Originally Posted by QuantumIguana
The purpose of libraries has always been to provide books.
I would say that they are there to provide information
. In our day, this has expanded beyond books and printed periodicals to include audio, video, internet access and more.
And if you consider the reason for that information sharing to be, well, an informed citizenry, what do we consider "well-informed?" It is merely fact-based, non-fiction type info? If so, why have libraries traditionally carried fiction and other cultural-based items?
I think the answer is that is intended as a base for the community's intellectual exploration and growth in a wide variety of topics. This includes current cultural artifacts such as popular movies on DVD, CDs from contemporary musicians, and >shudder< the Twilight
novels. It also includes traditional and modern classics in film, literature, politics, economics, science, etc. If some choose to only explore a small segment of the diversity this resource has to offer them, that's their loss.
As local entities, there is also a range success with managing the system.
In my area (Durham, NC) I find the county library system to be quite good.