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"Libraries are ... essential to the functioning of a democratic society...libraries are the great symbols of the freedom of the mind."

-Franklin D. Roosevelt


        In America, public libraries empower citizens to take ownership roles in our democracy. In a democracy governing power belongs to the citizens or their representatives; the effectiveness of democracy is limited by the degree to which its participants are informed.  By providing support for an educated, informed electorate, public libraries serve as a foundation of American democracy.   America is known as the land of opportunity.  It is commonly believed that through hard work one's success need only be limited by their capacity to dream.  This fantastic view of America ignores the harsh realities of factors such as race and class to limit access to the dream.  Public libraries help equalize opportunity in America.  Libraries have high standards of individual intellectual freedom and equal access to all.  However, in America's history not even these sacred bastions of democracy have always had a stellar record of liberty and equality.  Nevertheless, libraries help build and sustain community, and are also a reflection of the culture of the community they serve.  Libraries and librarians have been assigned certain stereotypes in American society, but technology is changing the role that they play.  Instead of diminishing the relevance of libraries, technology has increased the need for libraries in America.  Free public libraries help bridge the gap between our ideals and our realities.





  American Library History  

Segregated Libraries

Stereotypes of the Library Profession

The Future of Libraries

Libraries Works Cited





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