I can't speak to the thinking, but Mr. Gebhart points to encouraging evidence of reading:
The role of libraries and their reinvention is, I think, documented by what Siouxland Libraries has seen since renovating and expanding its main branch. The first six months since the main branch reopened to the public saw record use. During that time, the main library had close to 7,000 visitors a day and patrons borrowed nearly 267,000 items, a 17 percent increase over the same time period in the last year of normal operation. It’s clear the demand isn’t just for printed material. For example, there were almost 54,000 sessions of computer use during that period, meaning the computers there are being used roughly 300 times a day [Tim Gebhart, "Library Dealing with Reinvention Curve," A Progressive on the Prairie, 2010.11.18].
I'll take that as cause for cultural optimism. People want to learn. We need books and libraries and free public Internet access for that learning. In a democracy that depends on educated voters, we have a community obligation to pay for good libraries.