(A grand staircase leads to the lower levels of the new Coeur d'Alene Library, which opened a year ago. JESSE TINSLEY/The Spokesman-Review.)
From our editorial today:
in recent years, libraries struggled with identity crises. People could find so much on the Web. People stopped reading as much, especially our younger folks, "Harry Potter" notwithstanding. Taxpayers kept paying for libraries, but hours were slashed when city budgets grew thin. Libraries seemed, to some, not just an endangered species, but a fossil. Alas.
But libraries always gain in popularity during tough economic times, according to the American Library Association. We now have science-fiction-style gas prices. Discretionary money is disappearing faster than old library card catalogs. And so people are returning to their libraries, where books, videos and Internet use don't cost a dime.
Participation in youth summer reading programs is up in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. Checkouts are up 12 percent in the city of Spokane, 5 percent in Spokane County and an amazing 73 percent in Coeur d'Alene, because, in part, of an amazing new library.
Favorite library memories? Blog lines open.