A photograph small structure with a corrugated metal roof, painted bright blue, with the words "Jungle Books" emblazoned colorfully on the side in Arabic, English and French. In front of the structure are a bike, a generator, and a chalkboard sign.

The Global Library Project

A Photographic Project by Robert Dawson and Ellen Manchester
11 June - 13 November 2022
Jewett Gallery - Lower Level
Main Library

100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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The Global Library Project seeks to document in photographs the important role of libraries throughout the world. This exhibition grew out of Robert Dawson’s 18-year photographic survey of public libraries throughout the United States. This exhibition features libraries and their missions across Canada, Europe and the Middle East including Israel, Palestine, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Germany and other European countries. The journey includes the famous refugee camp in France “The Jungle,” to Holocaust-haunted former synagogues turned into libraries in Poland to libraries in now the war zone of Ukraine and finally a Russian State Library for young adults in Moscow.

In this exhibition, Dawson shows how libraries engage and support an informed citizenry by providing access to information. Libraries across the world offer literacy and educational support, advocate for free and uncensored speech and in some cases offer immigrants and refugees classes on how to obtain citizenship. Of particular interest to the project is how social, cultural, historical and political issues have shaped a library’s role in each community.

With the support from the Fulbright Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Creative Work Fund of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund.



Related events:

Opening event: Meet photographer Robert Dawson. Saturday, June 11, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium.

Presentation: Photographing Libraries, Refugees, and Borders. Saturday, July 23, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium.

Presentation and Performance: Celebrate Ukraine! Ukrainian Performers and Musicians. Saturday, Oct. 22, 1 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium.

Presentation: Bibliocide and the Preservation of Cultural Resources. Saturday, Nov. 5, 11 a.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium.

Thursday at Noon Film Series:

  • July 7: Rape of Europa, Main Library, Koret Auditorium
  • July 14: The Public, Main Library, Koret Auditorium
  • July 21: Google and the World Brain, Main Library, Latino Hispanic Community Room
  • July 28: Monuments Men, Main Library, Koret Auditorium


Banner image: Jungle Books Library, The Jungle refugee camp (since destroyed), Calais, France. Photograph by Robert Dawson.