The Public Library: A Photographic Survey

Public Library

“Robert Dawson’s work is an irrefutable argument for the preservation of public libraries. His book is profound and heartbreakingly beautiful.” —Toni Morrison

Over the last 18 years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed the United States documenting hundreds of public libraries—large and small, old and new, urban and rural, in poor communities and wealthy ones, from Alaska to Florida. The result of Dawson’s evocative photography is an homage to a great American tradition. The collection also features essays on libraries from prominent American authors. Dawson writes: “A public library can mean different things to different people. For me, the library offers our best example of the public commons. For many, the library upholds the 19th-century belief that the future of democracy is contingent upon an educated citizenry. For others, the library simply means free access to the Internet, or a warm place to take shelter, a chance for an education, or the endless possibilities that jump to life in your imagination the moment you open the cover of a book.”

“Public libraries are worth fighting for, and this book is my way of fighting.”

Forthcoming from Princeton Architectural Press, April 2014.

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