Reasons to Love Libraries: 23 Notable Authors and Public Figures Share Their Joy

 They are a community’s soul, “cathedrals to who we should be as a society,” and so much more. 

Mychal Threets
Jennifer Graham Photography


The library world came to know and love Mychal Threets (above) through his social media posts centered on enthusiastically recounting library stories and celebrating library joy. While he shared patron interactions from the California public library where he worked, he openly told of his personal battles with anxiety and depression. Threets promoted the library and books, along with empathy and kindness.

Threets left his job to focus on his mental health in February, but he maintains his role as the most prominent and beloved booster of libraries. And his platform has only grown. Threets is the PBS Kids resident librarian for a limited social media series; a literacy ambassador for the Children’s Literacy Initiative, an organization that works with educators serving high-need communities; and continuing to support libraries any way that he can.

Threets shared five reasons he loves libraries with SLJ. The common thread among them is library joy and the human connection he says libraries represent. Here, he is joined by 22 others others who are pretty fond of libraries, too.— Kara Yorio

Mychal Threets

1. Everyone belongs. “There are unhoused people, mentally ill people, library kids, library teens, grandparents, autistic people, neurodivergent people who all use a library, and it belongs to all of them.”

2. Library workers. “The people who are there to point you in the right direction of joy as they themselves are pursuing joy day in and day out. They get to take part in the library stories.”

3. More than just books. “We’re so proud that so many libraries have more than just books. We all love books, but there’s musical instruments, there’s board games, there’s video game collections, there are tools, bakeware collections. And there are resources, databases, homework help, programs. [Libraries] really have something for everybody at various stages in their life.”

4. Lifelong learning. “You get to learn about your passion, your niches.”

5. Library stories. “Everybody has a story and, more importantly, everyone has a story to share, whether they’re on their best day, worst day, mediocre day; they all have a story. They’re all there trying to get to a joyful part of their life. They’re all trying to get happy. And they all just happen to be right there at the library.”

Lois LowryLois Lowry

“When I was 11 years old, I moved halfway around the world and was getting my bearings in a new country with a very different culture. One day, I walked into a library and found the same books I had loved and left behind. I felt a familiarity, a relief, a here-is-my-home feeling. My loneliness lifted. I have the same feeling, still, every time I enter a library.”

The Newbery Medal winner for Number the Stars and The Giver , Lowry is the author of more than 40 books, including the “Anastasia Krupnik” series.

Jacqueline WoodsonJacqueline Woodson

“From a very young age, I knew the library was the place I could go and feel safe. I went there after school every day as a child. Once, I remember being chased by a kid who had been bullying me. I was a fast runner and ran the four blocks from school to the library doors. The librarian there knew me by name. Once inside, I breathed freely again. I knew and still know the library is the place I can go to and feel safe, whole, understood. I loved reading as a child and still love it to this day. I love being able to walk through the doors of my library and move, unrushed, through the thousands of titles in a space where librarians still know me by my name and are there still, protecting my right to read. Protecting me.”

Woodson’s award-winning books include the memoir Brown Girl Dreaming.

Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park

“Libraries do nothing less than preserve and share the wisdom of the world. People who grow up without easy access to books—like my immigrant father—can hardly believe their first encounters with a library: all that wisdom available... for free!? We need more librarians, more access to books, more funding for libraries—truly one of the greatest innovations the human race has ever developed.”

Park is a Newbery Medal winner for A Single Shard and the author of the New York Times best seller A Long Walk to Water.

Alan GratzAlan Gratz

“I spent the better part of a year working the front desk and shelving books at my local public library branch, and in that time I got to see what it really meant to our community. Public libraries are so much more than places to borrow books. Libraries are places for community groups to come together, for people to get online, to learn new languages, to access local history archives, and to check out movies and music. They are places for young children to hear stories, for teens to hang out, and for adults to read and relax. Libraries are, quite simply, among the last great ‘third places’ in this country, and the astounding thing is that all these services and more require nothing more than a free library card.”

A New York Times–best-selling author of 20 novels, Gratz has written Refugee and, most recently, Heroes.

Stacey AbramsStacey Abrams

“I am the proud daughter of a librarian who understood that libraries have long been a critical component of our civic infrastructure. As much as these buildings contain sources of knowledge, a library is also a source of refuge. Libraries are often the first place to start to solve problems we aren’t paying attention to or to understand the deficits in our society. Their offerings reveal truths about who we are and remind us of where we’ve been. These centuries-old institutions became among the first to offer Wi-Fi and free access to computers, and when jobs or opportunities flee, libraries serve those in search of new pathways to prosperity. At their core, libraries are cathedrals to who we should be as a society. Within a library’s walls exist centers of learning open to all, to feed our curiosity, expand our knowledge, and guide us to better days.”

