Civic Space/Cyberspace: The American Public Library in the by Redmond Kathleen Molz

By Redmond Kathleen Molz

Quintessentially American associations, symbols of neighborhood spirit and the yankee religion in schooling, public libraries are ubiquitous within the usa. on the subject of a thousand million library visits are made every year, and extra childrens subscribe to summer season analyzing courses than little league baseball. Public libraries are neighborhood associations, as various because the groups they serve. but their easy companies, concepts, credo are basically comparable; they usually supply, via know-how and cooperative agreements, myriad fabrics and data some distance past their very own walls.In Civic Space/Cyberspace, Redmond Kathleen Molz and Phyllis Dain investigate the present situation and path of the yank public library. they think about the demanding situations and possibilities provided by way of new digital applied sciences, altering public coverage, financial realities, and cultural developments. They draw on web site visits and interviews carried out around the kingdom; huge analyzing of news, surveys, and different files; and their long-standing curiosity within the library's position within the social and civic constitution. The publication uniquely combines a scholarly, humanistic, and historic method of public libraries with a clear-eyed examine their difficulties and clients, together with their position within the rising nationwide info infrastructure.

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Its basic mission was to represent the concerns of the general public of library users at a time when libraries in Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and many other communities, both large and small, were feeling the impact of new budget cuts. The public library received another and perhaps unexpected impetus during the 1970s from a number of educational philosophers, calling for a deschooled society to lessen the bureaucratized nature of the public school system and restore the educational values and services needed by the nation.

47 "Classic Liberal models of democracy," jansen writes, "were premised upon the assumption that knowledge is a social resource, a public utility, or a collective good. For this reason, free public libraries have been regarded as cornerstones of democracy. Even the much criticized Utilitarian image of 'a free-market ofideas' protects the beliefthat access to knowledge is a right rather than a privilege; it assumes free entry of diverse ideas into a public marketplace which is open to all citizen/shoppers who seek knowledge.

Although the tenor of these documents is indeed forceful, the Association freely acknowledges that it has no powers of enforcement and that its policy statements can serve only as guidelines for local development. In 1996, an advisory statement, "Fees for Public Libraries: An Issue Statement," noted that "each public library must make its own decision about fees"44 was accepted for discussion purposes by the board ofdirectors ofthe Public Library Association. The statement, however, has never been promulgated as PLA policy.

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