why i love the library essay

of a Country Wife

19 Reasons why you Should go to the Library

The library is a place full of excitement and wonder, but with the Internet and the rise of ebooks, is the library a thing of the past?

go to the library

The library is one of my favorite places to go. We live in the country so our library is quite small compared to a library in the city, but nonetheless it’s a place of magic to me. I don’t believe libraries are a thing of the past.

Since my kids were small we have been making frequent trips to the library. When they were so busy as toddlers and preschoolers it was a great place to get board books that would hold their attention for a short while.

Now that my kids are 11, 9, and 6, it has become one of their favorite places too. They beg to go. They take out multiple books and spend hours upon hours engrossed in them. I’m not going to lie, library day is the quietest day of my week. After we come home from a trip to the library they quickly disappear to find a cozy spot in the house to read their books.

While there is nothing like holding a real book or even smelling that old book smell (I know book lovers will agree with me on this one) libraries have become a place full of services and resources that go beyond hard copy books.

Yes, you can go get an old-fashioned book at the library still, but that doesn’t mean libraries are archaic. They have changed with the times, and there are a ton of ways libraries can benefit you in this modern society.

Let’s talk today about all the reasons why you should go to the library.


It creates a love of reading. My kids all enjoy reading. Each one has a different preference when it comes to the books they like to read. My oldest prefers chapter books, my middle prefers fact books, and my youngest loves picture books.

Not only do they read their books the minute they get home, they bring those books with them in the car, or to church, to appointments, or in their beds to catch a bit of reading time before they go to sleep (or there are those times I hear the pages turn AFTER bedtime. We all did it as kids, and I can think of worse things for my kids to be sneakily doing.)

Reading teaches them a greater vocabulary. Sometimes the words out of my children’s mouths surprise me. They are articulate and speak with words I probably didn’t know the meaning of at their age. There are times they say a word and I ask them where they learned it, and 9 out of 10 times they say “from a book.”

It reduces screen time. We live in a world where we are all bombarded with screens, whether it be the computer, an Ipad, a cellphone, or a TV. We have all seen the articles of the negative affects of too much screen time.

Any time we are reading a hard copy book means less time in front of the screen. It’s good for our brains.

They can benefit from other amazing programs at the library. These days libraries often offer more than just books. Our local library offers art classes, craft nights, special programs for kids during March break and summer, and so much more! Libraries have become a place that goes beyond books.

You can borrow eBooks. Okay, maybe you are one of those people who have fallen in love with eBooks and there is no changing that. Well, many libraries have eBooks now that you can check out. Depending on your library, you may be able to check out eBooks from the comfort of your own home!

They offer classes. Libraries often offer various classes like personal development classes, GED preparation, learning how to navigate the Internet or computer easily, and so much more.

You can sometimes buy books. There are times libraries need to free up space on their shelves and often when that happens they sell the books they are getting rid of at super cheap prices. Sometimes if you are really lucky they may just give them away for free.

Libraries build a sense of community. While I know it also depends on the size of your library, if you go often enough you get to know the people behind the counter. You even may get to know the other patrons at the library. Whenever I go to our local library I am greeted by employees who have gotten to know my family and I over the years and there is a sense of community in that.

It’s frugal. Taking out books is free. If you are looking for a cheap family activity, this is it! Activities for kids these days can be so costly and if you are like me, you are looking for serious ways to live on less these days. When you start using the library frequently your kids come to love it too, and what better fun for the kids then something that won’t break the bank?

It builds responsibility.  A library card is a great way to teach kids the value of being trusted with taking care of things.  Buidling responsibility in our kids while they are young will help them as they grow.

Access to the Internet. Many libraries have free Wifi and computers connected to the internet. With those options it is a great place to get some quiet work done for yourself, or any homework your kids may need to do in an atmosphere that offers a studious environment.

It is full of reliable resources for research.  The Internet is an amazing place, but most people know that there are a ton of unreliable resources online.  When you go to the library you can trust that the resources are quality information with a better chance of being accurate.

You can borrow cds and movies. Libraries aren’t just a place to check out books. You can also checkout Cds, DVDs, and in some cases VHS. Our family was sure to borrow some Christmas movies this past year since we don’t have cable or satellite. It was a great way to still watch some of the holiday classics without paying a bunch of money.

They offer printing services. Need something printed off the computer or photocopied? Many libraries offer these services for a small fee.

There is “Story” time. When my kids were younger we always enjoyed staying busy. Story time at the library is a perfect way to get you out of the house with your little ones and keep them entertained!

There are magazines and newspapers to read. Sometimes it’s nice to take in a good old-fashioned newspaper or magazine. There is something about the smell of those pages that make you feel relaxed.

They have information on history. Most libraries have a genealogy department. If you are looking for some history on the community you live in, the library is the place to go looking for it.

Librarians are super smart and helpful people. Looking for a book? They’ll help you find it. Need suggestions of what to read? They’ll offer you ideas to fit your needs. Trying to get your little one to read more? They’ll give you ideas on how to do that.

It’s a quiet space. Do you need some down time? Do you just need to get out of the house and find a place that is quiet? The library is the perfect place for that, and many have insanely comfortable chairs. It’s a great place to go and pull out a book or magazine or newspaper, find one of their chairs in the corner, and hide yourself away from the world for a little while.


The library is full of amazing resources. If you haven’t made a trip to the library recently, you definitely should.

Every once in awhile in a conversation with someone I will discover that they used to use the library at one time, but they either lost a book or have racked up such huge late fees that they are embarrassed to go back in.

If that is you, I would say to go in to your local library and just talk to your librarian. Explain the situation. More often than not they will usually work with you to find a solution. Librarians are usually book lovers as well and they love to see others using the library and if they can work with you to figure out how you can pay your fines or replace a lost book, they usually will.

Take it from someone who has been there with high fines – a lot of us have been there and you are not alone. 🙂 So don’t let that discourage you from paying down your fine and using the library again!

Of course, I couldn’t write a post about all the positives of using the library without sharing some of our family’s favorite books!


*This post contains affiliate links.  Please see our full disclosure policy HERE.

Books for kids:

Imagination Station, by Marianne Hering – These are good for probably grades 5 and up. These books are based on the christian audio broadcast, Adventures in Odyssey.

Grandma’s Attic, by Arleta Richardson – This is a new series my 11 year old daughter has just tried out this year and she absolutely loved them. The stories in these books are all about life in simpler times.

The Cul-de-Sac Kids, by Beverley Lewis – This is a great series for kids just starting chapter books.

The Magic Treehouse, by Mary Pope Osborne – Again, this is another great series for new chapter book readers.

How to Train your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell – This series is based on the movie and well-loved here.

Clarice Bean series, by Lauren Child – This is a good series for ages 8-11, and tends to be favored more by girls than boys.

National Geographic Bet You Didn’t Know – These books are great for those who have kids that you would like to encourage to read more but they don’t seem to enjoy chapter books. My son loves these books full of facts and pictures. They are pretty big books so it provides hours of reading!

Lego Playbook – Ideas to Bring your Bricks to Life, by Daniel Lipkowitz – This book is great to encourage kids to build things from Lego based on instructions in the book. I think my kids have taken this book out multiple times they love it so much!

Books for adults:

The Backyard Homestead – This is the first book in a series and is absolutely great for people new to homesteading, whether on a small or larger lot.

The Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczen ( I think I took this one out from the library about 4 times before I finally caved and bought my own copy!)

Girl, Wash your Face, by Rachel Hollis – A great motivational book for those who need an extra kick in the pants to reach their goals. This book is quite popular right now so I’m sure you’ve probably already heard of it. 🙂

Amish series by Beverley Lewis – While I rarely read fiction, when I do get the chance I love the Amish fiction books. Beverley Lewis has written so many good ones.


Picking up a book is one of those activities that you never find yourself saying, “well, I wish I had never spent time reading.” Usually we don’t feel like it is wasted time. When we read we often feel that we’ve done something that is good for us.

The library is a place that can benefit your whole family. If you haven’t been for awhile why not make a point to go again? You won’t be bored or disappointed. Make a point to go to the library this week and get lost in a book or two.  If it’s winter curl up on an armchair under a blanket with a hot drink and a book, or if it’s summer lounge around in a hammock as you read the afternoon away!

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3 thoughts on “19 reasons why you should go to the library”.

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We love the local library! Library day is always a highlight of our week. And I agee, often the most quiet as the kids sort the the new pile of books. I often unsuspectingly throw in a good history, cooking ,or greography book into the kids checkout pile and enjoy watching them read them all and learn something to boot.

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Hmm…I should sneakily throw in an extra book in their pile from now on. So smart!

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libraries play a vital role in ensuring that children get used to library materials and they develop courage to stand infront of their friends to read stories as we help to spell some words they are unable to pronounce, yet they are a good team to work with, some are keen to read every source they come across. what is important is that they develop love of visiting the library read and learn, Enock (RSA)

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why i love the library essay

50 Reasons to Love the Library

By lorrie bodger.


1. Open Stacks The NYSL houses most of its impressive collection of books in open stacks that you may browse to your heart’s content. Discover every book your favorite author has written, explore a topic that fascinates you, stumble upon a shelf of just about anything. The open stacks are full of surprises.

2. The Members’ Room Consider this your own private club, complete with couches and armchairs, small desks and lamps, huge windows, and a handsome fireplace. Silent reading and study prevail (no laptops allowed here), and you can catch up on current newspapers, magazines, and literary journals as well.

Members' Room

4. NYSOCLIB.ORG The website is your gateway to taking full advantage of all the Library has to offer. For example: Go to the Home page, click on the Marginalia tab—and bingo! Book recommendations, upcoming events, and the always-interesting blog.

5. Long Hours In January 2015 the Library hours were extended significantly: Monday and Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM; weekends from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. And that includes the entire summer.

6. The Whitridge Room A singular room, in the best sort of way. When it’s not in use for events or meetings, you can read comfortably on the couch or armchairs or work on your computer at the big table. If the Members’ Room is a large living room, the Whitridge Room is a small parlor.

Whitridge Room

7. Online Catalog Once you try it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. The amazing OC will lead you to whatever books you need or want—search by title, author, subject, or even keyword.

8. Readers’ Advisory Mia D’Avanza, Head of Circulation, says, “We have a uniquely engaged Library staff. We get to know the tastes of our members and we learn what they like to read.” Need a book recommendation ? Ask a staffer.

9. Internet Access Bring your computer and get online throughout the Library. There are only two exceptions: the Reference Room on the first floor and the Members’ Room on the second floor.

10. Audiobooks The NYSL has lots of them. The newest acquisitions are near the Circulation Desk; the older ones are in Stack 9.

11. E-Books The NYSL offers abundant e-books for free downloading through the 3M Cloud Library . Classics, best-sellers, fiction, nonfiction—get the app and get portable. There’s an instruction sheet at the Circ Desk and a pdf guide online . (Having trouble installing the app? Ask for help at the Circ Desk.)

12. The Hornblower Room This hushed fifth-floor oasis is a haven for anyone who wants to concentrate on writing, research, or even homework—in the company of (unintrusive) others. The room was completely refurbished in 2010 with Aeron chairs, handsome tables, good lighting, and plenty of outlets for computers.

Hornblower Room

13. Databases and Other Electronic Resources On the website’s Home page , right below the Search function, you’ll see a small line of type: 3M E-books | JSTOR | Project MUSE | OED | All Electronic Resources . Clicking on any of these headings (especially the last one) takes you to complete information about the many databases and other electronic resources available to all members. Art, biographies, book reviews, newspapers, scholarly journals—a world of reference at your fingertips.

14. Comfort Stations The restrooms in the Library are very, very nice: super-clean, bright, well-supplied, and private. If you’re spending any time at all in the Library, you’ll appreciate them in a big way.

15. Nooks and Crannies Tucked away among the open stacks are small desks, with lamps, where you can hide out if you don’t feel like using one of the more conventional rooms.

Stack Desk

16. Online and Telephone Renewals Not quite finished reading that 853-page historical novel? You can renew a book at the Circulation Desk or by phone, but you can also renew on the website: Log in, go to My Tab, and open Current Checkouts. See that Renew heading on the left? Check the box beside your book and, if no one else is waiting for it, you’ll be able to renew it right there.

17. The Four Thousand Steve McGuirl, Head of Acquisitions, says, “The Library is not a museum—it’s a growing collection.” He should know: he oversees the addition of 4,000 books (or titles, in library-speak) to the NYSL every year.

18. Books by Mail If you can’t get to the Library, the NYSL has a mail service for you. Open a postage account and the Library will send you the books you want. For details, ask at the Circ Desk about the Books by Mail Policy or read about it online .

19. The Front Doors They’re automatic. Give them a little push (or pull) and they glide open with no help from you. Very useful when your arms are full of books. And the short flight of stairs between the street-level doors and the Library proper is equipped with a Handi-Lift, making the NYSL fully accessible to all.

