A letter to the children of Troy, Michigan:
16 March 1971
Dear Boys and Girls,
Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you — and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.
I came across this information on the blog Book Patrol: A Haven for Book Culture and followed a link to the Troy Public Libary, where there is more information about “letters to the children of Troy.” You can see photographs of some of the letters there, including the one from Isaac Asimov.
In 1971, the new public library in Troy, Michigan was opening. The children’s librarian Marguerite Hart wrote to many notable figures asking them to “write a letter to the children of Troy about the importance of libraries, and their memories of reading and of books.”
Hart received 97 letters in return “from individuals who spanned the arts, sciences, and politics across the 50 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, the Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.” From Saul Alinsky to Vincent Price, from Isaac Asimov to the Pope, the letters provide a cultural snapshot of the early 1970’s and convey the essence of the value of libraries.”
Maybe if we thought of librairies as space ships it would be easier to get funding to keep them open.