Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Janis Ian makes interesting speech on libraries

Janis Ian the songwriter, performer, and author with 9 Grammy Nominations and who had a big international hit with "At Seventeen" in 1975 made an interesting speech on libraries to School Librarians in Nashville Public Schools August 9th 2011.

“We artists have a great affinity with you librarians, for many reasons, not the least of which is that we exist in large part to educate, and to protect. To make order out of chaos, and to teach others to do the same. To keep the dreams of a nation, of a people, safe for future generations. To make those dreams available to everyone – not just the wealthy or beautiful, not just the people of one race or one colour or one religion – but available to everyone who dares to dream of something bigger than themselves.

At school, when I looked around at my schoolmates, I didn’t see anyone remotely like me. I longed for friends, people I could talk to about things that were important to me, but I met none. A librarian, Mrs. Anna Baker, was my first true friend – someone who listened carefully, responded truthfully, and gave me every scrap of knowledge she could muster through the books she controlled.

I lived at the library. I lived there because no one judged me. I lived there because there, and only there, did I feel free to explore myself.

The library taught me that somewhere out there were others like me. The library promised that one day, when I was old enough, I would meet them at last. An artist is a citizen of the world, bound by no convention, tied by no borders. We are homeless from the start; we do not have the refuge of conformity, of predictability. Artists need a place of refuge, just as children need a place of refuge… and the world needs its artists, just as it needs its children.

Books leave their language on our souls. They remind us of ourselves at our best, and teach us what we can be. They carry our longing for the stars, and point us toward them when we are too earthbound to do it ourselves.

I hope that every librarian is as kind as Mrs. Baker, who corresponded with me regularly until her death, and whose last letter to me recommended several books she’d recently read.”

The full text of what Janis Ian had to say is at:



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