20. Book Funds Since 2008, generous members have established fourteen new book funds—so the NYSL has been able to expand its collections in many areas: performing arts, contemporary fiction, fine arts, ancient culture, mysteries, poetry, and more.

21. What’s New? Want to know what new books have been acquired? Pick up a New Books leaflet from the display at the Circ Desk, or view the list on the website .

22. Raising Readers The Children’s Library is so varied (9,500 titles!) and has so many events, activities, and services for kids and families that it’s in a category all its own. Coming soon: 50 Reasons to Love the Children’s Library. Look for it in a future edition of Books & People.

23. The Little Table in the Lobby It’s over by the reference desk, at the foot of the stairs: a sort of mini-exhibit of books relevant to something newsworthy, seasonal, or quirky, chosen by staff. That little table is one of my favorite Library perks. It represents what I love most about the NYSL: resources, discovery, sharing, and welcome.

Lobby Table

24. Your Private Reading History Can’t remember the name of that terrific mystery you read two years ago? Go to the Home page , log in, click My Tab, and look for My Reading History. Every book you’ve ever taken out of the Library is listed there, and no one sees that list but you—it’s private.

25. Reserving a Book via the Website Easy: Log in and go to My Tab. Under Patron Record, hit Search Catalog. Look up the book you want. If it’s already out on loan, hit Request, add date parameters if you like, hit Submit, and that’s that. You’ll be notified by e-mail when the book is waiting for you.

26. Reserving a Book at the Circ Desk Also easy: If the book you want is out on loan, ask the Circ Desk assistant to put your name on the waiting list. Same deal: When it’s your turn you’ll get an e-mail notice—and a week to pick it up.

27. The Writing Life From Washington (Irving) to Willa (Cather) to Wendy (Wasserstein), the Library has been a good friend to writers. Writing Life Daytime Talks focus on topics of special interest to writers; writing workshops are for writers who want to improve their skills; once-a-month writing groups are for experienced writers; evening readings give writers an audience for their work. Check the website for more information and for the calendar of writing-related events and programs .

28. Individual Study Rooms If you want to be on the fifth floor with other writers and researchers but you prefer to work in seclusion, reserve one of the six study rooms (easy to do by phone or at the Circ Desk). Same great chairs, tables, lighting, and outlets, but complete privacy—including locks on the doors.

29. Evening Events These amazing book-related lectures and panels are for members—and friends. They’re held in the Members’ Room and they’re open to the public, so bring your nonmember friends or let them know about events they’d enjoy even if you can’t get to them yourself. Read about upcoming events in the newsletter or the online calendar .

Joan Breton Connelly speaks in the Members' Room, 2014

30. Autographs At each book-related evening event the NYSL sets up a book table just outside the Members’ Room. Buy the book-of-the-evening and take it right up to the author for signing.

31. Rare Treasures Laura O’Keefe, Head of Cataloguing and Special Collections says, “There’s more to us than just the latest novels.” The Library is proud to own an astonishing array of rare books that are carefully conserved and protected—and available for research.


34. The Skylight Joan Zimmett, Director of Development, loves the beautiful leaded skylight above the graceful main staircase. The skylight was revealed and restored in 2010 thanks to the generous support of Ada and Romano Peluso.

35. Climate Control Warm in winter, cool in summer; umbrella rack for rainy days; coat closet for your outerwear.

36. Terminals and Loaners There are computer terminals scattered throughout the Library, for your convenience when you need to do a bit of quick reference. And the Library has netbook laptops that you may check out for the day and use on-site; ask about them at the Circ Desk.

37. Lock It Up On the fifth floor there are first-come, first-served lockers for members to use. If you need to stash your stuff during a day, ask for a key at the Circ Desk. If you need a locker for up to six months, fill out an application at the Circ Desk; your name will go onto the waiting list.

38. Water, Water Thirsty? There’s a water cooler—with paper cups—on the main floor. Or bring your own water (water only) and sip as you work or read anywhere in the Library.

39. No Cell Phones I know, I know, it takes a little getting used to, but you’ll learn to love it. No ringing = no interruptions. No ringing = no distractions from the Joy of Library.

40. Riches Mia D’Avanza, Head of Circulation, loves the fiction stacks: “They’re so tall that they give you a feeling of being immersed in a wealth of books.” There are rolling safety steps to help you reach the highest shelves.

41. The Pleasure of His Company Sara Holliday, Events Coordinator, loves the Green Alcove at the far end of Stack 12. It’s a snug, sheltered workspace, and when you’re sitting at the desk Mr. John Cleve Green (1800-1875) will be looking over your shoulder. In portrait.

Green Alcove

42. Tech Workshops Though it values the past, the Library does not live in the past. Technology workshops are offered regularly. In the spring of 2015 there was, for instance, a workshop on podcasts. Past workshop topics: iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Gmail, buying a new computer, keeping your PC free of viruses.

43. Interlibrary Loans The NYSL participates in a cooperative interlibrary loan system that gives members access to books, articles, and even microfilm from other US libraries. More info on the website.

44. Tracking Your Checked-Out Books Good job, you’ve stacked up the four books that have to go back to the Library and you’ve put them by the door. But wait—did you have four books out or five? Log in at the NYSL website, go to Home page > My Tab> Current Checkouts to find the answer.

45. Members’ Suggestion Box You see a glowing review of a new book that you’d love to read. You look it up in the NYSL’s online catalog—but it’s not there. Log in, go to For Members, click on Suggest a Purchase, and fill out the form. Acquisitions will consider your request and, if it looks like a book the Library should have, they’ll order it and you’ll be first on the list to read it.

46. Reading Groups There’s a Trollope group, a Fitzgerald group, and a slew of others—some long-running, some short-term. Check the website or the newsletter to find (your) like-minded readers.

47. City Readers That’s the name of the Library’s new digital reference work, in which you can “Explore more than 100,000 records of books, readers, and borrowing history from the New York Society Library’s Special Collections.” Fact: In November and December of 1789, Anthony L. Bleecker (namesake of the street I lived on for thirty years) was reading A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World by Captain James Cook.

48. Periodicals The Library subscribes to more than 100 newspapers, popular and specialized magazines, and literary journals. In the Members’ Room you can read the latest issues; Stack 11 is the home of most back issues and all sorts of old, unusual, or scholarly magazines. (Stack 11 even has a microfilm reader.)

49. Card Catalog Carolyn Waters, Head Librarian, uses the online catalog for speed and efficiency, but she loves the old card catalog that lives in the Reference Room on the main floor—because it reminds her of childhood libraries.

Card Catalog

50. Rare Librarians You may have grown up thinking of librarians as Stern Guardians of the Books, but our librarians are nothing like that. Our librarians definitely want to help you have a great experience with every aspect of the NYSL.

Lorrie Bodger, author of more than thirty nonfiction books, also edits, teaches, and writes fiction.

The New York Society Library

53 East 79th Street New York, NY 10075 212.288.6900 [email protected]

why i love the library essay

Hours of Operation

Holiday closing: presidents' day.

clock This article was published more than  4 years ago

Libraries have always been a sanctuary for me. Here are 9 reasons I love them so much.

Here’s one reason: librarians, with their infinite knowledge, sometimes feel magical.

The library has been a sanctuary for me for many years, from the tiny, cozy one at my elementary school to the glass palace of a public library where I spent my post-college years hanging out. (Bonus points: It also had a cafe and a pizza restaurant.)

The first thing I did when I moved to a new city last year was get myself a library card. I read so many books that buying them all is not really feasible (although I still buy a lot of them). For the two to six weeks that I hold a library book in my hands, it’s mine. I like thinking about how many other people have held the same book in their hands. Sometimes I find physical evidence — a bookmark, or a scrap of paper left behind. Libraries and books and comics remind me that there are good things left in the world.

why i love the library essay

why i love the library essay

Why I Really Love Libraries

why i love the library essay

Reading, to me, feels like disappearing. Like the entirety of my body suddenly begins to shimmer, grow translucent, before my cells pull apart and dissipate into the air. 

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Essay on Library: 100, 200 and 250 Words

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  • Updated on  
  • Jan 23, 2024

essay on library

A Library is a place where students and people interested in reading books visit very often. It constitutes several collections of books of variable genres to please the reader. The library is the in-person source of information. It is an easily accessible place for students and raiders. Every school and college has a library with multiple books. Besides that, it is economical for the students. This article will provide an essay on library for students and children studying in schools. Enjoy Reading.

This Blog Includes:

Sample essay on library, 100 words essay on library, 200-250 words essay on library.

Also Read: English Essay Topics

Also Read: How to Write an Essay in English

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The library is an important place for the community. It includes books, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts, DVDs, and more such informational sources. It plays a significant role in the kid’s learning phase. Despite the advancement in technology , the library still plays a critical role in everyone’s life. One can borrow books from the library. There are two types of libraries one is a private library that is controlled by the school and college authorities, whereas the other is a public library that is open to all. 

Also Read: Library Science Colleges in India

Also Read: Essay on Gaganyaan

A library is a place where books belonging to different subjects and genres are stored. My school also has a very big library next to the computer lab. Our timetable is designed in such as format that we could visit the library twice a week and explore books apart from our syllabus. This practice of visiting and exploring books in the library induces a habit of reading in all the students.

My school library has autobiographies, picture books, comics, novels, fictional books, books on culture, art, and craft, and many other materials. Students can borrow the desirable book to read for one week and then, on a specific date we need to return that book to the school library.  Thus, the library teaches us the value and importance of books and inculcates the habit of reading and imparting knowledge.

Also Read: Bachelor of Library Science

The library is the place where people come together to learn and gain knowledge. Books are arranged on large bookshelves. Books belonging to similar genres are arranged on the same shelf by the librarian. The librarian is in charge of the library.

Some libraries have digital software to keep track of books issued and received to and from the library. Owing to technological advances, books are nowadays available on online platforms. Readers can read the book on apps like Kindle. But still, the library has its role, it is easily accessible plus it will provide a trustworthy source of information. 

Good raiders prefer books to read in their physical form as they cherish the quality of pages, type of writing , and the authenticity of book covers. Thus, the library plays an important role in the student’s as well as adults’ life.

Every school allots specific hours for students to visit and read books from the library so that they can induce reading habits from childhood itself. Students also refer to books from the library to complete their assignments or summer vacation homework. 

There are set rules and regulations of the library. Generally, we are not allowed to talk so that readers won’t get distracted and lose their pace of reading. Besides that, if any book issued from the library gets misplaced, damaged, or lost from the borrower then, he/she has to pay a fine to the librarian. 

Thus, the library is an excellent resource for books that spread knowledge and information along with entertainment . 

Also Read: History of English Literature

A. The library plays a critical part in every individual starting from the school itself. It helps in developing the overall personality because reading books and gaining knowledge help people to make a good career.

A. Include points like what is a library, why books are important, and the importance of a library in the life of students and children. Divide your essay into three parts introduction, body, and conclusion. End the concluding paragraph on a positive note. 

This was all about an essay on library. The skill of writing an essay comes in handy when appearing for standardized language tests, thinking of taking one soon? Leverage Live provides the best online test prep for the same. Register today and if you wish to study abroad then contact our experts at 1800572000 .

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Kajal Thareja

Hi, I am Kajal, a pharmacy graduate, currently pursuing management and is an experienced content writer. I have 2-years of writing experience in Ed-tech (digital marketing) company. I am passionate towards writing blogs and am on the path of discovering true potential professionally in the field of content marketing. I am engaged in writing creative content for students which is simple yet creative and engaging and leaves an impact on the reader's mind.

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A student in a library

Five reasons why I love my library

There are loads of reasons why I love my library, but a few of the main reasons are listed below.

1. The books So, you're probably thinking - well, duh! That's the point of a library - to lend out books. But it's the selection of books that are there. I hang out in the YA section mostly, and I am so impressed by the different variety and all the genres that are available. Oh, and also by the fact that there are books in large print for those with dyslexia or a disability which impairs their reading and audio books. There literally is a book for everyone.

2. The atmosphere Some of my favorite books are those which make me feel like I'm living the story with the characters. And Matilda and Harry Potter, to name a few, are some characters who are seen throughout their stories in libraries. I like the feeling of being able to relate to them, and to experience what they experienced. Admittedly, I've never visited my library wearing an invisibility cloak, but I'm sure I'd love it just as much if I did. The bright lighting and the comfy sofas are irresistible...you just want to grab a thick paperback, curl up and start reading.

3. The fact that it's there Hardly any kids I know visit the library regularly - even I don't find time to go that often. It's actually considered embarrassing to be seen there by some groups, and I think some people are barely aware of their existence. I can't allow this to happen - I can't allow a culture like this continue. Why is it so embarrassing to like reading? I don't understand. I'm 13, I haven't started my GCSEs yet and so the reason kids my age aren't going to the library can't be because they are constantly studying (by the way, my library is a great place to study) or don't have the time. It's because they can just buy the book on their kindle. Or (it hurts to say this) because that precious weekend time can be used to make the weekly trip to Hollister or Jack Wills. I'm sorry, but that's just sickening. I am just so grateful that I have a library to go to, that it hasn't become extinct.

