Why Bonnie Prince Billy is Trading Microphone for Library Card

story originally appeared in Courier Journal, Oct. 16, 2018

Story by Kirby Adams | Photo by John Kasey

Louisville folk singer-songwriter Will Oldham, known internationally as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, takes center stage this month not with his usual guitar and microphone but as the quirky narrator of “Our Library,” a documentary about the Louisville Public Library system.

What kind of quirky? Think if Willy Wonka owned a library rather than a chocolate factory.

Oldham, who appeared in John Sayles’ critically acclaimed movie “Matewan” in 1987, has also starred in several well-regarded films such as “Old Joy,” “Wendy and Lucy” and “New Jerusalem.”

Thursday, Oldham will take part in a special screening event for the documentary by longtime Louisville filmmaker Morgan Atkinson.

“There’s a lot of negativity in the public sphere right now,” Atkinson said. “I wanted to show a public institution that really served the community well, was truly irreplaceable and yet was too often under-appreciated. The Library was a subject made-to-order.”

The free public screening of “Our Library” will be held at the Ursuline Arts Center, 3105 Lexington Road, on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

If you can’t make the free screening, the documentary will begin airing on KET Oct. 22 at 10 p.m., right in the midst of National Friends of Libraries Week, Oct. 21-27. Check KET listings for further air dates.

“Our Library” is Atkinson’s 18th full-length documentary to be broadcast on KET. His films have ranged in subject matter from the ill-fated Louisville Falls Fountain to profiles of people such as Thomas MertonHarlan HubbardJohn Howard Griffin and Tim Krekel. Other subjects have included Beargrass Creek, high school basketball and government merger in Louisville.

Reach Kirby Adams at kadams@courier-journal.com Twitter @kirbylouisville. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/kirbya

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