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Quotations about Libraries & Librarians

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The dust and odour of ancient libraries, the gloom of those crypts of literature, have... all the charm of freshest images and freshest poetry. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)

The library lets you borrow the beauty and keep the knowledge. ~Author unknown

What is more important in a library than anything else — than everything else — is the fact that it exists.  ~Archibald MacLeish, "The Premise of Meaning," American Scholar, 1972 June 5th

I dote upon librarians in general.... these missionaries of the gospel of literature... ~Robert Haven Schauffler, Foreword to Printed Joy, 1914

Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul. ~Library at Thebes, inscription over the door

In my world there would be as many public libraries as there are Starbucks. ~Henry Rollins

A library is thought in cold storage. ~Herbert Samuel

The great range of education in fine arts... belongs as properly to a library as to a museum... ~Joseph F. Daniels, "The Empty Heart" (A Paper Read on the Educational Future of Libraries before the Library Section of the Colorado Teachers' Association, 1908 December 29th)

The best of my education has come from the public library... my tuition fee is a bus fare and once in a while, five cents a day for an overdue book.  You don't need to know very much to start with, if you know the way to the public library. ~Lesley Conger

Libraries are the one American institution you shouldn't rip off.  ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library.  The only entrance requirement is interest.  ~Lady Bird Johnson

As a child, my number one best friend was the librarian in my grade school.  I actually believed all those books belonged to her.  ~Erma Bombeck

I had dreamed of libraries, as every bookman has dreamed of libraries. ~Arnold Bennett (1867–1931), The Glimpse: An Adventure of the Soul, 1909

We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth.  ~John Lubbock

A library is but the soul's burial-ground.  It is the land of shadows.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

To those with ears to hear, libraries are really very noisy places.  On their shelves we hear the captured voices of the centuries-old conversation that makes up our civilization.  ~Timothy Healy

The library will always be the heart of a democracy. It's a place that is sort of a contemporary temple... Everything that you need to have a balanced life and great opportunities to discover yourself, your community, your friends, and your potentials can be found in a library. ~William Bruder, 2018 interview, architect of the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, Arizona [a little altered –tg]

For years librarians have been the caretakers of knowledge, from the first books before there were printing presses. And now librarians are not only the caretakers of knowledge but they're the navigators of knowledge... ~William Bruder, 2018 interview, architect of the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, Arizona

A man's library is a sort of harem.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life, 1860

My experience with public libraries is that the first volume of the book I inquire for is out, unless I happen to want the second, when that is out.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Poet at the Breakfast Table

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~Cicero

Libraries are the wardrobes of literature, whence men, properly informed may bring forth something for ornament, much for curiosity, and more for use.  ~William Dyer

Here is where people,
One frequently finds,
Lower their voices
And raise their minds.
~Richard Armour, "Library"

A great library contains the diary of the human race.  ~George Mercer Dawson

I love the place; the magnificent books; I require books as I require air.  ~Sholem Asch

The richest person in the world — in fact all the riches in the world — couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library. ~Malcolm Forbes

My books are very few, but then the world is before me - a library open to all - from which poverty of purse cannot exclude me - in which the meanest and most paltry volume is sure to furnish something to amuse, if not to instruct and improve.  ~Joseph Howe, 1824

I always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library. ~Jorge Luis Borges, translated from Spanish

Libraries and books are a big part of my life. Like a lot of inwardly drawn young people, I spent a lot of time in libraries.... There were no parents there, no one I knew, and the solitude was a great relief. ~Henry Rollins, "Empowerment Through Libraries," November 2013, LA Weekly  [Swoon! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

To build up a library is to create a life. ~Carlos María Domínguez

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.  ~Andrew Carnegie

Library fines are my favorite charitable donation. ~Terri Guillemets

No book in any noble library is so interesting, so revealing, as the catalogue of it. ~Arnold Bennett (1867–1931), The Glimpse: An Adventure of the Soul, 1909

Library work cultivates all of the most important ingredients of a successful life:  good health, honesty, love of humanity, intellectual curiosity, and a sense of fun, with the additional mingling of the celestial and diabolic which prevents a human atom from taking himself seriously. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), in Wilson Library Bulletin, 1943

A school library is the brightest beacon of youthful hope.
A public library is the brightest beacon of community hope.
A local library is the brightest beacon of global hope.
~Terri Guillemets

A library is many things. It's a place to go if you want to sit and think. It is a place where books live, and where you can get in touch with other people, and other thoughts, through books. Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had. And when you are reading a book, you and the author are alone together—just the two of you. A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book. ~E.B. White, letter to child patrons of the Troy Public Library (Michigan), 1971 April 14th, reply to request from children's librarian Marguerite Hart  [A little altered. Full portfolio at —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them. ~Lemony Snicket

Libraries rock!
paper and scissors
Shhh, don't talk!
~Terri Guillemets, "All–nighter non–sense," 2004

