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Sat Jun 8, 2013, 05:33 AM

Almost every day.

I work at a library!

As such, I see many people who come to the library on a daily or weekly basis. Some are retired who want to be some place safe and comfortable to read the daily paper or weekly magazines - for free. Some are unemployed who come to use the computers to search for and apply to jobs. Some are teachers who order multiple copies of books for their classrooms; at least one is a school librarian from a nearby school district that has pretty much cut their school library out of the school budget. Some are parents who bring their kids for our reading and early childhood educational programs. Many are kids who need some place safe to go after school and over the summer. Many are people who come for the free movies, music cds, and downloadable emedia (including ebooks).

My branch is in a fairly upscale part of the city, and we are the busiest branch in the system. We offer free adult programming such as cooking classes, local history presentations, bicycle maintenance, crafts, book clubs, financial planning guidance, how to start a business lectures, English as Second Language classes, and music presentations, to name a few. During the summer our children's programming includes visits from magicians, a local bird of prey rescue group, story tellers, crafts for ages 5-18, and a reading program that offers prizes like tickets to the local Six Flags, professional soccer games, gift cards, iPods, and a grand prize of a laptop. HOAs & other community groups rent out our meeting room for the bargain basement price of $25/hr.

Our Central library is a depository for federal documents and houses the largest collection of western history in the country. One of our branches holds the largest collection of western African American history. These special collections are invaluable for people conducting genealogy, labor, religious, and racial research.

You are mistaken if you think public libraries are no longer viable in the 21st century. They are invaluable - though sadly underfunded and unappreciated in many communities in the country. That's out of ignorance - a modern public library is as relevant today as it was to its time a century ago.

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