If you'd like to read about the history of libraries, there's an article from History magazine online that I can recommend.
It is full of interesting little facts and information, such as "The first public library in the country opened in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833." Yay, Peterborough and the forward looking people of NH!
One of the sections talks about a time in Rome when,
libraries remained the domain of the learned: teachers, scientists, scholars. Where were the masses to go? To the imperial baths, of course! At the baths, men and women, rich and poor could take a bath, meet with friends, play ball--and read a book.This makes me shudder. Books and water--a BIG NO NO!
If you'd like to learn more about the history of libraries, borrow Fred Lerner's The Story of Libraries: From the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age [027.009 LER]. If you want to know what libraries of the future will be, get out your crystal ball!
Image by Waterhouse courtesy freeparking