October 26, 2015
More Stockton, More Folger-Shakespeare and the Public Library Project Finds a Permanent Home at the Library of Congress
Since my last post in May I have continued to photograph with my wife Ellen in Stockton and San Joaquin County. We are looking at efforts to bring literacy to one of the least literate places in the country. We started the project in 2014 with the expectation that it would last for one year. We are now trying with all of our might to wrap it up at the end of two years. However, it is such an interesting yet difficult project that the longer time makes sense. Here are a few photos I’ve made on the project since my last post:
Ellen and I continued our project in Washington, DC at the Folger-Shakespeare Library. We spent our last ten day session photographing in DC. We hope to produce a book from this work next year in collaboration with the Folger-Shakespeare Library in celebration of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The Library will also be touring a set of Shakespeare’s First Folios to all fifty states in the US. More will be written here about this work as we get closer to the date.
I gave several talks about my work throughout the last five months including the American Library Association National Conference in San Francisco, the Los Altos Public Library, Stanford University and the San Mateo Public Library – all in the Bay Area. I had my work in a group show at the fabulous Nevada Art Museum in Reno. I recently did an exhausting but fun all-day workshop for PhotoAlliance in San Francisco.
The biggest event during these last five months has been the purchase of my entire public library project by the Library of Congress. I spent all of July (on our vacation in Vermont) and August scanning negatives, spotting the scans and finally printing all 681 prints.
21 years worth of public library photographs
Cottage industry – Ellen at work
Bob and Walker mapping the Library Road Trips
We shipped them off to the Library of Congress at the beginning of September and I was very happy that the Republicans didn’t shut down the government before I got my check! I am also happy to have my work permanently housed in one of the largest and most important libraries in the world. I have included below a few photos from the new scans from this summer that have never been seen before by the public. These were some of the many images I made for the project that never made it into the book. Once these images are all scanned they will be available for viewing on the LC website or by appointment to researchers at the Library of Congress in Washington. Here is link to an article about the purchase: http://hyperallergic.com/248361/library-of-congress-acquires-portfolio-of-681-photos-of-us-public-libraries/
As Summer turned to Fall I returned to my teaching at Stanford. We are all fortunate in the Art Department to be teaching at the brand new McMurtry Art Building. It is quite an adventure to be teaching in such a highly designed and considered space. It is a work of art and we will see how it works as a teaching space. So far, so good.
Finally, our son Walker spent 11 months in 2014-2015 traveling, filming and photographing with his friend Nick Neumann throughout Latin America. Walker also did a more recent trip in August by himself to Sweden and northern Mexico. In addition to many other subjects Walker was photographing public libraries. These will be combined with my earlier photos of overseas libraries to start a new project called The Global Library. Stay tuned to see what Ellen, Walker and I have learned from our earlier projects and how we apply that knowledge to the world.
To be continued…
One response to “More Stockton, More Folger-Shakespeare and the Public Library Project Finds a Permanent Home at the Library of Congress”
A visit to the Darby Pennsylvania Library was a missed opportunity. It was closed when Darby was visited, I believe. Founded in 1743 as the Darby Library Company the institution has been continuous. Two thirds of the original start up purchase order survive. That was part of the missed opportunity. Note: In the mid 1700’s the London purchase order collection was bolstered by members donating books from their homes. What came of the ill-timed visit?
A nice exterior of the building was snapped, but that is far from an interior tour. I write only to express my disappointment that the visit had not been better timed. I suspect the visit was a side trip while in Philadelphia.
In 2018 the Darby Library celebrates its 275 Anniversary. That would be great occasion to make a re-visit!