The Wall Street Journal has a front page story, January 7, 2013, "Check These Out at the Library: Blacksmithing, Bowling, Butchering To Draw Crowds, Some Facilities Offer Much More Than Books; Expanding the Tool Selection." by Owen Fletcher.
Public libraries have long served as gathering places and offered a range of nonliterary programs. And those who predicted their demise "have been proved wrong," says historian Wayne Wiegand, emeritus professor of library and information studies at Florida State University.
Community-focused activities at libraries aren't new developments, he says, but rather "repetitions of what happened in the past."
Librarians say they are increasing the number and variety of programs they offer—and people seem to be responding.
Attendance at public library programs rose 29% from 2004 to 2010, as overall visits to libraries also rose, according to the most recent survey by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.