All across America, the public library is the only civic institution where the doors are open to all, attendance is entirely voluntary, and everything is free.

The Issue

What does the public library mean to you and your community?

More people are using their library than ever before. Yet our libraries are in danger. With public libraries around the nation facing drastic budget cuts, closures, privatization, and skyrocketing technology costs, now is the ideal time to spark a national dialogue about the American Public Library’s future. Help support the first major documentary about public libraries in America. We can’t do it without you!!




The Story

Free for All: Inside the Public Library is a documentary examining the history, spirit and challenges of the American Public Library.booksThe centerpiece feature-length film chronicles a “day-in-the life” of the American Public Library, across the country from opening to closing time, interspersed with dramatic chapters of national library history. Across America, in over 17,000 public libraries, people are visiting their local branches in higher numbers than ever before, for an ever widening array of life-changing services and experiences. And yet there has never been a major documentary about this vital institution.

What is it about our public library that movements as divergent as the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and religious homeschoolers all extol it as their model of democracy-in-action? Why are people using their local libraries in record numbers? What would our country look like without its libraries? What would be lost? We’ll watch these questions unfold in a rollicking and visually rich cross-country adventure that takes us through America’s grandest and most humble libraries.

The Multi-Platform Project

Free for All: Inside the Public Library has two other major components: a series of short web videos and a national storytelling booth where library users share their personal library stories. We are currently designing an interactive website that will host these short-form videos. In the meantime, we are regularly uploading examples of them to our Facebook page and our YouTube channel. Please click the links to watch. Facebook | YouTube

Every public library is unique to the community it serves. We have shaped our multi-platform project to reflect this. We want to engage at the grassroots level as well as spark a national dialogue about the future of this American institution that has been a cornerstone of our democracy for the past 150 years.

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