The library child seems unlike the school child.... I wish that I had time to tell you what I can recollect of the happiness that comes to a boy in his reading—that same boy who hated the school barracks with all the hate his little heart could hold. ~Joseph F. Daniels, "The Empty Heart" (A Paper Read on the Educational Future of Libraries before the Library Section of the Colorado Teachers' Association, 1908 December 29th)

Th' first thing to have in a libry is a shelf. Fr'm time to time this can be decorated with lithrachure. But th' shelf is th' main thing. ~Finley Peter Dunne

[T]he library: home to the original information superhighway — the Dewey Decimal System. ~Young Sheldon, written by Chuck Lorre & Steven Molaro [S1, E2, 2017]

      To students and lovers of books, the word library possesses a charm which scarcely any other can claim; and there are few associations so pleasant as those excited by it. To them it means a place where one may withdraw from the hurry and bustle of every-day life, from the cares of commerce and the strife of politics, and hold communion with the saints and heroes of the past; a place where the good and true men of bygone ages, being dead, yet speak, and reprove the vanity and littleness of our lives, where they may excite us to noble deeds, may cheer and console us in defeat, may teach us magnanimity in victory.... There we may listen to "the fairy tales of science," or to the voices of the poets singing their undying songs.
      Every man should have a library. The works of the grandest masters of literature may now be procured at prices that place them within the reach almost of the very poorest, and we may all put Parnassian singing birds into our chambers to cheer us with the sweetness of their songs. ~William E.A. Axon, October 1867

Library work changes with every fluctuation of the seasons. It goes up and down inversely with the economic lift and fall of the community. It rises highest in hard times. It reacts to the national throb of the decades. The earthquakes and eruptions in other parts of the world affect it instantly. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), "The Satisfactions of Librarianship," a talk given at a staff meeting of the Los Angeles County Public Library, 1947 March 12th

After dark,
library sprites fly
through author spirits
with fluttering inky wings.
~Terri Guillemets

Beauty, gentleness, kindness, cleanliness, good manners and the sweet amenities of life have proved themselves, over and over, to be better than a police squad or a penal code in conducting a library which shall aspire to any place in a scheme of education. ~Joseph F. Daniels, "The Empty Heart" (A Paper Read on the Educational Future of Libraries before the Library Section of the Colorado Teachers' Association, 1908 December 29th)

I love the subtle rustling quiet of a public library study. ~Terri Guillemets

There are days, after I've missed some sleep and forgotten my vitamin B, when the discovery of some new book losses sends me into a fury. But the next day when things may look a little brighter, I smile sadly and consider that the loss is really a form of non-recurring circulation, and a heavy-handed compliment to my skill in book selection, so I reorder the missing titles in an unending effort to fill the demand. ~Gerald Raftery, "Why Kids Steal Books," in Library Journal, 1959

The library is not a shrine for the worship of books.  It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one's devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual.  A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life.  ~Norman Cousins

A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.  ~Jo Godwin

We have our duty with the scholar and the bibliophile, but I waive the consideration of them here. The educational future of the library and of librarianship lies in the service to the people—all the people. ~Joseph F. Daniels, "The Empty Heart" (A Paper Read on the Educational Future of Libraries before the Library Section of the Colorado Teachers' Association, 1908 December 29th)

If you haven't owed a library fine at least once in your life, you're not a real reader. ~Terri Guillemets

Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library.  A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom.  The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Books," Society and Solitude

No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.  ~Samuel Johnson

What a place to be in is an old library! It seems as though all the souls of all the writers, that have bequeathed their labours to these Bodleians, were reposing here, as in some dormitory, or middle state. I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding-sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage; and the odor of their old moth-scented coverings is fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard. ~Charles Lamb

To those who visited the old Library of Congress at the Capitol he will always be associated with it — a long, lean figure, in scrupulous frock, erect at a standing desk, and intent upon its littered burden, while the masses of material surged incoherently about him. A figure of absorption and labor; quaint indeed in mode and expression, yet efficient; immersed in the trivial, yet himself by no means trivial, imparting to it the dignity that comes of intense seriousness and complete sincerity. Grave in the task of infinite detail upon a mass of infinite dimension: grave but never dour. Cheerful rather, even buoyant. A lover of Nature, too, as booklovers often are: and pursuing her on occasions with deep breath and long stride. ~Herbert Putnam, of librarian Ainsworth Rand Spofford (1825–1908), 1908, wording slightly altered

I advise you to go to the library when you want to find out something. I think just plain going to the library and getting out a book is a swell thing to do. It's something to do, when you've got nothing to do, all by yourself. It's a thing I still do when I've got nothing special to do. I just wander around until I find a book that looks interesting; let's say, a book about shipbuilding, or rockets, or a story by some author I've never heard of before.... [M]aybe you'll go to your library... and get out a book about elementary physics, and that'll be one other nothing you can do with nobody. ~Robert Paul Smith (1915–1977), How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself, 1958

No possession can surpass, or even equal a good library, to the lover of books.  Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation, riches which increase by being consumed, and pleasures that never cloy.  ~John Alfred Landford

