Ben Katchor will be coming to speak at the Library Lecture Series on Wednesday, November 16, 2011. His talk is entitled “Reading in Public.”

Katchor’s talk will be an illustrated history of public reading rooms and libraries in New York City. The earliest public reading rooms in NYC were established to offer children an alternative to the luridly illustrated dime novels that were sold in cigar stores and at corner soda fountains. The books offered by the first public reading rooms were devoid of illustrated covers and were intended to improve, rather than excite, the young reader. The talk examines the conflicts that develop between readers and their books in public spaces.

Ben Katchor is an Associate Professor in the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons, the New School for Design. He has also taught at the School of Visual Arts and Baruch College before joining the faculty at Parsons. He has won numerous awards, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He is also an illustrator, designer, and author of five books, Cheap Novelties: The Pleasure of Urban Decay ( 1991), Julius Knipl Real Estate Photographer (1996), The Jew of New York (1998), Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District (2000), and most recently, The Cardboard Valise (2011). Katchor currently publishes a monthly strip in Metropolis magazine.