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Library: The Drama Within

Grilliches, Diane Asseo

University of New Mexico Press
Published:July 1, 2000

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For worshipers of books, the library is the ultimate temple. It is also, perhaps, the most democratic of institutions, "one of the very few . . . on earth," writes photographer Diane Asséo Griliches in her introduction to Library: The Drama Within, "where any soul may walk through its doors free, and depart enriched." This collection of Griliches's black-and-white photographs of libraries, full of those rich gray tones that bring to mind late-afternoon sun streaming in on the stacks, is a testament to the sacredness with which we imbue these keepers of the book. Griliches captures quiet intensity at an array of libraries, from the grand Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris to the humble-storefront Emma Yates Memorial Library (formerly Emma Yates's hat store) in Pocahontas, Virginia; from the rare book conservation section at the Library of Congress to the law library at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution; from a tattered seminary library in Split, Croatia, to the Beverly Hills Public Library's sparkling children's wing. The text is complete with an introduction by former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin and bookish quotes strewn throughout.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Diane Asséo Griliches's compassionate photographic eye gives us a sense of the transitory nature of human passages through timeless institutions. Her beguiling portraits taken in well-handled available light of all manner of visitors to all kinds of libraries move us to reflect on our own fleeting, absorbing, book-bound lives. Her work makes me want to renew my library card...almost everywhere." Rosamond W. Purcell

Anyone who loves books has a fondness for libraries, but few of us have a sense of their infinite variety. Diane Asséo Griliches has photographed libraries all over the world, from the grand reading room in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, to the humble remodeled train depot that serves as the library in Cleveland, Mississippi.

Libraries are inhabited by books and people. Diane Griliches has photographed not only the magnificent walls of books and tables full of students at the Biblioteca Marucelliana in Florence, and the library in Sarajevo, which has since been destroyed, but also the homeless seeking shelter, children using their library cards for the first time, patient librarians, lovers in the stacks, and a wealth of other human dramas that take place inside libraries.

Accompanying the exquisite duotone photographs is a wise and witty essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel Boorstin, who was Librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987. In this age of predictions of the imminent demise of the book, bibliophiles will be heartened by his praise of libraries and description of the book as an "anytime, do-it-yourself, energy-free communication device."--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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