Ali Smith: Public Library

September 26, 2021

“I have never yet managed to see the moment of the petals of a bud unfurling. I might dedicate the rest of my life to it and might still never see it. No, not might, I will: I will dedicate the rest of my life, in which I walk forward into this blossoming.”

“Libraries save the world, a lot, but outside the narrative mode of heroism: through contemplative action, anonymously and collectively. For me, the public library is the ideal model of society, the best possible shared space, a community of consent — an anarcho-syndicalist collective where each person is pursuing their own aim with respect to others, through the best possible medium of the transmission of ideas, feelings and knowledge: the book.”

“I believe that within every library is a door that opens to every other library in time and space: that door is the book… It is a site of possibility and connection (and possibility in connection).”

“I believe libraries are essential for informed and participatory democracy, and that there is therefore an ideological war on them via cuts and closures, depriving individuals and communities of their right to knowledge and becoming on their own terms.”

“That’s what public library means: something communal. The important thing about the notion of a public library now is that it’s the one place you can just turn up to, a free space, a democratic space where anyone can go.”

“The brand new building brought with it the idea that our local history was important — that books were important, but also that we were too, and that where we lived was, that it had a heritage and a future that mattered.”

“A library card in your hand is your democracy.”

“Because libraries have always been a part of any civilization they are not negotiable. They are part of our inheritance.”

“…it is the poorest, most isolated and the least able in our society who suffer most if they are gone. So if our society does not care for libraries, then it is not caring for its most vulnerable.”

— Excerpts from Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith

Thank you for being my Public Library today, Ex Libris!

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