Quintessentially American institutions, symbols of community spirit and the American faith in education, public libraries are ubiquitous in the United States. Close to a billion library visits are made each year, and more children join summer reading programs than little league baseball. Public libraries are local institutions, as different as the communities they serve. Yet their basic services, techniques, and professional credo are essentially similar; and they offer, through technology and cooperative agreements, myriad materials and information far beyond their own walls.
In Civic Space/Cyberspace, Redmond Kathleen Molz and Phyllis Dain assess the current condition and direction of the American public library. They consider the challenges and opportunities presented by new electronic technologies, changing public policy, fiscal realities, and cultural trends. They draw on site visits and interviews conducted across the country; extensive reading of reports, surveys, and other documents; and their long-standing interest in the library's place in the social and civic structure. The book uniquely combines a scholarly, humanistic, and historical approach to public libraries with a clear-eyed look at their problems and prospects, including their role in the emerging national information infrastructure.