4. FREE BOOKS!!!! I'm not forking out pocket money for the new hardcover Percy Jackson or a new audiobook - it's all free! The only place where there isn't a catch, a little terms and conditions that says I pay a monthly fee, or a "mandatory donation" every time I visit. I can just hand my library card over (well, actually scan it, thanks to the new technology) and I've got a bagful of treats, ready to be devoured.

5. The people I live in a university city, and so there are always lots of students, studying their notes, or revising for exams and biting their nails. I've seen such fascinating characters, and some crazy fashion...! The librarians are always so lovely and helpful, plus you sometimes meet old classmates or teachers (which can be slightly awkward!) who you can catch up with. Then there are the adorable toddlers, who waddle everywhere, clawing at pages with pudgy hands, and giving you toothy smiles. Just seeing a couple of those grinning little babies is worth the trip to the library...they have the most sincere smiles in the world. The only age in which you truly love everyone.

I really hope this encourages you to visit your library, and maybe donate. Quickly, before libraries become like dinosaurs. Extinct.

Do you love your library? Tell us why! You could write a list or a poem, like Julia Donaldson , draw a picture, write a story or take a photo. Send your contribution to [email protected] and we'll add them to our Love your library page, celebrating libraries all over the world

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Why i love libraries.

Gina Barreca

Writer, professor, humorist, blogger. Troublemaker.

I'm in love with libraries. During only one phase of my life -- and an unlikely one at that -- was I ever uncomfortable inside their walls.

In graduate school, when I was spending way too much time in basement rooms with fluorescent bulbs humming and crackling overhead, I silently started resenting libraries, bitterly belittling them in my heart as tombs for useless thought, as mausoleums erected to preserve both the immaterial and the pointless.

I was in grad school.I was bitter. I wasn't myself. It was like having a terrible time inside an otherwise wonderful relationship--sometimes it happens, but it passes.

You see, this period of resentment towards libraries was in marked contrast to one my life's earliest happy memory: a summer afternoon, leaving a noisy house to walk to the local library.

Inside that building, quiet as a church or a hospital, I could relax and look around without fear of reprimand. Palpably different from the judgmental stillness of the cathedral or the anxious hush of a sickroom, a contagious sense of safety filled the library's rooms. This sense of safety is what I remember best. At the scaled-down children's desk, cherished because of its cartoonish size, I carefully arranged picture books across the pale wood table.

Once I started elementary school, I spent even more time at the library. Unlike some kids, I didn't mind being assigned a research paper. In fourth-grade, I had to do a report on UFOs. It was fabulous--in both literal and metaphoric senses equally--and that's when I learned how to use the huge and intimidating microfilm reader. It was sort of like learning how to operate heavy machinery designed by NASA; those machines were as big as I was.

At Oceanside High School on Long Island, we were expected to use the library to write our papers; my huge public high school was demanding and efficient. I learned about interlibrary loan and regarded it as my passport to libraries in, for example, other galaxies. I'd decoded the processes whereby a regular person such as myself was permitted to have access to books usually reserved solely for use by Real Scholars. It was great: I felt like I was getting away with something.

The library at Dartmouth , my undergraduate college was deservedly well respected. What I remember best, however, is that at the pocket-size, imitation-Tudor-style English Department library, called Sanborn House, where tea and cookies could be bought for chump change at 4 o'clock every weekday afternoon. This was a combination of all my favorite activities (almost). The idea of eating in a library was as illicit as reading a novel during a dinner party -- it seemed eccentric and (in some unspoken-rule-breaking way) marvelous.

I continued to eat while studying-- and working-- at the library in New Hall, my college at Cambridge University . That library was where I felt most at home during my years in England. I would sneak in a bag of crackers and small squares of double-Gloucester cheese, making absolutely sure that there were no crumbs left (my fear of library mice being strong and supported by powerful evidence). I was a devoted worker; my sin was, I believe, a venial one.

By the time I was working on my Ph.D., however, I was back living in New York and tearing through bagel-and-fried-egg sandwiches before running up the steps of the NYPL. Maybe I'd simply had too much of it, but entrances into both large and small reading rooms became less inviting. There were days when I despaired; at certain low points, I harangued myself with the certainty that I was incapable of writing a laundry list, let alone a dissertation.

Only after my first book -- ``They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted'' --appeared in the card catalog (remember those?) in 1991 did I start to feel at home again. Maybe I felt better being the stacks again because I could place a book on the shelf rather than relying solely on act of removing one.

I have returned to being delighted by hours spent roving in the stacks. Mastering the Internet has been amusing but I haven't fallen in love with it.

It's still the weight of the book that calms me, the feel of the paper under my fingertips as I turn the page that grabs me. This pleasure is sharpened by understanding that what I love at this moment has only been loaned to me. I can possess it fully but temporarily -- just like life. ---

This piece first appeared in the Hartford Courant .

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why i love the library essay

Why Are Libraries Important? We’ll Give You 5 Reasons

A birds-eye-view shows people working in long tables with green lamps inside a library.

What is “The Breakfast Club’s” timeless story without a school library? Who is Hermoine Granger without the magical stacks of books in the Hogwarts library? Where would “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” Paul Varjak tell Holly Golighty that he loves her — if not in the New York Public Library? 

Where does a community gather safely, find free and necessary resources, preserve the heart of a culture — without a library? 

You guessed it: I’m on my Dewey Decimal System soapbox. 

Libraries are at the crux of both social and physical American infrastructure; a crossroads where intellect and information meet space and access, a place where social services are actualized, and people are put above profit. 

However, our libraries are in dire need of funding, support, and maintenance.

How do libraries make money?

Most of us are aware that the literary world has changed dramatically in recent years, as the Amazon monopoly rears its many heads: bookselling, publishing, reading device development, and audiobook sales among them. Both independent booksellers and libraries have been impacted, even so far that books published under Amazon are not sold to libraries for folks to read for free. 

So, how do libraries even make money to operate? 

Public libraries are supported with state tax revenues, just like your local public school or road projects. Treated as a public good, libraries get a portion of this revenue to maintain their operations. However, this portion is often a very small percentage of the total tax revenue a state sees every year. 

For example, the Ohio Public Library reported that they received less than 1 percent of Ohio’s state tax revenue in 2020 (.53 percent, to be exact). In fact, the amount they received from the state was less than half of their total funding revenue.

This funding is crucial for more than just buying new books, but the upkeep of buildings, paying staff livable wages, providing ongoing community support and programming, and funding archival research and projects. The San Diego Library Master Plan framework outlines a $50 million library maintenance backlog . 

This deficit leaves many public library boards to do what they do best: get creative.

Many libraries will keep all operations free to patrons, but will charge late fees or book fines. This practice, however, is becoming less common, as libraries work to best serve low-income communities . 

Libraries also offer other “paid-for” services, as well as read-a-thon events, summer camps, book signings, book sales, or rentable spaces like conference rooms. 

Strategic partnerships and corporate sponsorships also allow libraries to raise funds, but as staff and board members struggle to maintain the integrity of their library systems,  the clear solution altogether is to prioritize government funding for libraries. 

How many libraries are in the United States?

There are over 16,000 public libraries in the United States , according to the American Library Association. 

While this may seem like a lot (there are more public libraries in America than McDonald’s or Starbucks restaurants!) the U.S. is 62nd on the list of countries with the most libraries per capita. 

These statistics indicate that, while libraries are plentiful (although perhaps not always spread out equitably), they are not prioritized or funded in the same way as other countries. 

This begs the question: do Americans truly not value their libraries, or do we just not know why they are so important? 

5 Reasons Libraries Are Important 

1. libraries support educational opportunities.

Libraries are commonly considered educational institutions, providing students and researchers the tools and resources they need to learn and study. 

In fact, libraries have long been dubbed “the people’s university,” for their equitable nature, bringing information and education to all people, regardless of socioeconomic status. 

Many of us envision our libraries full of books , encyclopedias, computers, and workspaces, but what we often neglect to include in that description is offerings like film and music, access to other learning avenues like local zoos or botanical gardens, 3D printers, WiFi hotspot lending programs, art lending programs , recording studios, or even blood pressure monitors . 

Libraries are not just spaces to borrow creative tools, but to make one’s own. Many institutions will hold writing workshops or other community events to teach patrons new skills or develop work in collaboration with other community members. Libraries have become spaces for people to set up a new podcast, write a zine , practice music, and more. 

Like the beloved cartoon aardvark Arthur Read says: “having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.”

Educational opportunities also manifest through the encouragement of civil discourse and dialogue. The Human Library project, developed in Denmark, is an initiative that “publishes people as open books” and allows members of the public to meet and communicate with people outside of their communities. 

This initiative has gone global , and many American libraries participate in this social program to keep people from judging each other “by their covers.”

Libraries are also increasingly expanding access to digital resources . As of 2018, over 90 percent of libraries offered digital loans , and resources like Libby , OverDrive , and Hoopla make these loans even more accessible.

Although many of us cherish the “old book smell” of a historical library setting, it’s valuable to keep in mind that libraries are continuously evolving to meet the needs of learners of all backgrounds. 

2. Libraries preserve cultural heritage and history

A hallway shows a shelf of archives in a brightly lit room

Speaking of people from all walks of life, libraries play a key role in preserving the cultural heritage and history of their communities. 

While not all libraries have archival services, those with professional archivists give patrons access to valuable historical stories and records that add tremendous value and context to their people. 

Organized archives allow people to research genealogy and immigration history, do environmental research, find maps, digitize records, and more. 

The National Archives funds a number of archival research projects across the country. 

3. Libraries provide access to necessary resources for marginalized communities

Access to archival resources is only a small portion of what libraries do for marginalized communities. Libraries have long been institutions for social good, gathering members of a community together to fill a need or find solutions. 

One basic service of a library is providing helpful materials to diverse populations, assisting non-English speakers, immigrants, LGBTQ+ youth , and disabled community members.

From American Sign Language and English As A Second Language courses, to citizenship information, or an anti-prom that welcomes LBGTQ+ high schoolers, libraries serve as gateways to new and welcoming communities and give marginalized folks the tools they need to become empowered.

Resources often extend beyond educational materials and into direct action, as libraries across the country host free library lunches for kids in need, farmer’s markets , seed lending programs , and even tool lending libraries , to give patrons access to items they otherwise may not be able to afford. 

Youth are also able to utilize libraries in creative ways, benefiting from tutoring services, afterschool programming, homework help, outdoor learning initiatives , and summer reading programs. 

Libraries are community-centered in a way few other institutions are; helping folks rebuild after disaster, feed their families, start a business, or simply feel seen and included for who they are.

4. Libraries are integral to the political and social life of a community

Public life and political discourse has long been a value of America’s libraries, as these institutions proudly advocate against banned books , and develop special collections to support niche groups. Libraries are hubs for democratic debate, social justice, and community action.

For example, an initiative in Baltimore aims to raise collective consciousness to decrease crime in the area. Librarians are training to learn de-escalation practices as a non-police avenue to reduce violence, aiming to train all Baltimore city employees with the same tools. This, along with avenues like the Baltimore Community Mediation Center for community members to work through disputes, serve as a case study for the social and political landscape libraries offer. 

Libraries are also used as polling places or ballot drop-off locations during elections, and often offer voting guides or public debates and forums, encouraging civic engagement . 

Students may participate in workshops or mock elections, and many public libraries hold voter registration events for community members. The American Library Association says: “informed citizens are engaged voters.”

5. Libraries are a safe and reliable space for all

A young Black man in a white shirt and black pants talks to a young white girl with red hair and a gray sweater vest. They walk through the bookshelves in a library.

While we’ve examined how libraries offer specific resources and offerings, one of the most valuable things libraries contribute to their communities is space. 

While libraries are not substitutes for shelters, counseling centers, or long-term systemic solutions to homelessness, they are vital to public health and safety, offering people experiencing homelessness a safe and dignified space throughout the day. 

Libraries are also integral for unhoused folks to find empowerment, using computers to apply for jobs and seek further assistance. While some folks may be unable to get a library card due to a lack of a permanent address, more resources are becoming widely available as public libraries work on the frontlines of the housing crisis. 

In addition to serving patrons experiencing poverty and homelessness, libraries are simply safe and meaningful spaces for all members of the community. 

Whether a library boasts grand architecture or modest design, the physical space of a library has a way of communicating our underlying values, The Public Library Association suggests: that libraries, information, and shared community space matter.

Libraries are at the heart of American infrastructure. They deserve better.

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why i love the library essay

Friday essay: why libraries can and must change

why i love the library essay

Associate Professor in Media, University of Notre Dame Australia

Disclosure statement

Camilla Nelson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

The University of Notre Dame Australia provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

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There is a chapter towards the end of Stuart Kells’s The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders , in which the author envisions the library of the future as one in which “dreary hordes of students” stare mindlessly at “computers and reading machines”, ignorant of the more refined pleasures of paper and ink, vellum and leather.

