In these days when there is growing pressure to be accountable for an increasingly strained budget, it is easy to think in terms of charging for services, whether to charge back added costs or simply to levy fees for specific services. This move is not always accompanied by a clear understanding of what is involved. Nor is it always appreciated that added costs imposed on users can create a barrier between users and needed information. Moreover, even though governments and agencies are actively cutting library funds, a recent Gallup Poll (see In the News) makes it clear that most Americans support increased funding for libraries. In this context librarians must try to determine the meaning of ‘free’ access to information.
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