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Brooklyn Public Library

This past weekend I took my seven-year-old son to our local library, the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.

He wanted to go so that he could learn more about the French Revolution (having had his curiosity piqued by hearing about French support for the American Revolution). When we got there, he was mainly interested in the pictures showing the violent parts - the storming of the Bastille and the guillotine - rather than ideas about democracy.

Our trip reminded me how valuable public libraries are. The place was packed with people of all ages and walks of life, in the middle of a sunny spring afternoon. Too often libraries are dismissed as un-necessary today, with the internet,  Barnes & Noble and all. But public libraries are different than these, and vital. They are truly an index of the value we place on cultural learning and development as a society. In that regard, it's a bad sign that many of them have suffered budget cuts in recent times - including the Brooklyn Public Library, which is currently threatened with a $20.6 million cut in its New York City funding. 

In addition to its impressive collection, the Brooklyn Public Library hosts lectures, musical performances and other events. And the central library at Grand Army Plaza has an added benefit for the visitor - it is a wonderful example of Art Deco architecture. Best of all, the inscription on the facade of the building cannot help but to inspire:

Here are enshrined the longing of great hearts and noble things that tower above the tide, the magic word that winged wonder starts, the garnered wisdom that has never died

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