Library of Congress Acquires Portfolio of 681 Photos of US Public Libraries

  • 2015-10-28
  • HyperAllergic

There are over 16,000 public libraries in the United States, and although photographer Robert Dawson only visited a fraction — 526 over two decades — his series presents a diverse portrait of this community space. This week the Library of Congress announced the acquisition of 681 of Dawson’s library photographs, adding to their ongoing archive of American library documentation.

Along with the photographs, the Library of Congress acquired his negatives, field notes, correspondence, maps, and other material from the project. Last year with Princeton Architectural Press, Dawson published The Public Library: A Photographic Essay. From 1994 to 2015, he journeyed from coast-to-coast, crossing 48 states, turning his lens on this ubiquitous — and rapidly changing — local resource. Libraries still center around books, yet are increasingly incorporating new technology to engage the current needs and interests of their communities. His photographs capture how libraries are architecturally amorphous, from one nestled in an Abilene, Texas, strip mall alongside a Family Dollar franchise, to another in a trailer isolated in Death Valley National Park. Their only connection is that both serve as a free resource for reading and information...

Image Credit: Jay Mantri