Friday, March 31, 2017

Letter from the New Director

Dear Shareholders of the Library Company of Philadelphia,

Having just finished my first month as the Edwin Wolf 2nd Director, it is a good time to introduce myself.

These first few weeks have been a whirlwind – meeting with staff, board, and members to learn as much as I can about how this amazing organization works from the inside.  As hectic as this time has been, my work has been animated by the pride and excitement that comes from crossing the threshold of 1314 Locust Street every day.  I feel extraordinarily fortunate to serve you as your Director, and to be entrusted with the care of this institution.

Dr. Michael J. Barsanti, Edwin Wolf 2nd Director

In 1976, I was eight years old, and I lived in a suburb of Boston.  I was exactly the right age, and in the right place, to be swept up in Bicentennial fever.  I had a tricorn hat that I got on a visit to the USS Constitution, a cap-firing musket, and the original cast recording of “1776.”  My fascination with the early years of our country has never left me – which just adds to the feeling of fulfillment that comes from being here.

With every day, I am also more aware that my experience and skills have found a place where they are all fully engaged. For me, this position is the culmination of a 25-year journey through the fields of academia, museum management, philanthropy, and fundraising, with occasional explorations into digital entrepreneurship, education, and literary programming.  There are few matters (but there will be a few!) that will cross my desk that I have not had some experience with before.

My vision for the Library Company is that we become a place known for innovation in history, particularly new ways of learning history that will engage the general public.  I believe the best way to do this is to retain our focus on our scholars, and to provide for them a platform to reach broader audiences  Thus we build on what we do best – serve the scholars who are writing the next draft of history.

You, as a member, will be critical to realizing this vision.  The Library Company is built on Membership, and the only reason the organization has survived so long and so well is because of the dedication of its members.  I want to reanimate the spirit of our original Shareholders who sought to learn not just from the library, but from each other.  To this end, we will look closely at our membership program and talk to as many of you as possible, to try to find new ways of serving your needs and connecting you to each other.

Again, I am deeply grateful and honored to hold this unique place, and I look forward to working with you to continue its success and make it a dynamic and relevant organization as it looks ahead to its 300th year.


Dr. Michael J. Barsanti
Edwin Wolf 2nd Director

PS: I hope I will get to meet you at the upcoming Annual Shareholder’s Meeting, which will be held here at the Library Company on May 9, 2017 at 5 pm.

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