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What’s the greatest American invention of all time? You’ll get a lot of debate over this question, but for me, the free public library has to be up there in the top five.

My mom was a librarian . . . she started by working as a clerk in the Fredericktown Branch of the Ozarks Regional Library, then when we moved to Annapolis she was determined that it needed a library too. Her determination paid off when the city officials set aside space in the “old Bolch chickenhouse” where the Annapolis Branch began.

How many afternoons I spent in the library in both towns! And the patrons–what a marvelous assortment of people. Elderly folks who used the library as an opportunity for a conversation outing, school children needing help on a project, voracious readers of “great books” and addicts of escapist novels. Everyone came to the library, and all you needed to access the knowledge of the world was the little card in your wallet.

Librarians out there, if you ever want me to make an appearance or give a talk, say the word. I owe you.

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