There have been a flood of news stories about the dramatic increases in usage of public libraries across the country, attributed to the economic recession the country is experiencing. Way more practical than going out and consoling yourself by buying a tube of lipstick (speaking as a woman, I don't get that) people are re-discovering the many useful things they can do and get at libraries - free books, free DVD's, free Internet access, free answers to your questions, free study space, free meeting space, free lectures...and on and on.
Technically, you do pay for all these things via your state and local taxes. But it's still a pretty awesome deal. If you want to feel even smugger about what a great deal you're getting, I found this nifty "Library Use Value Calculator" on the local public library website yesterday. (JMRL, whoever thought this up is a genius.)