Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything to stay. In the modern state, there very few sites where this is possible. There aren’t many institutions left that fit so precisely Keynes' definition of things that no one else but the state is willing to take on. Nor can the experience of library life be recreated online. It's not just a matter of free books. A library is a different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.
~ Zadie Smith
Source: http://bibliophileanon.tumblr.com/post/153912475123/well-run-libraries-are-filled-with-people-because