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My library was dukedom large enough. ~ Shakespeare

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.

CONTENT: A-B - C-D - E-F - G-H - I-J - K-L - M-N - O-P -Q-R - S-T - U-V - W-X - Y-Z - See also


listed alphabetically by author


I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library. ~ Jorge Luis Borges
  • 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.'
  • 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.
  • The richest minds need not large libraries.
    • Amos Bronson Alcott, Table Talk, Book I, Learning-Books: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • The medicine chest of the soul.
    • Anonymous, Inscription on a Library. From the Greek: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • Nutrimentum spiritus.
    • Food for the soul.
    • Anonymous, Inscription on Berlin Royal Library: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Francis Bacon, Libraries: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • Edward raises the pointer and places its tip against Alec’s forehead. “What’s the use of having a library in there if you won’t open the books, boy? What’s the good of augmented intelligence if you won’t use it?”
    • Kage Baker, The Sons of Heaven (2007), chapter 26, section 1 “Child Care in the Cyborg Family, Volume Fifteen: Adolescent Rebellion” (p. 307)
A glorious court, where hourly I converse
with the old sages and philosophers
  • 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.
    • Beaumont and Fletcher, The Elder Brother, Act I, scene 2, line 177: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • A library is but the soul's burial-ground. It is the land of shadows.
    • Henry Ward Beecher, Star Papers, Oxford, Bodleian Library: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • 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.
  • I suppose you burned the library—barbarians always do.
  • Everything would be in its blind volumes. Everything: the detailed history of the future, Aeschylus' The Egyptians, the exact number of times that the waters of the Ganges have reflected the flight of a falcon, the secret and true nature of Rome, the encyclopedia Novalis would have constructed, my dreams and half-dreams at dawn on August 14, 1934, the proof of Pierre Fermat's theorem, the unwritten chapters of Edwin Drood, those same chapters translated into the language spoken by the Garamantes, the paradoxes Berkeley invented concerning Time but didn't publish, Urizen's books of iron, the premature epiphanies of Stephen Dedalus, which would be meaningless before a cycle of a thousand years, the Gnostic Gospel of Basilides, the song the sirens sang, the complete catalog of the Library, the proof of the inaccuracy of that catalog. Everything: but for every sensible line or accurate fact there would be millions of meaningless cacophonies, verbal farragoes, and babblings. Everything: but all the generations of mankind could pass before the dizzying shelves—shelves that obliterate the day and on which chaos lies—ever reward them with a tolerable page.
  • 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.
  • From these two incontrovertible premises he deduced that the Library is total and that its shelves register all the possible combinations of the twenty-odd orthographical symbols (a number which, though extremely vast, is not infinite). Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future, the archangels' autobiographies, the faithful catalogues of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of those catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books.
    • "The Library of Babel" ["La Biblioteca de Babel"] (1941), tr. James E. Irby
  • 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.
Food for the soul.
  • I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library.
    • Jorge Luis Borges, Dreamtigers [El hacedor : literal translation: The Maker] (1960)
    • Variant translation: I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.
  • Now, as always, I considered my library as a cool cavern or fresh, ever-growing forest into which men passed from the heat of the day and the fever of motion to refresh their limbs and bathe their minds an hour in the grass-shade illumination, in the sound of small breezes wandered out from the turning and turning of the pale soft book pages. Then, better focussed, their ideas rehung upon their frames, their flesh made easy on their bones, men might walk forth into the blast-furnace of reality, noon, mob-traffic, improbable senescence, inescapable death. I had seen thousands careen into my library starved and leave well-fed. I had watched lost people find themselves. I had known realists to dream and dreamers to come awake in this marble sanctuary where silence was a marker in each book.
  • Cardiff read these words: HOPE MEMORIAL LIBRARY. And in small letters beneath that: KNOW HOPE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE.
  • 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.
  • He showed me his fantastic library first, and that helped me warm to him a little. A guy with a room like that in his house couldn’t be all bad.


