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In his fiction, John Steinbeck gave a voice to the hardscrabble farmworkers of his hometown, Salinas, California. But a copy of East of Eden is going to be hard to come by in the “nation’s salad bowl”; facing $9 million in red ink, Salinas announced in December that it would shut its libraries, including the branch named for the Nobel laureate. The city of 150,000 will reportedly be the largest in the nation without a library.

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