I’ve been going to public libraries semi-regularly my whole life. They are generally warm, inviting, comfortable, and sometimes I just can’t believe that they will let you take all those books home for free! You can get trash novels, those old Sandman graphic novel collections you remember so fondly from your college days, literature, books to help you fix your marriage, car, plumbing, energy use, books to teach you about physics (because, really, you slept through it all and its amazing you managed a ‘C’ in stat mech), and landlording (the legal s#$% still scares the c$%# out of me, but it is good to be informed!), books to teach your curious 6 year old about Hanukkah. You can read the latest newspapers or magazines from around the world. You can read the whole Narnia series to your kid and realize it is totally racist and misogynistic and non-pacifist, and Christian (even though you didn’t get that as a kid except the Christian part, and you hope your kid isn’t internalizing it now, and you can’t help keeping up a running commentary as you read) and yet, for some messed up reason, you still love it.
At my local library (luckily the flagship of the Anchorage Library system – the Loussac) there is free internet and a coffee shop with organic coffee and tea and coloring and puzzle tables for the kids and a really hoity room with leather chairs to read in and a great Alaskana collection.
My idea of the perfect community center is a library. If things got bad, and heat or power had to be rationed, I see a solution being warm, well-lit libraries open into the beginning of the night where families could gather and read and play and talk quietly and queue up for the internet before heading home to a bed with lots of covers and a hot water bottle. Sissy, perhaps, compared to a viking longhall, but then I am more of a bookworm than a drinker.