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The Most Important Building in Town | Mary's Farm

But savvy librarians have seen the future and brought it to their patrons. Recent innovations at many rural libraries include investment in a satellite dish and WiFi, which afford patrons high-speed Web access and wireless computing. These are popular additions in villages where cable is nonexistent and DSL connectivity may be nil. As a result, people can sit in the library parking lot and log on to the Internet, which they can’t do at home. Many librarians have reported to me, with amusement, that their parking lots are often filled after hours as folks come to make use of this free and mysterious service.

So the small-town library, once a place of sometimes-dusty books, has found a way to not only survive in this new world but to be indispensable. The idea that books are or will become obsolete is a bit premature. What they’ve always given us will remain, even though the delivery system may change.

As far as I can tell, the library can still take us not only back to the 19th century but ahead into the 21st and beyond.

Edie Clark’s new book is States of Grace: Encounters with Real Yankees, a collection of her profiles of unique personalities, available at and selected bookstores.

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Thursday, February 17th, 2011

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