The experts the makers of the documentary Free for All: Inside the Public Library are consulting include Nicholas A. Basbanes, Ph.D.; Mathew Battles, Ph.D.; Robert Dawson; Nancy Pearl; Robert D. Putnam, Ph.D.; Wayne A. Wiegand, Ph.D.; and Judy Yung, Ph.D. A cultural historian, journalist, and U.S. Navy veteran, Dr. Basbanes is the author of A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books was a finalist in 1995 for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
In 2001, HarperCollins published Patience & Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture, which prompted the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and historian David McCullough to write that “Nicholas Basbanes has become the leading authority of books about books and this, his latest, is a jewel.” The next year, Henry Holt published Among the Gently Mad: Perspectives and Strategies for the Book-Hunter of the 21st Century.
HarperCollins published Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World in 2005. Fine Press published Editions & Impressions in 2007.
Back in 2003, Yale University Press commissioned Dr. Basbanes to write a centennial history of the Yale University Press, A World of Letters, which was published in 2008.
Alfred A. Knopf published his most recent book, On Paper: The Everything of Its Two Thousand Year History, in 2013. He financed his research and composition of it through a 2008 National Endowment for the Humanities research fellowship.
This year, it was one of three finalists for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The American Library Association named it a notable book of the year.
Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Mother Jones, and Bloomberg News all named it one of the best books of the year and, and the National Post up in Canada named it a “favourite” book of 2013. This year, Vintage Press issued a paperback edition. He is now working on a new book for Alfred A. Knopf, a dual biography of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) and his wife, Frances (“Fanny”) Appleton Longfellow (1817-1861).
Serendipity Films, LLC stated, “Basbanes will share his vast knowledge and passion for books and library culture, including his exposé of the SFPL [San Francisco Public Library] book dumping scandal in the late 1990s and how that exposé influenced the way libraries around the country curate and deal with growing collections.”
Dr. Battles is the author of Library: An Unquiet History, published by Norton in 2003, and co-founder of HiLoBrow, an online journal of cultural criticism. He is the Principal and Associate Director of Harvard University’s metaLAB, a research and teaching unit the motto of which is “Exploring and expanding the frontiers of networked culture in the arts and humanities.”
He wrote the official history of Harvard’s Widener Library and is a contributor to the Oxford Companion to the Book. W.W. Norton & Company will published his next book, Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word, in 2015.
Serendipity Films, LLC stated, “Mathew Battles will be our primary technology scholar, leading us through digital humanities ideas and strategies. We are discussing with him Free for All’s participating in a specific metaLAB initiative at Harvard: the Library test Kitchen and a new data-visualizing project with the working title of Library Observatory.”
Mr. Dawson, a world-famous photographer, teaches at Stanford University. He is author of The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, which Princeton Architectural Press published this year.
Serendipity Films, LLC stated, “Since 1994 Dawson has been driving around the country photographing hundreds of libraries in 38 states. Dawson has shared his manuscript… with us and agreed to let the project use his photographs in the film.”
Nancy Pearl, who earned a B.A. and M.L.S. from the University of Michigan and M.A. in History from the University of Oklahoma, worked as a librarian or bookseller in Detroit, Tulsa, and Seattle. She developed the program “If All of Seattle Read the Seam Book” (which inspired the Chicago Public Library’s “One Book, One Chicago” and similar programs around the U.S.) in 1998 while she served as Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Book, she is now a regular commentator on books for N.P.R.’s Morning Edition and columnist for Publishers Weekly.
Ms. Pearl has written a series of books in which she recommended books: Book Lust, published in 2003; More Book Lust, published in 2005; Book Crush: Reading Recommendations for Kids and Teens, published in 2007; and Book Lust to Go: Recommended for Travelers, Vagabonds and Dreamers, published in 2010. She is the only librarian with her own action figure.
Serendipity Films, LLC stated, “Pearl has joined the filmmakers on panels at library conferences and shared her insights about book ordering policies, library politics and the general public’s reading habits. She will share her experiences and success getting the City of Seattle into one big book club as we plan our outreach and community engagement strategy.”
