Towns throughout the United States have a standard array of buildings to handle civic functions, such as police and fire stations, city halls, and public schools. However grand, imposing, or utilitarian these spaces might be, these buildings are seldom the true centers of their communities. In Salem, as in so many other places across the continent, it is our public library that might be considered our city’s beating heart. Along with parks, libraries are one of the few really public places left in our society where one can be without the expectation of spending money. The library is a place where neighbors – both housed and unhoused – meet in relative equality; a place where tools of knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment are freely available to all.