Portland, ME -- Portland Public Library -- August 29, 2007

At the public library, while demolishing a pint of farmers market cherry heirloom tomatoes (I did offer to share), I had the privilege of speaking with Jen, Heather, and, upstairs in the Portland Room, Abraham. You can check out his blog at http://laviegraphite.blogspot.com/.

His favorite book--The Cloud of Unknowing, written by a Carthusian monk in the 14th century.

What’s going on at the library—they are raising money for a big renovation project, adding new technology like a self-checkout and redesigning the space to be more user friendly, welcoming. They have five branch locations throughout the city.

Abraham recommended that, on my next layover in Boston I visit the Boston Athenaeum that's on Beacon Hill in the downtown, and while I'm in New York, I visit the J. Pierpont Morgan library at 36th and Lexington, which has a first edition of a Gutenberg Bible, the largest medieval collection in the Western Hemisphere, and a sizable Gilbert and Sullivan collection.

He also suggested I check out André Kertész, who invented the idea of the photo essay and is one of the first people to use a 35 mm camera. Kertész took pictures of people reading books.

Below--a picture of old Portland and corresponding map.

Across the United States, in the libraries I visited, I was always impressed with the archives, the genealogy and history departments--one of the reasons we read is to find out more about ourselves and what a better way to do that than through the past.

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