From an NPR story yesterday: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/10/133656983/britain-faces-closing-the-book-on-libraries
Libraries play a vital role in communities all over; closing a library is like snuffing out one of the candles which keep the darkness of ignorance at bay. Closing libraries produces very short term benefits in terms of budgets, but result in long term and often irreversible losses - as John Dougherty, the last guy quoted in the article, says, "If you lay off your staff and sell off your library buildings, then when the good times come, you have nothing." Restarting a library is infinitely more difficult than closing it was, because you have to start from scratch; new building, new books, new staff - libraries grow slowly, so that each year's cost is so much smaller than the value of the institution.
This story is about libraries in the UK, but the same story is being repeated all over the United States as well, and it's not just libraries - it's parks, it's playgrounds, it's after school programs - in California, it's school programs like music and art and PE (these are paid for by the PTA, not the school - so if you are in a poor school district where the PTA can't gather the funds to pay for an art teacher or a PE teacher - the kids don't do PE or art. Sorry kids, you should have been smart enough to get born to rich people!)