The Atlantic

The Libraries Bringing Small-Town News Back to Life

As local news outlets disappear in America, some libraries are gaining new relevance.
Source: Tina Fineberg / AP

When a teenager began firing on students in Marilyn Johnson’s old high school east of Cleveland, Johnson searched everywhere to find out what was happening. She first saw the news on CNN, but she found out more on the town library’s Facebook page. The site was “the best, most detailed place to get breaking information,” she says.

Johnson had published an acclaimed book on the digital and community future of libraries just two years earlier——but she hadn’t predicted that the sharp decline in original local news could propel librarians into action. Since that 2012 shooting, more local newspapers have folded or shrunk, and

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