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When the libraries close, where do you go instead? (access required)

By Greg Lacour For the past two months, bibliophiles and those without home computers have looked with dread at the prospect of Mecklenburg County’s closing all but eight of its 24 branches because of budget cuts. Like everyone else, independent bookstore owners are waiting to see what the cuts will be – and whether the closures will lead to a rise in business or an increase in confusion. “We’ve had a lot of people asking us, ‘Well, my son has a term paper, do you have this book?’, treating us like a research library,” said Sally Brewster, who owns Park Road Books in Park Road Shopping Center. “I just tell them, ‘Well, we don’t have that much of a call for research materials on subjects like Antarctica.’ We don’t stock books for reference, we stock books we think people would want to buy.” Which is, of course, not the same thing as stocking books people need – for research or anything else. The bookstore owners interviewed for this story said they haven’t seen much effect on their businesses, and they don’t anticipate much, either.

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