There are things in this country that the market will not provide: public education, public art, public schools, public broadcasting, public toilets. I mean, there are things that are not profitable, but that still serve a value.
And I think the most important thing that we can do is to continue to treat Americans as citizens, not just consumers. If you look out and see an audience of consumers, you want to sell them something. If you look out and see an audience of citizens, you want to share something with them, and there is a difference.
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That’s Bill Moyers in 2004, with NPR’s Terry Gross, reflecting on his work in the mid-1960s to help establish the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Nurturing citizens is one of the primary reasons public libraries were established in this country. When they proliferated in the early 20th century, they were structured and resourced to meet this need.
The need is just as vital 100 years later. If we were creating our public libraries today, how would they be optimized to nurture citizens?