About the Humanities@PPL Initiative
Humanities@PPL promotes critical thinking, civic engagement, and an inclusive understanding of our world through community collaboration, dynamic programs, and professional resources.
- Build meaningful, sustained relationships with diverse community partners through deliberate engagement.
- Increase awareness of how the humanities can improve our quality of life and advance an inclusive democracy.
- Use the library’s role as a hub to disseminate resources in the field and amplify the humanities work of others.
- Enhance the presence of humanities in the library’s collection, focusing on investments that support programming and align with local, national, and international conversations.
Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities
The Humanities@PPL Initiative takes its impetus from a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant awarded to the library in 2007. This award contributed to the creation of a Princeton Public Library Endowment for the Humanities, the goal of which was described in the grant application as follows:
“In an effort to establish itself as a pre-eminent center for Humanities programming and resources in the central New Jersey area, Princeton Public Library seeks to create, promote and sustain a dynamic Humanities program that fosters community collaboration and increases exposure to the Humanities.”
Objectives were identified as outcomes associated with this goal, including the following:
- Creating and sustaining a new role for a Public Humanities Specialist.
- Developing and sustaining public programs in the humanities.
- Cultivating relationships with community partners and stakeholders in the humanities.
- Enhancing the library’s humanities collections.
- Increasing community awareness of the library’s programs and resources related to the humanities.
- Creating a PPL Humanities Council to assess impact and to provide perspective.
- Providing advisory support to promote humanities programming within public libraries.
Humanities@PPL programs are presented with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this programming do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Annual Public Humanities Forum
The signature event of the Humanities@PPL Initiative is the annual Public Humanities Forum. A pilot was organized by the Adult Programming Department in December, 2022; a second event, establishing this program as a yearly tradition, followed in December, 2023. The annual Public Humanities Forum brings the expertise of scholars and professionals into conversation with engaged citizens so that the tribunal of public reason may exercise itself upon the challenge of these experts’ work. This nascent tradition enjoys the support of partnerships with Princeton University‘s SPIA in NJ Initiative, Princeton University’s Humanities Council, and Labyrinth Books, among many other community partners. Check out the panels and keynote lecture from the 2023 Public Humanities Forum on Journalism and Democracy below:
Journalism and Democracy: "Democracy, Citizenship, and the Power of the Powerless"
Journalism and Democracy: "Democratic Societies and Participatory Journalism"
Journalism and Democracy: Public Lecture - Jan-Werner Müller, "Democracy's Critical Infrastructure"
Further Humanities@PPL programs are identified by the NEH logo and a statement of acknowledgement appearing on the events calendar. Humanities@PPL programs may require registration through the events calendar, but they do not require that registrants possess a Princeton Public Library card. Typically Humanities@PPL programs consist of:
- Panels and discussions;
- Author talks;
- Virtual and hybrid scholar-led Book Groups, such as the Historical Fiction Book Group and the Catherine Project Book Group;
- Workshops and master class series;
- Film screenings.