In 2006 The Library received a grant from The Metropolitan New York Library Council to digitize 24 hours of audio recordings of lectures and interviews presented as part of its public programs series. Since its inception in 1983, the Library's public education programs have featured a wide spectrum of contemporary writers, artists, academics, critics and intellectuals currently working in the United States and abroad and given them a forum in which to explore ideas, new and old, in lectures, interviews, and conversations. Programs are held at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in several spaces, including the Celeste Bartos Forum, which can accommodate 500 people, and the smaller South Court auditorium. Isaac Asimov, Umberto Eco, Henry Louis Gates, Tom Stoppard and Joyce Carol Oates are just a few of those who have spoken at the Library’s programs. Originally, the Library recorded the programs, which now number over 1,200, for archival purposes on a variety of media in analog format, depending on the date of the event. But recently, Library staff has recognized that these recorded programs have wide public appeal to those who cannot attend the live events as well as to researchers, students, teachers, and many others. As a pilot project, Library staff has selected 24 hour-long tapes, representing the "best of these programs," for digitization.
This project's goal is to digitize approximately 24 audiotapes of lectures, conversations, and interviews held at the Library over the last 20 years and put them on the Library's website so as to ensure broad access to local, national and international audiences. Digitization of these recordings, all of which are in analog format, will also enable the Library to preserve their original intellectual content for posterity by reformatting the materials from analog to digital format.