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First responders

So I'm working on a paper for school (bleh), but I ran across this:


”For most people in the community, a public library represents a safe place,” says Sharman Smith, executive director of the Mississippi Library Commission. And that’s literally true. Libraries usually are housed in solid, well-constructed buildings, less likely than some other structures to be affected by Mother Nature. And virtually everyone in the community knows where they are. Moreover, a whopping 70 percent of library computer users depend on libraries as their primary access to the electronic world. So it’s not surprising that libraries are a natural place citizens turn to during a local emergency.

But while library personnel have, in effect, become de facto first responders, they don’t get any additional help to do the< job. Recognition of this additional community role that libraries play — beyond books and reading rooms — seems to be missing. Nearly half of U.S. public libraries either lost funding or received no additional funding in 2006, according to “Public Libraries and the Internet 2006,” a recently released report funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Despite that discouraging fiscal trend, “public libraries,” says John Carlo Bertot, a professor at Florida State University and co-author of the 2006 report, “are taking on additional roles at their own expense.”

It may not be anything new, but it's powerful stuff.