March 16, 2018

Perry Genovesi & Adam Feldman | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Change Agents




Librarian 2, Parkway Central Library Music Department, Free Library of Philadelphia

MSLIS, Drexel University, Philadelphia, 2010

Studied under acclaimed author and critic Samuel R. Delany, has published his own short fiction, and plays in two punk bands, Bike Crash and See-Through Girls



Librarian 2, Parkway Central Library Music Department, Free Library of Philadelphia

MSLIS, Drexel University, Philadelphia, 2006

As host of a punk rock show while an undergraduate at Oberlin College’s community radio station, discovered the conservatory’s library and realized it was a “magical work environment”


Photo by Bob Stefko

Musical Masters

Music librarians Perry Genovesi (seated, l.) and Adam Feldman of the Free Library of Philadelphia tap teens’ passion for music to introduce them to criticism and help them to develop research and information literacy skills. “If you’re a librarian, and you want to know your teens better, have them share the music they’re passionate about!” Genovesi says.

Starting in summer 2014, Feldman and Genovesi invited teens to bring their music to the Parkway Central Library. The Music Critics Round Table (MCRT) met weekly all summer. “It doesn’t take much prodding to get teens to go beyond ‘I love this’ or ‘I hate this,’ ” Feldman says.

The teens listened to the songs and used worksheets to help organize their thoughts. According to Genovesi, he and Feldman asked open questions to guide the conversation. Demeaning lyrics provided opportunities for critical analysis. “We [told] teens that nothing would be off limits to listen to or discuss,” Genovesi says. “Music’s a great vehicle to unpack a lot of societal matters.”

The teens developed information literacy skills during info scavenger hunts in the library’s Music Department that accompany some library programs and research to determine the greatest rapper, Genovesi says.

Teen interests began to drive collection decisions. Feldman and Genovesi curate musical lists for teens and adults via the library’s Spotify, a free online music service. Feldman also works with local teachers for class visits and creates blog posts with resources to support school projects and discuss critical issues, such as musicians’ royalties. Conscious of the impact of funding cuts in Philadelphia schools and socioeconomic disparities in the city, Feldman and Genovesi partner with like-minded nonprofits, such as Girls Rock Philly (a group that empowers females through music), to introduce the city’s teens to instruments and other sonic experiences to which they might not otherwise have access. The two are also organizing an online exhibit highlighting Philadelphia’s rich jazz history and Local 274, the last predominantly black musicians’ union.

MCRT resumes this May, and the duo plan to work with other librarians interested in offering roundtables and with local schools. “I’m convinced that the best way to reach teens is through spreading the message the library is the liberating alternative to school,” Feldman says. “And that librarians are the hipper alternative to teachers.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Perry Genovesi and Adam Feldman are the representatives of innovative teachers! I believe most children are going to like that if they get a chance to attend.