The Public Library: A Photographic Essay.pdf
"This collection of photographs and texts of and about libraries--grand or dead, faded or sumptuous--make up a narrative that combines the public sphere with private memory. Robert Dawson's work is an irrefutable argument for the preservation of public libraries. His book is profound and heartbreakingly beautiful." -- Toni Morrison
Robert Dawson's photographs have been recognised by a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize. He is an instructor of photography at San Jose State University and Stanford University.
Many of us have vivid recollections of childhood visits to a public library: the unmistakable musty scent, the excitement of checking out a stack of newly discovered books. Today, libraries in America also function as de facto community centres. And yet, across the country, cities large and small are closing public libraries or curtailing their hours of operation. Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed America documenting hundreds of these endangered institutions. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson's photographs- from the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library to Allensworth, California's one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves. Accompanying Dawson's revealing photographs are essays, letters and poetry by some of America's most celebrated writers. A foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett bookend this important survey.