Last time you checked out your local library, there may have been a crowd. Illinois Library Association president Pam Van Kirk is not surprised by the Pew Internet survey’s findings that 80 percent of Americans believe libraries provide a vital service.
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Van Kirk says, “Libraries have always kind of been the backbone for democracy, providing information, and it goes back to leveling that playing field, making sure everyone has access to that information, (and) have someone there to help them get that information.” Van Kirk, retired from directing the public library in Galesburg, says librarians found themselves busy in January – when people came in to ask for help setting up the e-book readers they got for Christmas. The library in many cities also serves as a major community space.
While libraries are searching for the balance between high-and low-tech, Van Kirk herself enjoys