Friday, June 24, 2016

'Quiet Majesty of America's Public Libraries'

Shelf Awareness

Over the past 18 years, photographer Robert Dawson has captured nearly 700 public libraries across 48 states, and the Library of Congress recently purchased a full collection of his library photographs as part of its permanent archive. CityLab featured a selection of those images, many of which were featured in Dawson's 2014 book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay (Princeton Architectural Press).

Libraries are "not just a nice add-on," he said, noting that across the U.S. they are "providing the basic things that have become essential to functioning in our society.... I'm as cynical as anyone, but visiting these libraries, I really found that most people have more in common than not. They go to work, work hard, love their families, and love their communities. There's a lot that we share, and the public library is another one of those things."

Dawson is on a six-week trip across Europe to photograph libraries there. He told CityLab he is currently in Germany, where newly arrived refugees use libraries to immerse themselves in the local language and culture: "It's a different kind of story here."

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