LANDER TO BOULDER – THAT AWESOME SPACE
7/9/12 – Lander was a delightful Western town. It had a great main street with a good coffee shop. Its Carnegie library had a new addition that divided it into old and new. I photographed the Veteran’s Memorial across the street with the library in the background. We drove on into Wyoming’s awesome open space. During our research we had discovered an abandoned library in the abandoned town of Jeffrey City, WY. The town had formerly housed uranium miners and the empty library was in a ghostly, Soviet looking apartment block. Feral cats and kittens were everywhere. While I photographed the library Walker photographed the adorable kittens. Hopefully they won’t starve. Walker and I debated whether or not to go out of our way to photograph one really good library in Lusk, WY. We decided to take a more direct route. I quickly photographed the library in Rawlins, WY with its great sculpture of a saddle in front. Sinclair, WY was an oil town with a huge refinery in its center. It’s small library was very nice, no doubt because of the oil money. The last library of the day no longer existed. We had researched the tiny library in the tiny town of Bosler, WY. When we finally arrived in town we asked where was the library. We were told that it had burned down two weeks ago. I photographed the charcoal remains. I even hauled out my 4X5 camera to photograph a beautiful but forlorned burnt book. We ended the day at the Chautauqua in Boulder, CO. Everyone there seemed perpetually drunk on happiness and soon we were too. What a delightful place? We had dinner at the famous restaurant Boulder Duchambe Tea House. It was a gift from the city of Duchambe in Tajikistan. We then walked to the amazing Book Store. Boulder rocks!
BOULDER TO DENVER, CO
7/10/12 – It was difficult to leave Chautauqua. I could have spent weeks in this wonderful place. I photographed two libraries in Boulder. The Carnegie library was a history and family archive center. It felt good to have these Carnegies begin to feel familiar. Because of this I know that I am getting near the end of this project. The new Boulder Library was very cool and the outside had features that echoed the shape of the nearby Flatiron Mountains. The interior was quite beautiful as well. Like most libraries that we have seen on our library road trips, this one was packed. We drove to Golden, CO to meet Ellen who had flown in earlier from San Francisco. We stayed with Ellen’s old friend Stephanie Machen who treated us to a fabulous home-cooked meal. We spent the evening enjoying Denver’s sophisticated nightlife. Downtown Denver is going through an exciting revitalization. The streets were crowded with a whole range of people that night. It was quite exciting for us to see after the mind-numbing uniformity of Denver’s outlying sprawl. Walker and I had seen this urban-suburban divide in many cities throughout the nation. Later that evening while sleeping in Golden I was awakened by the howl of a Bobcat outside our window.
DENVER – CITY ON THE EDGE OF THE PRAIRIE AND MOUNTAINS
7/11/12 – The Green Valley Ranch Branch library was in Denver but near the endless sprawl of the prairie. It was two weeks old and on the first day 15,000 people applied for library cards. When we were there it was insanely crowded. Surprisingly, the demographics were mostly black and Hispanic. The next branch library that we visited was the Decker branch. Unlike the last library this was an unusual, old Carnegie library. It was a treat to photograph because it was so beautiful and complex. I had a nice conversation with the enthusiastic librarian. She explained their tenuous funding and the nail-biter of an upcoming election that will decide the fate of many librarians’ jobs. I have had depressing conversations like this with many librarians across the country. Libraries are essential yet they are threatened with closure throughout the nation. This is one of the main reasons that I am doing this project. I ended the day by photographing the Central Library in Denver. Here are seven stories of heaven. Everywhere I turned there were interesting things to photograph. I started with the Legacy Table where world leaders met at the 1997 G-8 summit. They took over the Library for a few days and the library got the table as compensation. The Western History Center was the library’s crowning glory. Anyone doing archival research on the American West would eventually come here. I was in awe of what I was photographing. The views looking down into the library were also beautiful. I finished photographing the interior at the dot of 6 when the library closed. There was a huge diversity of people exiting the library at that time including a large homeless population. While I was photographing in the library Ellen and Walker went to the Denver Art Museum. They saw a fascinating exhibit of Indian art from all over the Americas. I finished by walking around the library photographing its interesting exterior. This was one of the great libraries in the country and I was glad to have two hours to record it. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying Denver’s diversity, great public art and good food. We saw a really BIG bear at the convention center and we ate at Root Down, an eco-friendly, progressive landmark.