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Harvard Library Director Will Discuss “Libraries, Books and the Digital Future” Oct. 10

For release: October 1, 2013
For press information, contact Robert Marczynski, 901/678-3516

Dr. Robert Darnton
Dr. Robert Darnton

What will become of traditional libraries and books in the digital age? Dr. Robert Darnton, director of the University Library at Harvard, will share his answer to this question at the University of Memphis’ Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 10. Darnton’s lecture, “Digitize and Democratize: Libraries, Books, and the Digital Future,” will be held in the University Center Theatre at 6 p.m. A reception will precede the lecture at 5:30 p.m. in the theatre lobby.

The event is free and open to the public, with parking available in the nearby Zach Curlin garage.

Darnton contends that in the current digital environment, books and libraries are more important than ever. He believes their importance will increase as the digital future is designed. As he will discuss, there are two paths that the future of books and libraries can possibly travel. One path leads to excessive commercialization with the public ceasing to have access to most of the material that belong in the public domain. The other path leads to the democratization of access to knowledge.

The Digital Public Library of America, which went online April 18, exemplifies the possibilities of this democratization by aiming to make America's cultural heritage available, free of charge, to all Americans through a distributed network of digitized collections from research libraries scattered across the U.S.

In addition to serving as the director of the library, Darnton holds the title of the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard and is the recipient of the National Humanities Medal conferred by President Obama in February 2012. Among his other honors are a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, a National Book Critics Circle Award and election to the French Legion of Honor. He has written and edited many books, including The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History, The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Prerevolutionary France, and The Case for Books.

Darnton’s lecture is co-sponsored by the University’s Helen Hardin Honors Program, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the U of M’s Department of English, and the Rhodes College Spence L. Wilson Chair and Pearce Shakespeare Endowment.  

Darnton will join Lukas Erne of the University of Geneva and Michael Witmore of the Folger Shakespeare Library in a panel discussion on “The Past and Future of the Book” Friday, Oct. 11, at 9 a.m. in the Blount Auditorium on the Rhodes College Campus.

For more information, visit www.memphis.edu/moch.

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