Public Policy in Practice with Siobhan Reardon

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Friday, March 15, 2019 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Event Information: 

Please join Fels for a conversation with Siobhan Reardon, President & Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Ms. Reardon is the first woman to serve in this capacity. Since joining the Free Library in 2008, Ms. Reardon has spearheaded the Library’s initiative to move beyond its walls by creating computer and internet outposts called Hot Spots that offer free access and training in partnership with local organizations in underserved neighborhoods, in the city’s first roving “techmobile,” and at the Philadelphia International Airport, where travelers can access the internet for free and download library materials on the go. In addition, Ms. Reardon steered the creation of an ambitious five-year strategic plan for the Library, underscored by a mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity. Ms. Reardon’s vision for the future—Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative—includes the launch of a new model of service wherein neighborhood libraries will undergo physical and programmatic changes to directly respond to and meet the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. It also includes the renovation and reimagining of the Parkway Central Library. In addition, she has begun implementation of a significant organizational restructuring of her 800-member staff, aiming to improve efficiencies, internal communications, and customer experience, all while creating critical new positions such as that of the Digital Resource Specialist. In 2014, the Free Library Foundation, which Ms. Reardon also oversees, merged with the renowned Rosenbach Museum & Library, combining two of the finest collections of rare materials into one of world-class standing with strengths in Americana and British, American, and Modernist literature. For these efforts and her visionary leadership of the Free Library, Ms. Reardon was named Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year in 2015.

Previously, Ms. Reardon was Executive Director of the Westchester (NY) Library System, a 38-member cooperative library system. Prior to that, she was Deputy Executive Director of the Brooklyn Public Library, serving as Chief Operating Officer of the nation’s fifth largest library system. She also served as Acting Executive Director and Director of Finance, responsible for the Library’s $85 million annual budget.

Ms. Reardon began her library career at New York Public. She holds a B.A. from SUNY Purchase, an M.A. from Fordham University, and an M.L.S. from the Palmer School of Library Science at Long Island University. She is an Endowment Trustee of the American Library Association, a member of the Standing Committee of the Metropolitan Libraries Caucus of the International Federation of Library Associations, and past Chair of LYRASIS, a library services organization. She also sits on the Board of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and serves as the Secretary for the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children and the Chair for the Parkway Council Foundation.

About the series:

The Public Policy in Practice Series, led by Fels Senior Fellow Elizabeth Vale, is designed to provide students with a variety of perspectives and compelling personal narratives that will help them not only form their opinions on important issues, but will also help shape their careers. This series is offered in conjunction with the Fels graduate Public Management course required of all Fels MPA and Executive MPA students. Fels is proud to offer these important conversations to the entire Penn community and members of the public. 

Remarks begin promptly at 6 p.m. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.


Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, Forum Room
Event Contact: 


Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326