York Public Library to host John Palfrey, President of the MacArthur Foundation, on September 9

Aug 10, 2023 | News

York Public Library will host educator, author, legal scholar, and innovator John Palfrey of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for the Library’s inaugural program in the Dan Bancroft Memorial Lecture Series.

“Combating Censorship and Misinformation: Civic Engagement in a Digital Era” will be the first annual event sponsored by The Dan Bancroft Memorial Endowment for Civic Leadership and Engagement at York Public Library, which was created in memory of the Library’s late Board President who passed away in January.

Mr. Palfrey will discuss the sharp rise in censorship and the “crush of mis- and disinformation” as new digital technologies develop, and the repercussions not only for students, but also marginalized communities whose history some would like to erase.  

He will offer insight into the actions that individuals, libraries, and communities can take to protect the freedom to read and to express and discuss ideas, as well as ensure the right of teachers to teach without fear.

The event will take place on Saturday, September 9 at 4PM in the Library’s Upper Level. The talk will be followed by a short Q&A and reception at 5PM. The event is free and open to the public, although registration is required as space is limited. Visit yorkpubliclibrary.org/Palfrey to reserve a seat.

To learn more about The Dan Bancroft Memorial Endowment for Civic Leadership and Engagement, or to make a donation to the fund, please visit yorkpubliclibrary.org/bancroftfund.


ABOUT JOHN PALFREY, the 2023 Keynote Speaker: 

John Palfrey is President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies with assets of approximately $7 billion, and offices in Chicago, New Delhi, and Abuja, Nigeria.

Palfrey is a well-respected educator, author, legal scholar, and innovator with expertise in how new media is changing learning, education, and other institutions. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated a commitment to rigorous thinking, disruption, and creative solutions often made possible by technology, accessibility of information, and diversity and inclusion. Palfrey has extensive experience in social change spanning the education, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Palfrey served as Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover, the only school of its kind to maintain need-blind admissions. During his tenure, the number of faculty members of color doubled, and the student body grew more diverse. He oversaw the creation of the Tang Institute at Andover, which seeks to reform and democratize excellent teaching and learning.

Palfrey was the Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School. In that role, he expanded the Library’s reach and services, finding innovative ways to use digital technologies to enhance the school’s scholarship and teaching.

From 2002 to 2008, Palfrey served as Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, which seeks to explore and understand cyberspace. He is founding board chair of the Digital Public Library of America, and is the former board chair of LRNG, a nonprofit launched and supported by MacArthur.

Palfrey has published extensively on how young people learn in a digital era, as well as the effects of new technologies on society at large. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Diversity and Free Expression in Education. A revised and expanded version of his book Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age, which he co-authored with Urs Gasser, was issued in 2016.

Palfrey is the board chair of the United States Impact Investing Alliance and serves on the board of the Fidelity Non-Profit Management Foundation. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and serves on the governance council. He is the former board chair of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Palfrey holds a JD from Harvard Law School, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and an AB from Harvard College.