In a post On the Purpose of Public Libraries, Annoyed Librarian vents her spleen at a "typically excited" attempt to attract teenagers into a local library via provision of video games. So should libraries try any attempt to get people in through the door by any means (even to the extent of providing strippers, as one droll commenter suggests), in the "strange assumption" that they'll stick around to read, and to be informed and educated, as is the core mission of a library? As Annoyed states:
It seems to me that public libraries no longer have any coherent and compelling mission. They just want to get more people to use them somehow, anyhow. They just want to be all things to all people. Of course it can't be done, and what might happen is that they fail to do even what they could do well. The goal is just to get bums on seats, and if the libraries are filled to capacity with gaming teens or whomever, then that sad goal will have been accomplished. The new mission of public libraries: bums on seats, luv! It certainly makes me proud to be a librarian.
There is, inevitably, a healthy discussion in the comments in the attempt to find a modern library mission statement. One can read plenty of news about various depressing initiatives in the UK -- turning libraries into "ideas centres" and so on -- at the excellent Tim Coates' (future Prime Minister of the UK) Good Library Blog. Tim's blog is replete with sensible plans for how to run a library service, largely and tragically being ignored as far as I can tell.