The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, Prints & Photographs Division.
In celebration of National Library Week (April 23-29, 2023), please take a moment to enjoy a brand new acquisition in the Prints & Photographs Division – “The Global Library Project” by master photographer Robert Dawson. The theme of National Library Week is “There’s More to the Story,” which is the perfect description for Dawson’s work.
From 1994 to 2015, Dawson photographed more than 500 public libraries throughout the United States, often traveling more than 11,000 miles at a time on summer road trips with his son Walker Dawson. The images document the wide range of America’s public libraries in locations ranging from big cities to small towns, shopping malls to national parks.
In 2016, Dawson and his family expanded their journey to include libraries worldwide. In Dawson’s own words, “The Global Library Project seeks to document the important role of public libraries throughout the world in engaging and supporting an informed citizenry.”
The Library of Congress has purchased 660 born-digital photographs that show people using libraries and the remarkably varied architecture of libraries in 11 Western and Eastern European countries and Israel.
The Dawsons are currently photographing libraries in Mexico and plan to show more of the story of libraries in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania.
- Read about America’s Public Libraries: Evolving and Thriving Library of Congress Magazine (May/June 2016)
- See some photographs from Public Library: An American Commons Photographic Survey by Robert Dawson, 1995-2013 (Collection at the Library of Congress)
- Look at images from the Global Library Project : Photographic Survey by Robert Dawson, until more of the photographs are added to the Library’s own online catalog (External website)