The Utne Reader excerpts a bit from the introduction to John Palfrey's BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter Even More in the Age of Google.
Palfrey's point is that if we see libraries only as places to acquire information, then the ubiquity -- if not accuracy -- of Google and Wikipedia make them both far more attractive. But libraries, as public spaces, offer their communities far more than a place to store the last known edition of Facts on File, Palfrey says.
I'd have to agree. We can read lots of studies that show how children from poor families read fewer books than children from wealthier families. But reading programs, especially during the summer, can get kids into the libraries and have them reading books their families might not be able to afford. And that's just one thing. Palfrey's got just under 300 pages of some others, apparently, which means I'm going to have to check that book out to see what some of them are. And when I'm done with it, I'll donate it to our local small library, which seems. oddly enough, to be lacking a copy.