Libraries as Cornerstones of Democracy

Library Foundation of Los Angeles President and CEO Stacy Lieberman and City Librarian John Szabo will discuss the critical services of the public library that signify a well-functioning civil society and a flourishing democracy. Join us for a thought-provoking discussion, moderated by host of LAist’s All Things Considered Austin Cross, and learn how the partnership between the Los Angeles Public Library and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles supports libraries’ roles as hubs for community engagement, intellectual freedom, and civic empowerment. In a major election year, how can the Los Angeles Public Library continue to foster inclusion, free access to information, and democratic ideals while facing unprecedented new challenges?

Libraries as Cornerstones of Democracy

Tuesday, January 23, 2024 at 11:00 AM
Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library and live-streamed

11:00 AM | Program and Q&A
12:00 PM | Reception

Our Panelists:

Stacy Lieberman

As President and CEO of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles (LFLA), Stacy Lieberman is an innovative and inclusive leader whose career dwells at the intersection of arts and culture, lifelong learning, storytelling, and equitable access. Stacy guides the Foundation’s philanthropic and public-facing priorities to serve the Los Angeles Public Library, embracing the notion that libraries are beacons of democracy where everyone is welcome. She works intentionally with community leaders, donors, and internal and external strategic partners to raise awareness and resources for the Library and its life-changing initiatives. With more than 20 years of experience as a senior executive, Stacy has left an indelible mark on iconic L.A. arts, non-profit, and educational institutions such as The Broad, the Autry Museum of the American West, and the Skirball Cultural Center. Building on an early career in book publishing, she has dedicated her professional life to sharing stories and broadening the reach of public institutions to welcome visitors and students of all ages and backgrounds to experience educational, arts, and cultural opportunities. 

John F. Szabo

John F. Szabo is the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, which serves more than four million people—the largest population of any public library in the United States. He oversees the Central Library and 72 branches. 

Under his leadership, the Library’s major initiatives include those related to immigrant integration and citizenship, civic engagement, digital equity, sustainability, and lifelong learning. He has expanded the library’s reach into the city’s diverse communities through partnerships with several community-based organizations.  

He has more than 30 years of leadership experience in public libraries, previously serving as the director of four libraries including the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library system. 

He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of OCLC, a global library cooperative, previously serving as Board Chair for six years. He also serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences and has previously served on the Executive Boards of Urban Libraries Council and California Humanities and as president of the Florida Library Association. 

Austin Cross

A native Angeleno, Austin Cross is a passionate storyteller and experienced broadcaster who brings a unique perspective to his role as host of All Things Considered and AirTalk Fridays on LAist 89.3. With over a decade of experience exploring the issues that shape Southern California, Austin is known for his inquisitive nature and commitment to community engagement. Austin’s ability to delve into complex topics and break them down for listeners has made him a trusted voice for navigating the intricate tapestry of life in Los Angeles. He fosters meaningful conversations that resonate across diverse audiences, ensuring that all voices are heard and represented. Austin’s passion for local storytelling is evident in his approach to broadcasting. He believes that radio has the power to connect communities, inform minds, and inspire action. Through his work on LAist 89.3, Austin is making a significant contribution to the civic and cultural life of Los Angeles.


This event will take place in person at the Mark Taper Auditorium of Central Library. However, we will also livestream this event for attendees who would like to participate but cannot join us in person.

We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.