A library is many things to many people. It’s a place of potential, of discovery. It’s a land of dreams: of adventure and magic, of friendly dragons and other planets. It’s a land of hope: of finding a new job or a new home, of learning a new skill or making a new friend. A library is many things to many people, so this Christmas WCN decided to celebrate libraries all around the world.

Every day of advent we shared a photo of a library alongside a quote from a brilliant writer, celebrating the gift that just keeps giving. You can take a look at all the quotes here , catch up with all the goings-on with Storify , or just scroll down.

#LibraryAdvent 2016 complete round-up

25th of December
Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library

‘What a gift: democracy of reading, democracy of space. A library is for life, not just for Christmas.’

– Ali Smith


24th of December
Krakow Regional Public Library
Krakow City of Literature

‘My first job was in a public library and I recognised, even at 16, how much of a haven it was for local people, somewhere for them to get away from the noise of the outside world as well as a place to educate themselves and their children.’

– Emma Healey


23rd of December
Norfolk Record Office
Norwich City of Literature

‘Libraryness – it’s a unique quality, only possessed by our libraries: the alchemy of a free place where people of all ages and all classes come together, seeking the adventures, discoveries, solace and sheer joy found in books. We must keep them open and cherish them, for they nourish us.’

– Patrick Barkham


22nd of December
Dunedin Public Libraries
Dunedin City of Literature

‘It was in libraries that I really explored reading. They are open to all and they cater for all. They never judge. You can pick something up on a whim, and find yourself with a new favourite book. Libraries contain wonders, they should be preserved.’

– Sally Craythorne


21st of December
Southbank Poetry Library

‘Under these leaf-libraries where

Melodious lost literature

Remembers itself!’

– ‘Abernethy’, Douglas Dunn


20th of December
Edinburgh Central Library
Edinburgh City of Literature

‘Edinburgh is a city of books and learning, open to all knowledge.’

– Dame Muriel Spark 


19th of December
Norwich Cathedral Library
Norwich Cathedral

(Image Courtesy of Paul Hurst ARPS)

‘Latterly it has been used as a lumber room. I hope no one will be so unkind as to say it will be so used still.’

– Henry Beeching, Dean of Norwich, 1913


18th of December
Norfolk Heritage Library

‘We need libraries and their wonderful staff. They are part of the lifeblood of British culture. Libraries are indispensable to me and to us all.’

– Mark Cocker


17th of December
Municipal Library of Prague
Prague City of Literature

‘A house without books is like a body without a soul.’

– Julius Zeyer


16th of December
School Library
Angel Road Junior School

‘Our library is a box of wonders that opens and lets me experience different worlds, meet different people, and explore my imagination.’

– Year 6 Pupil, Angel Road Junior


15th of December
Gainsborough Library
Suffolk Libraries

 

‘What a sad adolescence I would have had without a library to escape to! And what a very different life since then: the library opened the door to my future.’

– Andrew Cowan


14th of December
Ballyfermot Library
Dublin City of Literature

(Image Courtesy Patricio Cassinoni)

‘The expected and the unexpected are always to be found in Dublin’s libraries; the jewels in the city’s crown.’


13th of December
Plumstead Road Library
Norfolk Libraries

‘As a child, the library was my gateway – the only gateway available – to the world opened up by books. I read my way around every single shelf in the children’s room of my local library, and was hooked. I am still today enthralled by the possibility for new discoveries which a library holds; the thought that you can discover something quite unexpected, and walk away with it tucked under your arm. I think in these days of tailored recommendation algorithms and curated digital experiences, the sense of rampant intellectual opportunity a library represents is needed more than ever.’

– Jon McGregor


12th of December
BCLT Library
British Centre for Literary Translation

‘Free public libraries are one of the traditional guarantors of freedom, places where anyone may start to explore all that humanity has thought and recorded in words. The burning of books and libraries is one of the great barbaric acts: the closing down of libraries is a step towards the same barbarism.’

– George Szirtes


11th of December
Heidelberg Public Library
Heidelberg City of Literature

‘You made me feel at home, so far from home.’

