or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Quotes About Libraries

   July 31st, 2008

J.F.K. library quoteIn the course of working on a project to promote my library, I have been looking for quotes about libraries.

I guess I took for granted that it'd be easy to find really positive quotes, about why libraries are important, how people benefit from using their library, etc. And it was, but what surprised me were a few not-so-positive library quotes.

The first resources I checked were our various quotation books. One of them, The Oxford Dictionary of 20th Century Quotations, had four library-related quotes, and they all were less-than-glowing:

People who want to understand democracy should spend less time in the library with Aristotle and more time on the buses and in the subway.
-Simeon Strunsky

If you file your waste-paper basket for 50 years, you have a public library.
-Tony Benn

A library is thought in cold storage.
-Lord Samuel

There is nowhere in the world were sleep is so deep as in the libraries of the House of Commons.
-Henry "Chips" Channon

Not that my frail ego was shattered by this discovery, but it was surprising. There's a lot of cheerleading that goes on within librarianship (such as American Libraries' "How the World See Us" section), and I guess I've been so insulated by this that anything to the contrary was shocking.

But after the initial shock wore off, I could see the humor (and accuracy) in them, too.

And in case you're looking for more quotes, here's a few websites with library-related quotations:

Certainly not an exhaustive list, but they have a lot to pick from. I think my favorite of the moment is:

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

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5 Responses to “Quotes About Libraries”

  1. Michelle McLean Says:

    The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County has books, reading and library quotes on the pillars of its main library (4 per pillar) – 50+ I believe. They have them listed on their website – they are well worth checking out.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    I do like the PLCMC’s list – thanks for suggesting it.

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  5. dual band Says:

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been
    doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me
    dinner because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this.
    … Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this issue here on your
    web page.