"I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county, to consist of a few well-chosen books, to be lent to the people of the country under regulations as would secure their safe return in due time."
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
letter to John Wyche, May 19, 1809
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Reader comments about this quote:
And who do you suppose would be the ones to choose the books? Better to keep people ignorant than to introduce them to the opinions of only one or a small group of people.
 -- Anonymous, Raleigh, NC     
    Obviously a 'circulating' library could not have many books. If Thomas Jefferson chose them, I bet every one of them would be a benefit to the reader. In the end, it is the reader that chooses from what is offered. I disagree that ignorance is better -- that's like saying I won't read anything because I can't trust anybody. Better to read many ideas and decide for oneself.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
     -- Anonymous      
    I agree with Jefferson that there should be a library in every county, but like Anonymous from Raleigh, I have certain drawbacks to the "well-chosen books" part. I also agree with Archer that anything chosen by Jefferson would be a benefit to any reader. The problem is that Jefferson wouldn't be choosing today, Obama and Pelosi would be and God only knows who would be choosing tomorrow.
     -- Publius     
    Amen. I love my public library. It's one of the many things we can still treasure in our threatened culture. It may end up being one of the last bastions of freedom given the corruption of the mainstream media and internet monitoring. While it is always best to think for oneself first, it is important to read others' ideas, if only to learn specifically why you oppose them. Otherwise, you'll unwittingly depend on others' second-hand opinions of those "well-chosen books". Learn for yourself if they are quality or tripe.
     -- Byron, Fort Collins, CO     
    Good comments by all above.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Books should abound in every community as a contribution to the broadest and most liberal form of education of a people. However, I find it the assertion of '... of a few well-chosen books...' disdainfully condescending. Michael A. Church
     -- Michael A. Church, Grenada     
    Censorship is one of the worst words in any dictionary.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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