Friday, February 13, 2015

The Public Library: A Photographic Love Letter to Humanity’s Greatest Sanctuary of Knowledge, Freedom, and Democracy | Brain Pickings

“When a library is open, no matter its size or shape, democracy is open, too.”

“A library is many things,” E.B. White once wrote in a letter to the children of a little town to inspire them to fall in love with their new library. “But
particularly it is a place where books live, and where you can get in
touch with other people, and other thoughts, through books… Books hold
most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and
women have had.”

As the daughter of a formally trained librarian and an enormous lover of, collaborator with,
and supporter of public libraries (you may have noticed I always
include a public library link for books I write about; I also re-donate a
portion of Brain Pickings donations to the New York Public Library each year) I was instantly enamored with The Public Library: A Photographic Essay (public library | IndieBound) by photographer Robert Dawson
— at once a love letter and a lament eighteen years in the making, a
wistful yet hopeful reminder of just what’s at stake if we let the
greatest bastion of public knowledge humanity has ever known slip into
the neglected corner of cultural priorities. Alongside Dawson’s
beautiful photographs are short reflections on the subject by such
celebrated minds as Isaac Asimov, Anne Lamott, and E.B. White.
From architectural marvels to humble feats of human ingenuity, from the
august reading room of the New York Public Library to the
trailer-library at Death Valley National Park, braving the glaring sun
at one of the hottest places on earth, from the extraordinary vaulted
ceilings of LA’s Children’s Library to the small shack turned into a
book memorial in the country’s only one-person town, the remarkable
range reveals our elemental need for libraries — as sanctuaries of
learning, as epicenters of community, as living records of civic
identity, and above all as a timelier-than-ever testament that
information and human knowledge belong to everybody; not to corporate
monopolies or government agencies or ideological despots, but to the
people. Read more....

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