Alexandria Still Burns

Thank you so much! On June 29th, 2014 618 backers carried our Kickstarter across the finish line with $12,245, allowing us to not only photograph and interview more than 300 Librarians at the ALA conference in Las Vegas, but to also fund the stretch goals of creating a series of stock photographs for libraries to use, doing five hours of video interviews, and doing some photography for the new Joan of Dark book on knitting projects for book lovers.


Alexandria Still Burns is a photo/video project by documentary photographer Kyle Cassidy, the goal of which was to photograph and interview 100 librarians at the American Library Association's 2014 conference in Las Vegas and create from this a touring gallery show that libraries can show for free and a video documentary which will be narrated by award winning novelist (and librarian supprter) Neil Gaiman.

The first part of this project was published by Slate magazine in February of 2014 as "This is What a Librarian Looks Like." and went viral in the first hour, and within a week becoming the most popular photo essay Slate magazine had ever published.

Background on Alexandria Still Burns, the SLATE photo essay and the Great Librarian War of 2014
Here's the photo essay, This is What a Librarian Looks Like in Slate magazine.
My first blog post about it with some behind the scenes.
My blog post about the fight over TiWaLL, includes links to a bunch of relevant blog posts and articles.

There was a lovely article about this project in the Philadelphia Inquirer, you can read that here.

interested in making this into a book? Please contact:

Gordon Warnock
Foreword Literary, Inc.

Members of the media
Want to write about this? Contact Kyle directly.

The photo shoots (for the time being) are over.

Want to participate?
Facebook event for the ALA portrait sessions June 27-29, 2014, includes times and locations.

Want a head start? Grab a copy of the model release, write up your statment and bring it with you.

You can talk about whatever you'd like -- here are some example topics to get you started:

1) What are the greatest challenges facing libraries today?
2) What are the most important services that libraries provide?
3) What inspired you to do what you do?
4) What do libraries do that people might not know about?
5) What would happen in your community if all the libraries shut down tomorrow?
6) Why are libraries relevant when the Internet exists?

Keep it short -- about 30-50 words.

Q: Do I get a copy of my photo?
A: Yes! Everybody who participates will get a digial copy of their photograph to use as they please.

Q: I was photographed in Las Vegas! When will I see my photo?
A: Before the photos get processed, every one of those 300+ model releases need to get typed up and 300 statements need to get transcribed.  An email will be going out after that, probably in September of 2014.

Q: Who's paying for this?
The Las Vegas photo shoot is being funded through Kickstarter, which ends June 28, 2014.

Q: What's the difference between Alexandria Still Burns and This is What a Librarian Looks Like?
A: Essentially nothing, but the Devil is in the details. "This is What a Librarian Looks Like" is the title Slate gave to the collection of photos they published. It's catchy though not entirely accurate, because the essay also includes relevant interviews, and it angered some librarians who didn't think what they looked like should matter. Also, there's already a tumblr (run by librarians) called "This is What a Librarian Looks Like" (which itself was inspired by The Librarian Wardrobe). The photo essays is only incidentally about what librarians looks like. While Alexandria Still Burns is essentially a collection of photographs that show what a librarian looks like, it's focus is on the challenges facing libraries and the celebration of libraries and the people who run them.

Q: What about the documentary?
A: As the kickstarter grew it became obvious that there would be enough money to expand the project in a couple of ways, one of which is doing video interviews. These will also be done at ALA vegas and will be more in-depth. If you have a story that's compelling, find us in Vegas and we'll schedule some time for an interview.

Q: Neil Gaiman is narrating the video?
A: Yes. He loves librarians.

Q: What about the gallery show?
A: The gallery show will be availabe in two sizes, 4x6 (small) and an undetermined larger size and will contain a still-unknown number of prints.  Since not all libraries have gallery space, these are designed to hand in a more non-traditional method. They'll be frameless to keep the shipping costs down and mounted on foam board so they can be hung with adhesive putty. There's no charge to hang the gallery show, but you'll be responsible for mailing it to the next person on the list.

Q: I'd like to host the gallery show in my library, how do I do that?
A: We're still not sure how many gallery shows there will be (there will be more than one) and we'd like to get them to the largest number of people (which means big cities) but we'd also like to get them to places that are often neglected (which means small, remote towns.) Until the kickstarter is settled we're not sure how many shows we'll be able to afford to print. When we know that, we'll start taking names on this web page.

Q: I have another question that's not addressed here.
A: Drop Kyle an email.