The Libraries Bringing Small-Town News Back to Life
As local news outlets disappear in America, some libraries are gaining new relevance.
Via The Atlantic
When a teenager began firing on students in Marilyn Johnson’s old high school east of Cleveland, Johnson searched everywhere to find out what was happening. She first saw the news on CNN, but she found out more on the town library’s Facebook page. The site was “the best, most detailed place to get breaking information,” she says.
Johnson had published an acclaimed book on the digital and community future of libraries just two years earlier—This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All—but she hadn’t predicted that the sharp decline in original local news could propel librarians into action. Since that 2012 shooting, more local newspapers have folded or shrunk, and a few libraries have ventured in to fill the vacuum.
It makes sense that librarians would get it right. Librarians understand the value of accuracy. They are familiar with databases. Americans by and large trust librarians, actually much more than they trust journalists. And in a nation where traditional local news outlets are cutting back, their advertising coffers drained by Google and Facebook, their ownership increasingly by hedge funds or other out-of-town enterprises, where else can a citizen go? In some communities, the questions are basic: Who will sift through and list the best events so residents could decide whether to participate? Who would understand what makes an area distinctive and would get its history right? Read More