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LIVE from the NYPL & the Maison Française of Columbia University present the Future of Libraries: Paul LeClerc and Bruno Racine


Presidents of the New York Public Library and Bibliothèque nationale de France in conversation on Friday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m.

LIVE from the NYPL and the Maison Française of Columbia University bring together two library heavyweights: Paul LeClerc, president of The New York Public Library and Bruno Racine, president of the Bibliothèque nationale de France for a wide-ranging conversation on the future of libraries in an increasingly digital environment.

The program takes place Friday, April 29 at 7:0o p.m. in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Library’s StephenA.SchwarzmanBuilding (Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.)  Tickets are $25 general admission, $15 for Friends of the Library, seniors and students with valid I.D., and may be purchased via or by calling 1.888.71.TICKETS.

This conversation celebrates Paul LeClerc’s 18-year presidency at the NYPL, from which he will retire this June. Under his leadership, the NYPL has seen the creation of
a digital library, launching the first website, and continues to oversee the digitization of the Library’s catalog; its 700,000 image Digital Gallery; and the vastly growing field of downloadable e-books, videos, and music. The Library, which recently created an integrated catalog of research and circulating materials representing 14 million items, has also entered into new partnerships with Google, Flickr, Apple (iTunes U), Kirtas Technologies, and numerous others that provide expanded access to the Library’s resources.  All of the Library’s branches now provide free wireless access to the Internet, and the Library offers 3,600 free public-access computers, with training for those new to computers.

Dr. LeClerc is currently working with the Library’s Board of Trustees and staff to implement new strategies establishing the “Library for the Future” as a leader in growing New York City’s human and intellectual capital—offering tailored services to fulfill diverse user needs, developing its leading online presence, and adapting the organization to provide seamless and efficient service through a single system of 89 libraries.  The strategies include a bold new plan to create a central library with combined research and circulating collections in the landmark StephenA.SchwarzmanBuilding.  Dr. LeClerc has also overseen two highly successful fundraising campaigns.  The Library is now securing the funding for a $1.2 billion transformation project.

Paul LeClerc earned his Ph.D. in French literature with distinction at ColumbiaUniversity, writing a dissertation on Voltaire, and he is the author of five scholarly volumes on writers of the French Enlightenment. Dr. LeClerc taught at UnionCollege from 1966 through 1979, where he chaired the Department of Modern Languages and the Division of Humanities. He joined CUNY as University Dean for Academic Affairs, and later became Provost and VP for Academic Affairs of Baruch College In 1988, Dr. LeClerc was appointed President of Hunter College. He has presided over the New York Public Library since 1993. Among his many honors, Dr. LeClerc's contributions to French culture earned him the Order of the Academic Palms (Officier) in 1989 and the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier) in 1996.

Bruno Racine is president of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, France's National Library in Paris that traces its origin to the royal library founded at the Louvre 1368. His previous positions include cabinet appointments in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister’s office, Director of the FrenchAcademy in Rome, and President of the Centre Pompidou.

About LIVE from the NYPL
LIVE from the NYPL is a series of vigorous and provocative conversations, debates, and performances at The New York Public Library curated by Paul Holdengräber, Director of LIVE from the NYPL.

Participating speakers in the recent seasons have included Ferran Adrià, Reza Aslan, Paul Auster, Tina Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Angela Davis, Shepard Fairey, Umberto Eco, Frank Gehry, Werner Herzog, Christopher Hitchens, Jay-Z, Maira Kalman, Spike Lee, Lawrence Lessig, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Norman Mailer, Javier Marías, Frank McCourt, W.S. Merwin, Toni Morrison, Nandan Nilekani, Keith Richards, Salman Rushdie, Patti Smith, Zadie Smith, Derek Walcott, John Waters, The Velvet Underground, Slavoj Žižek, and many others. For more information, please visit or email

About the Maison Française of Columbia University
Since its founding in 1913, the Columbia Maison Française has played a key role in exposing New York audiences to leading French and Francophone scholars, writers, artists and political figures, and promoting rich French-American exchange across the disciplines on a wide range of topics. The Maison Française has hosted many renowned visitors over its history, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Edith Piaf, Eugene Ionesco, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Jacques Derrida. More recent visitors include Pierre Boulez, Marc Fumaroli, Aminata Sow Fall, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Maison Française has been directed since September 2009 by Shanny Peer, and Paul LeClerc chairs its distinguished Advisory Board. For more information, please visit


Contact:  Jennifer Lam, 212.592.7708