In an age of greed and selfishness, the public library stands as an enduring monument to the values of cooperation and sharing. In an age where global corporations stride the earth, public libraries remains firmly rooted in local communities. In an age of widespread cynicism and distrust of government, the tax-supported public library has widespread, enthusiastic support.
When we think of libraries, we tend to think of books, and rightly so: Public libraries are by far our largest bookstores, and a majority of the 2.5 billion items checked out are still books. Indeed, for every two books sold in America, one book is borrowed from the public library.
But libraries are much more than bookstores. About 30 percent of the people who visit libraries don’t borrow books or even DVDs. For a greater number of people than we might care to believe, the library serves as a warm and dry sanctuary, a place they can sit without fear of being bothered. For others, it is a refuge from loneliness, a place full of hustle and bustle, where you can attend a concert, or hear a lecture, or read a magazine free of charge.