This – the death of the book – is a familiar lament recounted by bibliophiles everywhere; a tragic epic in which the Goliath of technology slays the David of art and culture.

It may be superficially appealing to some. And yet, it misses the reality that writing itself is also a technology. Along with the wheel and the lever, it is one of the greatest technologies ever invented. The history of writing predates the invention of the book. It parallels and is a part of the history of other technological forms.

The history of the library is replete with mechanical marvels.

why i love the library essay

Take, for example, the book wheel , the scholar’s technology of the 16th century, an ingenious mechanical device operated by foot or hand controls, allowing a reader to move backwards and forwards across editions and volumes, referencing many different books as quickly possible.

Closer to our own century, there’s the Book Railways of the Boston Public Library installed in 1895, with tracks laid around every level of the stack to transport books. Or the ultra-modern teletype machine and conveyor belt used to convey book requests by the Free Library of Philadelphia in 1927. Or the current book retrieval system used at the University of Chicago, which boasts a system of robotic cranes .

Unlike Kells, I think there is a fabulous quality to the dream of an infinite library that can assemble itself in bits and bytes wherever a reader calls it into being. It sits well with the democratic dream of mass literacy.

It may well take an archaeologist – working a thousand years from now – a lifetime to unlock the data in our already defunct floppy discs and CD Roms. Then again, it took several hundred years of patient work before Jean-François Champollion deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822, and even longer for Henry Rawlinson to unlock the secrets of the cuneiform scripts of ancient Mesopotamia.

Of course, Kells’s new book is not a history of reading or writing. It is a history of books as artefacts. It tells of books of doubtful or impeccable provenance, discovered in lost libraries or inaccessible private collections, purloined by book thieves, or crazed and nefarious book collectors, or at the behest of rich or royal patrons. It is a narrative – albeit with an unfortunate, cobbled together quality – brimming with strange anecdotes about a small handful of books owned by a small handful of people; lost books yielding strange surprises, from discarded condoms to misplaced dental appointment slips.

Kells’s favoured haunts are the chained libraries of medieval monks, and the bawdy or scandalous collections of wealthy 18th century patrons. The library of St Gall , for example, which houses one of the largest medieval collections in the world. Or the Bodleian at Oxford, which was never intended to be an inclusive collection, but rather, as its founder Thomas Bodley put it, sought to exclude “almanackes, plaies, and an infinit number” of other “unworthy matters” which he designated “baggage bookes” and “riff-raffe”.

why i love the library essay

I am a great lover of books. I have been lucky enough to while away the hours in libraries from Beijing to St Petersburg, Belgrade and Buenos Aires. But in an age of economic disparity and privatised public services – of pay walls, firewalls and proprietary media platforms, not to mention Google and Amazon – it is difficult to feel convinced by this bibliophile’s nostalgic reveries.

Embodying an idea of society

More than 20 years ago, when I was living in New York, eking out a living as a copyeditor and more often as a waitress, I became a regular at the 42nd Street Library (also known as the New York Public Library), on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets, a few blocks from the apartment that I shared in Midtown.

It was not just the size of the collection that drew me in – the 120 kilometres of bookshelves housing one of the largest collections in the world – or the ornate ceilings of the main reading room, which ran the length of a city block, with 42 oak tables for 636 readers, the bookish dimness interrupted by the quiet glow of reading lamps. I was fascinated by the library’s pneumatic system .

This labyrinthine contraption, which had been state-of-the-art around the dawn of the 20th century, sent call slips flying up and around through brass tubes descending deep underground – down seven stories of steel-reinforced book stacks where the book was found, then sent up on an oval shaped conveyor belt to arrive in the reading room.

The pneumatic system – with its air of retro, steampunk or defunct book technology – seemed to intimate the dream of a future that had been discarded, or, at least, never actually arrived. Libraries are not just collections of books, but social, cultural and technological institutions. They house not only books but also the idea of a society.

why i love the library essay

The predecessors of the New York Public Library, the Carnegie libraries of the 1880s, were not just book stacks but also community centres with public baths, bowling alleys, billiard rooms, and in at least one strange instance – at the Allegheny library in Pittsburgh – a rifle range in the basement.

Earlier in the 18th century, with the rise of industrial printing technologies and the spread of mass literacy, not only libraries but as many as a thousand book clubs sprang up through Europe. They were highly social, if occasionally rowdy places, offering a space not only for men but also women to gather. Monthly dinners were a common feature. Book club rules included penalties for drunkenness and swearing.

So too, the fabled Library of Alexandria – where Eratosthenes invented the discipline of geography and Archimedes calculated the accurate value of Pi – was not a collection of scrolls but a centre of innovation and learning. It was part of a larger museum with botanical gardens, laboratories, living quarters and lecture halls. Libraries are social places.

Lost libraries

Kells’s Catalogue of Wonders is at its best when it recounts the stories of these ancient libraries, charting the accidental trails of books, and therefore ideas, through processes of translating, pirating and appropriation. And the trades and technologies of papermaking that enabled them.

The library of the Pharaoh Ramses II in the second millennium BCE contained books of papyrus, palm leaves, bone, bark, ivory linen and stone. But “in other lands and other times,” Kells writes,

books would also be made from silk, gems, plastic, silicon, bamboo, hemp, rags, glass, grass, wood, wax, rubber, enamel, iron, copper, silver, gold, turtle shell, antlers, hair, rawhide and the intestines of elephants.

why i love the library essay

One sheep, he says, yields a single folio sheet. A bible requires 250. The Devil’s Bible , a large 13th-century manuscript from Bohemia, was made from the skin of 160 donkeys.

Ptolemy founded the Library of Alexandria around 300 BCE, on a spit of land between a lake and the man-made port of Pharos. He sent his agents far and wide with messages to kings and emperors, asking to borrow and copy books.

There are many stories about the dissolution of this library: that it was burnt by invading Roman soldiers or extremist Christians or a pagan revolt – or that a caliph ordered the books be burnt to heat the waters of the urban bathhouses. Or just as likely, as Kells points out, the scrolls, which were made of fragile papyrus, simply disintegrated.

But the knowledge contained in the scrolls never entirely disappeared. Even as the collection dissipated, a brisk trade in pirated scrolls copied out in a nearby merchant’s district ensured that the works eventually found their way to Greece and Constantinople, where other libraries would maintain them for another thousand years.

Destroyed collections

One thing that Kells fails to address in his book is the problems that arise when books are excluded, destroyed, censored and forgotten. And, indeed, when libraries are decimated.

Any list of destroyed libraries makes startling reading: The libraries of Constantinople sacked by the Crusaders, the Maya codices destroyed by Franciscan monks, the libraries of Beijing and Shanghai destroyed by occupying Japanese forces, the National Library of Serbia destroyed by the Nazi Luftwaffe, the Sikh Library of the Punjab destroyed at the behest of Indira Gandhi, the Library of Cambodia destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.

More recently, thousands of priceless manuscripts were burnt in the Timbuktu library in Mali and rare books spanning centuries of human learning were burnt at the University of Mosul. Yet more book burnings have been conducted by ISIS, in a reign of cultural devastation that includes museums, archaeological sites, shrines and mosques.

There is also destruction for which the so called “Coalition of the Willing” must accept responsibility. Dr Saad Eskander, the Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive, reported the devastation of the library in a diary posted on the British Library website: archival materials 60% lost, rare books 95% lost, manuscripts 25% lost.

why i love the library essay

There may be something not quite right in mourning the death of books in a time of war, as people are dying. But the problem remains that without books and documents, the history of the world can be rewritten.

Indeed, as Iraqi librarians sought to preserve the bookish remains of their country in the still working freezer of a bombed out Iraqi officer’s club, the US military quietly airlifted the archives of the Baathist Secret Police out of the country.

These are the dark places where, as George Orwell once said, the clocks strike thirteen, and Kells does not go.

Of course, the great irony of censorship and book burning is that books are destroyed because it is believed that they are important, and they possess a certain power.

Libraries of the future

In the age of the globalisation of everything – and the privatisation of everything else – libraries can and must change. It is seldom discussed that one of the great destroyers of books are actually libraries themselves, bearing cost cuts, and space limitations. But this process can be ameliorated by companies such as Better World Books that divert library books from landfill, finding new owners and funding literacy initiatives – you can even choose a carbon neutral footprint at the checkout.

Libraries, by which I mean public libraries that are free, open and accessible, will not become extinct, even though they face new competition from the rise of private libraries and the Internet. Libraries will not turn into mausoleums and reliquaries, because they serve a civic function that extends well beyond the books they hold.

Libraries can and must change. Quiet study areas are being reduced, replaced not only by computer rooms but also by social areas that facilitate group discussions and convivial reading. There will be more books transferred to offsite storage, but there will also be more ingenious methods of getting these books back to readers.

There will be an emphasis on opening rare books collections to greater numbers of readers. There is and must be greater investment in digital collections. Your mobile phone will no longer be switched off in the library, but may well be the very thing that brings the library to you in your armchair.

The much heralded “death of the book” has nothing to do with the death of reading or writing. It is about a radical transformation in reading practices. New technologies are taking books and libraries to places that are, as yet, unimaginable. Where there will undoubtedly be new wonders to catalogue.

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Essay on My School Library for Students and Children

500+ words essay on my school library.

  A school library is a structure within the school that houses a collection of books, audio-visual material and other content that serves common use to meet the educational, informative and recreational needs of the users. The chief objective of libraries is to meet the academic needs of the particular educational institution which it serves. Besides serving students in their studies and teachers in their research school, libraries aim at creating interest in reading amongst the students who get the best of resources and environment here.

essay on my school library

Types of Books

The types of books we can have access to in school libraries are fiction books , non-fiction books, reference books, literature books, biographies, General Knowledge books, Fables and folktales, cookbooks and craft books, poetry books, books in a series, and wordless books.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Importance of School Librar y

It provides us with quality fiction and nonfiction books that encourage us to read more for pleasure and enrich our intellectual, artistic, cultural, social and emotional growth. The ambiance of the school library is perfect for learning without getting disturbed.

This makes it easy for us to learn and grasp faster. It provides teachers the access to professional development, relevant information and reference material to plan and implement effective learning programs.

Thus. School library is helpful to every member of the school community whether its students, teachers or any other staff member. It helps gain skills and knowledge for personal development .

School library has a positive impact on the academic performance of the students. It helps us develop the overall skills necessary to succeed in the modern-day digital and social environment. It is important to develop the habit of visiting the library regularly.

Role of a School Librarian

Librarian has an important role to play in the effective functioning of the school library. Librarian has the essential skills to guide and support the library users learning, and help them develop into independent readers and learners. School librarian mainly performs the role of a teacher, information specialist, instructional partner, and program administrator.

Librarians are not merely the caretakers of books anymore they are the consultants, information providers, instructional readers, curriculum designers, and teachers. They can help students in achieving their goals.

The setup of the libraries has also changed into more like classroom setup. The role of the school librarian is to empower others with resources, information, skills, and knowledge and establish flexible learning and teaching environment .

School librarian is like teaching staff and has a vital role to play in supporting literacy and impact students’ learning in a positive way. School librarian supports the learning of the students and helps them develop into efficient independent learners and readers.

Library and Education are Interrelated

Education and library are interrelated and fundamentally co-exist with each other. Education is the process of gaining knowledge, values, skills, habits, and beliefs. It is the social process in which children are subjected to the influence of the school environment to attain social competence personnel development.

Education is the outcome of the knowledge and experience acquired. Library, on the other hand, is the source and storehouse of knowledge, information, and resources vital for the leap in the advancement of knowledge. Libraries enhance the cause of education and research.

A library plays an important role in meeting the growing needs of people in literacy. The library is essential for self-education, a means of information and knowledge. Education is the complex social process of gaining knowledge and experience formally. In involves a system used for the development of the students. Library provides spiritual, inspirational, informative and interesting reading experience.

The library facilitates each student with access to essential resources and learning material for a smooth learning process. It plays a vital role in a student’s life. The design, modern tools, and strategies of the school libraries change with the changing times. The library is thus a leap in the advancement of the literacy provided in classrooms. Education and library cannot exist alone and are inseparable. The library is an essential part of the educational system.

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I Love Being a Librarian Because: Top Reasons Why Librarians Love Their Job

I love being a librarian because for me nothing is pleasanter than exploring a library.

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  • Help us improve this article! Contact us with your feedback. You can use the comments section below, or reach us on social media.
  • Angela Heap, formerly Librarian and Fellow, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge - These comments from around the world constitute a great affirmation of librarianship as a career. 
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I Love Libraries

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8 People Share Why They Became Librarians

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We asked the American Library Association’s social media followers and newsletter subscribers for their stories about deciding to become a librarian. Here are a few of our favorites:

“My mother was a school librarian and I can remember the countless days we spent as kids in her school library after school and during the summer, just being around books. I also had a church mentor who was the director of the public library and hired me as a part time page in high school and then later as a children’s librarian once I got my master’s degree. They both stand out as shining examples of librarianship and have encouraged me to greater heights with my own librarianship goals and passions.”—Jeana L.

