The Future of Public Libraries

February 24, 2017

For nearly 5,000 years libraries, both public and private, have been founded, built, destroyed, and rebuilt. Rich Reyes Gavilan, Executive Director of the Washington, DC Public Library System, joins Jack Martin, Executive Director of the Providence Public Library, in conversation about the changing nature of the library in the 21st century and how it will help shape our futures. “Libraries are not their buildings,” but “engines of human capital.”

In partnership with Providence Public Library


Rich Reyes-Gavilan is the former head of the New York Public Library’s Humanities Department and Chief Librarian for the Brooklyn Public Library. In 2014 he was appointed Executive Director of the D.C. Public Library where, among the projects, he was responsible for the full modernization of the landmarked Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. The son of Cuban immigrants, Reyes-Gavilan has spent his career working in central libraries, thinking through ways in which they can expand their reach and impact. He holds a BA in English from the State University of New York at Albany and an MA in library and information science from the University of Texas at Austin.

H. Jack Martin’s mother volunteered him to work for his local public library in Cornelia, Georgia. Since then, he’s worked in public libraries and non-profits up and down the east coast, from Athens, Georgia to Providence, Rhode Island to The New York Public Library and back to the Providence Public Library as Executive Director. He’s a past-president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, and loves cooking and collecting vinyl records. Jack lives in downcity Providence with his husband James and two lazy cats.

This season was generously supported by the following friends and partners:

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