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Screening: "The Public"

Screening & Discussion of "THE PUBLIC"

DATE: Sunday, January 26

TIME: 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

LOCATION: Weaver Public Library, 41 Grove Street, East Providence RI 

Co-sponsored by the Media Education Lab and the East Providence Public Library

What do public libraries have to do with social issues like homelessness, mental illness, and the opioid crisis?

JOIN US for an afternoon screening of Emilio Estevez’s new film The Public, which includes a star-studded cast including Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, Michael Kenneth Williams, Taylor Schilling, and Christian Slater. 

The story features a well-meaning librarian who gets caught in the middle of a movement led by a homeless man who stages a protest at the library with a group of other homeless men and women who encamp at the library, refusing to leave after its closing time. The escalating situation draws the attention of a large swath of the community, including a crusading and opportunistic district attorney. After the film, we'll explore these questions in a session led by Pam Steager of the Media Education Lab. 


  • Who was your favorite character? Which character did you dislike the most? Why?
  • What scene or moment was striking or important to you? Why? 
  • What aspects of this film seemed realistic? What aspects were unrealistic? 
  • What questions did this film raise for you?
  • What are the implications of this film for our libraries and communities today?

Download the Media Education Lab Study Guide for the Film


Click here to join the discussion from the comfort of your home. Use Flipgrid to make a comment on the film.  


The film was inspired by an essay written by Salt Lake City librarian Chip Ward in 2007. Entitled Written Off, the essay explored how the rise of homeless people in the library changed the role of librarians to become ipso facto social workers. Learn more about how the American Library Association (ALA) supports librarians whose patrons include the homeless.