Saturday, April 02, 2005

Thank you, Waco!

Rowland Nethaway, the senior editor of the Waco (Texas) Tribune Herald, wrote a column that was syndicated in a number of newspapers over the weekend. In the Columbus Dispatch, the column was headlined, "Libraries could use a multimedia overhaul," but I prefer the headline that appeared in its original incarnation in the Waco paper: "Let's Meet at the Library."

Mr. Nethaway makes a strong case, from the user's point of view, for the library as the third place (although he doesn't use that phrase). After decrying the decline in use of schools and other public facilities for social organizations, he says, "I think part of the old-fashioned spirit of community and ownership can be recaptured by building multipurpose public facilities. My idea is to turn public libraries from quiet repositories of the printed word into modern gathering places for all sorts of activities."

Mr. Nethaway has a pretty 1980s idea of what public libraries currently offer, in a lot of ways. But his solution is right up our alley. We are in a perfect place to build on this support. It's also nice to see this kind of idea coming from outside the profession.

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