Monday, October 05, 2009

Our Opinion: Libraries help feed our democracy

From the Tallahassee Democrat

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on Friday announced a grant of $83,250 that will help the Leon County Public Library expand its digital services...The grant certainly fortifies a report by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy that was issued Friday, warning that the creation of "second-class citizens" in the digital age can erode democracy. As antidotes to that erosion, the commission recommends funding of libraries and other community institutions for adult digital and media training.

The local library also observed Banned Books Week last week, displaying books that have been challenged recently or banned over the years. If you want to read something that might surprise you, you can check them out.

Along with the Knight grant, this observation is a reminder that public libraries are not just about bestsellers or reference questions or lively teenagers who must be shushed now and then. It's all of those, a resource for the entire community and a place where free information helps keep freedom alive.

As author Kurt Vonnegut wrote in 2004, "The America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries."

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