Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Magnificent, my petty personal gripe notwithstanding

The Library: A World HistoryThe Library: A World History by James W.P. Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is impossible to open this book without drooling at the imagination, beauty and splendid architectural diversity of the libraries portrayed. Pages 236-238 include three sumptuous pictures of the Thomas Crane Library and a description of it as “the most successful” of Henry Hobson Richardson’s “designs for small public libraries in the United States.” The author and photographer visited 82 libraries in 21 countries. In their acknowledgments they thank 74 “directors and staff…for giving us their permission, help and advice.” My personal, petty, pouting gripe is that my name is not among those 74. I expressed delight that Thomas Crane would be one of a very few American libraries in the book, and personally gave them a tour and permission to “shoot away.” Did I insult them by saying (as I did to everyone who ever requested permission to photograph the library) “You must not disturb library patrons or photograph them without their permission?” Bruised ego aside, I loved this book and recommend it to anyone who loves the physical buildings that house our species’ aspirations. (At $75.00 you may want to borrow it from, well, you know…)

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