library with Cornel West (left) and lecture series director, Paul Holdengräber.

    Attracting a new generation

    "If libraries want to survive, it will have to find new ways to communicate with the new generation," says Paul Holdengräber, director of the popular lectures series, which is called Live from the New York Public Library. "Because of the onslaught of new modes of communication, we need more and more meeting places. I want to give people an appetite for learning. It shows people that libraries are different things. One has to create new ways of welcoming people into the library. I feel like I'm running a rock concert series to inspire people to read."

    Musician Patti Smith discusses her new book 'Just Kids' with Paul Holdengraber at the New York Public Library on April 29, 2010.
    Musician Patti Smith discusses her new book 'Just Kids' with Paul Holdengraber at the New York Public Library on April 29, 2010.

    Traditionally, people use libraries for a variety of reasons. Alison Leonard, a library science student at San Jose State University, lists her uses.

    "I like them because they provide a whole lot of services I want in terms of an entertainment center. I can go there for books and CDs. I can go there for inexpensive movies to rent. I can go there to look at magazines. I can rent a room and sit and write a paper and a group project. I can go there on a Saturday afternoon to read. I can get access to local newspapers."

    How people use the library can also be impacted by the economy.

    "Many people are going to the libraries to use computers. We are seeing a very heavy increase in usage of computers," says Audra Caplan, president of the Public Library Association. "Library uses increase during economic downturns. That was true during the Great Depression and it is true now. People are flocking to libraries to do research, find jobs, make resumes, anything that has to do with finding a job. Many times now the only way you can apply for a job is online. There are a number of unemployed people coming to fill out their forms online."   

    Looking ahead

    Holdengräber organizes his lecture series at the New York Public Library with an eye toward the future and his success has drawn praise from his colleagues across the United States.

    "I think the NYPL has done a fantastic job. One of the things they have done is they have gone after demographics that aren't traditional library users, so they are seeing the 20-to-40 age range coming in at much larger numbers than they did in the past," says Caplan. "I think a lot of it can be attributed to the larger lecture series that they have."                

    Leonard, the library science student, is also a librarian at  East Los Angeles College. She expects the institutions to continue redefining themselves.

    "It is not set in stone as to what the library will be. Our job is to respond to the user. It is not just a place for books. It is where people come together for learning. There is no subject, including rock and roll, that shouldn't be included," she says. "It can be anything from an art space, podcast studio. It can be a video filming and editing studio. It can be a blogger station. It can become a community playhouse, a gaming station for teens or for adults, anyone who enjoys games."

    While libraries face challenges in engaging new generations of patrons, the experts expect them not only to survive but to thrive.

    The trick, says Holdengräber, is to, "Find out what the people are interested in and give them much more."

    Leonard agrees. "Libraries are forever changing. The library has been around for over 4,000 years. Whenever you do polling, people love the libraries. The library is going to respond to what the user wants and having events in the library is a great way to use the space."

    Holdengräber plans to continue creating programs that surprise people. And sometimes, they surprise him in return.  "We had guitar icon Keith Richards speak at the library and when he was a child, wanted to be a librarian."


    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora