Kansas City, Mo. The computer revolution has dramatically extended the reach of local libraries, the president of the Public Library Assn. said Thursday.
``It used to be that people thought of libraries as the box that held it all,'' said Ginnie Cooper, head of the 8,500-member PLA and director of the Portland, Ore., public library. ``Now, we're more like a switching station.''
She said the Internet had granted patrons the ability to access information sources throughout the world. However, she said whiz-bang technology would never eliminate the role of public libraries in sustaining a sense of community.
``People want it and need it in their lives. That's one of our missions now and in the future.''
Cooper said the inadequate funding of public libraries would remain a local issue, since 90 percent of budgets have been drawn from local sources.
Directors of libraries hard-pressed for cash should appeal directly to the citizens for help, she said. Voters are receptive to special taxes that earmark money for public libraries, she said.
``These are the most used and most loved public institutions.''
Cooper said there was a current shortage of people qualified to work as children's librarians and as computer technicians in libraries.
Despite uproars here and there, Cooper said she didn't fear demands for removal of ``offensive'' materials from public libraries.
``If we don't have something that offends everybody we are making a mistake,'' she said.
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