A Love Letter to Libraries, Long Overdue

The New York Times sent photographers to seven states to document the thrum and buzz in buildings once known for silence.

Step into a public library and you know what to expect.

First, there’s the smell: a paper bouquet of nothing and everything, including notes of vanilla, sawdust, wet coats, rubber soles and school. Then there are the spines lined up like soldiers, snug in plastic jackets. There are the shelves — metal, wood, sturdy as trees — stretching in every direction.

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