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.  ~Quoted in The Whole Earth Catalog, 1980 edition, originally created by Stewart Brand; commonly misattributed to Henry David Thoreau

Librarians are almost always very helpful and often almost absurdly knowledgeable.  Their skills are probably very underestimated and largely underemployed.  ~Charles Medawar

For him that stealeth a Book from this Library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him.  Let him be struck with Palsy, and all his Members blasted.  Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no sur-cease to his Agony till he sink in Dissolution.  Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final Punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye.  ~Curse Against Book Stealers, Monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona

A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them. ~Mark Twain, letter to the Millicent Library of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, 1894 February 22nd

A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.  ~Shelby Foote

I was a classroom teacher myself before I chickened out and went to library school. ~Gerald Raftery, "Confer with sages here!," in The Wilson Library Bulletin, September 1961

A well-ordered library and a well-ordered mind are gratification for yourself alone if your third enthusiasm is not a spontaneous delight in people. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), "The Satisfactions of Librarianship," a talk given at a staff meeting of the Los Angeles County Public Library, 1947 March 12th

Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark.... In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed. ~Germaine Greer

Librarians are generals in the war on ignorance. ~Author Unknown

There are 70 million books in American libraries, but the one I want to read is always out. ~Tom Masson

Librarian is a service occupation.  Gas station attendant of the mind.  ~Richard Powers

The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A word also as to the cost of carriage: This is at present so high, whether the means be mail or express, that we may properly set it down as the chief obstacle to the free development of inter-library loans. ~William Warner Bishop, "Inter-Library Loans," 1909

Lifelong professional library workers have an appetite for reading. There is the exhilaration of living in a perpetual snowstorm with the books and magazines of the world piling around you; seeing the publisher's new spring catalogs; having access to the unbroken files of the thoughts and discoveries of the past; talking every day with people to whom writing and reading are supremely important. It's a nourished life living on a printed diet. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), "Vocation Without Regrets," 1943 [a little altered –tg]

Nutrimentum spiritus (food for the soul). ~Berlin Royal Library, inscription

To be successful and satisfied in library work, the librarian must have what Gelett Burgess called the "educated heart." It must bring the same triumph to find an elusive quotation or to produce the directions for building an outdoor fireplace as it does for the nurse to break a fever, or for the life insurance salesman to safeguard his client's old age. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), "Vocation Without Regrets," 1943

Our whole scheme would be melancholy indeed without a full heart happy with the very life-stuff we store in our libraries and which should, in some way, gladden the worker who sees no beauty in his furrow and who needs our help... ~Joseph F. Daniels, "The Empty Heart" (A Paper Read on the Educational Future of Libraries before the Library Section of the Colorado Teachers' Association, 1908 December 29th)

Shera's Two Laws of Cataloging: Law #1, No cataloger will accept the work of any other cataloger. Law #2: No cataloger will accept his/her own work six months after the cataloging. ~Jesse Shera, c.1976  [I hear ya, Brother! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I think that we need a teachers' librarian as well as a children's librarian, and we shall not stop there. We need a father's librarian and a mother's librarian that we may enter into the complete service of education and, somehow, get this message of enthusiasm to them, that they may feel that this great plan of education is of the heart, from the heart to the heart. There are yet others, each waiting for his librarian. The worker, the daily-bread man and the by-the-sweat-of-his-brow man. ~Joseph F. Daniels, "The Empty Heart" (A Paper Read on the Educational Future of Libraries before the Library Section of the Colorado Teachers' Association, 1908 December 29th)

I did not come here to tell you how to charge books to a teacher who needs them in her school; that may be done with an empty heart. You have enough of centimeters, date stamps and systems and you have probably solved the routine of library science in your particular library. The thing that I should like to have you think upon is the new call for help from the public institutions in this enthusiastic crusade that would make all knowledge flow from a heart that is full of interest in human welfare and the deeper things of life.... I wonder... if it might be true that the new-fashioned librarian has lost sight of the people as they are.... We of all men and women will reach our journey's end with an enthusiasm which can never in the service the people look for in our establishments, and while our hearts may be full of many things, we shall not fail the people in this new thirst for knowledge which is of the heart and for the community and the state. ~Joseph F. Daniels, "The Empty Heart" (A Paper Read on the Educational Future of Libraries before the Library Section of the Colorado Teachers' Association, 1908 December 29th)

The public library is the closest thing we have to a time machine of human wisdom... ~Maria Popova, "How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself: A Timely Vintage Field Guide to Self-Reliant Play and Joyful Solitude,", 2014  [Ms Popova is "a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large." If you're a lover of all things literary, click forth with haste to her website! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species.  I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.  ~Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Library work is now in its lusty youth with a future expanding hopefully into the 1950s. It ramifies into business, the arts, education, religion and the sciences. In the United States there is still a third of our territory unserved and waiting for the pioneer. The film and the record are new implements which must be developed to reinforce print. Those of us who are ending our years in library service will choose it again if we are reincarnated. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), "The Satisfactions of Librarianship," a talk given at a staff meeting of the Los Angeles County Public Library, 1947 March 12th

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