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Libraries: Good News, Bad News

This week, two stories in the news about libraries highlight the importance of libraries to their communities and the challenges they face.

  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Support for Library Facilities Across the Country. U.S. Department of Agriculture Press Release No. 0486.10 (Sept. 24, 2010).

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced investments in 30 states that will create jobs by building and enhancing libraries in 129 rural communities across the nation. The projects are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).

    “Libraries are the centerpiece of rural community life, but in many cases they need additional funding to provide rural residents with computer access, modern equipment and new training and educational opportunities,” Vilsack said. “These Recovery Act investments in our nation’s libraries will serve rural America for generations to come.”

  • Anger as a Private Company Takes Over Libraries, by David Streitfeld, New York Times (September 26, 2010).

    Can a municipal service like a library hold so central a place that it should be entrusted to a profit-driven contractor only as a last resort — and maybe not even then?

    “There’s this American flag, apple pie thing about libraries,” said Frank A. Pezzanite, the outsourcing company’s chief executive. He has pledged to save $1 million a year in Santa Clarita, mainly by cutting overhead and replacing unionized employees. “Somehow they have been put in the category of a sacred organization.”

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