– guestbook entry by Marcelo Figueras, author from Argentina, October 2010


10th of December
Scottish Poetry Library

‘it shone like a boxful of butterflies

it shone like a web at the wood’s edge

it shone like blazing hilltop victory

it shone like the valley of last resort

it shone like the story of you and me

it shone all night’

– on the library, Alasdair Paterson


9th of December
Gladstone’s Library 

‘Heaven, I am certain, looks like Gladstone’s Library: Britain’s only residential library, where you can live and study surrounded by a world-class collection of books and glorious Gothic architecture. You can choose to be alone, or converse with other visitors – a bishop at breakfast, and a poet at teatime. If inspiration fails (which it won’t), you can venture outdoors to a cemetery, a valley, a ruined castle, a forest and a river.’

– Sarah Perry


8th of December
Library at the Dock
Melbourne City of Literature

(Image Courtesy Timothy Herbert)

‘There was a tree outside the window where I worked, with a face in it, and I came to know it as my “permission” tree.

I did nothing in the library except write in front of that tree, and so every time I saw it, I was inspired to write.

Besides which, it is a beautiful, light library with minimal screaming. It was also during study week, so there were many other people working there, but all separately and silently. I felt part of a community, but not interrupted or under pressure to perform.’

– Anna Spargo-Ryan


7th of December
UEA Library
University of East Anglia

‘Libraries are oases of quiet and learning in a distracted and noisy world, a human refuge, which should not be denied to us.’

– Rose Tremain


6th of December
Norfolk Mobile Library
Norfolk Libraries 

‘On moving to a new town or city, the first place I seek out is the library because the library is the heart of a community. I grew up in the Norfolk countryside, but, because I had regular access to a library (in fact, many libraries: the library in my school, the library in a nearby village, a mobile library and the main public library in Norwich), I was able to learn about the world. Children who grow up with access to a library grow up with the understanding that access to knowledge is a right, and this gives them power. Books allow people to dream. I’ve been lucky enough to have had access to a library throughout my life. Had this not been the case, I would be an entirely different person.’

– Megan Bradbury


5th of December
Huntingdon Library
Cambridgeshire Libraries

‘Growing up, my local library was a place of wonder, imagination, excitement and safety. Ours had two floors: downstairs for adults, upstairs for kids. I both longed for the day I could stay downstairs and dreaded it. As a kid, I snuck books out of the adults’ section; as an adult I sneak them out of the kids’ section. Such are the contradictions of a reading life and the pure joy of a library.’

– John Boyne


4th of December
Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library
Norfolk Libraries

‘I wrote the vast majority of The Last Pilot in Norwich’s Millennium Library and I saw first hand, day after day, how libraries are refuges for the most vulnerable members of society, from the lonely to the elderly; the unemployed to the unwell. The public library is so much more than the sum of its books: it’s a community hub, a place to go, to see people, to be seen; to feel you exist beyond the four walls of your house. The library is a destination, a haven, a harbour, an asylum, a sanctuary, a port in the storm.’

– Benjamin Johncock


3rd of December
Iowa City Public Library
Iowa City of Literature

‘A library is where they live – words that burn

or freeze, cajole and tease, that sound of

barks, bawls, hollers, whispers, mutters

and storms…

May this, our library prosper, for

life without it would be smaller.’

– This Library, Marvin Bell


2nd of December
NUA Library,
Norwich University of the Arts

‘In their unique atmosphere there are portals to all kinds of worlds, knowledge, ideas, inspiration, it’s all there; brilliant reminders of the best and worst we can be as humans. The Whole Earth Catalogue 1972, where else could you see it? NUA library, small but perfectly formed.’

– Peter Martin, Course Leader BA Animation


1st of December
National and University Library of Iceland,
Reyjkavik City of Literature

(Image courtesy Indro Candi)

‘And there stood the library, waiting for him like an illuminated spaceship ready to whisk him away to distant planets.’

 

– Óskar Árni Óskarsson