Director of the Library Company of Philadelphia to give 2021 Founders Day Address at W&L
Michael Barsanti, the Edwin Wolf 2nd Director of the Library Company of Philadelphia, will be the featured speaker at Washington and Lee University’s virtual Founders Day/Omicron Delta Kappa Convocation on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The title of Barsanti’s talk, which is free and open to the public to watch online, is titled “Friendship, Franklin, and the Future of Democracy.” It will be available to watch online at livestream.com/wlu/founders-odk-2021.
Barsanti is the 30th person to lead the Library Company of Philadelphia since its founding by Benjamin Franklin in 1731. The library’s mission is to foster scholarship and increase public understanding of American history before 1900 by preserving and interpreting the valuable materials in its care. The Library Company houses an extensive non-circulating collection of rare books, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera, prints, photographs and artwork.
“The timing of Michael Barsanti’s virtual lecture about the important factors concerning democracy could not be more opportune,” said Elizabeth Oliver, interim provost at W&L. “Having him speak on Founders Day allows us the opportunity to think more about the nature of our nation’s history and future.”
During his time as director, Barsanti has led a new strategic initiative to bring innovation to the practice of American history and to reimagine its place in the making of informed American citizens.
His career path has included work in education, arts and organizational management. Barsanti has worked at the Rosenbach Museum and Library, the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, and the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. He also taught arts administration at Drexel University. He has served on the boards of several nonprofits, including Pig Iron Theatre, Independence Charter School and the Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League of Philadelphia.
Barsanti holds a bachelor’s degree from Williams College, a master’s degree from the University of Miami, and a doctorate in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in 20th-century literature and the works of James Joyce.
Founders Day is the formal convocation of Washington and Lee’s winter academic term, and a time at which Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society founded at W&L in 1914, annually inducts new members.
ODK has more than 285 active circles, or chapters, at colleges and universities across the country. Headquartered in Lexington, ODK awards annual scholarships and leadership development initiative grants and holds a national day of service each April. Individual circles conduct additional leadership development activities.