A political scientist, Dr. Putnam is the Peter & Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and 2013-14 Distinguished Visiting Professor at Denmark’s Aarhus University. Dr. Putnam is the author of fourteen books, including Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community, published in 2000; Better Together: Restoring the American Community, published in 2003; and American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, published in 2010.
He has served as an advisor to American and French presidents and British prime ministers. The Sunday Times of London called him “the most influential academic in the world today.” In 2006, he won the Skytte Prize, one of the world’s highest accolades for a political scientist, and in 2012, he received the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities. He is a former Dean of the Kennedy School of Government.
Serendipity Films, LLC stated, “Professor Putnam will review the final script for our contemporary storylines prior to beginning production and will watch and provide feedback on a rough cut.”
Dr. Wiegand is Emeritus F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies & Professor of American Studies at The Florida State University (F.S.U.) and President of the Friends of F.S.U. Libraries. He wrote History of A Hoax: Edmund Lester Pearson, John Cotton Dana and “The Old Librarian’s Almanack,” published in 1979; Politics of an Emerging Profession: The American Library Association, 1876-1917, published in 1986; “An Active Instrument for Propaganda:” American Public Libraries During World War I, published in 1989; Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil Dewey, published in 1996. The last three of these books received the G.K. Hall Award for Outstanding Contribution to Library Literature.
With Donald G. Davis, Jr., he co-edited The Encyclopedia of Library History, published in 1994; with James Danky, he co-edited Print Culture in a Diverse America, published in 1998; with Anne Lundin, he co-edited Defining Print Culture for Youth: The Cultural Work of Children’s Reading, published in 2003; and with Danky, he co-edited Women in Print: Essays on the Print Culture of American Women from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, published in 2006. He wrote, with Shirley A. Wiegand, Books On Trial: Red Scare in the Heartland, published by University of Oklahoma Press in 2007. Dr. Wiegand also wrote Main Street Public Library: Community Spaces and Reading Places in the Rural Heartland 1876-1956, published in 2011. His upcoming book is entitled A Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library.
Serendipity Films, LLC stated, “Over the past year a half Wiegand has guided our reading and introduced us to many other scholars. Wiegand’s discoveries have shaped a central tenant of Free for All: that Americans have always used their public libraries, not only as a means for accessing information, but as community centers. He will continue to review scripts for our historical chapters and provide feedback on rough cuts. We have filmed preliminary interviews with him and will film on location in the Boston Public Library.”
Dr. Yung is Professor Emerita in American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her areas of specialization are oral history, women’s history, Sino-American history, and Asian-American history.
She earned a B.A. in English Literature and Chinese from San Francisco State University; a M.A. in Library Science from the University of California, Berkley; and Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Before she entered academia, she worked as a librarian at the Chinatown Branch of the San Francisco Public Library from 1969 to 1972 and the Asian Branch (originally called the Asian Community Library) of the Oakland Public Library from 1976 to 1981.
In addition, she served on the San Francisco Library Commission and on the Board of Directors of the Chinese Culture Center and Chinese Historical Society of America. Her published works include Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco and Unbound Voices: A Documentary History of Chinese Women in San Francisco. She edited Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 by H. Mark Lai and Genny Lim and The Adventures of Eddie Fung: Chinatown Kid, Texas Cowboy, Prisoner of War by Eddie Fung.
Serendipity Films, LLC stated, “Yung has advised us on local library history and on the Chinese experience in San Francisco and will be interviewed on camera about her experiences as the first Branch Manager of Chinese descent at the SFPL Chinatown branch.”
Serendipity Films, LLC needs $75,000 to cover production costs of Free for All: Inside the Public Library and have turned to crowdfunding (public conscription via the Internet) through the platform Kickstarter. They are in the final week of the Kickstarter campaign as the deadline is Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at midnight.
The filmmakers state, on the Kickstarter campaign Web page, “Kickstarter is all or nothing. We must reach our goal of $75,000 in 39 days in order to receive any of the pledges at all, which means your credit card will not be charged for the amount you specify unless we get all $75,000 or more in funding by midnight on October 26, 2014.” As of 5:08 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, the Kickstarter campaign had reached $63,176 with 702 backers.