libraries are more important than ever to people who can't otherwise get connected: Nearly two-thirds provide the only free computer and Internet access in their communities, according to the American Library Association.
In the 25 years since the ALA adopted a policy urging full access for poor and homeless library patrons, few have taken this mission as far as Nashville's main downtown library, where Bailey arrives early each day, standing on an icy sidewalk in below-freezing temperatures with a half-dozen other people until the ornate bronze doors open.
Once inside, he goes directly to the third floor, where rows of computer terminals are quickly occupied by people carrying bags filled with their worldly possessions.
The library recently renovated this section with their homeless patrons in mind, ditching countless shelves of bound copies of "Popular Mechanics" and other periodicals that are now available electronically, and making way for 68 computers and more tables with ethernet connections and power outlets."
"Librarians can't solve people's problems, but we can provide them the resources to solve their own problems," she said.