"...But what a gift to give a child, this chance to discover that you can love a book and the characters in it, you can become their friend and share their adventures in your own imagination. And the secrecy of it! The blessed privacy! No-one else can get in the way, no-one else can invade it, no-one else even knows what’s going on in that wonderful space that opens up between the reader and the book. That open democratic space full of thrills, full of excitement and fear, full of astonishment, where your own emotions and ideas are given back to you clarified, magnified, purified, valued. You’re a citizen of that great democratic space that opens up between you and the book. And the body that gave it to you is the public library. Can I possibly convey the magnitude of that gift?"
The quote above from bestselling author Philip Pullman is excerpted from an impassioned speech he recently delivered in defense of the libraries in Oxfordshire, U.K., which are facing significant budget cuts and potential permanent closures, similar to those that the Free Library and many other library systems across the United States have faced. If you love and care about your library, please take the time to read his speech in full--it's thoughtful, inspiring, nuanced, and sprinkled with just the right amount of dry British wit.
I can't resist posting one more excerpt:
"I love the public library service for what it did for me as a child and as a student and as an adult. I love it because its presence in a town or a city reminds us that there are things above profit, things that profit knows nothing about, things that have the power to baffle the greedy ghost of market fundamentalism, things that stand for civic decency and public respect for imagination and knowledge and the value of simple delight."
Powerful words. I couldn't agree more.