Libraries: We need them now more than ever

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The timing couldn't be more terrible. Even as Philadelphia announces a plan to shutter 11 of its city libraries, there is more and more anecdotal evidence to indicate that libraries really matter.

Just today TMC News has a piece about the important role libraries play in keeping a growing senior population in the NY area connected and enriched.

And then there is a piece in the Norwalk Hour about Fairfield County, Conn., libraries and the way that they are scrambling to keep up with increased demand. It seems the economic downtown has made their services more valuable than ever.

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(You have to smile at any story that begins by describing a library facing a horde of kids who have shown up for a free concert by the Norwalk Symphony. There's a movie theater showing movies for kids right next door, yet librarians are hustling to put out enough chairs to accommodate the extra 50 or 60 young listeners who have shown up for the concert.)

There has also been press lately about the important role that rural libraries play in keeping their constituents connected and informed.

There may have been a time when we wondered if libraries still mattered but that question appears to have been answered. Librarians have been creative and smart about learning new ways to meet public needs.

And that may prove particularly true in the midst of an economic downturn.

Let's hope public officials keep that in mind should they be tempted to eye libraries as a way to trim budgets.

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