“I worked in a Title I elementary school with no library and limited access to books for students. In creating and curating a classroom library for my students, I discovered a passion for bringing a love of reading to others. There is nothing like watching a child connect with an author, character, or story. Young students have a thirst for knowledge and love reading. My job is to foster that love and keep it alive and burning as students progress to later grades.”—Peter D.

“The philosophies libraries represent, especially for children, are what drove me to this field. Libraries are a place of stories, belonging, and discovery. They show children what is out there and what they can become. Now, more than ever, children need stories with characters that persevere through hopeless circumstances. They need community support through creative programming and outreach. They need to see that their interests are also their gifts that can guide them through their own pursuit of knowledge and self-discovery. All people at any age need to know their worth, and the more connected they are with themselves the more they see their potential.”—Rebecca K.

“I had a literal lightbulb moment, where I realized that everything else I had done with my life had prepared me for the path of librarianship. I had always loved and used libraries, but no one has ever suggested that I pursue it as a career. I was lucky enough to work on a special project with some talented academic librarians, and I realized I wanted to be them! Looking back, it was always the perfect marriage of my talents and interests…I just needed to recognize it.”—Megan S.

“When I was a kid my family didn’t have a lot of money. One day my dad took me to our local public library and signed me up for a library card. Diane, the librarian, took all my information and gave me my card. When I asked how many books I could take out she looked at me over the rim of her glasses and said gravely, ‘You could take out a hundred if you want.’ My eight-year old heart nearly stopped in my chest. Never in my life had I had a hundred of anything, let alone books, which were my all-consuming obsession. My dad said she was joking, but Diane wasn’t laughing, and over the years she encouraged my love of reading and of libraries. She was the first of many librarians in my life who made libraries seem like generous and open places where I could explore the world and myself. In an effort to continue this exploration I became a librarian.”—Shevaun R.

“The library was the magical place for me as a child. It was my work study assignment in college (part of my financial aid package). I found I always felt safe and happy at the library. I wanted to provide that excitement and security to others.”—Dianne F.

“My mother inspired me to become a librarian—only neither one of us realized it while I was growing up! I vividly remember my mother’s graduation ceremony when she earned her master’s degree in library science. I was in second grade, and I remembered being awed by the ceremony and at that moment, fully understanding why she had spent all those Saturdays away at school. She then transformed our K-12 school library, which had been just books on the floor (literally!), into a real school library. I grew up in that school library, helping my mother with the shelf list each summer, stamping books and magazines, and repairing damaged books. When I was in 6th grade, I even created my own card catalog (out of index cards) for my own mini-library of books and magazines—because that was normal in my family! But I didn’t realize that I could, or wanted to be a librarian, too, until my first year in college. I had signed up to be a work study in my college library, and through that first year, more and more of my classmates came into the library to ask me questions about research. Of course, I redirected them to the actual librarians, because I knew their value and role! But then one day, I had a light bulb moment: that I, too, could become a librarian. And when that thought switched on in my brain, it felt like all the mental puzzle pieces of my life fell into place, and I knew it was the right path for me. My mother, who is now retired, and I still laugh about this, and we still talk about librarianship and how it’s changed—and how it hasn’t! I am so proud to be a second-generation librarian.”—Jennifer S.B.

“I loved the idea of spending my life encouraging children and teens to grow in confidence and empathy through reading great books. I also wanted to help students learn to search for what is true. So I became a school librarian.”—Mary B.

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The Top 10 Reasons to Be a Librarian

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(with apologies to David Letterman)

By Martha J. Spear

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As a high school library media specialist, I have the good fortune to work with, and sometimes mold, young people. If I’m lucky, I discover what they do after graduation. Recently, one of my favorite students informed me that after earning her humanities degree at a tiny private college, she was pursuing a master’s degree in museum studies. Congratulating her, I jokingly said, “Watch it. That’s awfully close to a master’s in library science.” She laughed and said: “Oh, I’d never do that.” Somewhat defensively, I replied, “You could do worse.”

Long after this brief conversation, I wondered, where did we, as librarians, go wrong? Why is there such an onus on this profession that a bright, young person would choose, well, any career but that of librarianship? I think it’s sad. Librarianship has much to offer, and I think we can do better in promoting our profession. Toward that end, I present my top 10 reasons for being a librarian.

number ten on baby-blue book cover

The single thing I like most about being a librarian is that it is, to paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, a moveable feast. I’ve been employed in academic, public, and school libraries in three different states working in technical services, public services, and classrooms, and with street people, teachers, and young adults. I’ve booked psychics, mountain climbers, rock musicians, and landlords for programs. I teach, catalog, book talk, advise, troubleshoot, demonstrate, connect s-video cables, and shelve . . . in a single day. What I learned in my master’s program bears little resemblance to what I actually do in my library today. Yet the principles remain; and, through conferences, professional literature, and networking, I hold my own. If the new books don’t excite me, the new technologies do. Most importantly, I learn something new every day. Can you say that about working at McDonald’s?

number nine on a pink book cover

Okay, so I may be stretching things a bit here. I married a librarian. (For the record, we met in a singles group; but our paths would have crossed in local library circles eventually, I’m sure.) My case may be extreme, but there is help for the lovelorn in libraries—either in the wonderfully interesting colleagues we meet (see reasons #2 and #7) or in the books and resources libraries offer.

number eight on baby-blue book cover

I did not enter library school with a soaring heart. I viewed the degree less as graduate school and more as a kind of trade school. Truthfully, my library education was both. I learned the value of organization (I finally put my massive LP collection in alpha order by artist). I discovered the importance of collection development, equal access to resources, and intellectual freedom. I learned valuable skills in locating and using information that serve me to this day, whether I’m helping a patron write a paper on the Manhattan Project or figuring out the best place to buy a teakettle online.

number seven on light-green book cover

Librarians host good conferences. I love the hustle and bustle of ALA Annual Conference. I consider my state conference to be so necessary to my mental well-being that I often pay my own way. My husband’s ties to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions have taken us to Nairobi, Tokyo, Havana, and elsewhere. What better way to see the world and recharge the professional batteries? Conferences are blessed events, and you don’t have them when you work at Wal-Mart.

number six on a book cover

Librarians may not get great pay, but we do generally receive liberal vacations. As a public librarian, I got six weeks off and as a school media specialist . . . well, you don’t want to know. In any case, these vacations have made it possible to visit Paris in April, and Beijing in September, and to spend five weeks in Scandinavia. And when I’m not away, I’ve been able to repaper my hallway, paint the family room, and put in a patio.

number five on a book cover

As a child, when people asked me what I wanted to be, I have to admit I never said librarian. Although I used and enjoyed libraries, it never occurred to me to actually work in one. I did say that I wanted a job with scope. I am not sure what I meant by that then, but I know what it means now. It means being a librarian. I do dozens of different things every day. It’s not a desk job and it’s anything but routine. When you work with people, changing technologies, and always-new resources, how could it be?

number four on baby-blue book cover

As a librarian, I will never get rich. However, it has allowed me to live alone (without the dreaded roommate), subsist moderately well, and be employable in different markets and in changing times. I have made a living as a librarian for almost 25 years and I’m not on the street corner selling pencils yet.

number three on a book cover

I’ve worked in factories where I stood on my feet for nine hours. I’ve worked in kitchens where I came home smelling of puréed peas. I was a production typist where my derrière routinely fell asleep, not to mention my brain. In a library, you’re clean, dry, warm, and working with people who are generally happy to be there.

number two on a book cover

I love librarians (also see # 9). We are intelligent, cultured, well-read people who bring a myriad of skills, backgrounds, and interests to the job. Most of my fellow librarians, myself included, have degrees and/or work experience in other areas. I backed into librarianship after realizing that a major in English and German wasn’t going to make me very employable. I know librarians who are former attorneys, truck drivers, teachers, and factory workers. This experiential, intellectual potpourri makes for an interesting mix. And librarians are readers. The conversational gambit “Read any good books lately?” is met with a din around librarians.

number one on a book cover

As librarians, we support the freedom to read. We champion the right to access information for all people, regardless of race, creed, religion, or economic disposition. Libraries are everyone’s university. These may feel like clich‚s to the converted (us librarians), but they remain truisms.

In sum, I feel very much like Evelyn Carnahan in the film The Mummy. To refresh your memory, our leading lady is in the midst of describing—and defending—what she does for a living to a roguish male. They have been drinking.

Evelyn: Look, I—I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell! But I am proud of what I am!

Rick O’Connell: And what is that?

Evelyn: I am . . . a librarian!

I couldn’t have said it better.

This article originally appeared in American Libraries, October 2002, p. 54–55.

Why I Love Paperbacks

You don’t own a paperback; you have it for a little while and then it moves on with its life. The best you can do is help it find a good home.

a pair of yellow and white slippers on a grey surface

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Growing up my parents didn’t have much, but what they did have—no matter where we lived—was a library.

Hand-me-down furniture, pots, pans, cutlery, and other kitchen miscellany found on our neighbors' stoops would come and go—discarded as easily as they were discovered—every time we moved. And we moved often.

But as wobbly chairs and half-functioning toasters were left behind on the street—perhaps for some other hapless family to obtain—we would lovingly pack milk crates filled with books into the bed of my father's old, blue, rusted-out Toyota pickup, like literature-filled mega-blocks or a real-life game of literary Tetris. The library was never left behind.

No wonder I started to view books as precious items. Pieces of magic, worthy of burden. To be carried from place to place, honored above all other earthly possessions. Here they were, hardcover classics: The Catcher in the Rye , Moby-Dick , Little Women , The Great Gatsby , and every Mark Twain book you can imagine. The Complete Works of Shakespeare (that one usually got its own milkcrate), The Bluest Eye , Don Quixote , and Things Fall Apart . At least one copy of every book by James Joyce—my father’s favorite—but then on to Austen, Brontë (take your pick), Tolstoy, Tolkien, Dostoevsky, Plath, Kesey, Kerouac, and a rather beautiful edition of Invisible Man . And that barely scratches the surface. Big, important, majestic hardcover books, moved from shitty apartment to shitty apartment, like royalty carried about town in a golden litter, albeit one with wheels and a gas tank my parents could only afford to fill a quarter-of-a-tank at a time. In one apartment, my father went so far as to build the books a throne, meticulously crafting shelves from wood, which he laid into the very walls of the building (a home improvement that would later cost us our security deposit). My parents didn't care. It was worth it. They had spent their entire lives collecting these books. What was money, something they never had much of anyway, versus a gleaming display for their life's work—collected and curated and painstakingly maintained?

Years later, when eBooks first appeared and "the end of print" was erroneously declared—visions of Kindle kiosks replacing beloved bookstores dancing in the heads of publishing executives and bean counters alike—I rested easy, remembering my parents’ library. Would they have traded in their gorgeous assemblage of classics for some beige, boring desktop computer? Not on your life. They valued books as bastions of knowledge and imagination, sure, but also, books as a point of pride, their spines on display as a way of saying, "Here. Have you read this? I have." Or, almost certainly more importantly, "Here. Have you read this? This is me." Book covers held out on public transportation, significantly, as if they were calling cards. "Does this interest you? It interests me. Do I interest you? I hope so."

To put it even more simplistically, books as fetish objects, to be collected and put on a pedestal like so many Pokémon.

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My parents instilled their all-consuming love of literature in me. Eventually, book by book, I too grew up and became a poor adult. Just as they had been.

Only I never had a library. My parents' tendency to move from apartment to apartment in the city we lived in (Boston) and eventually the state (Massachusetts) was also instilled in me, except I used the entire country to try and assuage my itchy feet. Washington D.C. Philadelphia. San Francisco. New York City. Usually making the move with nothing more than a bag over my shoulder, as I lacked even a rusted out old truck or any vehicle to speak of—no way of carrying a wealth of written knowledge by mostly dead people from place to place. But my obsession with moving, my obsession with impermanence, led to another obsession:

The paperback.

Credit where credit's due, my father introduced me to paperbacks early in life. There were children's books, of course, and a used, beat-up copy of The Hobbit my father read to me when I was young, but it was the Collected Works of Breece D'J Pancake —one of the first "adult" books he gave me, probably around the age of ten or eleven, that really made me fall in love with paperbacks. “Here, I think you’d like this,” he said. And he was right.

I would carry the book around with me, reading it while I waited for the school bus or in the back of math class, hiding it under my desk. Here was a book filled with stories that reminded me of my own life, that I could take with me anywhere. Nothing fantastical, or heavy, or overly important about it. Simply a book that I could grip in the palm of my adolescent hand, fingers tearing at the cover absentmindedly as I was enveloped in Breece’s stories.

I tend to be hard on my things. I still am. When I read a paperback book, it’s like I’m wrestling with it. Soon the cover is torn and the pages are dog-eared and there’s a giant seam down the middle where I folded the book in half so I can stuff it into my back pocket, or jacket pocket, or perhaps a friend’s mailbox, if I think they might like the book as much as I have.

