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Quotations about Libraries


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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, 5 June 1972


When I got my library card, that's when my life began.  ~Rita Mae Brown


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


A library is thought in cold storage.  ~Herbert Samuel


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


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


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


Having fun isn't hard
When you've got a library card.
~Marc Brown, "Library Card" (Arthur)


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 have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.  ~Jorge Luis Borges


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


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


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


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


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 the sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard.  ~Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia


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, 1894


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


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


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


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


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, 1977


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



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