There are not many truly public places left in America. Most of our shared spaces require money or a certain social status to access. Malls exist to sell people things. Museums discourage loiterers. Coffee shops expect patrons to purchase a drink or snack if they want to enjoy the premises.
One place, though, remains open to everybody. The brick-mortar public library requires nothing of its visitors: no purchases, no membership fees, no dress code. You can stay all day, and you do not have to buy anything. You do not need money or a library card to access a multitude of on-site resources that includes books, e-books and magazines, job-hunting assistance, computer stations, free Wi-Fi, and much more. And the library will never share or sell your personal data. In a country riven by racial, ethnic, political, and socioeconomic divides, libraries still welcome everyone.
The word library is derived from the Latin liber, meaning "book, letter, writing, list, catalogue, bark of a tree." In Greek and the Romance languages, the corresponding term is bibliotheca. With the development of writing, humankind has sought to record and store its most important information and most precious ideas in great repositories. Libraries and civilizations have developed side-by-side over the course of the last 5,000 years.