USA / 197’
cinematographer John Davey
editor, sound Frederick Wiseman
Frederick Wiseman’s film, EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library, goes behind the scenes of one of the greatest knowledge institutions of the world. The film reveals the library as a place of welcome, cultural exchange and learning to 18 million patrons and 32 million online visitors annually. There are 92 library branches throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. The NYPL is committed to being a resource for all the inhabitants of this multifaceted and cosmopolitan city. It is accessible, open to everyone and exemplifies the deeply rooted American belief in the individual’s right to know and be informed. The library is one of the most democratic institutions in America—all races, social classes and ethnicities are welcome and are active participants in the life and work of the library. The library strives to inspire learning, advance knowledge and strengthen communities.
Public libraries in America have changed since I was young. I remember going to the library to get books. Libraries now offer so much more. During the shooting of the film I was surprised to discover the vast variety of services, opportunities and experiences libraries provide to anyone who walks through the door. Libraries of today have become community centers with after school programs for kids and adult education courses in languages, citizenship, business and computer programming. Regardless of the current American political scene, the library remains an ideal of inclusion, democracy and freedom of expression.