Share this project


Share this project

I've spent 17 years photographing public libraries throughout the US. I will finish the work this summer photographing in 22 states.
I've spent 17 years photographing public libraries throughout the US. I will finish the work this summer photographing in 22 states.
186 backers pledged $8,940 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates


C3bc0a8ec7b176610e7b76f89bb468b0 original
3096db394dd5820d5045e63b95d3bdd3 original

Prints will be sent soon. Thanks to all!

Dear backers, friends, family and colleagues,

I am ready to ship your rewards. Please check your email and reply with your mailing address so that I can send the prints and books off to you as soon as possible.

Once again, I am deeply grateful to everyone who backed this project. You have no idea how uplifting it was to see the expressions of interest and support appear in my email at the end of a 14-hour day in 110 degree heat! Every gift, from $1 to $1,000 means so much to me. Thank you!

Here's some pics of me processing the summer's work.

Thank you again, and we'll keep you posted as plans for the book and exhibition develop.


Bob Dawson

  • Image 65056 original
  • Image 65057 original
  • Image 65058 original

Update #5 Thank you all! We exceeded our goal!

Dear Backers, Friends, Family and Colleagues,

Wow. Thank you! What a ride! We clocked more than 11,000 miles, photographed 189 libraries, and covered 26 states in 58 days! With many days over 100 degrees. By all counts the trip was a great success, and do we have stories to tell!

I have just delivered my color film to the lab for processing, and spent the last 3 days in the darkroom developing my medium-format and 4x5 black and white film which, at first glance, looks great. Unlike the digital process, this is like opening presents at Christmas. It is always a surprise to finally see the images developed.  I will be printing your rewards over the next month, so expect to hear from me to confirm shipping arrangements for your print(s) and/or books. If you haven't already, please check my blog at to hear some of my stories and view selected videos and photos from the trip.

Thank you again for your generous endorsement of this project. It was wonderful to receive support from friends and strangers alike. I will keep you posted as my plans for the book and exhibition develop.

Best Wishes,

Bob Dawson

  • Image 61082 original

Who will push us over our goal?

Wow, folks.

This project is so close to making the goal! How close? At the moment I write this, we only need $28 more to push us over the finish line.

So in order to encourage you to increase your previous donation just a little bit: the person whose pledge or pledge increase gets us to the $8,000 mark will receive the $100-tier reward for their contribution. That's an 8X10 inch inkjet print of an image from this project, plus a signed copy of my earlier book The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland. (Add $20 for international shipping.) This offer is good for only one person -- the one whose contribution pushes us over the goal. Is it you?

Remember, if you've already backed us, you can always log in to your Kickstarter account and click the blue "manage your pledge" button below the goal amount to increase your pledge amount by $28.

Thanks again for your amazing support, and for spreading the word far and near about this project. Our Facebook friends keep on "sharing", our "tweeps" keep on retweeting, and we've gotten even more coverage on great blogs this week, including:

Jen Angel discussing her four favorite current Kickstarter Projects (hint: one of them is mine) on her blog  Aid & Abet.

A nice mention from the kind folks over at St. Charles Public Libraries, in Illinois: A Better Library.

We’re wrapping up the road trip by spending a couple weeks in a cabin with no electricity, so … it may be a bit of time before I post another update. I want to thank you in advance for helping me fund this project; this is only the beginning!


If you're reading this, thank a librarian.

Hello wonderful backers!

The project has gotten some amazing coverage in blogs this week, thanks mostly to an incredibly supportive -- and digitally connected -- national community of librarians. They're spreading the word about the Library Road Trip, offering to have us over for tea , and their push for support has raised almost $3,000 in the past week! (They're also tweeting up a storm, which as a non-Tweeter I especially appreciate.)

So thank you, librarians, for your help with this project and for your unwavering dedication, creativity, research skills, and general awesomeness. You are the backbone of this American commons, and we know it.

Speaking of the commons, we also had a cool mention from On The Commons, a network devoted to many of the different iterations of that concept in America today: Saving a National Treasure.

As we enter our final push north and east -- and our push to raise the final $1,000 -- I'm still amazed at the kind and generous response from you all. This is a project that has been sitting on my shoulder for decades while I completed other exhibits and books, and your support helps reaffirm my decision to finally push it to the center of my artistic focus. 

Meanwhile, on the road .... it continues to be hot, and we continue to encounter people of all temperments and learn about real life in this country beyond our sheltered coastal city lives. One more month to go -- and only a thousand dollars. Keeping spreading the word, tweeting, sharing, and all those other amazing things you do. The link remains the same:

And really, please do stop by your local library this weekend and say "thanks" to the amazing and dedicated folks who work there. Not just for helping out this small project, but for the much more important work they do all day, every day. And while you're at it, ask them what you can do to help out their library. They could probably use some support, too.

Yours in hope,

Scenes from the Road

Hello, wonderful supporters!

Thank you again for your amazing show of support in backing this project. After a month of fundraising, we're just about halfway to our goal. We still need your help: please remember to keep sharing the link to this Kickstarter page with anyone in your life who loves libraries -- whether Facebook friends, coworkers, family, or your local librarian:  It only takes a minute, and every click matters to get this project funded.

This trip isn't just about photography, or even libraries -- it's also about meeting the people that live in our great big country. We've been doing that with gusto, often during 18-hour days. It's been over 100 degrees out for most of the time we've been on the road. So far, we've logged 6,700 miles on the odometer, eaten almost that many barbeque dinners, and purchased two cowboy hats.

In Clarksdale, Mississippi, we saw some great blues music at the Ground Zero nightclub. The next day, I photographed the library in town and met the reference librarian, Phillip Carter—who happened to be the fantastic guitarist we’d seen the night before! This confirmed the saying that real musicians have day jobs (although I’m not sure what it confirms about librarians).

In Natchez, Mississippi, a librarian turned the tables and photographed us.

We experienced the diversity of the great state of Oklahoma, home to Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, the Cherokee Nation, a thriving Vietnamese-American mall culture, and traces of Merle Haggard's legacy.

We took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Missouri, just over the border from Arkansas, and stopped in the town of Seligman, where the library, the police department, and the city hall are all in conjoined buildings

For folks following along on the blog, you may have noticed some moving pictures being posted along with our trip photographs. My son Walker's friend, Nick Neumann, joined us in Texas and has been documenting our trip in some great video blog posts.

In the next week the Library Road Trip will be heading out of the South and moving into the Rust Belt. We're excited to see the towns there and continue photographing the amazingly varied public libraries. As always, you can follow along on the blog:

And don't forget to share our link on Facebook: There's only 30 days left to make our goal!

Thanking you from highways and heat waves,