March 29, 2011 8:22 AM Subscribe
Photos from all over Japan of libraries after the earthquake.
"Books shaken to the floor provide a good visual measurement of the power of the quake: we can easily visualize how the rows looked before, how nice and tidy they were, and we can imagine the sort of force needed to dislodge them. But the images also allow us to glimpse the destruction in a relatively benign environment—books are not people. We hope that the libraries’ caretakers are safe, and, in the buildings where only the books, not the shelves, have tumbled, we reassure ourselves that they are. In many of these photos, we can easily envision someone coming along to set things right. These are images of hope, as much as of disaster, and they speak to the idea that the things most fundamental to a culture—in this case, its codified knowledge—have not been lost." Macy Halford, The New Yorker