“Public Library: An American Commons” Photo Exhibit Opens Sunday

The library in Death Valley National Park

Public libraries can be a lot of things in a lot of places. Here in San Francisco, we have a big, spacious, modern main library and numerous smaller, classically designed branches that each have all the character and history that the Civic Center location lacks. The New York City Public Library's main branch in Manhattan is like a small city, with great lion sculptures guarding its mighty front entrance. Cross the country to Death Valley National Park, however, and you'll find a library smaller than a mobile home, made of cinder blocks with a carport-like roof overhead to protect it from the sun.

San Francisco photographer Robert Dawson has shot hundreds of libraries across the country. An exhibit of his work, “Public Library: An American Commons,” opens Sunday – where else? – at the library.

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