Library of Congress purchases Global Library project

Ellen Manchester​ and I are happy to announce the recent purchase of 660 images from our Global Library Project by the Library of Congress for their permanent collection. This is in addition to their 2015 purchase of my American Public Library project archive. We will be continuing our Global Library work in Mexico starting this Sunday, April 16th. We will be traveling for over a month from Oaxaca to Guadalajara researching, photographing libraries, and enjoying the fabulous Mexican food. And we will be posting about our trip from the road on Facebook and on this blog “Library Road Trip.” Please join us for the ride.

Library of Congress

PICTURE THISLibrary of Congress Prints & Photos

Book Mountain, Bibliotheek Spijkennese, The Netherlands. Photo by Robert Dawson, ©2016. Used with permission. //

Library Photos by Robert Dawson

April 12, 2023

Posted by: Kristi Finefield

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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.

Tulare County Free Library, Allensworth, CA. Photo by Robert Dawson, ©1995. Used with permission. //

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.

Map librarian, National Library, Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Robert Dawson, ©2016. Used with permission. //

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.”

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Florence, Italy. Photo by Robert Dawson, ©2018. Used with permission. //

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.

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10 responses to “Library of Congress purchases Global Library project

  1. Irma

    Thank you so much for
    the updates in your projects, and best wishes in your Mexico trip.

  2. zevisema

    How fabulous is that??!! Enjoy Mexico! Looking forward to getting together when you are back. Susan

  3. Judith Marvin

    Yahoo!!! How wonderful for both of you, and well deserved.

    In Mexico, however, be very, very careful. Too many tourist getting in the crossfires down there. A friend, who just returned from six weeks in Mexico (her father was a diplomat, born there, just died so a funeral in Mexico City), said that Oaxaca is no longer the town it used to be. Overrun with tourists, so that means drugs and dealers.

    Happy to go a long for the ride from this distance, however….

    XOX, Judy

  4. Kenneth Helphand


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  5. wlmaxwell3

    Congrats! We still need to get together when y’all are back in the bay area or headed out here into the valley.



  6. kenslos

    Wow, congrats!!! You guys are stars!  And happy and fun travels…..   love   Tina and ken

  7. Judith Marvin

    Bob and Ellen,

    This is from my friend Desiree Amor whose father was a Mexican diplomat. She was born in Germany, but spent many years in Mexico and there now wrapping up stuff after her father’s funeral in Mexico City a few weeks ago. Appears as if her friend Marlene would be a good contact to see some interesting sites….



    From: Desiree Amor [] Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2023 12:08 PM To: Judith Marvin Subject: {Spam?} Re: FW: [New post] ON A PLANE FILLED WITH LIBRARIANS HEADING TO MEXICO CITY

    Hi Judy

    Absolutely loved it! I’m in Mexico myself this week for some family business.

    My friend Marlene who is an Archeologist and an expert on Mexico would be a great contact for your friends. She would be able to introduce them to places they never heard off.

    I’d be glad to make the introduction 😊



    On Tue, Apr 18, 2023 at 12:42 PM Judith Marvin wrote:

    I thought you might like to read and see this blog from my old friend Bob Dawson who lives in San Francisco. He has produced two previous books on libraries, one in the U.S. and another in Europe and the Middle East. His library photographs have just been purchased by the Library of Congress for their collection. Anyway—Bob and Ellen are off to Mexico for their new book and this is the first of several blogs they will write on the trip. If you are interested, I can forward, if not just let me know…

  8. david freund

    Hi, Bob and Ellen,

    Will spare you the boring excuses/reasons for my slow response. Next week am posting a copy of my photo pc book to Mack for their April window for submissions- regret the too-long wait from Steidl.

    Speaking of recognition, CONGRATULATIONS on the LOC purchase- 660! Deserved. important. Now see you are off on another library photo excursion- what will you do when you have photographed all the libraries? The project reminds me of my explanation to students of the purpose of college: college is where you develop the skills to hang out with interesting people for the rest of your life.

    C and I will be out to CA in July for the opening of Ann Vernon’s show: Hmm, her name not yet in upcoming- will have to chide. Ann died a couple of years ago- she and her husband, John (Jack) Vernon are dear friends from UCDavis days.

    C flying to CA Tu, just stuck her nose in with a new just right-sized $3 thrift store carryon, appropriately branded Prodigy. The thrift store is just past Brotherhood Winery. Its huge parking lot was filled, a matching area across the road also filled, lines of cars and a traffic cop. Never saw such- the reason? Mac and cheese festival, of course! So upstate.



  9. damonmai

    Hey Bob,

    So very very happy to hear about the purchase! You deserve it for sure! Also, best of luck with the Mexico Project, which is where you are right now. Be safe, don’t drink the water and don’t photograph any cartel run libraries, without written permission and upfront ‘donation’ money.

    All the best as always!



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