Margaret Atwood: What Would a World Without Public Libraries Be Like?

By Nicholas Parker
May 31, 2017
Margaret Atwood

Author Margaret Atwood. Photo by Liam Sharp.

Guest post by author Margaret Atwood:

There are an infinite variety of tyrannies and dystopias, but they all share one trait: the ferocious opposition to free thought, open minds, and access to information. Where people are free to learn, to share, to explore, feel and dream, liberty grows.

This is why the library matters so much. It is a democratizing and liberating force like none other. The library encourages new thinking in unexpected directions. It offers support to immigrants,  students, to anyone with a well-developed curiosity or deep need for community. It is a place for minds to meet minds and hearts to move hearts.

It's no coincidence, therefore,  that there are no public  libraries in the dystopia I wrote about in my novel The Handmaid's Tale.

In order to thrive, a great city like New York must have a great library system. You can help by urging Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to defend this precious resource. Will you add your name now?

Without support from the Mayor and City Council, New York City's libraries can't meet the massive need of the millions of New Yorkers who rely on them. Operating hours can't be expanded, libraries are unable to offer services seven days a week, and urgent repairs can't be completed.

New Yorkers deserve better. They deserve increased hours, additional services, and a world-class library system that meets the needs of all residents. This is all within reach—but only if City leaders hear from New Yorkers like you.

Send your message to Mayor de Blasio and the City Council—tell them to invest in libraries now. 

This investment marks a commitment to everything that makes this city so special. The New York Public Library is every bit the symbol of welcome and openness that the Statue of Liberty is. It demonstrates the city's greatness just as much as the steel and glass towers above, and ties New Yorkers together as strongly as the trains rushing below.

I was so honored to be chosen by The New York Public Library as a Library Lion in 2014. To have my work recognized by this institution meant so much to me. And now I'm calling on New York's leaders to invest in libraries, and I ask you to do the same. Join me.

Thank you for standing up for libraries, for open minds, for free and unfettered access to information. It matters so much for so many.

Margaret AtwoodAuthor and Library Lion