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American Public Libraries Great and Small

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Printed Date: Jan 23 2019 at 10:37am

Topic: American Public Libraries Great and Small
Posted By: tatee
Subject: American Public Libraries Great and Small
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 3:46pm

American Public Libraries Great and Small

Posted by" rel="nofollow - Rachel Arons

In the course of eighteen years, beginning in 1994, the California-based photographer Robert Dawson took pictures of hundreds of public libraries across the United States. The results are collected in his new book, “The Public Library: A Photographic Essay,” to be released next month. Many writers have written eloquently about the role of libraries in American life (see Mark Twain’s impassioned praise of Fairhaven, Massachusetts’ Millicent Library, in the third slide above), but Dawson’s project makes a powerful case for how public libraries serve communities in every corner of the country. In the introduction, he writes, “Public libraries are worth fighting for, and this book is my way of fighting.”

All photographs from “Public Library: A Photographic Essay,” by Robert Dawson, Princeton Architectural Press, 2014.

Peterborough Town Library; Peterborough, New Hampshire, 2009. Established in 1833, this is the first tax-supported library in the United States.

Willard Library, Evansville; Indiana, 2011. Built in 1885, this is the oldest public library in Indiana. Housed in a spectacular Victorian building, it is rumored to be haunted. While photographing a dark corner of the interior, I thought I saw the resident ghost. Live GhostCams are currently keeping watch at

Millicent Library; Fairhaven, Massachusetts, 1994. In 1894, Mark Twain wrote a letter calling this library “ideal”: “Books are the liberated spirits of men, and should be bestowed in a heaven of light and grace and harmonious color and sumptuous comfort, like this, instead of in the customary kind of public library, with its depressing austerities and severities of form and furniture and decoration. A public library is the most enduring of memorials…. All other things which I have seen today must pass away and be forgotten; but there will still be a Millicent Library when by the mutations of language the books that are in it now will speak in a lost tongue to your posterity.”

Mill Valley Public Library; Mill Valley, California, 2012.

Mark Twain Branch Library; Detroit, Michigan, 2011. This is one of several Detroit-libraries branches that closed in 2011, owing to budget cuts.

The Handley Regional Library; Winchester, Virginia, 2011. A Confederate sympathizer built this library after the Civil War.

George Washington Carver Branch Library; Austin, Texas, 2011. Black citizens in East Austin strongly advocated for a library in their community, and this was the first branch to serve them. The mural is by the Austin artist John Fisher.

A library built by former slaves; Allensworth, California, 1995. Allen Allensworth was born into slavery, in Kentucky, in 1842. He later became a petty officer in the U.S. Navy, a Baptist minister, and a chaplain in the U.S. Army, and he founded the colony of Allensworth in Tulare County, California, in the early part of the twentieth century. This library is a re-creation of the original, in what is now called Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

A former night club and library; St. Louis, Illinois, 2012. Originally built as an Elks Club, this abandoned library was once a popular night club, where Miles Davis, who grew up in East St. Louis, got his start.

Central Library; Seattle, Washington, 2009. The Dutch architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Ramus were the principal designers of this library, which opened in 2004.

Richard F. Boi Memorial Library, the first Little Free Library; Hudson, Wisconsin, 2012. Todd Boi started the Little Free Library movement as a tribute to his mother, who was a book lover and a schoolteacher, by mounting a wooden container designed to look like a schoolhouse on a post on his lawn. Library owners can create their own boxes, usually about the size of a dollhouse, or purchase one from the movement’s Web site (

The Queens Library bookmobile; New York, 2012. The bookmobile stationed in the Rockaways, after Hurricane Sandy.

Posted By: Diane (35)
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 3:53pm
Beautiful, just beautiful esp the Tulare County, George Washington Carver and the free libray on the lawn and the one in Virginia

I remember the first time i (around 7-8) took out a book from a US library and i was just in awe of the whole thing- the lighting, the AC lol, how big it was- both the bldg and the collection (they dont make them like that back home). I was like WHAT??? I dont live here and i can get all these books for free for the entire summer? AND go back for more? Clearly these YT folks have gone crazy.

