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It’s A Question Of Balance ® radio show balances the intellectual with the creative, exploring whether we have more in common than divides us through thought-provoking conversations – out and about with people on the street on different topics, and in the studio with inspiring guests from the arts. Balance is not a compromise. Balance is truth distilled from many places creating cohesive understanding.

Topic: Out And About – Conversations on the Street about Questions That Matter: Do We Still Need Public Libraries?

Do we still need public libraries? Ruth Copland

We consider ‘Do we still need public libraries?’ In this age of the internet and e-books what is the role of the public library in society today? Thomas Jefferson in 1809 wrote “I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county”. Funding of libraries is constantly under attack in budget cuts and has seriously declined in recent years even though 90% of Americans say the closing of their local public library would impact their community*. Publishers are ambivalent or even hostile about libraries fearing reduced book sales. With their core mission of promoting reading, however, do libraries create new readers (and thus new purchasers)? 82% of Americans believe libraries should provide free literacy programs to young children*, which may include traditional reading, writing and comprehension as well as technology and new media literacies. Is this a good use of public money or should parents be responsible for providing these skills? Many people have home access to the internet for research and e-books but does this replace the cultural and intellectual experience of the library and its role as a vibrant community center? Is the library more than a repository of books? Libraries now provide free access to the internet and computers – is this as fundamental a right to information as the original intent of libraries providing access to books (and thus knowledge) for all people regardless of socio-economic standing? What do you think? Local people share their views with me on the show’s Out and About feature.

*Pew Research Center.

Arts Interview: In-Depth Conversation with Azar Nafisi Begins at 53 Minutes

Azar Nafisi posing and her new book

As my special guest from the arts I’m pleased to be interviewing Azar Nafisi, New York Times best-selling author, essayist and academic. Azar is perhaps best known for her book Reading Lolita in Tehran, which tells the story of how, against the backdrop of morality squads and executions, Azar taught American literature to her students in Iran. It is an exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny. Reading Lolita in Tehran has sold over a million copies, spent over 117 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, has been translated into 32 languages, and has won diverse literary awards. In 2006 Azar won a Persian Golden Lioness Award for literature, presented by the World Academy of Arts, Literature, and Media. She is the author of Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov’s Novels, a children’s book (with illustrator Sophie Benini Pietromarchi) BiBi and the Green Voice and Things I Have Been Silent About: Memories, a memoir about her mother. In addition, Azar has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, The New Republic and The Wall Street Journal. Azar Nafisi is a Visiting Professor and the executive director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics. Her new book The Republic of Imagination has just been published. For more info visit

“It’s A Question of Balance ® so rare among radio talk shows, lets its subjects breathe. With her discursive style and pleasingly eccentric range of curiosity, host Ruth Copland each week treats her listeners to two hours of Whole Brain Radio.
Hampton Sides – Internationally bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and historian

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