One of the quintessential landmarks in the Norman Rockwell image of the American town is the public library building. But, this traditional conception has little to do with contemporary reality. In metropolitan areas, the public library is usually represented not by a single building, but by a large central library and numerous neighborhood branches. Many New England towns have multiple public libraries. In outlying rural areas, public libraries are occasionally found where there is not even a “wide spot in the road.” Generally, however, most people assume that every place big enough to have a local government has a public library, whether it is a creature of the city or town in which it is located or part of a countywide system or library district.
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