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Sitting With Books In Oklahoma City, Okla.

Some Oklahoma City parents use the Capitol Hill public library as a babysitting center. They drop children off when the library opens; they pick them up when it closes.

Certain librarians might see this as a nuisance. My girlfriend, Jennifer Jones — the children's librarian — sees it as an opportunity. And she is developing the Safari After-School Project, a program for the kids that includes mentoring and tutoring.

Funding is scant. But done well, such programs could transform libraries from relics of a previous age into vital parts of the community again. And change young lives as well.

Zachary Heath is an accounts distribution clerk for an energy company. He listens to KGOU.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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