Public libraries are the great equalizer. A person of very little means has access to the same information and resources as the wealthiest person. All that power and knowledge come from the ability to obtain a library card.
Whenever I speak at schools, I talk about how much I loved my local library when I was growing up, how I was limited to only 12 books and how few places there are giving something of value away for free these days.
Then I talk about well-known people who've said libraries/books have changed their lives.
Like Gary Paulsen. Students lean forward when I tell the story of Mr. Paulsen's difficult childhood, how he went into a library one day to get out of the cold and how a librarian offered him a library card . . . and a book. I tell the students how long it took him to read that book. Then the librarian gave him another book. And another.
But I'll let Gary Paulsen tell you himself about how a librarian saved his life . . .