Over at the New Republic, David Bell imagines the future of libraries, while Slate's Matt Yglesias wishes they would lend power tools, and other things people need, but use infrequently. I've written before about how great it is to have the Chapel Hill library at the mall, and how sorry I am that the plan to permanently locate here was rejected. Buildings that provide clusters of goods and services seem like an excellent way to build community, and to make optimal use of existing infrastructure.
There is too much concern for the need to immediately access and borrow books, when fewer people read, and technology makes paper copies unnecessary. But taxpayer-funded public spaces and repositories of information offering expert advice to citizens ought to endure.