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Branches of Recovery: Harnessing Public Libraries to Rebuild a More Equitable City

Event - November 2021

Branches of Recovery: Harnessing Public Libraries to Rebuild a More Equitable City

On November 30th, the Center for an Urban Future held a policy symposium that explored how to unlock the full potential of New York's branch libraries—and make them a centerpiece of the social infrastructure needed to cultivate an inclusive recovery and build a more equitable city.

Tags: libraries economic opportunity economic growth workforce development boroughs immigrants

"Branches of Recovery: Harnessing Public Libraries to Rebuild a More Equitable City"
A Center for an Urban Future Policy Symposium

Replay of the event


Few institutions are better positioned than New York's public libraries to help make progress toward a more equitable city. The city's 217 branch libraries are already helping New Yorkers access opportunity in so many critical areas, from expanding access to early education and closing the digital divide to strengthening minority-owned businesses and bolstering the language, literacy, and technology skills needed to access the good jobs of tomorrow. Too often, however, they are doing so with limited resources and meeting only a fraction of the demand.

This solutions-focused symposium explored how to unlock the full potential of New York's branch libraries—and make them a centerpiece of the social infrastructure needed to cultivate an inclusive recovery and build a more equitable city. This idea-centered policy event featured several high-energy idea pitches, one-on-one fireside chats, and an in-depth panel discussion. 

Speakers included:

  • Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles
  • Council Member Adrienne E. Adams, New York City Council
  • Council Member Carlina Rivera, New York City Council
  • Anthony Marx, President, The New York Public Library
  • Dennis Walcott, President, Queens Public Library
  • Linda Johnson, President, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37
  • Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology, NYU; Author, Palaces for the People
  • Katy Knight, Executive Director & President, Siegel Family Endowment
  • Bitta Mostofi, Former Commissioner, NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Andrew Rasiej, Founder & CEO, Civic Hall
  • Brad Samuels, Founding Partner, SITU Studio
  • Julie Sandorf, President, Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director, Fifth Avenue Committee
  • Gesille Dixon, Senior Director of Branch Programs and Services, New York Public Library
  • Kim McNeil-Capers, Director of Community Engagement and Outreach, Queens Public Library
  • Nick Higgins, Chief Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library

A video of the full event is available here.

This symposium is made possible through generous support from the Charles H. Revson Foundation. We are also grateful for general support from The Clark Foundation, the Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation, the Altman Foundation, and ongoing support from a number of other philanthropic funders.