One day, Benjamin Franklin, whose birthday is today (17 Jan 1706), was dining with friends in Paris.

A fellow diner posed this question for discussion:

“What condition of man most deserves pity?”

Each guest suggested an example.

But, as usual, Benjamin Franklin was very perceptive. His answer?

“A lonesome man on a rainy day who does not know how to read.”

BTW, in 1731, Franklin founded America’s first public circulating library so that less afluent Americans who didn’t have enough money to buy books could borrow them.

A library isn’t so useful to a man who can’t read.

(Note also: the library founded by Franklin in 1731 was the Library Company of Philadelphia which was neither free nor public. Franklin did donate books to help start a public library in 1778. Whether this library was the first public library is a matter of dispute.)

(via lysistrat)


“But although technology is vastly changing their roles, librarians are still seen as ‘trusted agents’ and their role as navigators of the Internet will be critical to everyday life and the future economy.” — Stephen Abram
It’s true that librarians have a potentially enormous role related to the internet and society but that potential will only be realized to the extent that librarians follow their own noble historic example as public servants in free public information institutions supported by public funds. That means public librarians are the natural advocates and organizers of free public wireless internet in every community. Unfortunately this is not a mainstream idea in the United States where the orthodox (neoliberal) priority is “information economy” instead of information infrastructure.