11 Quotes About the Magic of Libraries

11 Quotes About the Magic of Libraries


Find a great writer and you’ll most likely also find a great reader. Find a great reader and you’ll also find someone with a well-worn library card. We couldn’t really call ourselves Bookish if we didn’t love libraries. Unlike Leslie Knope, we believe that libraries are more than just a place where “punk ass book jockeys” go to work. Instead, libraries are to be revered. Here, we’ve pulled together quotes about libraries from 11 library-loving writers.

“Libraries smell like memory to me. When I remember the library of my childhood (the Washington Irving branch, Brooklyn, New York), my heart jumps a bit and I have to pause. There is something so deeply visceral about libraries for me—rooms and rooms full of people dreaming and remembering. I think it’s hard to walk into a library and not have a sense of deep respect for all that they hold and stand for. And the fact that the books are yours for a while—for free!!—what’s not to love?” —Jacqueline Woodson in American Libraries Magazine

“A library is a rainbow in the clouds.” —Maya Angelou at the New York Public Library

“My father encouraged me to work in the library, just because it was the world that he knew. But I also wanted to do it. I also wanted to work in the library and be part of the library somehow, because it represented a world that really wasn’t represented in my home, and I wanted it to be. I always wanted to grow up in a house full of books, English books, and I wanted the sort of fireplaces that worked, overstuffed chairs, that whole kind of fantasy of a bookish New England life. So the library gave me that, for the hours that I was there I was surrounded by that atmosphere that I craved in my life. Exposed me to books, to readers, to reading, that I didn’t get in my own family’s life in the same way.” Jhumpa Lahiri in Los Angeles Times

“The library was a place I went to find out what there was to know. It was absolutely essential.” —Zadie Smith on BBC Radio 5 Live

“A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It’s a community space. It’s a place of safety, a haven from the world. It’s a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.” Neil Gaiman in The Guardian

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” ―Jorge Luis Borges

“Libraries raised me. 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 The New York Times

“I was in the Chicago Public Library looking through the card catalog. You could tell which cards were fingered more often than others. I was looking at a very soft, dogeared card. I thought, ‘This book must be very loved.’ I wanted my own card to be loved and dirty from people touching it.” Sandra Cisneros from NBC News

I had a bad time in school in the first grade. Because I had been a rather lonely child on a farm, but I was free and wild and to be shut up in a classroom—there were 40 children in those days in the classroom, and it was quite a shock… But my mother always kept library books in the house, and one rainy Sunday afternoon—this was before television, and we didn’t even have a radio—I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered I was reading and enjoying what I read… I’ve been a reader ever since. ” Beverly Cleary in Los Angeles Times

[Libraries] are big hubs for communities and a very important public resource particularly for people who don’t have a lot of resources of their own. It’s not just books. It’s children’s programs. It’s community events. The computer access. When you’re shutting [down a library] you’re actually shutting down that community and disenfranchising people.” Margaret Atwood, “Save Our Libraries”

“Like many authors, I owe my career to the librarians who gave me great books to read… When I was a child, my mother would drop us off at the library every Saturday, where, under threat of death if we got into any trouble, we would quietly peruse the shelves to our hearts’ content. Today, I have very fond memories of those times, and some of my adult interests are firmly rooted in the displays the librarians created… My loyalty to libraries—and librarians—remains firmly intact.” Karin Slaughter, “Save the Libraries”


  1. Luis Alberto Urrea in New York Times, By the Book.What kind of a reader were you as a child?
    What kind of reader were you as a child?
    Voracious. Word drunk. I came out of Tijuana — in that era, it wasn’t easy to find books. My mom was a spectacularly misplaced New York City socialite fallen on magical realism strange times indeed. But once she got me into the United States, she took up arms against her newfound poverty and bestowed on me her greatest gift (aside from that Stingray bike in 1965) — a library card. It took us two bus rides to get to downtown San Diego from the barrio where we lived. It was a sacred ritual: Woolworth’s for a hot dog and a visit with the pet parakeets and goldfish. Then away to the public library, where I maxed out my kid card every Saturday. I thought I was rich. I was rich. I never stopped haunting libraries all through my boyhood.

Leave a Reply