Hardcover books are like anchors. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the appeal. This is an important book. You should sit in a big, overstuffed chair and read it under a bright lamp, preferably by some roaring hearth, mayhap with a pipe and smoking jacket.

But a paperback is built for adventure. Paperbacks are light, and—as already mentioned numerous times in this essay—foldable. If you forget one at the bar or by the swimming hole, you will not mourn, for the book will be found by somebody else, and if you haven’t finished it before you lose it, don’t worry—you can buy a new one for the price of a drink or two, not an entire meal.

This is why you find paperbacks in hostels and traveler’s hotels. Take a book, leave a book. Sometimes they’re covered in writing (because nobody thinks twice about writing in a paperback), the stranger’s thoughts there to guide you, or infuriate you, or confound you on the off-chance they have poor penmanship.

Or perhaps it’s not a stranger. Perhaps it’s relative. A friend. Your mother or father. A treasure trove of thoughts from a dead loved one, who you never thought you’d hear from again.

I wish I could tell you now that I have a library of stained and tattered paperbacks to match my parents' formidable hardcovers, but that would be a lie. Because I barely have a library at all—although, I must admit, as I grow older, I’m beginning to grow the slightest bit of moss, my parents’ habits slowly becoming my own. Still I fight against the urge, because when I finish a book I love—and the truth is I love most of them—I give it away. To a friend. To a colleague. Sometimes to a stranger (or at least I like to think so when I lose them, as I so often do). For me, books are meant to be shared. Circulated. You don’t own a paperback; you have it for a little while and then it moves on with its life. The best you can do is help it find a good home.

But like I said, I’m beginning to pick up my parents’ habits, as most children eventually do. No matter how strongly I tried to fight against them in my younger days—both the good and the bad. Friends over the years have given me first editions of beloved books, items that demand to be respected. Treated properly. Well-bred horses that deserve a hay-laden paddock, not wild horses on open plains with wind in their manes. I now have a first edition of that paperback my father gave me all those years ago, The Collected Works of Breece D'J Pancake . So I keep it displayed ceremoniously next to a few potted plants. I like that it reminds me to think of the person who gave it to me. I like that it feels important. An anchor on my own terms.

So sure, I’m accumulating a library now that I am fully an adult. But let’s be honest: I picked this particular habit up from my parents long before I’m willing to admit. Not the library, per se. But I see now how they treated hardcover books as fetish objects, and that I have simply done the same with paperbacks. One to be kept, one to be shared. Two sides of the same coin. One distinguished and shining. The other dirty and banged up. One heads, one tails. But the truth is, a coin is a coin. Each one has value.

So if you see me at the bar finishing a book, or closing the cover by a river somewhere, or perhaps on a rocky beach on the Atlantic, ask me if I’m finished, and paperback or not, I’ll almost certainly hand it to you. I don't want to carry it home. I’ll quote my father without even realizing it.

“Here. Have you read this? I think you might like it.”

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Why You Should Become a Library Volunteer

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Laura Marie

Laura Marie is a writer and teacher in Ohio. She reads one or two audiobooks every week, loves falling into a good cooking memoir, and debates feasibility of tech from sci-fi books with her husband.

View All posts by Laura Marie

Working at a library (or at least inside one) has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I started my library volunteering experiences when I was 12 and signed up for the “library assistant” class at my middle school. At the time, most of our job was sitting at the front desk, checking books out to patrons, and shelving returned books on perfectly alphabetized and aligned shelves. The great thing about being a library volunteer, however, is that this is only the beginning of what you can do and how this experience can help you.

Library Workers

So, what do library volunteers do?

A lot of things can fall into library volunteer duties. Some may be clerical or computer work, like entering information from new patrons into a database. Other duties may involve tidying a children’s area periodically or working a help desk. There are also chances to volunteer that involve helping with events at the library.

The best way to learn what your local library offers as far as volunteering is to ask a librarian. There are a variety of tasks that sometimes are done by staff and sometimes done by volunteers. If you are willing to do what they need first, you may be able to get a chance to do whatever tasks you are most interested in.

Can I even volunteer?

The answer is probably yes! While many tasks will be for volunteers 18 and older, even younger volunteers can offer to be of assistance. Having free time during the day is often helpful. However, if you are enthusiastic, other weekend and night jobs might be possible. If you think something disqualifies you, talk to your librarians about it. Chances are good that they’d love the help.

So, why be a library volunteer?

Give back to the bookish community.

Libraries are really a feat: usually totally free, but yet accessible to all, they give people a chance to better themselves, enjoy themselves, and find resources for their entire families. The fact that books are being used to do this makes it all the better! Even if the main tasks that you are assigned to do as a volunteer seem far from glamorous, like scanning books as they return to the library or shelving books in the correct order, they are actually necessary parts of the experience and thus a vital part of a very important mission.

Another thing to think about is that time is money for a library. If they would have to pay someone else dollars per hour to do the tasks you are completing, you are basically giving that many dollars to the library every hour! You are a philanthropist. I like to think of my time volunteering in terms of the books being bought because I was able to take on some free work for them.

Run Programs Related to Your Expertise

Libraries these days offer programs from story time to career prep, from cookbook clubs to writing workshops. If you can have a book for it, there’s a way to make a library program out of it! This means that one great way to donate your time at your library is to volunteer to run a program. You get to teach people who are really grateful for the knowledge, and you keep the costs low so that the barrier to entry is small as well.

Get to Know the Latest Book News You Care About

Want a personal benefit of volunteering at the library? How about the chance to be at the library for a good reason and very frequently! You get to know the librarians and other library volunteers, who may have the scoop on new books that are coming out and, perhaps more importantly, the day they are available to patrons. You may not get “first dibs” on books just for being a library volunteer, but you definitely get to check out the shelves frequently, and that makes it more likely that you’ll catch your favorites when they are freshest.

Read the Best Books Through Great Staff Recs

Many libraries have either official or unofficial staff-recommended books. One way to expand your reading interests is to read the absolute best example of a particular genre. If you’ve always wanted to understand the appeal of mysteries, one of your library volunteer buddies or a librarian can definitely help you find the best possible mystery to try. The bookish conversation that goes on at the library while applying barcode stickers or laminating library cards can be the highlight of your week…if laminating things wasn’t already excitement enough!

Recommend Great Reads to Others

Immersing yourself in the library environment helps you. It also empowers you to help others at the same time. You can tell your friends at work or school about the latest and greatest books. There is something about being known as the “reader” in your friend group that is quite empowering. You can also physically bring friends a copy of the book, provided they turn it in on time!

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Photo collage showing Jewish history and persecution

Why the Most Educated People in America Fall for Anti-Semitic Lies

At Harvard and elsewhere, an old falsehood is capturing new minds.

Photo collage showing Jewish history and persecution

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B y now, December’s congressional hearing about anti-Semitism at universities, during which the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT all claimed that calls for the genocide of Jews would violate their university’s policies only “depending on the context,” is already a well-worn meme. Surely there is nothing left to say about this higher-education train wreck, after the fallout brought down two of those university presidents and spawned a thousand op-eds—except that all of the punditry about diversity and free speech and criticism of Israel has extravagantly missed the point.

The problem was not that Jewish students on American university campuses didn’t want free speech, or that they didn’t want to hear criticism of Israel. Instead, they didn’t want people vandalizing Jewish student organizations’ buildings, or breaking or urinating on the buildings’ windows. They didn’t want people tearing their mezuzahs down from their dorm-room doors. They didn’t want their college instructors spouting anti-Semitic lies and humiliating them in class. They didn’t want their posters defaced with Hitler caricatures, or their dorm windows plastered with Fuck Jews . They didn’t want people punching them in the face, or beating them with a stick, or threatening them with death for being Jewish. At world-class American colleges and universities, all of this happened and more.

I was not merely an observer of this spectacle. I’d been serving on now–former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s anti-Semitism advisory committee, convened after the October 7 Hamas massacre in Israel and amid student responses to it. I was asked to participate because I am a Harvard alumna who wrote a book about anti-Semitism called People Love Dead Jews . As soon as my participation became public, I was inundated with messages from Jewish students seeking help. They approached me with their stories after having already tried many other avenues—bewildered not only by what they’d experienced, but also by how many people dismissed or denied those experiences.

In Congress, all three university presidents offered some version of the platitudes that “Hatred comes from ignorance” and “Education is the answer.” But if hatred comes from ignorance, why were America’s best universities full of this very specific ignorance? And why were so many people trying to justify it, explain it away, or even deny it? Our era’s 10-second news cycle is no match for these questions, because the answers are deep and ancient, buried beneath the oldest of assumptions about what we think we know.

Read: What Claudine Gay got right and the International Court of Justice got wrong

The through line of anti-Semitism for thousands of years has been the denial of truth and the promotion of lies. These lies range in scope from conspiracy theories to Holocaust denial to the blood libel to the currently popular claims that Zionism is racism, that Jews are settler colonialists, and that Jewish civilization isn’t indigenous to the land of Israel. These lies are all part of the foundational big lie: that anti-Semitism itself is a righteous act of resistance against evil, because Jews are collectively evil and have no right to exist. Today, the big lie is winning.

I n 2013, David Nirenberg published an astonishing book titled Anti-Judais m . Nirenberg’s argument, rigorously laid out in nearly 500 pages of dense scholarship and more than 100 pages of footnotes, is that Western cultures—including ancient civilizations, Christianity, Islam (which Nirenberg considers Western in its relationship with Judaism), and post-religious societies—have often defined themselves through their opposition to what they consider “Judaism.” This has little to do with actual Judaism, and a lot to do with whatever evil these non-Jewish cultures aspire to overcome.

Nirenberg is a diligent historian who resists generalizations and avoids connecting the past to contemporary events. But when one reads through his carefully assembled record of 23 centuries’ worth of intellectual leaders articulating their societies’ ideals by loudly rejecting whatever they consider “Jewish,” this deep neural groove in Western thought becomes difficult to dismiss, its patterns unmistakable. If piety was a given society’s ideal, Jews were impious blasphemers; if secularism was the ideal, Jews were backward pietists. If capitalism was evil, Jews were capitalists; if communism was evil, Jews were communists. If nationalism was glorified, Jews were rootless cosmopolitans; if nationalism was vilified, Jews were chauvinistic nationalists. “Anti-Judaism” thus becomes a righteous fight to promote justice.

This dynamic forces Jews into the defensive mode of constantly proving they are not evil, and even simply that they have a right to exist. Around 38 C.E., after rioters in Alexandria destroyed hundreds of Jewish homes and burned Jews alive, the Jewish Alexandrian intellectual Philo and the non-Jewish Alexandrian intellectual Apion both sailed to Rome for a “debate” before Emperor Caligula about whether Jews deserved citizenship. Apion believed that Jews held an annual ritual in which they kidnapped a non-Jew, fattened him up, and ate him. Caligula delayed Philo’s rebuttal for five months, and then listened to him only while consulting with designers on palace decor. Alexandrian Jews lost their citizenship rights, though it took until 66 C.E. for 50,000 more of them to be slaughtered.

In medieval Europe, Jews were forced into disputations with Christian priests that placed Jewish texts and traditions on public trial, resulting in Jewish books being burned and Jewish disputants exiled. Later legal trials expanded on this concept, requiring Jews to defend themselves against the absurd charge known as the blood libel, in which Jews are accused of murdering and consuming non-Jewish children—a claim that has echoes in current lies about Israelis harvesting Palestinians’ organs.

The absurdity of these charges is less remarkable than the high intellectual profiles of those making them: people like Apion, a scholar of Homer and Egyptian history, as well as Christian and Muslim scholars who were among the best-read people of their time. Similarly absurd claims of Jewish perfidy were later endorsed by civilizational luminaries such as Martin Luther and Voltaire. “Anti-Judaism,” Nirenberg argues, “should not be understood as some archaic or irrational closet in the vast edifices of Western thought. It was rather one of the basic tools with which that edifice was constructed.”

protest at Harvard University

I’ve been thinking about Nirenberg’s thesis in the months since the October 7 massacre in Israel, during which Hamas, an openly genocidal organization whose stated goal is the murder of Jews, lived up to its mission statement by torturing, raping, and murdering more than 1,200 people in southern Israel and taking more than 200 captives, including babies, children, and the elderly. Shortly after the attacks, a Cornell professor publicly proclaimed the barbarity “exhilarating” and “energizing,” while a Columbia professor called it “awesome” and an “achievement.” Comparable praise percolated through America’s top universities, coming from students and faculty alike. On campuses around the country, students began gathering regularly to chant “There is only one solution: intifada revolution!”—a reference to a suicide-bombing campaign in Israel a generation ago that maimed and murdered well over 1,000 Jews. (If there is only one solution, perhaps one could call it the Final Solution.)

