The Suitcase Lady


November 1, 2016, 8:38 pm

My books were checked out and I was leaving the library. But then I spotted a new book which was too good to resist, The Public Library, A Photographic Essay by Richard Dawson. I returned to the check out kiosk.

Eighteen years and many road trips in the making, this intriguing book is filled with a cross section of America’s libraries; large and small, historic and modern, opulent and shabby, treasured and abandoned. Sprinkled throughout are reflections from Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Lamott, E.B. White, Dr. Seuss and others.

The juxtaposition of the photographs is mesmerizing as it starkly portrays how American values are changing. “Free” and “public” are seldom used words in our current age. But as Bill Moyers so aptly observes,”When a library is open, no matter its size or shape, democracy is open.”

Having spent the past thirty summers presenting programs in over 160 libraries within a 200 mile radius of my home, I started contemplating all the varied library buildings I have worked in. Frequently, a tiny rural village will have an impressive library that is the result of a community’s fund raising campaign. But I have also worked in strip mall libraries and storefronts. I must note that I’ve never met a library I didn’t like. In retrospect, I should have photographed each one.

Here is a sampling…

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