Ex Libris

Premiered September 2018

Frederick Wiseman’s film, Ex Libris – The New York Public Library, goes behind the scenes of one of the greatest knowledge institutions in the world and reveals it as a place of welcome, cultural exchange and learning. With 92 branches throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, the library is a resource for all the inhabitants of this multifaceted and cosmopolitan city, and beyond.

Funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), JustFilms/Ford Foundation, Independent Television Service (ITVS), Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, The Pershing Square Foundation, LEF Moving Image, Kanopy, and from viewers like you. Fiscal Sponsorship provided by Utah Film Center.

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Frederick Wiseman on the NYPL

Excerpt from an interview in which director Frederick Wiseman discusses making his film EX LIBRIS - The New York Public Library:

"I’ve always loved and used public libraries for what I can learn and discover and for the surprises and stimulation they offer. I was not familiar, before I made the film, with the depth, scope and range of the New York Public Library and the wide range of services they provide to all classes, races and ethnicities in the main library and its 92 branches.

I was also attracted by the immensity of the archives and collections, the diversity of the programming and the real and impassioned involvement of the staff in offering counseling in education, scholarship, languages and business, to name only a few categories, to everyone who came looking for help.

The NYPL is not only a place where one goes to look for books or consult archives, it is a key institution for the city’s inhabitants and citizens, and particularly in poor and immigrant neighborhoods where the library is more than a passive place where people take out books. The branches have become community and cultural centers where a wide variety of educational activities take place for adults and children. The NYPL embodies the profoundly democratic idea of being open to everyone. All classes, races and ethnicities are connected to the library. For me, the New York Public Library is an illustration of democracy in action, and represents the best of America.

Even if they are in the process of digitizing and putting larger and larger sections of their gigantic holdings on line, I don’t think libraries will be less important in the future. The New York Public Library sponsors such a wide variety of important cultural and educational activities that it will continue to be a place where people want to go to learn, share ideas, become informed and develop their capacities. Those needs will enhance not diminish the importance of the NYPL and all libraries."

Frederick Wiseman

Since 1967, Frederick Wiseman has directed 43 documentaries—dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary human experience in a wide variety of contemporary social institutions. His films include TITICUT FOLLIES, HIGH SCHOOL, WELFARE, JUVENILE COURT, BOXING GYM, LA DANSE, BALLET, LA COMEDIE FRANCAISE, CENTRAL PARK, and CRAZY HORSE.

Wiseman's work has been distributed in theatres and broadcast on television in many countries by his Cambridge, MA company, Zipporah Films www.zipporah.com

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