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A library is a collection of information resources and services, organized for use, and maintained by a public body, institution, or private individual. In the more traditional sense, it means a collection of books. This collection and services are used by people who choose not to — or cannot afford to — purchase an extensive collection themselves, who need material no individual can reasonably be expected to have, or who require professional assistance with their research.


  • And the smell of the library was always the same - the musty odour of old clothes mixed with the keener scent of unwashed bodies, creating what the chief librarian had once described as 'the steam of the social soup.'
  • Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.
    • Laura Welch Bush, The 21st Century Elementary Library Media Program (2009) by Carl A. Harvey, p. 3
  • There are times when I think that the ideal library is composed solely of reference books. They are like understanding friends; always ready to meet your mood, always ready to change the subject when you have had enough of this or that.
  • You receive this writing that you may know how to preserve the books which I shall deliver to you; and you shall set these in order and anoint them with oil of cedar and put them away in earthen vessels…
    • Apocrypha 1:17-18, "The Assumption of Moses", Aliyat Moshe.
  • Library
    Here is where people,
    One frequently finds,
    Lower their voices
    And raise their minds.
  • The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in "The Library of Babel" ["La Biblioteca de Babel"] (1941), first lines.
  • Let heaven exist, though my own place may be in hell. Let me be tortured and battered and annihilated, but let there be one instant, one creature, wherein thy enormous Library may find its justification.
  • I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, in Dreamtigers [El hacedor : literal translation: The Maker] (1960)
    • Variant translation: I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.
  • Human beings can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.
    • Saul Bellow; in "Him with His Foot in His Mouth", from Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories (1984) [Penguin Classics, 1998, ISBN 0-141-18023-4], p. 11.
  • If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. "Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit." (Literally: If you have a garden in your library, nothing will be lacking).
    • Cicero, ad familiares IX, 4, to Varro.
  • As regards anything besides these, my son, take a warning: To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.
  • It is a vanity to persuade the world one hath much learning, by getting a great library.
    • Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Prophane State (1642), Of Books. Maxim 1.
  • But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information. I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.
  • We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.
  • Books are the tools of both teacher and pupil. A library is perhaps the most important adjunct of instruction. It is open to all and is used by all. In every department of science throughout the world the keenest intellects are at work, seeking for solutions to the unending series of problems that present themselves in the physical and natural world. 'Light, more light,' said the dying philosopher, and the longing of the world is but the echo of his last faint cry. To do our duty and to give reply to the many demands made upon us requires all the light and all the experience of other minds, wheresoever they may be found.
    • Henry Goodell, Thirty-Seventh Annual Report of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, (1900), p. 17.
  • No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.
  • 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.
  • What is more important in a library than anything else – than everything else – is the fact that it exists.
  • A great public library, in its catalogue and its physical disposition of its books on shelves, is the monument of literary genres.
  • My library was dukedom large enough.
  • The library is a symbol of freedom.
  • They should be taking bonuses from bankers, not library books from schoolchildren. What kind of society are we building?
  • While on the subject of burning books, I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
    So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • The medicine chest of the soul.
    • Inscription on a Library. From the Greek.
  • Nutrimentum spiritus.
    • Food for the soul.
    • Inscription on Berlin Royal Library.
  • The richest minds need not large libraries.
  • Libraries are as the shrines where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue, and that without delusion or imposture, are preserved and reposed.
  • That place that does contain
    My books, the best companions, is to me
    A glorious court, where hourly I converse
    With the old sages and philosophers;
    And sometimes, for variety, I confer
    With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels;
    Calling their victories, if unjustly got,
    Unto a strict account, and, in my fancy,
    Deface their ill-placed statues.
  • A library is but the soul's burial-ground. It is the land of shadows.
  • All round the room my silent servants wait,
    My friends in every season, bright and dim.
  • A great library contains the diary of the human race.
    • Rev. George Dawson, Address on Opening the Birmingham Free Library.
  • Every library should try to be complete on something, if it were only the history of pinheads.
  • The first thing naturally when one enters a scholar's study or library, is to look at his books. One gets a notion very speedily of his tastes and the range of his pursuits by a glance round his book-shelves.
  • 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.
  • I love vast libraries; yet there is a doubt,
    If one be better with them or without,—
    Unless he use them wisely, and, indeed,
    Knows the high art of what and how to read.
  • 'Tis well to borrow from the good and great;
    'Tis wise to learn; 'tis God-like to create!
  • A circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge.
  • Shelved around us lie
    The mummied authors.
  • Thou can'st not die. Here thou art more than safe
    Where every book is thy epitaph.

Library inscriptions[edit]

  • The medicine chest of the soul.
    • Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes.
  • Books Set the Spirit Free.
    • Carved over the door of the Lockport Public Library, Lockport, New York
  • Nutrimentum spiritus.
    • Translation: Food for the soul.
    • Inscription on the Berlin Royal Library

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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