The Return of the Library Road Trip, Cautiously

The Return of the Library Road Trip, Cautiously

The world has dramatically changed since our last Library Road Trip post in October 2019. Fortunately, Trump is gone. Unfortunately, Covid is not. We feel that there are still many miles to go before we put this project to sleep. We are returning to the road to drive across country to our little cabin in the woods in Vermont for the month of September. While we are on the way and on the return, we will explore two themes that emerged from our last LRT in 2019. We will photograph the complicated interaction of race and segregation on libraries throughout the country. The first place we will photograph will be the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, OK. This formally thriving African American neighborhood was mostly burned to the ground by a white mob in 1921. This destruction included the segregated public library in Greenwood which is still an empty lot. We will photograph other libraries in the South that were significant in the heroic struggle to desegregate these important parts of our national civic commons.

My research has benefitted by reading two books: The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South by Wayne and Shirley Wiegand and also Freedom Libraries The Untold Story of Libraries for African Americans in the South by Mike Selby. Freedom Libraries were established during the Civil Rights struggle in the South in the 1960s when the main libraries initially refused to desegregate. We will be visiting several of these during our drive through the South. It is hard to understand today how people were thrown in jail and sometimes savagely beaten for wanting to check out a book from a public library.

Police officers in Albany, Georgia carry a demonstrator down the steps of the Albany Carnegie Library during a civil rights protest.

Our second area of interest that came out of our 2019 LRT was the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes into “Indian Schools”. We saw examples of this in our drive across Canada and have been reading more about this recently with the discovery of unmarked graves of children in some of these former schools. As much as we have championed education for all poor children as a way out of poverty, this form of education was closer to cultural genocide. We will be visiting one of the first, largest and most famous of these schools in the US called the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Ironically, it now houses the US Army War College.

Canadian Indian Residential Schools (grid)
Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Starting August 20th, we will be on the road for approximately two months. We will cautiously made our way through the parts of the country that are experiencing the recent spike with the Covid virus’ Delta variant. We are vaccinated and we will be wearing masks and keeping our heads down everywhere. And being very cautious!

I will be writing occasional posts from the road as a record of our journey. We would love to hear your feedback along the way. As always, feel free to opt out of receiving these posts if you wish.



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9 responses to “The Return of the Library Road Trip, Cautiously

  1. So nice to see you working to see your project through, but I have to make the obligatory plea. Please be careful, there are some irrational people out there. Hugs to you, Ellen & Walker.

  2. Lori Maslow

    Thank you for this update. I look forward to reading all about your upcoming trip. Both topics are of great importance and thank you for sharing the book covers. I will be looking into reading those books.
    Safe travels,
    From a vaccinated reader-
    Loti Maslow

  3. Marcia Schneider

    Stay safe, Bob and Ellen (and Walker?). I look forward to reading about your travels and discoveries.

  4. Peggy Cross

    I am so pleased to see another posting from you! I look forward to hearing from you as you make your way across country. But as others have cautioned, please be very careful and remain diligent during your journey.

  5. Judith Marvin

    Bob and Ellen,

    Good to see you are still supporting libraries. Calaveras County just purchased a traveling library van for upcountry.

    As for Indian schools, I’ve always been interested in them and the horrors they perpetuated. I knew several Me-wuk who were sent to schools far away, and have followed the history of the Stewart Indian School in Carson City. The Stewart School taught the students to build stone walls, fireplaces and chimneys, pathways, etc. that are to be found all over Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley. All the stone was volcanic, obtained from a quarry in the Carson Valley, and very distinctive amongst the granite walls and fireplaces in the Tahoe region. I’d like to record all their work for a book someday……Check out the school on line for the stonework.

    Keep safe and keep cool; hope Linda can have her party this year and we can all get together….

    Best, Judy

  6. Sounds great Bob (and Ellen) – i wrote a song in 1984 for the 20th anniversary of the free speech movement- : your crazy ideals , what did they bring (us) , just look around and you will see…well i see you two still living your ideals… good luck on your pilgrimage and eventual farm (astary)

  7. larsholsen

    Looking forward to follow you on this new trip across US.
    Take care!


    Den 15. aug. 2021 kl. 00.42 skrev Library Road Trip :

    Bob Dawson posted: ” The Return of the Library Road Trip, Cautiously The world has dramatically changed since our last Library Road Trip post in October 2019. Fortunately, Trump is gone. Unfortunately, Covid is not. We feel that there are still many miles to go before we “

  8. gershonaptalaskanet

    Alas, no trip to AK again…

    Did Walker come up?

    Haines is having its first wave of COVID…



  9. Gayle Atwell

    I’m sending you two my wishes for a safe, fun & fulfilling LRT! Give my love to the Green Mts. An excellent resource for Indian School’s history is historian & author, Prof. Heather Cox Richardson, Ph.D. The PA school was considered the “working lab” for most of the others. All the best, Gayle

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