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Cowboys and books

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The Economist has a piece on libraries this week that should warm the hearts of all of us who love books. Despite our utter immersion in the Age of the Internet, the Economist asserts, public libraries are flourishing.

And in Wyoming, it seems, the librarians have really got their fingers on the public pulse.

The Economist cheerfully reports that in 2005-2006, the average resident of Wyoming checked out nine books (compared with five in California and only two in Washington, D.C.)

Throughout the United States, apparently, library book circulation has risen, although especially in more rural, conservative communities.

Using the Cheyenne library as an example, the Economist explores what might be the keys to success. One is really focusing on local tastes and interests. For instance, the Cheyenne library offers lots of Christian romance novels, in addition to a healthy number of agricultural books, including titles like "Small-Scale Pig-Raising."

The Cheyenne library also caters to particular community needs, by doing things like organizing book clubs for home-schooled children and teens. They also run a bookmobile and travel to schools and daycare centers.

Whatever it is they do, it seems that it's working. And in a day and age when we constantly worry that we're losing touch with books, that's good news.


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