Quotes at the Main Library

All of our locations are tied together thematically by the use of quotations in the buildings. The Main Library quotations are selections from world literature with strong representation from Oak Park authors.

Parking Garage Lobby

"Tut, tut, child" said the Duchess."Everything's got a moral if only you can find it."
- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

First Floor

"I believe that any people's story is every people's story, and that from stories, we can all learn something to enrich our lives."
- Harriette Gillem Robinet, If You Please, President Lincoln (set in the terrazo floor just inside the Front Entrance)

"Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance (set in the terrazo floor in the First Floor Lobby)

"What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else -
is the fact that it exists."
Archibald MacLeish,
from The Premise of Meaning
(set in the terrazo floor by the elevators on the First Floor) 

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
Dr. Seuss
(behind the Circulation Desk)

"A good book is the best of friends,
the same to-day and forever."
Martin Farquhar Tupper
from Proverbial Philosophy
(behind the Circulation Desk)

Children's Room

"Isn't it strange
That however I change,
I still keep on being me?"
Eve Merriam, "Me, Myself and I" from Rainbow Writing
(Children's Room, west wall)

"Do you want to have an adventure now, or would you like to have your tea first?"
J.M. Barrie, from Peter Pan
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, Third Floor, west-facing side)

"I'm a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."
A.A. Milne, from Winnie-the-Pooh
(Children's Room, west wall)

"...and he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are."
Maurice Sendak, from Where the Wild Things Are
(Children's Room, west wall)

"Words can do wonderful things.
They sound purr.
They can urge,
They can wheedle, whip, whine.
They can sing, sass, singe.
They can churn, check, channelize.
They can be a hup 2, 3, 4."
Gwendolyn Brooks, from The Afterword to Contending Forces by Pauline Hopkins
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, First Floor, east-facing side)

"Think!
Think and wonder.
Wonder and think.
How much water can fifty-five
Elephants drink?"
Dr. Seuss, from Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
(Children's Room, west wall)

"I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."
Michael Jordan, from I Can't Accept Not Trying
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, Second Floor, south-facing side)

"America is not like a blanket-one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt-many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread...[A]ll of us fit somewhere."
Jesse Jackson
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, First Floor, east-facing side)

"In the fall of 1905, Ernest and I entered the first grade at the old Lowell School on Lake Street... Our rented house stood right next to the public library, called the Scoville Institute, and by Christmas-time, we were both able to read books in the children's room of the library. When school was over, we would sit at the low tables in our small chairs devouring the simple stories available to us until the librarian sent us home at suppertime."
Marcelline Hemingway Sandford, from At the Hemingways
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, First Floor, east-facing side)

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Lewis Carroll, from Through the Looking Glass
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, Third Floor, west-facing side)

"I cannot live without books."
Thomas Jefferson
(Children's Room, west wall)

"In the seventh grade...I found a place on the [library] shelf where my book would be if I ever wrote a book, which I doubted."
Beverly Cleary, from A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, First Floor, east-facing side)

"Great green gorillas growing grapes in a gorgeous glass greenhouse."
Graeme Base, from Animalia
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, First Floor, east-facing side)

"I am telling young people that if you're dissatisfied with the way things are...get out there and occupy these positions in government and make the decisions."
Barbara Jordan
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, Second Floor landing and stairwell, Second Floor, east-facing side)

"Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly."
Langston Hughes, "Dreams"
(Children's Room, west wall and stairwell, Second Floor, east-facing)

"And the song, from beginning to end, I found in the heart of a friend."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from The Arrow and the Song
(Children's Room, west wall)

Second Floor

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
Harper Lee, from To Kill a Mockingbird
(set in the terrazo floor by the elevators on the Second Floor)

"If you ask me, being a teenager is pretty rotten-between pimples and worry about how you smell!"
Judy Blume, from Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret
(Second Floor, west wall)

"There was that Oak Park trinity, school, church and library, and from the start the library claimed my primary allegiance."
Carol Shields
(Second Floor, west wall)

"Unfortunately I was at sea when anniversary dinner of the Library occurred or I would have sent you a message telling you how much I own the Library and how much it has meant to me all my life...in any event, enclosed is a small check. If you find I owe any fines or dues you can apply it against them."
Ernest Hemingway, From a letter to the Oak Park Public Library, dated June 10, 1953
(Second Floor, west wall and stairwell, Second Floor, south-facing side and stairwell, Second Floor, north-facing side and stairwell, Third Floor, south-facing side)

"She would tell him, succinctly, how I had changed her life with my deliberate words."
Jane Hamilton, from Disobedience
(Second Floor, west wall)

"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."
Arthur C. Clark, from The Lost Worlds
(Second Floor, west wall and stairwell, Third Floor, west-facing side and stairwell, First Floor, west-facing side)