The library is an arena of possibility, opening both a window into the soul and a door onto the world. ~ Rita Dove
  • All round the room my silent servants wait,
    My friends in every season, bright and dim.
    • Barry Cornwall, My Books: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • 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.
  • A great library contains the diary of the human race.
    • Rev. George Dawson, Address on Opening the Birmingham Free Library: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • If humanity were to lose its libraries, not only would it be deprived of certain treasures of art, certain spiritual riches, but, more important still, it would lose its recipes for living.


  • Do not be guilty of possessing a library of learned books while lacking learning yourself.
  • A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. The library is the university.
    • Shelby Foote quoted in: North Carolina Libraries, Vol. 51-54 (1993), p. 162.


  • 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.
  • Public libraries are a cornerstone of democracy. They are part of the public commons, a sanctuary for the free exchange of information and ideas. But they are under threat. From book banning to government surveillance, libraries have been a target in the "war on terror."
    • Amy Goodman Conclusion, Standing Up To the Madness: Ordinary Heroes In Extraordinary Times with David Goodman (2008)
  • Every library should try to be complete on something, if it were only the history of pinheads.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table (1872), VIII: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • 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.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table (1872), VIII: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.


  • 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.
  • Librarians are literary semi-precious stones, who think they are crown jewels. **Bibliothekare sind literarische Halbedelsteine, die sich für Kronjuwelen halten.
    • Hanns-Hermann Kersten: quoted in Gottfried Rost, Der Bibliothekar: Schatzkämmerer oder Futterknecht? (Vienna, 1990), p. 71.
  • 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, Essays of Elia, Oxford in the Vacation: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.


  • 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.


  • Libraries, as spaces, need to continue to inspire the public to dream big and to think great thoughts. Cities, towns, and academic communities of all shapes and sizes need the free, open public spaces that libraries–and only libraries–provide.
  • People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.


  • In fact, of course, there is no secret knowledge; no one knows anything that can’t be found on a shelf in the public library.
    • Daniel Quinn, Ishmael (1992), page 5.


  • 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.
    • John Godfrey Saxe, The Library: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • 'Tis well to borrow from the good and great;
    'Tis wise to learn; 'tis God-like to create!
    • John Godfrey Saxe, The Library: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • 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?
  • A circulating library in a town is as an evergreen tree of diabolical knowledge.
    • Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Rivals (1775), Act I, scene 2: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • Shelved around us lie
    The mummied authors.
    • Bayard Taylor, The Poet's Journal, Third Evening: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.


  • Thou can'st not die. Here thou art more than safe
    Where every book is thy epitaph.
    • Henry Vaughan, on Sir Thomas Bodley's Library: Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 439-40.
  • The library of Alexandria was burnt by the Moslimin, because, according to the instructions of Omar, the Koran only was the book of books, and all knowledge not contained in it was vain and useless. The library at Tripoli was consumed by the Christians, because it contained, for the most part, nothing but the Koran, and the works written on it. At Alamut the Koran was preserved by Jowaini, and the philosophical works written against it, doomed to destruction; and at Fas, a century before, an auto da fe of theological books was held by Sultan Yakub. Had these two alone been lost, there would not be so much reason to complain; but with them, the conflagrations of Alexandria and Alamut swept away treasures of Grecian, Egyptian, Persian, and Indian philosophy.
  • 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.


  • The rooms were confining, the windows minuscule, the ceilings perilously low. She could not have spent much money on the furnishings, which were shabby, threadbare, nicked, and splintered—I had seen better furniture abandoned at Montreal curbsides.
    But if her book-cases were humble, they were bowed under the weight of surprisingly many books—almost as many as there had been in the library of the Duncan and Crowley Estate back in Williams Ford. It seemed to me a treasure more estimable than any fine sofa or plush footstool, and worth all the rough economies surrounding it.


  • 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.
  • Tell me the number of libraries in a country, I will tell you how rich the country is.

See also

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