Why We Need Libraries

You are a reader.

Like me, you love books and believe in their power. Granted, I’m preaching to the choir, but there’s something I want you to read because it will thrill you. Here’s an essay to answer the question: “Why do we need libraries?” It gives words to unarticulated feelings you’ve had about books your whole life.


The View From the Cheap SeatsNeil Gaiman’s “The Reading Agency Lecture”

should be copied and distributed by Friends of the Library groups everywhere. It’s a symphony singing the praises of libraries. This lecture can be found at the very top of Neil Gailman’s non-fiction collection: The View from the Cheap Seats.

It contains not only praises, but also arguments, facts, deep values, and best of all, stories. It’s beautiful writing—strong beliefs designed to call and inspire its listeners and readers to action. It was delivered at the Reading Agency in England, a charity with a mission to help people become more confident readers.

In our digital age, many argue that books are no longer necessary. “The Reading Agency Lecture” explains why that’s not true.


This is a speech you will want to read several times over.

As I did that very thing, I reveled in the truth of each new point. His gritty arguments made me want to shout, “Yes!” Lyrical passages made my heart sing and I darn near did a happy dance.

I considered bringing you a bullet-pointed list of his pro-library and pro-reading arguments, but frankly, that feels like reducing poetry to a shopping list. You’ll love it far more reading it yourself in full.

When I bring you book recommendations, they are only that—recommendations. This is different. This is HOMEWORK. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow, but sometime soon, check out The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, (a big, fat book), and read the first essay. You can return the book after that, but do not miss The Reading Lecture!

You’ll be glad you did!



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