At a time when our libraries are under assault by those who would deny others the advantages they themselves have enjoyed, considerable comfort can be found in this month's news out of Troy, Michigan.
Thanks to the efforts of a lady named Marguerite Hart, I'd heard of this small city and its public library long before the recent trials and tribulations. Forty years ago, as the building reached completion, she'd asked leading figures of the day to share their thoughts on libraries with the children of Troy. Ninety-seven answered the call, among them Kingsley Amis, Neil Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, John Berryman, Helen Gurley Brown, Pat Nixon, Vincent Price, Neil Simon, Benjamin Spock and E.B. White.
Ronald Reagan, a hero to so many leading today's charge against public libraries, contributed this:
A world without books would be a world without light – without light, man cannot see. Through the written word a world of enlightenment has been created and had taught us about the past to enable us to build for the future.Without spending a penny, one can travel to the ends of the earth, the depths of the oceans and now, through the infinity of space. One can learn a new trade or improve his skills in an old one, and the list is endless.
Fine words, as are those of Pierre Trudeau, but my favourite come from Isaac Asimov:
The letters to the children of Troy - all ninety-seven - can be seen here.