Abrams is the New York Times–best-selling author of Stacey’s Extraordinary Words and Stacey’s Remarkable Books. She strives to break barriers through her work in politics and the nonprofit and corporate sectors.

Kevin HenkesKevin Henkes

“When I was a boy, my mother made sure that my siblings and I got to the public library regularly. It was simply part of life, like going to school or buying groceries. We didn’t have many books at home, so going to the library was pure joy. Books fed my soul, and I’m certain that those many trips to the library are one of the reasons I became an author and illustrator.”

Henkes won the Caldecott Medal for Kitten’s First Full Moon, the Caldecott Honor for Waiting and Owen, and the Newbery Honor for Olive’s Ocean and The Year of Billy Miller.

Andrea Davis PinkneyAndrea Davis Pinkney

“Oh, libraries! How do I love thee? Let me count the reasons.

1. I love thee freely. Libraries, you set us free from ignorance, boredom, monotony, and pain. You let us explore, discover, delight, see.

2. I love thee deeply. Libraries, your stacks—bottomless ponds of splendor that invite us to dive, glide, swim into your gifts. Backstroking through facts, stories, waves of escape.

3. I love thee purely. Libraries, you are power. Libraries—joy. Libraries—pure profusion.

4. I love thee madly. Libraries, you embrace us all. Passionate you. Oh, libraries, you are love!”

Pinkney is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than 40 books that have earned multiple Coretta Scott King Book Awards and other honors.

Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Melissa AlbertMelissa Albert

“Sometimes I can’t believe libraries exist. Their generosity feels unmatched by just about any other public institution, not just for their resources but for their space: somewhere to take your kids or yourself when it’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too chaotic. All these many years into my life as a library card holder, I still walk into mine (Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library branch, I adore you) and think: I can take any of these books home with me? For FREE? Everyone should be talking about this!”

Albert is the New York Times–best-selling author of Our Crooked Hearts and the “Hazel Wood” series.

Lisa Yee

Lisa Yee

“Wherever I go, no matter what the city, state, or country, when I walk into a library, I’m home.”

Yee is the author of the New York Times best seller The Misfits: A Royal Conundrum , illustrated by Dan Santat, and the Newbery Honor book Maizy Chen’s Last Chance .

Photo by Emi Fujii

E. Lockhart
E. Lockhart

“As a lonely teenager, I spent hundreds of after-school hours in the central branch of the Seattle Public Library, reading biographies of ballet dancers, looking at books of photography, reading plays and YA novels. I’d sit on the floor in this safe haven, and the world would open up to me.”

Lockhart is the author of the New York Times–best-selling novels We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud.

Photo by Heather Weston

Cynthia Leitich SmithCynthia Leitich Smith

“We close off too much of our world to kids and teens, especially those whose families struggle financially. But every young reader is welcome at their local school and public libraries. I was a lower-middle-class kid, a bicultural Indigenous kid, a shy and bullied kid. But stories from my libraries showed me how to become the hero of my own story. We must preserve that opportunity for young readers of today and beyond.”

Smith is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and the best-selling author of books including Rain Is Not My Indian Name, Indian Shoes, Jingle Dance r, and Hearts Unbroken, an American Indian Youth Literature Award winner.

Andrea Beatriz ArangoAndrea Beatriz Arango

“As a public school English language learner teacher, I received $150 a year to cover all my classroom expenses: books, notebooks, pencils, erasers, dry-erase markers, fidgets, materials for activities, cleaning get the picture. Without my public library system (and its unlimited book checkouts for teachers), I would not have been able to incorporate as many read-alouds as I did—especially ones that reflected my students’ experiences as immigrants and refugees in the United States. I will forever be grateful to my libraries!”

Arango is the author of the Newbery Honor–winning Iveliz Explains It All and the Pura Belpré Honor Book Something Like Home.

Photo by Ciela Creative

Karen M. McManus

Karen M. McManus

“My lifelong love of reading started at my local library. I’d check out big stacks of books every week, and no matter how quickly I read, there was always so much more to discover.”

McManus is the New York Times–best-selling author of YA thrillers including the “One of Us Is Lying” series.

Photo by Kaitlyn Litchfield

Adam GidwitzAdam Gidwitz

“The school library is, at its best, the beating heart of a school—sending ideas and knowledge and know-how and inspiration out into the school body, and receiving back the worn-out staff who need a break, the kids who need some strength to face their peers, the teachers needing resources, before pumping them all out into the school again, refreshed, stronger, more learned and more joyful than before.”

Gidwitz is the author of A Tale Dark & Grimm; The Inquisitor’s Tale , which won the Newbery Honor; and “The Unicorn Rescue Society” book series.

