I know I’m not the only one who has ever stepped into a library and felt both wonder and excitement. (After all, everything is free!) Libraries are everything from sanctuaries to resource centers and gateways to different worlds. These short and inspirational quotes about libraries capture the magic that libraries hold within their walls.
Whether you’re a student writing an essay or a person who cares about your community and wants to support libraries, let’s fall in love with libraries all over again by way of the written word.
Personal Statement on the Importance of Libraries
I was inspired to write this post about short and inspirational library quotes during Banned Books Week, which celebrates and advocates for the importance of books, libraries, librarians, and freedom from censorship. Book banning is astronomically on the rise, challenging the life-changing work that libraries accomplish.
So, now more than ever, it’s more important to learn about and share the good word about libraries.
I have been a lifelong evangelist of libraries since the days of Reading Rainbow and Pizza Hut’s BOOKIT! Program. I used to watch the show, make my reading list, and head straight to the local children’s library. I remember it all so vividly, especially since I could get any book I wanted without a “no” from my parents as well as free pizzas at the end!
Later in life, libraries functioned as the place where I could focus on studying during law school, the place where I loaned books and DVDs I couldn’t afford to rent or buy, the place where I researched and revamped my resume, and even the place where I spent (literally) “free” time browsing while looking for a job. And, later in adulthood, when I decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle, I headed right to the library and checked out as many cookbooks as I could find — all for zero dollars and zero cents.
Libraries quite literally changed my life.
In curating these best quotes about libraries for you, I focused my research on quotes from my favorite books about libraries, noteworthy politicians and other famous activists, my favorite celebrity bookworms, and the most popular authors who’ve spoken about libraries.
I also curated a few completely new and different quotes about libraries from my digital community and real-life experiences.
The result is a one-of-a-kind compilation of helpful library quotes to suit your needs.
New and Unique Quotations About the Library
First, I reached out to my good friend Christine, who runs The Uncorked Librarian. She has a Master’s in Library and information Sciences (MLIS) degree and said the following in her recommendations for books about libraries:
[L]ibraries are centers for knowledge and community, making the world a better and more educated place.– The Uncorked Librarian
I also spoke with Caleb Peter, a writer at SystematicReviewPro, which offers systematic review writing services and works closely with libraries and librarians for access to unbiased peer-reviewed resources. He shared the following thoughts:
“Libraries serve as beacons of unfiltered knowledge. In a time where information can be suppressed or altered, they stand resilient, offering every reader a chance at true enlightenment and understanding, especially in the face of banned books.”– Caleb Peter
Additionally, I transcribed a few words by the President of the American Library Association, Emily Drabinski that I heard on a recent episode of The New York Times’s The Ezra Klein Show:
“[O]ne of the things I love about working in libraries is that it’s material, those highfalutin thoughts about the public good. In the library, rubber meets the road just constantly. Every day, it’s a space where using the bathroom and getting a drink of water, those are public goods. And we’re the only people that offer them.”Emily Drabinski
Want to hear more? Watch (or listen to) the full podcast episode below:
More Famous Quotes About Libraries
“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” – Argentine short story writer and essayist Jorge Luis Borges
“When in doubt, go to the library.” – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
“When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” – author Jane Austen
“A city without books, a city without a library is like a graveyard.” – Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai
“Librarians have knowledge. They guide you to the right books. The right worlds. They find the best places. Like soul-enhanced search engines.” – The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
“The library was the place I went to find out what there was to know. It was absolutely essential.” – author Zadie Smith
“Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.” – former First Lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson
“The library is a gathering pool of narratives and of the people who come to find them. It is where we can glimpse immortality; in the library, we can live forever.” – The Library Book by Susan Orlean
“A library, no matter how humble or grand, is a series of sacred gateways. You pass through them and leave your own city behind; you journey through time and space; and for a little while, you escape the confines of your own circumstances.” – Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
“[T]he library helps you to see, not only that you are not alone, but that you’re not really any different from everyone else.” – author Maya Angelou
“[S]ince we’re talking to a bunch of librarians, I just want to let them know what they do is more important than ever. Figuring out how do we provide our fellow citizens with a shared set of baseline narratives around which we can make our democracy work.” – former U.S. President Barack Obama in his closing talk at the 2021 American Library Association Annual Conference
“The library isn’t just about books.” – The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” – American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie
“Libraries raised me.” – author Ray Bradbury
“Librarians save lives by handing the right book at the right time to a kid in need.” – author Judy Blume
