Course | Libraries & Liberty Seminar Series (virtual and in-person) [in-progress]

Date / Time

  • April 20, 2022
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • May 18, 2022
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • June 15, 2022
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • July 6, 2022
    6:00 pm - 7:30 pm



  • Tuition for this course is $200, $180 for members of The Rosenbach, The Library Company of Philadelphia, or The Athenaeum of Philadelphia. Not a member? Learn more.
  • Register for all three seminars at a discount rate of $510.
  • This course is limited to participants who are 17 years of age or older.
  • If you have questions, please call (215) 732-1600 or email [email protected].
  • Registration opens for Delancey Society members on March 2, for members on March 9, and for the general public on March 16.


Course Description

How have libraries aided the cause of liberty, in the United States and elsewhere? What kind of liberty, and for whom?  What role do libraries play now in ensuring the continued freedom of people in our country and around the world? The Libraries & Liberty seminar series is a collaboration between The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and The Rosenbach. Each seminar will build on the last as these three cultural institutions use their collections and areas of expertise to engage with these questions. The Books Behind the Declaration, hosted by the Library Company and lead by director Dr. Michael Barsanti, begins the series by looking specifically at the moment of our country’s founding, and how the books in the collection of the Library Company were a part of the conversation and debate. Following this first seminar, The Rosenbach will host Libraries & Liberty: Liberty and Identity in Sept-Nov of 2022. The final seminar, Libraries & Liberty: Strange Meetings (Jan-March 2023), will explore the Athenaeum’s Record of Strangers guest book, demonstrating how 19th century libraries were sites for people to encounter new ideas and interesting ‘strangers.’ We hope you will join us for each of these exciting courses which will illustrate how the collections of all three organizations can be used to tell the stories of how liberty is, and must be, continually renewed. 

Schedule for The Books Behind the Declaration 

  • Wednesday April 20th, 2022 6:00-7:30   Libraries, Books, and the Enlightenment 
  • Wednesday May 18th, 2022 6:00-7:30   The Course of Human Events 
  • Wednesday June 15th, 2022  6:00-7:30   All Men are Created Equal 
  • Wednesday July 6th 2022 6:00-7:30 Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness 
  • *This closing session will be hosted in-person at the Library Company with a reception.