“Palaces for the People”

Eric Klinenberg

This book felt so familiar throughout that I had to check, several times, if I’d read it before. Evidently I haven’t! Which, I suppose, tells me that I’m more of a hobbyist civil engineer than I thought.

The very quick summary of the book is that, along with everything we usually think of as infrastructure, the US has also severely underinvested in social infrastructure—the things that make it easy for people to connect with one another in a space. The shining example of this, and the titular palaces for the people, are libraries: a completely free, completely public place where people are given the freedom to explore whatever may interest them.

For me, the familiarity of the book was a negative; I didn’t get much at all new from it, and so feel like it wasn’t a great use of my time to read. Conversely, though, if you haven’t spent a bunch of your spare time learning about this kind of thing, it’s probably a very good introduction to the topic. With that in mind, it’s an interesting read; give it a go—or, y’know, check it out from your local library.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

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