Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Internet can’t replace libraries: Why they matter more than ever in the age of Google -

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

If you were airdropped, blindfolded, into a strange town and given
nothing but a bus ticket, to where would you ride that bus? You might be
surprised to learn that there’s only one good answer, and that’s the
public library. The library is the public living room, and if ever you
are stripped of everything private—money, friends and orientation—you
can go there and become a human again.

Of course, you don’t have to be homeless to use a library, but that’s the
point. You don’t have to be anyone in particular to go inside and stay
as long as you want, sit in its armchairs, read the news, write your
dissertation, charge your phone, use the bathroom, check your email,
find the address of a hotel or homeless shelter. Of all the institutions
we have, both public and private, the public library is the truest
democratic space.

The library’s value isn’t lost on us. A Gallup
survey from 2013 found that libraries are not just popular,
they’re extremely popular. Over 90 percent of Americans feel that
libraries are a vital part of their communities. Compare this to
53 percent for the police, 27 percent for public schools, and just 7
percent for Congress, and you’re looking at perhaps the greatest success

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