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THROUGH ALL THE TECHNOLOGY, READING REMAINS LIBRARIES’ FOCUS

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” — Victor Hugo

As a student in Marion Township Elementary School in the early 1960s, Diane Blinn probably didn’t know who Victor Hugo was. Even then, she understood what happens when words written on pages become books that paint all sorts of magical thoughts and visions in your mind.

To paraphrase songwriter Alicia Keys, reading set Diane Blinn’s mind on fire.

For 41 of her 64 years, Diane Blinn Wakefield has been director of the Beaver Area Memorial Library. It was her first job and will most likely be her last.

So there’s no doubt Wakefield knows who Victor Hugo is, what the French author wrote, when, why and specifically where to find his classic “Les Miserables” in print, as an audiobook and as a DVD in the unpretentious building at the corner of College Avenue and River Road in Beaver.

And within a minute, she’ll know which local libraries have Hugo’s masterpiece in their collections, courtesy of the Beaver County Library System’s automation system.

Best of all since 1998, any library patron from Beaver County can use a computer in the library or their own anywhere to search the 339,000-plus items in the system’s shared online catalogue.

A collective “wow” surely describes how automation

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