In Focus: The Public Library

Our celebration of National Library Week continues with this week’s In Focus feature, The Public Library. A beautiful photographic essay by Robert Dawson, The Public Library presents an inspiring selection of libraries monumental and modest. Essays, letters, and poetry by distinguished writers and librarians complete this impassioned tribute to a vibrant but threatened American institution.

Nation’s smallest library, now closed, in Hartland Four Corners, Vermont (left) and Central Library in Seattle, Washington (right)

The public library of today, with its commitment to welcoming all who come through its doors, expresses truly American values, providing open and free access to information, spreading knowledge and enlightenment, and transforming the lives of its users.

—Luis Herrera, City Librarian, San Francisco Public Library

Post Public Library in Post, Texas (left) and Truth or Consequences Public Library in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (right) 

If you love your library, use your library. Support libraries in your words and your deeds. If you are fortunate enough to be able to buy your books. and you have your own computer with which to conduct research, and you’re not in search of a story hour for your children. then don’t forget about the members of your community who are like you but perhaps lack your resources—the ones who love to read, who long to learn, who need a place to go and sit and think.

—Ann Patchett

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, Algiers temporary library in New Orleans, Louisiana (left) and after Hurricane Sandy, Queens Library bookmobile, the Rockaways in Queens, New York (right) 

I’m of a fearsome mind to throw my arms around every living librarian who crosses my path, on behalf of the souls they never knew they saved.

—Barbara Kingsolver

Rudy’s Library in Monowi, Nebraska (left) and the First Little Free Library in Hudson, Wisconsin (right)

Where are some of your favorite libraries? Share your Library Love Letter with hashtag #LibraryLoveLetter—we would love to hear!

Irene Kim
Marketing Assistant

Irene Kim Shepherd

Assoc. Manager of Visual Content at Chronicle Books, photographer, and overall aesthete. See more of her work at
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