I watched a speech by Garrison Keillor to ALA conference goers that was televised on Book TV over the weekend. You can watch it on Book TV's website if you have Real Player:
He made a case for public libraries as refuges where people can go to escape from the craziness of the modern world. A place where people can gather their thoughts and think.
He compared a library to a secular church and concluded by saying that libraries were sacred places.
As someone who has been caught up in the role of libraries in bridging the digital divide, I am somewhat concerned about this potential loss of library as refuge. I remember seeking refuge in libraries at various times in my life. The library was a place you could go to escape from family pressures as a teenager, from annoying roommates in college. There aren't very many places like that available.
So, perhaps while we're planning for our next bank of computers and printers, let's make sure we set aside a few quiet spaces for refuge.