The Public Library

The Public Library

A Photographic Essay

Book - 2014
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"Many of us have vivid recollections of childhood visits to the public library: the unmistakable, slightly musty scent, the excitement of checking out a stack of newly-discovered books. Today's libraries also function as de facto community centers, and offer free access to the Internet, job-hunting assistance, or a warm place to take shelter along with the endless possibilities that spark your imagination the moment you open the cover of a book. There are more than 17,000 public libraries in America. Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has traveled the nation, documenting hundreds of these institutions--from Alaska to Florida, New England to the West Coast. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson's photographs, revealing a vibrant, essential, yet seriously threatened system. Essays, letters, and poetry by a collection of America's most celebrated writers--including E. B. White, Isaac Asimov, Anne Lamott, Amy Tan, Charles Simic, Dr. Seuss, and Philip Levine, as well as the voices of dedicated librarians working today--are woven with photographs of the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library; the one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves, in Allensworth, California; the architectural wonder of Seattle's glass and steel Central Library; and the Berkeley, California tool lending library; among many others. A foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett bookend this important survey of a treasured American institution"--
Publisher: New York : Princeton Architectural Press, [2014]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781616892173
Characteristics: 191 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Dawson, Robert 1950-

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1955Mookie Aug 01, 2015

my look for reading led me to this book about the history of libraries across the United States. To see the pictures, read the history of the various branches and of their present state, was so interesting. The beauty of the buildings and the stories by the various people were so touching.

avidreader2002 Mar 18, 2015

Beautiful book but sad also, seeing pictures of libraries, once thriving and now just empty and abandoned.

forbesrachel Dec 04, 2014

A tribute to the public library! These photos capture libraries at their best, and sadly for some, at their worst...abandoned. At every point, the author, and his guests, stress the importance of this institution for the community. While this book only talks about American libraries, their plight reflects that of those in other countries, and the photos are more than worth looking at by themselves.

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GuyN
Aug 23, 2014

The photos tell many stories. The Mark Twain Public Library speaks volumes. They and the text are likely to bring tears of joy and sadness to your eyes. A couple of quotes for you: "As the last truly democratic space in America, where there are no entry fees, judgments, or barriers, public libraries offer a tour of our society’s ills and ill. We library workers are, in practical terms, surrogates for shuttered schools, parks, hospitals, and homes." --Dorothy Lazard "We started stocking paperbacks, which kids can check out without a library card… Now no one has to leave the bookmobile without a book. That should be a librarian’s primary job: to get books in people’s hands." –Kelvin K. Selders (NE Nevada Bookmobile) In context, of course, they are far more meaningful. Don't miss Anne Lamott's account of the "emergency read in" by writers, poets, and locals. to forestall the closing of all 3 public libraries in Salinas, CA.

ehbooklover May 09, 2014

A compilation of some wonderful photos and essays that celebrate American public libraries. My only complaint: I wish that this book included Canadian libraries as well.

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GuyN
Jun 10, 2014

"As the last truly democratic space in America, where there are no entry fees, judgments, or barriers, public libraries offer a tour of our society’s ill and ill. We library workers are, in practical terms, surrogates for shuttered schools, parks, hospitals, and homes." --Dorothy Lazard

"We started stocking paperbacks, which kids can check out without a library card… Now no one has to leave the bookmobile without a book. That should be a librarian’s primary job: to get books in people’s hands." –Kelvin K. Selders (NE Nevada Bookmobile)

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