In The Metropolitan Library, Ralph W. Conant and Kathleen Molz, eds., Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1972, pp. 89-100. Reprinted in Edward C. Banfield, Here the People Rule: Selected Essays (Washington, DC: AEI, 1991).
The public library has more users and more money today than ever before, but it lacks a purpose. It is trying to do some things that it probably cannot do, and it is doing others that it probably should not do. At the same time, it is neglecting what may be its real opportunities. What the library needs is, first, a purpose that is both in accord with the realities of present-day city life and implied by some general principles and, second, a program that is imaginatively designed to carry its purpose into effect.