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“When people can’t apply for jobs or access government services because they don’t have access from home, public libraries must be there for them,” said Linda Lord, a librarian in Maine. “Where else are they going to go? Police station? Town hall? I don’t think so.” Though 62 percent of libraries offer the only free computer and Internet access in their communities, only 9 percent say they have the high-capacity connections needed to support the computers, Wi-Fi and technological training necessary for an increasingly paperless world. Some libraries connect to the Web at speeds that barely allow them to stream video services — less than 3 megabits per second — though many are now operating at up to 10 mbps. The goal is to upgrade all connections to at least 100 mbps.
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Imagine how much easier it would be to get kids excited about going to the library if the library itself doubled as a playground. That’s exactly what’s happened in an earthquake-ravaged village in China’s Yunnan Province. The town’s new library doubles as a community center with a slide on top. And it’s beautiful.

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Thursday night librarian!

I’m here and I have a camera.  

Anything you want to see?

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And of course literature is the only art that requires our audience to be performers. You have to be able to read and you have to be able to read awfully well. You have to read so well that you get irony! I’ll say one thing meaning another, and you’ll get it. Expecting a large number of people to be literate is like expecting everybody to play the French Horn. It is extremely difficult. And as I’ve said in this book here [Timequake], when we think about what reading is…it’s impossible. Literature is idiosyncratic arrangements in horizontal lines of only twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten Arabic numbers, and about eight punctuation marks. And yet there are people like you who can put on shows in your head - the battle of Waterloo, for God’s sake - The New York Times says that there are forty million people in the United States who can’t read well enough to fill out an application for a driver’s license. So our audience cannot be large, because we need a highly skilled audience, unbelievably skilled. . . . Thank you for learning how to do this virtually impossible thing.
Kurt Vonnegut on literacy from an interview moderated by Ross Klavan and published in Tin House Volume ,1 Number 2, Fall 1999
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I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, their powerful political connections or great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exits at the front desks of our public libraries.
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
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