In this conversation with OHNY executive director Gregory Wessner, Brian Bannon, the Merryl and James Tisch Director at the New York Public Library, discussed the importance of access and information, and how urban libraries serve as civic anchors for their neighborhoods.

Brian Bannon is the chief librarian responsible for directing NYPL’s 88 neighborhood branches as well as the Library’s educational strategy. Prior to joining NYPL, he was most recently commissioner and chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Library, serving as chief library officer for one of the largest urban public library systems in the world.


Open House New York’s Conversations on the City offers diverse perspectives on the issues defining New York’s recovery, resilience, and reopening in the aftermath of COVID-19. The series was launched at the onset of the pandemic in April 2020 amid a moment of uncertainty about the future of urban life, ultimately drawing together an audience of 10,000 over the subsequent months. Organized around a broad theme or topic, the series has a point of view: urban life brings an abiding joy. What makes cities continue to thrive, what propels them forward, is a shared need for human connection; this is what cities make possible and it will always prevail over whatever challenges may arise.