Public Libraries Central To Healthy Community

SHELF LIFE

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At the turn of the century, a visionary philanthropist addressed the need to educate Americans to ensure our country's place in the world and saw the potential of the public library to help achieve that goal. Andrew Carnegie offered to build libraries if communities would contribute land and provide money for governance and oversight. Between 1881 and 1917, he invested the equivalent of $3 billion to build 1,689 libraries across the nation. The result of Carnegie's investment and the involvement of the communities, Americans propelled the United States to its position as a world leader in the 21st Century.

Today, with the advent of computers and the Internet, the question across the country is how essential is a public library to the health and well being of a community. In a recent poll subsidized by Americans for Libraries Council and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it was determined that there is a future for public libraries in the Internet Age.

Americans say that public libraries will continue to play a vital role in communities. A strong majority (78 percent) say that if their library shut down, they would feel "that something important and essential has been lost, affecting the whole community." And, the feeling that libraries are central to a healthy community is even more common among those who are actively engaged in their community.

News and views from the new book shelves

"Will's War" by Janicie Woods Windle is the compelling saga of Will Borgfeld and his fight for freedom and of three strong women who loved him. Accused by the federal government of plotting to assassinate President Woodrow Wilson, Borgfeld became a national figure and his trial became the Aaron Burr case of the day, exposing the anti-German sentiment that occupied much of this country during World War I. Borgfeld becomes the scapegoat in a vicious witch-hunt.

"Carousel" by J. Robert Janes. The place is Paris, December 1942. The corpse of a naked girl has been found strangled. Not far away, the body of a young man is discovered, throat slashed and tied to the back of a carousel animal. Then the corpse of a Wehrmacht corporal is found. The connection between the three victims is a scattering of ancient Roman coins around the bodies.

"Masque of the Black Tulip" by Lauren Willig. Two hundred years ago, secret documents so sensitive they could alter the course of history were stolen from a courier with the London War Office. The victim was left with a curious note containing only a small black symbol pinned to his chest. It took two centuries for a young American history student, Eloise Kelly, to uncover the missing pieces to the puzzle.

Non-fiction

"Generation Me" by Jean Twenge. The Associated Press calls them "The Entitlement Generation" and they are storming into schools, colleges and business all over the country. They are today's young people, people born in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s -- a generation with sky-high expectations and a constant need for praise and fulfillment. Using findings from the largest intergenerational study ever conducted, with data from 1.3 million respondents, the author reveals how different today's young adults are and makes controversial predictions about what the future holds for them and society as a whole.

"Never the Same" by Donna Schuurman. The death of a parent during childhood is a pivotal life event that influences a person forever. The author helps those who have lost a parent as a child reflect on their unique experience, understand its impact and heal.

"Danica: Crossing the Line" by Danica Patrick. The author's life moves at 220 mph. She drives every race and lives every day like she has something to prove. She's had to defend herself, her skill, her ability and her gender.

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