Posted By: sexyandfamous
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 4:19pm
Santa Monica Public Library is a nice one, it has plenty of study rooms, over 50 computers for internet usage, printers, a small cafe, a small vending store with books costing only 50 cents, and you can borrow books, dvds, magazines, etc. Only downside: if you don't live in the area you have to pay $25 to be a member.

Posted By: sexyandfamous
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 4:24pm
And that is the Los Angeles Central Library; I think it has 5 floors. When they closed on Sundays due to budget cuts, it probably ruined the lives of many people who were living on Skid Row due to financial reasons and needed a escape.

Posted By: ms_wonderland
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 4:55pm
pretty cool, especially the little free Library and the ones in LA...libraries are a reminder of how lucky we are to have access to free education.  I used to go to the public library every now and then but I never go anymore.  It smells bad, too many weird ppl, and the bathrooms are disgusting bc ppl bathe in them.  I hope they're an institution that doesn't go away as we keep going further into the digital age.

Posted By: coconess
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 5:06pm
when i first saw the title i thought for sure san franciscos big library would be there… 

but i see there are some other pretty amazing libraries in the country.." rel="nofollow">,d.cGU&psig=AFQjCNG0yGL4zC6siAiI5RQRby7e-B9WLw&ust=1395698576399735" rel="nofollow">" rel="nofollow">

Posted By: sexyandfamous
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 5:12pm
Originally posted by ms_wonderland ms_wonderland wrote:

pretty cool, especially the little free Library and the ones in LA...libraries are a reminder of how lucky we are to have access to free education.  I used to go to the public library every now and then but I never go anymore.  It smells bad, too many weird ppl, and the bathrooms are disgusting bc ppl bathe in them.  I hope they're an institution that doesn't go away as we keep going further into the digital age.

yes, especially because before blacks could only go to one library and they never had good books and also because everyone is allowed, everyone can rent books or dvs, read newspapers or magazines, and use the computer for whatever they need.

When I first came to the US, I was amazed that I could use the internet for free for one hour and there were so many things in a library. Back home there was a library in a great neighborhood with only ONE computer, and you could use for only ONE hour and the books were outdated and crappy, which sucked because when I needed to do a research, I was checking out books from the 80's.... and that was 2001Cry

Posted By: femmemuscleisback
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 7:28pm
thanks for posting this Miss Tatee.

It's strange, that the guys at the gyms throughout the country used to "rib" me for this.  I used to show  my proud collection of library cards from all over the world, and here in the U.S.  This was back in the early 80's when i was coined "Conan the Librarian" because i'm a bodybuilder. 

Maybe that's where that moniker might have originated, or over time, they realized that all bodybuilders weren't "muscle-heads"..Smile

The only place i couldn't collect a library card? Santa Fe, NM.  Trust.. it's a very prejudiced area.  The librarian was hostile.  I was asking what were the requirements for borrowing a book while on vacation there.  And she said: "Because you are an outsider you can't have 'em". Then she turned around to her coworker and pointed over her shoulder at me and said "she's an outsider!!"..

I made sure i had a contract to work at the hospital at Santa Fe, in order to get a library card.  And i made sure, she was the one that had to process the application.

Posted By: smaison
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 7:30pm
i am so in love with libraries; i spent a great deal of my childhood in libraries. i go every once in a while now even if i'm not checking anything out just because being in there makes me feel good. 

Posted By: nekamarie83
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 7:47pm
Love love love!!

Photo play (especially history/architecture/fashion) gives me LIFE!!

Posted By: BBpants
Date Posted: Mar 23 2014 at 9:53pm
I wish my library would update their books. I never see any new books smh

I liked the Free Little Library. I would do something like that if I had enough good books.

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