Quotes

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 564

Susan Orlean, journalist and New York Times bestselling author, examines the 1986 LAPL fire in The Library Book . The devastating fire that burned in the Los Angeles Public Library is known as the largest library fire in United States history. In this book, Orlean investigates the cause of the...

(The entire section contains 564 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your subscription to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Start your Subscription

Susan Orlean, journalist and New York Times bestselling author, examines the 1986 LAPL fire in The Library Book. The devastating fire that burned in the Los Angeles Public Library is known as the largest library fire in United States history. In this book, Orlean investigates the cause of the fire and reflects on the role that libraries play in our lives.

There are many notable quotes that honor libraries. Orlean recounts the historical role libraries have played in society and reflects on her own personal love for them:

I loved wandering around the bookshelves, scanning the spines until something happened to catch my eye. Those visits were dreamy, frictionless interludes that promised I would leave richer than I arrived. It wasn't like going to a store with my mom, which guaranteed a tug-of-war between what I wanted and what my mother was willing to buy me; in the library I could have anything I wanted.

She believes she could have whatever she wanted in the library because she had the opportunity to explore all of the stories and information provided by library books. She does not mean "richer" in a monetary sense; she means that her mind would grow from reading. The quote shows how Orlean loved going to the library as a child. On her website, she reflects on how at some point as an adult she began buying books instead of renting. It was not until she started taking her own son to their local library that this love was rekindled. Orlean is not the only one who has been personally impacted by libraries. Historically, libraries have been sources of comfort to others:

Libraries were a solace in the Depression. They were warm and dry and useful and free; they provided a place for people to be together in a desolate time. You could feel prosperous at the library. There was so much there, such an abundance, when everything else felt scant and ravaged, and you could take any of it home for free. Or you could just sit at a reading table and take it all in.

Given her personal love, and the above account of how important libraries have been to many people throughout history, it is no wonder Orlean believes that the destruction of a public library “is a kind of terrorism. People think of libraries as the safest and most open places in society. Setting them on fire is like announcing that nothing, and nowhere, is safe.” This quote shows the passion Orlean has for this investigation. She condemns the idea of destroying books and libraries: “Destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never lived.” Books are how cultures record history: both in nonfiction, factual accounts and through the culture that is reflected in fictional stories and fables. Orlean believes that in a way, destroying a culture's books is also destroying that culture. “Books are a sort of cultural DNA, the code for who, as a society, we are, and what we know. All the wonders and failures, all the champions and villains, all the legends and ideas and revelations of a culture last forever in its books.” These quotes reflect the importance of books and libraries, the role that they play in society, and the passion Orlean has for this topic and investigation.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Library Book Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Previous

Analysis