The newest Schmidt and House collaboration is taking us to the 24 smallest public libraries in the state of Arkansas. We are traveling as both photographers and writers for this year-long project.
The libraries and the staff and volunteers who run them serve many purposes in their towns and villages. Offering books for check-out is one, but not the most important one by a long shot. Community members come in to check out DVDs (because they may not have Internet access at home), use computers (again, no Internet), or to get info on jobs, health insurance, food stamps, college applications, and a million other subjects. They attend children’s programming, concerts, knitting groups, or literacy classes. They come in for the summer lunch program, and if they can’t make it to the library, a librarian may drop off a bag of food on her way home.
These tiny, often under-funded and under-staffed places may be the only real community centers for many miles around. They survive because of public funding and the commitment of individuals and local government. They continue to influence and improve lives as they have been doing for many decades.
The library series features portraits of librarians and patrons, photos of the immense variety of library buildings both inside and out, and stories from the communities they serve. The plan is to publish a book in 2019.
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