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