one thing to keep in mind is that these photos document one branch of the detroit public library system. detroit does still have a public library system with 20-some branches. they are definitely underfunded, and have to make some tough decisions in terms of collection development and services, but they do a good job with the limited resources allotted to them, and they offer some resources and collections that house information that is not available anywhere else in north america or even the world.
the main library of the dpl system is one of the carnegie libraries built around the turn of the 19th/20th century, and is gorgeous. it is host to some really unique and exciting special collections, including the burton historical collection, a collection devoted to african american music history, a baseball history collection, and the national automotive history collection. it also has an innovative teen services department that offers some unique and exciting programs not offered by any other teen services department in north america.
it is very easy to find “ruins porn” depicting detroit landmarks. the city is bankrupt, and even before the bankruptcy, it has been in a depression for decades, as the once-thriving city and its workers have yet to recover from the auto industry sending almost all of its manufacturing jobs (which used to form the background of a really solid and even exemplary middle class economy in the city) overseas.
it is sad that the mark twain branch of dpl shut down at all, let alone in a way that did not allow for proper removal/storage of its collection, and there is a sad beauty to these images, obviously. but looking at images like this completely outside of any context of what is going on in the city (one of the weakest public school systems in the country, retired city employees losing the pensions they worked their entire lives to earn, talk of selling off the detroit institute of arts’s priceless collection to pay off city debts, a complete lack of jobs, an unreliable and unsafe public transit system, to name only a few of the problems in the city) completely removes anything human from the people who actually live in the city, have to deal with what’s going on there, and are coming up with creative ways to survive in a city that has totally abandoned them.
anyway, you really should check out the detroit public library system.