Hard Times for Libraries

Will budget cuts diminish their community role?


Free access to information is often said to be a cornerstone of democracy. That principal is embodied in the nation's system of public libraries. But in many cash-strapped communities, access to at least some library services is no longer free. Budget cuts have forced some librarians to start charging daily fees to those who borrow best- selling books or current videos. Many are charging library patrons for online computer searches. User fees are just one way libraries are coping with budget cuts. Orders for books and periodicals are being slashed, operating hours curtailed, staff furloughed or laid off and branches closed. The American Library Association and local “Friends of the Library” groups are trying to mobilize public opinion and convince government officials that libraries are vital ...

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