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Gratis versus Libre

The Guardian's Hermione Hoby makes an interesting comparison between Ann Patchett's recent praise of American libraries in the Wall Street Journal and then-Senator Obama's keynote to the 2005 ALA Annual Conference.

Are we a model of free public services or free expression? Both, really, though anyone who knows how most libraries are managed might disagree with the former. Let's face it, library service models are far from perfect and often get outstripped by a constantly shifting information environment.

Yet even as we continue to struggle to provide better, faster, more efficient information services, we must remain intensely focused on why we continue the struggle: free thought, free expression, and the individual's right to privacy as he or she explores them.

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