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The Boston Globe


Public libraries remake themselves in digital era

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — At the bustling public library here, requests by three patrons to place any title on hold prompt a savvy computer system to order an additional copy of the coveted item. That policy was intended to eliminate the frustration of long waits to check out bestsellers and other popular books. But it has had some unintended consequences, too: The library’s shelves are now stocked with 36 copies of ‘‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’’

Of course, librarians acknowledge that when patrons’ passion for the sexy series lacking in literary merit cools in a year or two, the majority of volumes in the ‘‘Fifty Shades’’ trilogy will probably be plucked from the shelves and sold at the Friends of the Library’s used-book sales, alongside other poorly circulated, donated, and out-of-date materials.

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