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SANANTONIO -- The San Antonio Public Library system is spending the next few months writing the next chapter in its rich history. A blue ribbon panel is planning what it hopes will be a successful future for the city s 27 branches.

Times are changing at the public library, where vast stores of information sit not only in books, but in the digital formats dominating the 21st century. When you visit a library, you ll see as many people online as you do looking through the stacks.

Libraries are these kinds of all-purpose instruments that have always played a great role in cities, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said. And that s even more true today with technology changing the way that it is.

For the next six months, community leaders from business, school and government will map what they hope will be a successful new direction for the library.

A dipping economy has actually been a boon for business, with more people looking for job help, inexpensive sources of entertainment, and online access.

We know that computers continue to get less expensive, Library Director Ramiro Salazar commented. But the fact is we have over 40% of households in San Antonio that do not have high speed internet access.

Proponents of an updated library system hope improvement might be part of an upcoming 2012 bond issue, though how much funding and the source are still up for debate.

We re going to have to decide, as a community, as we make decisions about the 2012 bond, what we can afford, Castro stated.

Still, Castro and others have great expectations about what a progressive library system might mean for San Antonio.

Keeping libraries relevant in the years to come may be a financial challenge. But with the mayor s 2020 goals focusing on education, he calls the libraries a critical component to the quality of life in the Alamo City.
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