In case you didn't know, libraries are cool as heck.

They've been around for — well — ever (or at least thousands of years), there are more than 17,000 of them in the U.S., and they serve a myriad of purposes beyond just access to an unlimited number of free books (which, let's be honest, is pretty great in itself). Nearly all libraries offer access to computers and Wi-Fi, and many serve double as venues for community events. Best yet, libraries can help people develop the tools they need to combat the spread of false stories on the internet and identify reputable sources of information.

Don't worry! No books were harmed in the making of this photo. Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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