As part of Harvard’s 375th anniversary and in celebration of its close ties to the Boston and Cambridge communities, the University has developed a lecture series that will bring some of Harvard’s most renowned thinkers to speak at neighborhood libraries.  Developed in partnership with the Boston and Cambridge public libraries, the John Harvard Book Celebration program will reach all 34 library branches in Boston and Cambridge.  All events will be free and open to the public.

Harvard President Drew Faust, a Civil War scholar and National Book Award finalist, will officially launch the program on Jan. 10 with a lecture at the Main Library in Cambridge.  She will also deliver a lecture at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square on April 10.

“Harvard has been an outstanding community partner for 375 years, and I am so pleased that the University has chosen to include the entire Boston community in its anniversary celebration,” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “This lecture series is an incredible opportunity for residents and families all across Boston to interact with some of the world’s brightest minds at their own neighborhood library.”

Harvard faculty members will discuss topics ranging from why violence has declined, to theater in the 21st century at branch libraries in the two cities. Speakers will include some of Harvard’s most prominent faculty, including Steven Pinker, one of the world’s leading authorities on language and the mind; Diane Paulus, critically acclaimed artistic director of the American Repertory Theater and a Tony Award winner; and Maria Tatar, a German cultural studies scholar who unlocks the secrets of children’s literature and folklore.

The University also will donate 400 new books to the two cities’ library systems.

“Harvard was named in honor of John Harvard’s gift of 400 books,” said Faust, “and as the custodian of the largest academic library in the world, we see this series as a celebration of the book, of the power of the libraries, and of our shared 375-year history with Boston and Cambridge.”

Harvard staff, faculty, and students also will take part in library activities aimed at children and youths, including story hours, college readiness discussions, and other events.

“This is part of an ongoing partnership between the Cambridge Public Library and Harvard that has deep roots in history and benefits so many residents,” said Susan Flannery, Cambridge’s director of libraries. “We are delighted to be partnering with Harvard again on a program that brings Harvard’s thinkers beyond campus to the community.”

“This lecture series is an incredible opportunity for residents and families all across Boston to interact with some of the world’s brightest minds at their own neighborhood library,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

“All of us at the Boston Public Library are proud to be part of Harvard’s 375th birthday celebration,” said Amy E. Ryan, president of the Boston Public Library. “Not only is Harvard our valued neighbor, it is a true partner in serving as a community gathering place and center of knowledge for readers, researchers, and learners of all kinds.”

Faust’s lecture at the Cambridge library is titled “Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian.” She will also discuss her most recent book, “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

“We are always seeking ways to share our strengths with our Cambridge and Boston neighbors, and how better to do that than by bringing Harvard thinkers to our local libraries,” said Christine Heenan, vice president of Harvard Public Affairs & Communications.

For more information on the series, including the names of the faculty speakers, the lecture dates, the locations, and the activities, visit http://375.harvard.edu/john-harvard-book-celebration.

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