For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

Free Library Launches American Presidency Series

Monthly lectures and children’s programming will run during the 2016 election cycle

PHILADELPHIA, March 15, 2016—The Free Library of Philadelphia is pleased to announce its American Presidency Series, a 10-month program that will examine untold stories of, unconventional approaches to, and contemporary concerns about the world’s most difficult job. The series will put the 2016 election cycle in a broad perspective by examining subjects ranging from the quest for the Hispanic vote to the intersection of sports and politics.

The monthly lecture series will begin immediately after the Pennsylvania primary on April 26 and run through Inauguration Day in January of 2017. The program will also include a book club inspired by this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, with a focus on 1948, the year the city hosted three presidential conventions. In addition, an educational children’s component in the fall months leading up to November’s general election will include mock elections and debates, teen-issue discussions, media education, and other programming aimed at fostering the next generation of informed voters.

“In times like this, we truly embrace our role as a proponent of and resource for civic literacy,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, president and director. “There’s no better, safer space than a library to examine our complex political arena and sort through the multi-faceted issues at hand.”

The American Presidency Series will kick off on April 27 with a visit from renowned presidential historian Richard Norton Smith, whose talk, “To the Worst of My Ability: Lessons in Presidential Failure,” will explore the careers of presidents who took on the toughest job in the world and failed. Other timely topics will include the Washington Post’s Matea Gold on the ramifications of Citizens United; one-time senatorial candidate Shenna Bellows and author Erin Souza-Rezendes on women in politics; and a panel of foreign journalists on covering the election for a global audience.

Upcoming programs:

Wednesday, April 27
Richard Norton Smith ¦ To The Worst of My Ability: Lessons in Presidential Failure

Americans celebrate great presidents.  Failures are often forgotten.  Smith, a noted historian and commentator, discusses leaders who faced the toughest test—and failed.

Wednesday, May 18
Shenna Bellows with Erin Souza-Rezendes ¦ The Best Man May Be a Woman: Challenges and Opportunities for Female Candidates

Shenna Bellows lost her first U.S. Senate race but will likely continue to knock on doors and knock down barriers. Erin Souza-Rezendes is the author of Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women.

Wednesday, June 15
Matea Gold ¦ Follow the Money: Citizens United and the 2016 Election

Washington Post reporter Matea Gold follows the activities of heavyweight donors, from George Soros on the left to David Koch on the right.

Wednesday, July 13
Doyle McManus ¦ Fighting for the Future: The Battle for the Hispanic Vote

Could Hispanic voters decide the 2016 election? McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, separates fact from fiction.

The American Presidency series is made possible by support from the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation; Meg and Roger Berlin; Sally and Dan Gordon; the Peggy and Ellis Wachs Family Foundation; and Laurie Wagman, in memory of Irvin J. Borowsky. 

All events will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Skyline Room of the Parkway Central Library at 1901 Vine Street. For more information about the planned programs, visit

# # #

The 61-location Free Library of Philadelphia system advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. With more than 6 million in-person and millions more online visits annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850