|Thursday, February 23rd, 2006|
8:01a - On Libraries -- Norman Cousins
The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one's devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life.
"A good library is a place, a palace where the lofty spirits of all nations and generations meet."
- Samuel Niger (1883-1956)
"A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up children without surrounding them with books.... Children learn to read being in the presence of books."
- Horace Mann (1796-1859)
"A library book...is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, is their only capital."
- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
"A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone."
- Jo Godwin
"Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a 1000 years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
"I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself."
- Isaac Asimov
"Knowing that I loved my books, he furnished me,
From mine own library with volumes that
I prize above my dukedom."
- William Shakespeare (1564-1616), "The Tempest"
"My experience with public libraries is that the first volume of the book I inquire for is out, unless I happen to want the second, when that is out."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), "The Poet at the Breakfast Table"
"My lifelong love affair with books and reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry."
- Robert Downs, "Books in My Life"
"Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me."
- Anatole France (1844-1924)
"No possession can surpass, or even equal a good library, to the lover of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation, riches which increase by being consumed, and pleasures that never cloy."
- John Alfred Landford (1823-1903)
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
- Sir Francis Bacon, "Of Studies"
"There are 70 million books in American libraries, but the one I want to read is always out."
- Tom Masson (1866-1934)
And, finally, here's a "Curse Against Book Stealers":
"For him that stealeth a Book from this Library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy, and all his Members blasted. Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no sur-cease to his Agony till he sink in Dissolution. Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final Punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye."
- Monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona
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