Photo by Lauren Mancia

Tae Keller

Tae Keller

“It’s impossible to condense my love for libraries into a few sentences, but if I had to, I’d say: libraries are safe. They’re a space for both escape and exploration—a refuge from the world, and a doorway into it.”

Keller is the Newbery Award–winning, best-selling author of When You Trap a Tiger and The Science of Breakable Things.

Katherine PatersonKatherine Paterson

“The first library I fell in love with was the school library of Calvin H. Wiley Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. When I first walked into that beautiful space filled with books and a kindly librarian eager to find the right one for me, the library became not only a safe place in an otherwise hostile world, but a feast spread out to welcome a sad and hungry child. I still love public libraries because their doors are open to everyone.

‘Aren’t you proud to be on the banned books list?’ No, I am in awe of those brave librarians who dare to stand up for words I and my fellow authors have written and the libraries that have guarded and nourished me since I was a sad and frightened nine-year-old.”

The author of Bridge to Terabithia and multiple other works, from picture books to historical novels, Paterson is the winner of two Newbery Awards and two National Book Awards.

David Levithan

David Levithan

“Libraries are a haven of information and stories, and a safe haven for all the kids who don’t necessarily get the information and stories they need at home or at school. They are the place we can go to when we need help finding our truth.”

Levithan is the Margaret A. Edwards Award–winning author of novels and story collections including 19 Love Songs, Every Day, Two Boys Kissing, and Boy Meets Boy.

Ellen HopkinsEllen Hopkins

“One of the finest women I’ve ever met was a librarian from Rochester, New York. After visiting a teen book festival, Stephanie decided to create something similar in her hometown. She had little idea how to go about it but, fueled by her passion for books and with the help of a cohort of librarianfriends, she cobbled togethera small event at a local high school. From there, the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival (TBF) grew and grew until it became arguably the best event of its kind in the country. By car or bus, excited kids would arrive from across the state and beyond, eager to meet their favorite authors and learn about authors they didn’t yet know.

I was fortunate to become something of a fixture, and over the course of 14 years observed Stephanie’s drive, creativity, and humor. She and her crew put in hundreds of unpaid hours, planning and promoting TBF, and fostering a community effort to celebrate reading by connecting teens and authors. Stephanie left this world far too soon, but not before touching the hearts and minds of thousands. Not one of them will forget her.”

Hopkins is a poet, former journalist, and award-winning author of 20 nonfiction books for young readers.

LeBron JamesLeBron James

“Libraries are a vital resource because they are the cornerstone of reading. And we all know how important reading is. You can learn so much from books. They can take you places you’ve never been, put you in situations you never considered, help you learn lessons and find inspiration. Reading others’ stories is what gives us perspective and opens our minds to so much possibility. Books are an irreplaceable form of learning, and libraries are just as irreplaceable.”

An NBA superstar for the Los Angeles Lakers, James is the author of children’s books including I Promise, We Are Family, and I Am More Than.

Sharon M. Draper

Sharon M. Draper

“From the time I was three years old, I walked with my mother to the local library every single Saturday. I discovered the magic of words and stories and imagination. By the time I was nine, I’d read every book on the children’s side. Librarians have always been my magic carpet to a world of imagination. And guess what? Those books and librarians are still there—waiting for you.”

Draper is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Award and the New York Times–best-selling author of Out of My Mind and other books.

Kathleen GlasgowKathleen Glasgow

“Libraries have been my haven since I was old enough to slide books off the shelf by myself and curl up in a corner and read for hours. Libraries are a haven for everyone: readers, dreamers, seekers, anyone with a thirst for knowledge and a will to know and explore more about the world we live in and the worlds that live between pages. Libraries and librarians are a community’s soul: offering literary sustenance and sometimes life-changing help to anyone who needs it. A librarian is a steward of words and a friend to those who come seeking a better job, a better grade, a better future, better skills, help with daily and bureaucratic tasks, and a dose of human kindness.”

Hold on, let me say it again: Libraries and librarians are a community’s soul. In that one place filled with books, life holds so many possibilities. I can’t think of anything more beautiful.

Glasgow is the best-selling author of books including Girl in Pieces and “The Agathas” series.

Adam RubinAdam Rubin

“The library is the only room in the school where kids get to choose what they learn. It’s a precious place where curiosity is nurtured and passions are discovered. Young minds find power in the library. Independent thinking is born in the library. Dogma, ignorance, and apathy are no match for a kid with free rein in a room full of books.”

Rubin’s books have sold more than five million copies, including Dragons Love Tacos , High Five, and the “Those Darn Squirrels” trilogy

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