Students took these rallies inside libraries and other campus buildings. They vandalized university property with such slogans as “Zionism = Genocide,” “New Intifada,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”—referring to a geographic area that encompasses the entirety of the state of Israel, where half the world’s Jews live. (At Harvard, some students opted for chanting an Arabic version: “From water to water, Palestine is Arab.”) On some campuses, the exhilaration escalated into death threats and physical assaults against Jewish students. When a Jewish Tulane University student tried to stop an anti-Israel protester near campus from burning an Israeli flag, protesters attacked him and other Jewish students, breaking one student’s nose.

It wasn’t just universities. Crowds cheering for “intifada” gathered in cities around the country, shutting down and disrupting train stations and airport access roads. Lest their support for Hamas be mistaken for support for Palestinians in general, or for peace, U.S. rally organizers named their efforts “floods” (“Flood Seattle for Palestine,” “Flood Manhattan for Gaza”) after “Operation Al Aqsa Flood,” Hamas’s name for its October 7 butchery. The enthusiasm was hard to contain. Some people tore down or vandalized posters of Israeli hostages. Others targeted synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses, spray-painting them with swastikas and slogans like “Israel’s only religion is capitalism.” In New York City, a Jewish teacher’s online photo holding a sign that said I Stand With Israel was enough to prompt a schoolwide protest that devolved into a riot during which students destroyed school property; the teacher had to be moved to another part of the building to avoid the teenage mob screaming “Free Palestine!” In Los Angeles, a man invaded a Jewish family’s home before dawn with a knife, breaking into the parents’ bedroom while their four children slept, screaming “Kill Jewish people.” When police arrested him, he shouted, “Free Palestine!”

Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic : Jews are now required to recite this humiliatingly obvious sentence, over and over, as the price of admission to public discourse about their own demonization, in “debates” with people who are often unable to name the relevant river or sea. The many legitimate concerns about Israel’s policies toward Palestinians, and the many legitimate concerns about Israel’s current war in Gaza, cannot explain these eliminationist chants and slogans, the glee with which they are delivered, the lawlessness that has accompanied them, or the open assaults on Jews. The timing alone laid the game bare: This mass exhilaration first emerged not in response to Israel’s war to take down Hamas and rescue its kidnapped citizens, but exactly in response to, and explicitly in support of, the most lethal and sadistic barbarity against Jews since the Holocaust, complete with rape and decapitation and the abduction of infants, committed by a regime that aims to eviscerate not only Jews, but also all hopes of Palestinian flourishing, coexistence, or peace.

Read: When anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic

But there are nuances to sadistic barbarity against Jews, we are told, and sometimes gang-raping Jewish women is actually a movement for human rights. It hardly seems fair to call people anti-Semitic if they want only half of the world’s Jews to die. The phrase “Globalize the Intifada,” currently chanted at universities across America, perhaps widens the net a tiny bit—but really, who can say? Even the phrase “Gas the Jews,” chanted at a rally organized by NYU students and faculty, is so very ambiguous. How dare those whiny Jews presume to know what’s in other people’s hearts?

Besides, American Jews had nothing to whine about: Had any of them actually died in the United States from all this exhilaration? That question was answered in November, when a Jewish man died in California after an anti-Israel protester allegedly clubbed him over the head with a bullhorn, the kind used to chant entirely non-anti-Semitic slogans—and of course that question had already been answered repeatedly with other anti-Semitic murders in recent years, some more publicized than others. (One murder even happened on campus: In 2022, an expelled University of Arizona student who repeatedly ranted about Jews and Zionists shot and killed his professor—who wasn’t Jewish, though the student thought he was.) But now the goalposts move again: Those actual murders, along with many other physical attacks against American Jews, are all just one-offs, lone wolves, mental-illness cases, entirely unrelated to the anti-Semitic rhetoric swirling through American life.

It remains unclear why anti-Semitism should matter only when it is lethal, or if so, how many unambiguously anti-Semitic murders would be necessary for anti-Semitism to be happening outside whiny Jews’ heads. A realistic estimate might be 6 million. Even then, Jews have had to spend the past 80 years collecting documentation to prove it.

O ne confounding fact in this onslaught of the world’s oldest hatred is that American society should have been ready to handle it. Many public and private institutions have invested enormously in recent years in attempts to defang bigotry; ours is an era in which even sneaker companies feel obliged to publicly denounce hate. But diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have proved to be no match for anti-Semitism, for a clear reason: the durable idea of anti-Semitism as justice.

DEI efforts are designed to combat the effects of social prejudice by insisting on equity: Some people in our society have too much power and too much privilege, and are overrepresented, so justice requires leveling the playing field. But anti-Semitism isn’t primarily a social prejudice. It is a conspiracy theory: the big lie that Jews are supervillains manipulating others. The righteous fight for justice therefore does not require protecting Jews as a vulnerable minority. Instead it requires taking Jews down.

This idea is tacitly endorsed by Jews’ bizarre exclusion from discussion in many DEI trainings and even policies, despite their high ranking in American hate-crime statistics. The premise, for instance, that Jews don’t experience bigotry because they are “white,” itself a fraught idea, would suggest that white LGBTQ people don’t experience bigotry either—a premise that no DEI policy would endorse (not to mention the fact that many Jews are not white). The contention that Jews are immune to bigotry because they are “rich,” an idea even more fraught and also often false (about 20 percent of Jews in New York City, for instance, live in poverty or near-poverty), is equally nonsensical. No one claims that gay men or Indian Americans never experience bigotry because of those groups’ statistically higher incomes. The idea that money erases bigotry apparently applies only to Jews. Again and again, the ostensible reasons for not addressing anti-Semitism in DEI initiatives quickly reveal themselves to be founded on ancient, rarely examined assumptions about Jews as invulnerable villains.

The sordid history of the concept of anti-Zionism vividly illustrates this dynamic—and is particularly relevant for its success in scrambling the radar of well-meaning people. Jewish civilization has been centered for thousands of years, in ways large and small, on its homeland in Israel, where Jews have had a continuous presence since ancient times. The modern political idea of Zionism as Jewish self-determination in this homeland emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries amid many other anticolonial movements around the world, as global power dynamics shifted from empires (Habsburg, Russian, Ottoman, British, French, Japanese) toward nation-states. The large and often violent population upheavals following Israel’s creation, including the displacement of most Arabs from what became Israel and the displacement of nearly all Jews from what became Arab states, paralleled similar population upheavals around the world as new states emerged from receding empires. In this, Zionism was typical.

But anti-Zionism as an explicit political concept has a history quite independent of the actions of Jews. In 1918, 30 years before the establishment of the state of Israel, Bolsheviks established Jewish sections of the Communist Party, which they insisted be anti-Zionist. The problem, Bolsheviks argued, was that Jewish particularism (in this case, Zionism) was the obstacle to the righteous universal mission of uniting humanity under communism—just as Christians once saw Jewish particularism as the obstacle to the righteous universal mission of uniting humanity under Christ. The righteousness of this mission was, as usual, the key: The claim that “anti-Zionism” was unrelated to anti-Semitism, repeated ad nauseam in Soviet propaganda for decades, was essential to the Communist Party’s self-branding as humanity’s liberators. It was also a bald-faced lie.

Bolsheviks quickly demonstrated their supposed lack of anti-Semitism by shutting down every “Zionist” institution under their control, a category that ranged from synagogues to sports clubs; appropriating their assets; taking over their buildings, sometimes physically destroying offices; and arresting and ultimately “purging” Jewish leaders, including those who had endorsed the party line and persecuted their fellow Jews for their “Zionism.” Thousands of Jews were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, or murdered.

Later, the U.S.S.R. exported this messaging to its client states in the developing world and ultimately to social-justice-minded circles in the United States. A thick paper trail shows how the KGB adapted its propaganda by explicitly rebranding Zionism as “racism” and “colonialism,” beginning half a century ago, when those terms gained currency as potent smears—even though Jews are racially diverse and Zionism is one of the world’s premier examples of an indigenous people reclaiming independence. Facts were irrelevant: Soviets labeled Jews as racist colonialist oppressors, just as Nazis had labeled Jews as both capitalist and Communist oppressors, and just as Christians and Muslims had labeled Jews as God-killers and Prophet-defilers. Jews were whatever a given society regarded as evil. To borrow the language of DEI, the big lie is systemic.

Even naming it—that is, calling out bigotry against Jews—can be classed as yet another sign of assumed evil intent, of Jews attacking beloved principles of justice for all. In an April 2023 lecture , David Nirenberg, the historian, presented the example of an activist with a large following whose boundary-pushing rhetoric met with accusations of anti-Semitism. The activist pointed out, as Nirenberg put it, that anti-Semitism “was merely an accusation that Jews used to silence criticism and squash free speech.” He brought libel lawsuits against newspapers that accused him of anti-Semitism, and won them. It is unfortunate for those making this argument today that this activist was named Adolf Hitler.

T wo weeks after the October 7 massacre, I wrote an op-ed for a national newspaper about the intergenerational fears many Jews were feeling, describing a few choice moments from several thousand years of anti-Semitic attacks. A friendly fact-checker followed up, asking me to prove that the Russian Civil War pogroms of 1918–21 involved gang rapes, and appending a judicious reportedly in front of a detail I’d included from the Farhud pogrom in Baghdad in 1941 about attackers taking Jewish women’s severed breasts as trophies. I dutifully provided additional sources, combing through sickening testimonies about mutilated Jewish girls in 1919 and 1941, while simultaneously avoiding videos of mutilated Jewish girls in 2023.

As I piled up evidence to prove that these things happened, I remembered an oral-history interview my sister once did with our grandfather to share with our family at his 97th-birthday party, in which he described his own grandparents’ decision to leave their town in Ukraine after an aunt was attacked during a pogrom. “They raided her, et cetera, et cetera,” my sister’s notes from the interview say. Et cetera, et cetera , I thought over and over, as I hunted down sources on gang rapes of Jewish women to submit to the fact-checker, my vision going blurry. At the time, I hadn’t wondered what those sanitized et cetera s meant.

The same week I spent emailing documentation to the fact-checker of pogroms long past, the newspaper, like many other news outlets, published a banner headline about Israelis bombing a hospital in Gaza and killing 500 people inside. This was quickly proven to be a lie told by Hamas—a lie similar to the medieval blood libel, about Jews deliberately targeting and murdering innocent non-Jewish babies—and a transparent psychological projection of the crimes that Hamas had actually committed in Israel, where Hamas terrorists had deliberately targeted and murdered hundreds of adults, children, and babies, and also repeatedly fired rockets at a hospital. Israel’s military has indeed killed many innocent people in Gaza during its war to destroy Hamas, and deserves the same scrutiny as any country for its conduct in war. But scrutiny is impossible when lies are substituted for facts. The newspaper later issued a regretful editorial note acknowledging its error. Unfortunately, Hamas’s lie had already inspired mass demonstrations around the world; rioters in Tunisia were so incensed by it that they burned a historic synagogue to the ground. I had been rightfully asked to prove that the Iraqi and Ukrainian pogroms happened. But the spokespeople for Hamas were taken at their word.

Shortly after the op-ed was published, I was invited to watch video footage of the October 7 attacks that the Israeli army had compiled from security cameras, online videos, and Hamas terrorists’ GoPro cameras. This grim footage was assembled specifically for the purpose of fighting back against denial. But even this horrifying and humiliating evidence, documented largely by the perpetrators themselves, apparently isn’t enough to prove that Jewish experiences are real. At a screening of the footage in Los Angeles, someone in the audience shouted , “Show the rapes!”

The attackers themselves provided footage of a woman’s naked, mutilated corpse and of a teenager with blood-soaked pants being dragged by her hair out of a truck. Since then, it has become clear that Hamas used rape and sexual torture systematically against Israeli women. Israeli first responders and forensic scientists have found corpses of women and girls with vaginal bleeding and broken pelvises. Teenage sisters were found murdered in their bedroom, one shot in the head with her pants pulled down, covered in semen; one woman was found with nails and other objects in her genitalia, while others were found to have been shot through their vaginas. Eyewitness testimony has included details about a woman who was passed among many men, murdered while one of them was still raping her; at one point, her severed breast was tossed in the air. It’s a detail familiar from the 1941 Baghdad pogrom, just as slicing a fetus out of a pregnant Jewish woman’s body is a tactic Hamas unknowingly replicated from the Khmelnytskyi pogroms of 1648 Ukraine. Et cetera, et cetera. But who would believe it? “Show the rapes!”

Graeme Wood: A record of pure, predatory sadism

I was invited to these screenings multiple times, but never went. I didn’t want to watch people being brutalized. Also, I didn’t want to watch people being brutalized while hearing someone behind me screaming, “Show the rapes!”

O n my travels around the country in recent months to discuss my work on Jews in non-Jewish societies, I met many Jewish college and high-school students who seem to have accepted the casual denigration of Jews as normal. They are growing up with it. In a Dallas suburb, teenagers told me, shrugging, about how their friends’ Jewish fraternities at Texas colleges have been “chalked.” I had to ask what “chalking” meant: anti-Semitic graffiti made by vandals who lacked spray paint. Synagogues are often chalked too. Another newly common verb among American Jews is swatting : fake bomb or active-shooter threats that force evacuations and instill fear. (The term is a reference to the SWAT teams that sometimes arrive at the scene, not knowing the threat is a hoax, and instill more fear.) These now happen so often at American Jewish institutions that they’re almost boring; nearly 200 were swatted during one December 2023 weekend alone. (When it happened at my own synagogue in November, forcing a girl’s bat-mitzvah service into a parking lot, the synagogue president warned congregants not to post any specific details about it online, in case people were tracking our evacuation procedures.)

