The Freakonomics blog has an excellent post today, entitled "If Public Libraries Didn’t Exist, Could You Start One Today?" Certainly worth a read, and the comments are good, too.
And interestingly, I saw Sicko yesterday, in which a very similar principle was brought up: if something as socially-important as health care can be privatized, then why not privatize other public services: fire stations, police departments, libraries? Why should we hold onto our old-fashioned, socialistic, help-thy-neighbor way of running these services? Surely we should be looking for ways to make money off of these things, like good little capitalists. Or are some things more important than money?