"We all must learn to live together. It's not too late to do what's right. Look to the past it holds our future. Each of us must make a place. Only we can make a difference. Take a stand for what's right. Just because they don't look like you. Don't turn your back, give them place."
James Kino Williams, From the composition, "A Symphony of Place," commissioned by the Oak Park Area Arts Council and premiered January 27, 2001
(Second Floor, west wall and stairwell, First Floor, west-facing side)

"Unless you yourself, can get genuinely interested in a story, how can you hope to interest others in it?"
Edgar Rice Burroughs
(Second Floor, west wall and First Floor, below stairs, north-facing side and stairwell, Second Floor, west-facing side)

"All I cared about was that she had made tea cookies for me and read to me from her favorite book. It was enough to prove that she liked me."
Maya Angelou, from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
(Second Floor, west wall and stairwell, First Floor, west-facing side)

"Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it, and then move on."
Bob Newhart
(Second Floor, west wall)

Stairwell

"If books could have more, give more, be more, show more, they would still need readers, who bring them sound and smell and light and all the rest that can't be in books. The book needs you."
Gary Paulson, from The Winter Room
(stairwell, First Floor, east-facing side)

"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes, from Harlem
(stairwell, Second Floor, south-facing side)

"...She weaves a design that's never finished, a thread from here, a thread from there...that has waited years for the companion thread without which the picture must be incomplete."
no attribution
(Stairwell, Second Floor, east-facing side)
(sourced online "Time is the warp of the tapestry which is life. It is eternal, constant, unchanging. But the wool is gathered together from the four corners of the earth and the twenty-eight seas and out of the air and the minds of men by that master artist, Fate, as she weaves the design that is never finished. A thread from here, a thread from there, another from out of the past that has waited years for the companion thread without which the picture must be incomplete." Edgar Rice Burroughs, from Tarzan Triumphant)

"Facts are the barren branches on which we hang the dear, obscuring foliage of our dreams."
no attribution
(stairwell, First Floor, north-facing side and stairwell, Second Floor, west-facing side)
(sourced online Natalie Babbitt, from Kneeknock Rise)

"[When I was a slave] I set out with high hopes, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost or trouble, to learn how to..."
incomplete; no attribution
(stairwell, Second Floor, west-facing side)
(sourced online "Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost or trouble, to learn how to read…" Frederick Douglass, from Autobiography)

"Accomplishments have no color."
Leontyne Price
(stairwell, Second Floor, west-facing side)

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read."
Harper Lee, from To Kill a Mockingbird
(stairwell, Second Floor, west-facing side)

"There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well-written, or badly written."
Oscar Wilde, from The Picture of Dorian Gray
(stairwell, Second Floor, west-facing side)

Third Floor

"A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day."
Emily Dickinson, from The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
(set in the terrazo floor by the elevators on the Third Floor)

"Responding to challenge is one of democracy's greatest strengths."
Neil A. Armstrong
(Third Floor, west wall)

"You can't live your life on borrowed ideas, borrowed knowledge, a borrowed culture. We must evolve something from within ourselves."
Frank Lloyd Wright
(Third Floor, west wall and stairwell, Second Floor, south-facing side and stairwell, Second Floor, north-facing side)

"Well done is better than well said."
Benjamin Franklin, from The 1737 Poor Richard's Almanack
(Third Floor, west wall and First Floor, stairwell, north-facing side)

"Our human history is in part the story of increasing ability to share the experience of other men."
Anna Louise Strong, from I Change Worlds
(Third Floor, west wall)

"Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow."
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces
(Third Floor, west wall)

"The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened."
John F. Kennedy
(Third Floor, west wall)

"What we have to do...is find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities."
Hillary Rodham Clinton
(Third Floor, west wall)

"Live not for battles won. Live not for the-end-of-the-song. Live in the along."
Gwendolyn Brooks, "Speech to the Young" from To Disembark
(Third Floor, west wall and stairwell, Second Floor, west-facing side)

"It is an achievement for a man to do his duty on earth irrespective of the consequences."
Nelson Mandela
(Third Floor, west wall)

"One of the greatest glories of democracy is the right to protest for right."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Third Floor, west wall and stairwell, Second Floor, west-facing side)

"The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day."
Gloria Steinem
(Third Floor, west wall)

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master: This expresses my idea of democracy."
Abraham Lincoln
(Third Floor, west wall)

"The true university of these days is a collection of books."
Thomas Carlyle , from On Heroes and Hero-Worship
(Third Floor, west wall)

"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."
Mark Twain
(stairwell, Third Floor, east-facing side)

"Our imagination is the most important faculty we possess. It can be our greatest resource or our most formidable adversary. It is through our imagination that we discern possibilities and options."
Pat B. Allen, from "Art Is a Way of Knowing"
(stairwell, Third Floor, west-facing side)

"I meant what I said
And I said what I meant...
An elephant's faithful
One hundred percent!"
Dr. Seuss, from Horton Hatches the Egg
(stairwell, Third Floor, west-facing side)