If you love books, chances are, you love libraries too. Libraries are places where anything is possible; you can travel the world, uncover hidden mysteries, and even heal a broken heart, all inside the walls of a library.
Even today, in our hyper-connected world, libraries are an indispensable resource. They provide a safe space to learn and discover for anyone who seeks it. No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone is welcome, and best of all, all the books are free! (as long as you remember to return them on time, that is!)
But these days, many libraries are in real danger of closing for good. For some, it’s due to a lack of funding, and for others, it’s a lack of public enthusiasm. In a world where you can find the answer to any question you can think of with a simple Google search, these community institutions are no longer considered the ultimate route to knowledge.
Yet while we might not rely on libraries for information in the same way we used to, they contain so many wonders to discover that can never be found online. And so now, more than ever, it’s time to celebrate and embrace our local libraries; otherwise, we risk losing them for good.
I’ve collected 50 of my favorite quotes about libraries and librarians from famous authors, actors, politicians, and other prominent figures in this post. These quotes epitomize the magic of the humble library and remind me just how valuable these sacred spaces are. They also leave with a renewed enthusiasm for books and learning, and I hope they’ll do the same for you too.
Inspiring Quotes About Libraries and Librarians
“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.― John F. Kennedy
“In the nonstop tsunami of global information, librarians provide us with floaties and teach us to swim.”― Linton Weeks
“Libraries were full of ideas—perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”― Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass
“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, Horseradish
“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”― Walter Cronkite
“A library is a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.”― Germaine Greer
“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”― Mark Twain
“People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.”― Saul Bellow
“Don’t ever apologise to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for…use your library). Don’t apologise to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read…”― Neil Gaiman
“I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”― Ray Bradbury
“In principle and reality, libraries are life-enhancing palaces of wonder.”― Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
“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
“A great library doesn’t have to be big or beautiful. It doesn’t have to have the best facilities or the most efficient staff or the most users. A great library provides. It is enmeshed in the life of a community in a way that makes it indispensable. A great library is one nobody notices because it is always there, and always has what people need.”― Vicki Myron, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
“An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.”― Stephen Fry
“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…”― Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Rule number one: Don’t fuck with librarians.”― Neil Gaiman
“I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.”― Roger Zelazny, Nine Princes in Amber
“Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines — it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.”― Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
“The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”― Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”― Ray Bradbury
“A silent Library is a sad Library. A Library without patrons on whom to pile books and tales and knowing and magazines full of up-to-the-minute politickal fashions and atlases and plays in pentameter! A Library should be full of exclamations! Shouts of delight and horror as the wonders of the world are discovered or the lies of the heavens are uncovered or the wild adventures of devil-knows-who sent romping out of the pages. A Library should be full of now-just-a-minutes and that-can’t-be-rights and scientific folk running skelter to prove somebody wrong. It should positively vibrate with laughing at comedies and sobbing at tragedies, it should echo with gasps as decent ladies glimpse indecent things and indecent ladies stumble upon secret and scandalous decencies! A Library should not shush; it should roar!”― Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
“When I got [my] library card, that was when my life began.”― Rita Mae Brown
“Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. 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
“What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education.”― Harold Howe
“Libraries really are wonderful. They’re better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.”― Jo Walton, Among Others
“Don’t mark up the Library’s copy, you fool! Librarians are Unprankable. They’ll track you down! They have skills!”― Charles Ogden
“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”― Andrew Carnegie
“Librarians are the coolest people out there doing the hardest job out there on the frontlines. And every time I get to encounter or work with librarians, I’m always impressed by their sheer awesomeness.”― Neil Gaiman
“Libraries raised me.”“Libraries raised me.”
“What in the world would we do without our libraries?”― Katharine Hepburn
“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.”― Sidney Sheldon
“People flock in, nevertheless, in search of answers to those questions only librarians are considered to be able to answer, such as “Is this the laundry?” “How do you spell surreptitious?” and, on a regular basis, “Do you have a book I remember reading once? It had a red cover and it turned out they were twins.”― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal
“If your library is not “unsafe,” it probably isn’t doing its job.”― John Berry
“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, Daddy, We Hardly Knew You
“The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don’t, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or spit it back at your teacher on a test paper.”― Polly Horvath, My One Hundred Adventures
“When the going gets tough, the tough get a librarian.”― Joan Bauer
“It’s still National Library Week. You should be especially nice to a librarian today, or tomorrow. Sometime this week, anyway. Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding.”― Neil Gaiman
“You see, I don’t believe that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, that has been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.”― Monty Python
“You are a total stranger and you want to take my library book.”― Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian
“The old man was peering intently at the shelves. ‘I’ll have to admit that he’s a very competent scholar.’
Isn’t he just a librarian?’ Garion asked, ‘somebody who looks after books?’
That’s where all the rest of scholarship starts, Garion. All the books in the world won’t help you if they’re just piled up in a heap.”― David Eddings, King of the Murgos
“She was brilliant and joyous and she believed- probably correctly- that libraries contain the answers to all things, to everything, and that if you can’t find the information you seek in the library, then such information probably doesn’t exist in this or any parallel universe now or ever to be known. She was thoughtful and kind and she always believed the best of everybody. She was, above all else, a master librarian and she knew where to find any book on any subject in the shortest possible time.
And she was wonderfully unhinged.”― Gary Paulsen, Mudshark
“In my fool hardy youth, when my friends were dreaming of heroic deeds in the realms of engineering and law, finance and national politics, I dreamt of becoming a librarian. ”― Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night
“The library is like a candy store where everything is free.”― Jamie Ford, Songs of Willow Frost
“Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you — and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.― Isaac Asimov
“To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.”― Carlos María Domínguez, The House of Paper
“There are many horrible sights in the multiverse. Somehow, though, to a soul attuned to the subtle rhythms of a library, there are few worse sights than a hole where a book ought to be.”― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!
“The love of libraries, like most loves, must be learned. ”― Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night
“Knowing I lov’d my books, he furnish’d me From mine own library with volumes that I prize above my dukedom.”― William Shakespeare
“Libraries are a force for good. They wear capes. They fight evil. They don’t get upset when you don’t send them a card on their birthdays. (Though they will charge you if you’re late returning a book.) They serve communities. The town without a library is a town without a soul. The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance. Libraries are the torch of the world, illuminating the path when it feels too dark to see. We mustn’t allow that torch to be extinguished.”― Libba Bray
I hope these inspiring quotes remind you just how precious libraries, and librarians, really are! More than ever, we should cherish these sacred institutions to ensure that they remain open to all, for generations to come.
If these quotes have left you feeling inspired, why not dust off your old library card and pay a visit to your local library. Who knows what you’ll discover?
And if you’re lucky enough to have a librarian in your life, don’t forget to show them some love this holiday season. If you need some inspiration, here’s a handy guide to 15 awesome gifts for librarians this Christmas. Oh, and of course, don’t forget to share this post with them too!
What are your favorite quotes about libraries and librarians? Let me know in the comments below!