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Monday, Sept. 18, 2006 | At last! At last there’s a sensible alternative to creating a $185 million white elephant in downtown San Diego. The concept of an architectural showplace for books is a hiccup from the 19th century. For the average reader, a friendly nearby site where books and other materials can be browsed and, if unavailable, ordered, is the right idea for the 21st century.

Like the county librarian, I grew up in New York City and made tracks to the neighborhood library every 3 or 4 days, loading up on whatever interested me. I’m still an avid reader, as a scholar as well as for pleasure, and would suggest putting extra money into the library’s online catalog, which dates from computer pre-history, and for more computers and even tutors for kids grappling with homework. But not a penny for bricks and mortar.

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