A library is many things

Early-1971, in an effort to attract as many youngsters to the premises as possible, Marguerite Hart — children’s librarian at the newly-opened public library in Troy, Michigan — wrote to a number of notable people with a request: to reply with a congratulatory letter, addressed to the children of Troy, in which the benefits of visiting such a library were explained.

Below are five of the wonderful responses she received, from the following people: Neil ArmstrongIsaac AsimovHardie Gramatky; Dr Seuss; and E. B. White.

Transcripts follow.

(Source:Troy Public Library; Image: Oberlausitz Library, Germany, via.)



APR 13 1971

The Young Citizens of Troy, Michigan
c/o/ Mrs. Marguerite A. Hart
Young People’s Librarian
5044 Rochester Road
Troy, MI 48084

Dear Friends:

Congratulations on the opening of the City of Troy’s first public library, a facility that will serve and benefit you and your community. I urge each of you to visit it often and explore the books that line its shelves by reading them; for reading is a unique form of exploration that will enrich your lives. It is a special way to discovery and knowledge.

Each book holds an experience and an adventure. Your guide is the author. Through books you will meet poets and novelists whose creations will fire your imagination. You will meet the great thinkers who will share with you their philosophies, their concepts of the world, of humanity and of creation. You will learn about events that have shaped our history, of deeds both noble and ignoble. All of this knowledge is yours for the taking. It is something you will have always and that will grow in sharing.

Knowledge is fundamental to all human achievements and progress. It is both the key and the quest that advances mankind. The search for knowledge is what brought men to the moon; but it took knowledge already acquired to make it possible to get there.

How we use the knowledge we gain determines our progress on earth, in space or on the moon. Your library is a storehouse for mind and spirit. Use it well.



Neil A. Armstrong
Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics


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.

(Signed, ‘Isaac Asimov’)

Isaac Asimov


Hardie Gramatky
60 Roseville Road
Westport, Conn.

April 26, 1971

To the Young People of
The Troy Public Library
Troy, Michigan.

Dear Boys and Girls:

I have just heard the good news about your having your own Public Library. How can anyone be so lucky. You must be proud and happy, indeed.

You already know, I am sure, of the wonderful new worlds this immediately opens to you. The chance to meet the most interesting people and the chance to make many new friends. What a choice you will have.

And how many of us likes to travel? We all do! The joy of it all is that through reading books we can visit the most exciting far-away places. Then when we actually go there we will have enough knowledge to make that place ten times as interesting.

How I envy you, boys and girls. Your new library brings you more joy than you can have in a life time. Be sure to use it.

All my love,

(Signed, ‘Hardie Gramatky’)



Dr. Seuss
7301 Encelia Drive
La Jolla, California 92037

Dear Children of Troy:


That’s the advice of your good friend, Dr. Seuss



April 14, 1971

Dear Children of Troy:

Your librarian has asked me to write, telling you what a library can mean to you.

A library is many things. It’s a place to go, to get in out of the rain. It’s a place to go if you want to sit and think. But particularly it is a place where books live, and where you can get in touch with other people, and other thoughts, through books. If you want to find out about something, the information is in the reference books—the dictionaries, the encyclopedias, the atlases. If you like to be told a story, the library is the place to go. Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had. And when you are reading a book, you and the author are alone together—just the two of you. A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

(Signed, ‘EB White’)