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When is the last time you visited your local library?

I’ve made use of them a lot through the years, including fun and educational reading, school research in the stacks, and work for 2 semesters of grad school. But even I forgot just how great they are. I finally ventured to the nearby library a few weeks ago. In addition to picking up a couple dvds and books, I learned that there are yoga and spanish classes offered!!

While a few traditional libraries focusing on books do still exist, the majority of libraries are becoming community centers.

Different libraries focus on different things, usually dependent on the people who live in the surrounding area. You may find that a library a little further away is better suited for you. Don’t assume that all libraries in your city are the same.

You are likely to find:

  • DVDs (tv shows, movies, documentaries, etc.)
  • CDs (music, books-on-CD, etc.)
  • Current books
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Interlibrary loan and borrowing privileges with other libraries
  • Classes (everything from languages, writing, finance, tax prep, yoga)
  • Book clubs
  • Lecture series
  • Children’s groups and story time
  • Youth groups
  • Computers and internet access
  • Movie showings
  • Artist exhibitions
  • Holiday programs and events
With all of these options, you may still want to simply borrow a book. Just before heading to Yellowstone, I picked up a guidebook, which came in very handy on the trip.
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The U.S. constitution provides for the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. The Afghan education system has varied substantially through the years, but currently the constitution takes a far-reaching approach: “Education is the right of all citizens of Afghanistan…” and then it goes even further, “…shall be offered up to the B.A. level in the state educational institutions free of charge by the state” (Article 43).

Students here don’t pay for anything. They don’t pay for credits, books, food, or even dormitories. The only two things that I have found that they must pay for are the entrance exam for college, should they wish to apply, and their official diploma, should they wish to have a copy.

There are private schools (with typical private school fees). Some of them may actually be more competitive and better quality than the public schools, but they tend to be more fraught with people buying their grades. The government doesn’t have any way to regulate them so students of private schools end up out of the system, which can be a problem if they want a government job in the future.

In the past, I have talked with friends (some of whom have had education provided very cheaply or others who have debated whether to fund their children’s education). Most of them believe that when young adults don’t have to pay for things they never really understand and appreciate the value of those items. Obviously, each person is different, but at a general level, what do you think? Does this mentality apply to education? Should it be an inalienable right?

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