People are anxious about the future of libraries, with justification. There are good reasons to worry about levels of funding for US public libraries, for example, but sometimes astonishing claptrap even from otherwise reputable sources feeds the anxiety about the health of libraries. Here’s what Alberto Manguel had to say about public libraries in the New York Times in October 2015: “Most libraries today are used less to borrow books than to seek protection from harsh weather and to find jobs online.” Manguel produces no evidence for this extraordinary assertion and seems unaware that in 2012 (the latest year for which data are available), Americans made 1.5 billion trips to public libraries—the equivalent of more than 4.1 million visits each day. Some were undoubtedly sheltering from the cold or job hunting, but the...

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