If you know anything at all about Columbia, this article will be a fascinating counterpoint:
Libraries sow urban peace in Colombia, by Andrea Domínguez 14/01/2009
“According to Prada, Bogotá libraries have become an important tool for social equality, they are open to all regardless of their social, economic or cultural background. They have become an important place for the city’s youths, not only for reading but as a place where they can carry out activities related to culture and leisure.
The libraries have also helped to restore the sense of public space and an empowermnet of their users. The libraries have helped better their surroundings, improving security in areas previously considered highly dangerous, and which are today very active and secure….
One of the facts that allows us to reinforce the thesis that libraries have contributed to lowering levels of violence is the case of Medellin that launched a master plan for library services in 2004 and which resulted in 5 library-parks, all located in depressed areas of the city.
According to Jorge Melguizo, Medellín Secretary of Culture, the fact the city has currently a mere 9% of the violent deaths it had five years ago is certainly associated with the library-parks. “I am not saying that the libraries single-handedly lowered levels of violence, since there are a series of factors in the city that have generated a new climate, but these spaces for social inclusion, for gathering, and for opportunities have made a contribution….” (link to full article)
(Thanks to Library Link of the Day (Jan. 21, 2009) for the lead!)