All over the country research libraries are canceling subscriptions to academic journals, because they are caught between decreasing budgets and increasing costs. The logic of the bottom line is inescapable, but there is a higher logic that deserves consideration—namely, that the public should have access to knowledge produced with public funds.
Deborah Yanover, the owner of Bueno Aires’s Librería Norte, told me that his father—the late Héctor Yanover, the bookshop’s founder and another former director of the library—often received offers of first editions and manuscripts, stolen from the library of which he was the director.
The subjects of photographer Robert Dawson’s latest project are beautiful, educational, and in danger; they are public libraries. For his new book, The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, Dawson visited hundreds of public libraries, from little free libraries to icons, in 48 states to photograph “our best example of the public commons.” The Morning News has a few of his photos as well as an essay on the importance of libraries by Charles Simic. “Wherever I found a library, I immediately felt at home.”
Thanks to the generosity of Daniel Handler, the American Library Association has launched the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. The prize will award $3,000 and an “odd, symbolic object” of Handler’s choosing to a librarian who “has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact.” (h/t The Paris Review)
Don’t forget to return your library books in Texas. This year an Austin man was arrested for failing to return a GED study guide that was three years overdue. Fines and arrest warrants are the new way to break even in towns with shrinking budgets. Other states, such as Iowa, Vermont, and Maine, are joining in.
Often, during my summer in the archives, I would reflect on the fact that all my work was only the reconstruction or (to be more accurate) weird vivisection of an already existing bookstore. The books I catalogued came to me in numbered trays, with each section number corresponding to a section of the now-departed bookstore, and on days when my mind really wandered — which was a higher percentage than I would have admitted to my immediate superiors — I considered the possibility of reconstructing the bookstore in my head, using the section numbers and the books I’d processed, recreating a sort of bookstore-of-the-mind.