Critical Linking: August 23, 2014

The library is a handmade wooden structure, 8 feet square, stocked with about 80 titles — primarily handmade artist books, not popular bestsellers. Please try not to drop the books in the water. (Some artists have waterproofed their books in creative ways, such as binding them in Tyvek.)

A floating library in Minneapolis’s Cedar Lake!

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But what do these places look like? Over the course of 18 years, Dawson found out. Inspired by “the long history of photographic survey projects,” he traveled thousands of miles and photographed hundreds of public libraries in nearly all 50 states. Looking at the photos, the conclusion is unavoidable: American libraries are as diverse as Americans. They’re large and small, old and new, urban and rural, and in poor and wealthy communities. Architecturally, they represent a range of styles, from the grand main branch of the New York Public Library to the humble trailer that serves as a library in Death Valley National Park, the hottest place on Earth. “Because they’re all locally funded, libraries reflect the communities they’re in,” Dawson said in an interview. “The diversity reflects who we are as a people.”

Speaking of libraries, here’s a look at some of the diverse libraries throughout America, as well as a plea for why we need to protect them.

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Members want to celebrate Boston’s literary past as well as its present. They envision walking tours (beyond the Literary Landmarks run by Boston By Foot); literary-related street art; call-outs for interesting exhibits at the BPL and the Athenaeum; collaborations with school children; interactive installations; and even an audio story written specifically for the route a visitor might take through the district. Open an app, and the streets themselves form the scene for the tale. No word yet on any Kindle charging stations.

“I see it as a Broadway for writers,” said Henriette Lazaridis Power, editor of the Drum. “The way Broadway is a loosely defined geographic area of New York and everyone knows that’s where you go to find theater, this is a place where people who want to take in writing in the forms of events will go, and writers will find resources there.”

Kind of love the idea of creating a literary district and Boston seems like a smart place to do it.

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Therein lies the problem with modern reprintings: A revamped cover can help sell an old story to a new audience, but it runs the risk of alienating the book’s established fans.

“People respond the way they do because they care, and they care about the book the way they remember it,” said Chip Kidd, a New York-based graphic designer who churns out about 75 book covers a year.

Nostalgia is a big reason why people have really hated the new Modern Classics redesigned cover of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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This past June, she released a new story that imagined Harry Potter as a 34-year-old and two weeks ago, she penned a letter in the voice of Dumbledore to Cassidy Stay, who lost her family in a tragic shooting. Now, she’s released another new short story about Celestina Warbeck, a minor character from the series who’s inspired by Welsh singer Shirley Bassey.

J. K. Rowling is really treating her fans this summer. She released another short story in the world of Harry Potter this week you can enjoy.

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