“Libraries do one thing that no other institution does and that’s provide access to all.” – LeVar Burton, the television host of Reading Rainbow
“All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here I am, please tell me your story; here is my story, please listen.” – The Library Book by Susan Orlean
“Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.” – author Zadie Smith
“Libraries have a special role to play in our knowledge economy.” – former U.S. President Barack Obama in a 2005 speech
“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” – author Ray Bradbury
“Getting my library card was like citizenship; it was like American citizenship.” – American television host and producer Oprah Winfrey
“A library service should be provided for all people, rural as well as urban, colored as well as white.” – The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
“[N]o book should be banned. We live in America, and I think what teachers and librarians are taught to do is to be there for kids and recommend the books that are right for them[.]” – American writer and television journalist Jenna Bush Hager
“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” – theoretical physicist Albert Einstein
“Libraries are time-machines. Libraries are wildwoods. Libraries are galaxies. Libraries are magic portals into learning & dreaming. Libraries are vital for social mobility.” – author Robert MacFarlane
“From an early age, I learned that libraries were more than a place where books lived, they were community centers—spaces where people grew and learned.” – former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Cicero, the Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, and writer
“Libraries were full of ideas—perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.” – Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” – American television journalist Walter Cronkite
“Public libraries: they’re home and shelter. They’re safety; they’re access — the gateway. If we lose that, we lose the fundamental part of our civic life in communities. We lose a home for people.” – actress and book lover Sarah Jessica Parker
“I’m the kind of girl who fantasizes about being trapped in a library overnight.” – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
“The publicness of the public library is an increasingly rare commodity. It becomes harder all the time to think of places that welcome everyone and don’t charge any money for that warm embrace.” – The Library Book by Susan Orlean
“I had found my religion: nothing seemed more important to me than a book. I saw the library as a temple.” – The Words: The Autobiography of Jean-Paul Sartre by Jean-Paul Sartre, french philosopher and playwright
“The library was open, unending, free.” – author Ta-Nehisi Coates
“She liked the combined smell of worn leather bindings, library past and freshly inked stamping pads better than she liked the smell of burning incense at high mass.” – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
“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.” – former First Lady of the United States (and librarian) Laura Bush
“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.” – author E.B. White
“Overall, the library held a hushed exultation, as though the cherished volumes were all singing soundlessly within their covers.” – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
“I always felt, in any town, if I can get to a library, I’ll be OK.” – author Maya Angelou
“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.” – science researcher Carl Sagan
“His library was a fine dark place bricked with books, so anything could happen there and always did. All you had to do was pull a book from the shelf and open it and suddenly the darkness was not so dark anymore.” – Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury
“I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunk treasure.” – author Virginia Woolf
“In a very real sense [librarians are] on the front lines — fighting every day to make the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas available to everyone.” – former U.S. President Barack Obama in a 2023 letter to librarians
“Leave it to a librarian to point out the alliteration in my life’s tragedies.” – The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
“I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library.” – author Ray Bradbury
“The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” – author Kurt Vonnegut
“I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” – Former First Lady of the United States (and librarian) Laura Bush
“Our library isn’t very extensive […] but every book in it is a friend.” – Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.” – poet and essayist T.S. Eliot
“To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul.” – Cicero, the Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, and writer
“More than a building that houses books and data, the library has always been a window to a larger world – a place where we’ve always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward.” former U.S. President Barack Obama in a 2005 speech
These quotes about libraries from some of the most prominent advocates have illuminated the profound significance of these “windows to the world.” They remind us that libraries are not just warehouses of books, but guardians of our intellectual freedom. Utilize these words to protect and promote libraries, ensuring that they remain open and inclusive for all, even in an era where the freedom to read is under threat.
Want to read more about libraries? Here are a few of my favorite books on the topic, all of which are quoted above:
- The Midnight Library: an insanely popular and very philosophical modern sliding doors kind of story imaging life’s paths as a library
- The Reading List: a super heartwarming tale for bookworms everywhere
- The Giver of Stars: popular historical fiction celebrating a group of female traveling librarians
- The Lions of Fifth Avenue: another popular historical fiction novel set in the famed New York Public Library