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Friday, September 15, 2017

Championing the bedrock of liberty

“What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else - is the fact that it exists.” – Archibald MacLeish

Three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and drama, MacLeish was one of the greatest champions of public libraries and the belief that access to literature and the arts is the bedrock of a great democracy.     
                            Our nation's first Librarian of Congress, he started the process toward what would eventually become our national Poet Laureate position and was named by the American Library Association as "one of the 100 most influential figures in librarianship during the 20th century" in the United States.  Over the course of his life -- he lived from 1892 to 1982 -- he not championed hundreds of great writers and songwriters but was personal friends with everyone from Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck to recent Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan. Despite the many accolades he received, he was always humble and always put the nation and its ideals ahead of self.

“We are as great as our belief in human liberty - no greater," he said.  "And our belief in human liberty is only ours when it is larger than ourselves.”

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