Around the Fourth of July, I spend a lot of time thinking about how wonderful it is to live in a free society. There are a number of tell tale signs of such a community, but I can think of none better than a public Library.
At the height of World War II when the future of democracy was uncertain Franklin D. Roosevelt called libraries "the great symbols of the freedom of the mind," and noted that they are "essential to the functioning of a democratic society." He was absolutely right. After all, without free access to knowledge, how can a democracy expect to function?
Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, is quoted as saying, "Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest." She, too, was correct. Even if you owe hundreds of dollars in library fines, we allow the public to borrow donated print materials on an honor system. We have no desire to keep books out of your hands.
If you happen to need a reminder of what makes America great after all the fireworks have exploded in the sky this holiday, look no further than your local public library. And then take a moment to remember how lucky we have it.