As we face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the Newberry’s community remains active online, finding meaning and comfort in digital collections, virtual programs, and interactive opportunities. Of course, we’re looking forward to safely welcoming the public back into the library, though the Newberry will stay closed until the State of Illinois eases restrictions on gatherings at cultural institutions.
I’m writing today with an update on how the Newberry will handle summer programming.
- We will not be able to hold the Newberry Book Fair this summer because of the current prohibition against large gatherings in Chicago. We’ll miss seeing our volunteers and shoppers this July, but we need to ensure the health and safety of our staff and our patrons.
- The Bughouse Square Debates will not take place in Washington Square Park this year, but we’re working with our partners to explore options for hosting the event online. Even though the park itself is an essential component of the Bughouse Square Debates, we’re looking forward to experimenting with new modes of engagement and welcoming new audiences online. Look for updates about “Virtual Bughouse” in the coming weeks.
- Adult Education Seminars also will be moving online this summer. We’ll release the schedule of virtual classes soon. Many of our instructors are hard at work, planning seminars that will be as engaging online as they are in person.
- Our ongoing Virtual Public Programs also provide opportunities for you to interact with Newberry staff and collections. We’’ll include information about upcoming programs in the Newberry e-news every Thursday.
Rest assured that we are making plans for this fall to ensure a safe environment for visitors in the Newberry’s reading rooms, exhibition galleries, and event spaces. In addition, we’ll augment our programs with expanded digital access so more Newberry events may be enjoyed from a distance.
In the coming weeks and months, we will share details regarding our plans for reopening the library.
The humanities give us tools for thinking deeply about public health, economic crisis, equity, labor, immigration, grief, and trauma. They also bring us joy, as important as ever during these challenging times. The Newberry staff remains committed to advancing our collective understanding of the world—online, for the moment, and, eventually, in person again.
President and Librarian