Daniel Torday: What active-shooter trainings steal from synagogues

American Jews in recent years have also developed, at great expense, a robust system of threat detection and “target hardening” to prevent or defuse actual attacks. An organization called Secure Community Network trains Jewish leaders and community members in situational awareness and self-defense; a rabbi in Texas who was held hostage with three congregants for 11 hours by a jihadist in 2022 credited this training with saving his and his congregants’ lives. Another group, Community Security Initiative, tracks threats on social media 24 hours a day; one flagged online threat to attack synagogues in 2022 led to the arrest in New York’s Penn Station of two men carrying illegal weapons, ammunition, and a swastika armband.

Unfortunately, some bad actors find a sweet spot just past the security cameras. In Los Angeles, harassment of Jews walking to synagogue became common enough in recent years that some formed walking groups with volunteer guards; in December, one street harasser there assaulted an elderly Jewish couple, hitting the husband in the head with a belt buckle, causing a head wound—which was tame compared with a previous incident, in which two Jewish men were shot on their way home from two separate synagogues in February of last year. A week after the belt attack, a man in Washington, D.C., sprayed people leaving a synagogue with what police called a “foul-smelling” substance while shouting “Gas the Jews!”

pro hamas demonstrators

In Minneapolis, a woman who works in communications for a Jewish organization told me how “Free Palestine” had, even before October 7, become a kind of verbal swastika—not because of its meaning, but because of how it is deployed. Apart from its use in political or protest contexts, it has also been used as an online-harassment technique: Trolls tag any post with Jewish content—including material unrelated to Israel—with #FreePalestine, summoning more freedom fighters to the noble cause of verbally abusing Jewish teenagers who dare to post pictures of challah. This verbal vandalism made the jump to real life, the woman explained, and harassers now routinely scrawl it on Jewish communal buildings, shout it at their Jewish schoolmates, and scream it out of car windows at anyone wearing a kippah.

It is remarkable how little any of this has to do with anything going on in the Middle East. This harassment isn’t coming from an antiwar plea, or a consciousness-raising effort about Israeli policies, or a campaign for Palestinian independence, though those pretenses now serve as flimsy excuses. The only purpose of the chalking and swatting and taunting and assaulting and silencing is to dehumanize and demonize Jews. Every time Jews are forced to prove that they didn’t deserve this, or to hide who they are, it is already working.

This new normal for American Jews isn’t just communal, but personal. Many American Jews have quietly dropped friends in recent months after noticing those friends’ posts online casually endorsing the murders of Jews. But even more striking is the low bar for the friends who remain. I’ve seen this most clearly among the young. In upstate New York, a Jewish high schooler told me how a friend of hers regularly passed her cartoons in class. “He just thought it was really funny,” she said, and showed me a sample: a stick-figure caricature of a Hasidic Jew carrying a bag of money. “My friends,” she added, “use my Jewishness to insult me. So they’ll be like, ‘Shut up, you’re just a Jew. Shut up, Jew.’ A couple of my friends say that all the time to me.” I wanted to suggest that she find new friends.

At a Shabbat dinner I attended at one college, students went around the table sharing what they wished they could say to their non-Jewish friends: I wish I could say I want to spend a semester in Israel. I wish I could say I work at a Jewish preschool. I wish I could say I volunteered at a Jewish hospital. I sat at the table stupefied. They were in hiding.

I t was during this ongoing nightmare that Harvard administrators recruited me for advice on the anti-Semitism problem on campus. Against my better judgment, I agreed to join the committee. The Jewish Harvard students who desperately shared their horror stories with me backed them up with piles of evidence. They knew they needed to prove it.

The problem at Harvard, it quickly became clear from the avalanche of documentation deposited at my feet, was not small. The night of the massacre, before the blood was dry, more than 30 Harvard student groups proudly announced that they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” The campus was almost instantly saturated with enthusiastic anti-Israel rallies, which many in the media depicted as the centerpiece of a free-speech debate.

But these protests were not merely outdoor public events that uninterested students could walk past. They also took place inside classroom buildings during lectures, inside the first-year dining hall and inside the largest campus library and other shared study spaces. Jewish students could no longer expect to be able to study in the library, eat in dining halls, or attend class without being repeatedly told by their classmates, sometimes through a bullhorn, that Jews are genocidal murderers deserving of perpetual intifada. (Civilian casualties in war, however horrific, aren’t genocide—but the demonization was the point. So was the vague romanticization of the intifada that targeted, maimed, and murdered Jewish civilians.) At the law school, hundreds of protesters marched through a classroom building during classes. Jewish students reported being targeted and chased through a building by their screaming peers. One video from the business school showed a Jewish student being physically harassed, accosted by protesters who surrounded him with their kaffiyehs.

This demonization of Jews, whether intentional or not, extended to Harvard’s teaching staff. Instructors who grade Jewish students used university-issued class lists to share information about events organized by pro-Palestine groups; at least one even canceled class so students could attend an anti-Israel rally. This pattern among Harvard instructors predated the current Israel-Hamas war. A third-party investigation conducted before the academic year began found that one professor had discriminated against several Israeli students; Harvard said it took action, but the professor rejected the findings and continued teaching. In a separate incident, one student claimed that a different professor asked her to leave his classroom in the spring of 2023 after learning that she was Israeli, because her Israeliness made people “uncomfortable.”

Jewish students who came to Harvard hoping to take courses in Arabic language or Middle Eastern studies told me they often ended up avoiding those courses entirely, wary of professors and peers who made their lack of welcome clear. One recent doctoral student in a field of study unrelated to the Middle East recounted to me that well before October 7, her fellow Ph.D.s in training (the supply pool for teaching assistants) seldom gathered socially without dropping references to “Zionist dirtbags” and “Israeli scum.” One Harvard student described how a classmate, after learning he was Jewish, told him that “there should be no more Jewish state and no more Jews.”

After October 7, social-media platforms exploded with unambiguous Jew hatred in comments such as “Harvard Hillel is burning in hell” and “Let ’em cook.” In this environment, many religious Jewish students stopped wearing kippahs on campus or swapped them for baseball hats; someone spat in the face of one kippah-wearing student as he walked down the street. In an echo of medieval disputations, one Jewish student was invited by a Harvard employee to “debate” him about whether Israel plotted the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to The Harvard Crimson . Later, the employee posted an online video featuring a screenshot from the student’s X account and the employee wielding a toy machete; the student reported the incident to the authorities and was told to file a restraining order.

Amazingly, Jewish students, whose numbers have dramatically declined at Harvard in recent years for reasons no one seems able to explain, did not respond to all this with their own hate-speech campaigns. Instead, both before and after October 7, Harvard Hillel’s students have reached out to their peers among Harvard’s anti-Israel activists—asking not for a cease-and-desist, but for a dialogue, or even just a cup of coffee. Let’s get to know each other , they offered. The anti-Israel activists refused to engage. Jewish students tried again; they were rebuffed again. And again. This was hardly surprising. For some anti-Israel activists, even merely talking to “Zionists” (a label applied to the 80 percent of American Jews who regard Israel as an essential or important part of their Jewish identity) counts as “normalization”—that is, treating Jews as if they were normal humans, rather than embodiments of evil.

Again we are obliged to prove that this matters. No one died; why complain? “Has there been actual violence against Jewish students at Harvard or on other campuses?” one tenured Harvard professor wrote to our advisory committee to inquire. (The answer was yes.) “If Jewish student worries about physical danger are, in fact, exaggerated,” the professor authoritatively continued, “then students that hold these fears should be advised to leave campus and go home.”

But a hostile environment emerges from pervasive minor incidents, even those that don’t target individuals. Imagine that you are a woman in an office where your male colleagues and bosses gather regularly by the photocopier to discuss their favorite strip clubs. You avoid the photocopier, but then they expand their discussions to the break room, the lobby, the watercooler, the conference room. You avoid those spaces too, avoid those colleagues, hide in your cubicle, and wind up not getting promoted. In such a situation, your company would be responsible for a hostile environment that discriminated against you. The company would not be absolved by pointing out that no one had raped you yet, or that these men weren’t talking to or about you. It could not defend itself by advising you that if these conversations bothered you, you should leave and go home. A hostile environment is precisely one where tenured professors advise students to leave and go home.

The mountain of proof at Harvard revealed a reality in which Jewish students’ access to their own university (classes, teachers, libraries, dining halls, public spaces, shared student experiences) was directly compromised. Compromised, that is, unless they agreed—or at least agreed to pretend, as many Jewish students who are neither religious nor Israeli now silently do—that there was nothing wrong with wallpapering America’s premier university with demonization of Jews. Coercing that silent agreement was the goal, and it was achieved not through arguments or evidence, but through the most laughably idiotic heckler’s veto: screaming at, chasing away, freezing out, or spitting on anyone who dared disagree with supporting the most successful Jew-killers since the Nazis. This left the great minds of Harvard debating the finer points of free speech for hecklers, instead of wondering why their campus was populated by hecklers. The question of why Harvard’s hecklers were heckling in favor of Hamas’s barbarism was too disturbing to consider, and so public discussions ignored it completely.

This heckling was not unrelated to the education that Harvard itself provided. Classes existed at Harvard, it turned out, that were premised on anti-Semitic lies. A course at the school of public health called “The Settler Colonial Determinants of Health” looked at case studies from South Africa, the United States, and Israel; its premise—not a topic of discussion, but the premise on which the course was built—was that Israel is a settler-colonialist state. (A Jewish student who wrote to the professor questioning what they saw as the ideological slant of the readings was told that it was “insulting” to suggest that the course had an agenda.) The “Palestine Program for Health and Human Rights” proudly announced that it “utilizes a decolonial framework in program development, leadership, and engagement”—meaning, one might reasonably assume, the “decolonizing” of Israel through the removal of its 7 million Jews. (The program is a partnership between Harvard and Birzeit University, a Palestinian institution where an Israeli journalist was expelled from an event in 2014 just because she was Israeli and Jewish.)

An astonishing number of pop-up lectures, panels, and events at Harvard both before and after October 7 were centered on the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza—a worthy topic addressed with almost no mention of Hamas, even though Hamas has ruled Gaza for 17 years. Nor was there much mention of the fact that Hamas was founded in connection with the global Muslim Brotherhood, or of its comically wealthy sponsors in the Persian Gulf. Students had many opportunities to learn about Palestinian suffering from oppression by evil Jews, but far fewer opportunities to learn, for instance, about Hamas’s success in co-opting foreign aid and crushing dissent, or the intifada that students hoped to globalize. Outside of their engagements at Harvard, some guest speakers publicly endorsed extreme anti-Semitic lies, including the straight-up blood libel that Israelis are harvesting Palestinians’ organs or that the Israeli military uses Palestinian children for weapons testing. One could hardly blame students for repeating their educators’ claims.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Hamas must go

Out of respect for Gay’s request that our committee’s discussions with administrators remain private, I won’t share here anything that we talked about in our many meetings. But I will say that one thing we did not discuss was Gay’s congressional testimony on this topic, for which she and other administrators never asked for the advisory committee’s advice. Instead, they consulted lawyers, a choice that backfired on national television.

The horror that the hearing laid bare was something far worse than a viral gaffe. Harvard was already being investigated by the Department of Education for allegations of violating Jewish students’ civil rights under Title VI, and perhaps the president was advised against admitting any institutional failure. (In January, a group of students sued Harvard, describing the university as a “bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.”) Still, the only morally tenable position would have been to admit failure, to reveal that the problem was not all in Jews’ heads; that there truly was an anti-Semitic environment at these incubators of American leadership; that these universities, along with far too many other pockets of the country, had reverted, slowly and then all at once, into what they had been a century earlier: safe spaces for high-minded Jew hatred—not in spite of their aspiration that education should lead to a better world, but because of it.

I t is fairly obvious what Harvard and other universities would need to do to turn this tide. None of it involves banning slogans or curtailing free speech. Instead it involves things like enforcing existing codes of conduct regarding harassment; protecting classroom buildings, libraries, and dining halls as zones free from advocacy campaigns (similar to rules for polling places); tracking and rejecting funding from entities supporting federally designated terror groups (a topic raised in recent congressional testimony regarding numerous American universities); gut-renovating diversity bureaucracies to address their obvious failure to tackle anti-Semitism; investigating and exposing the academic limitations of courses and programs premised on anti-Semitic lies; and expanding opportunities for students to understand Israeli and Jewish history and to engage with ideas and with one another. There are many ways to advocate for Israeli and Palestinian coexistence that honor the dignity and legitimacy of both indigenous groups and the need to build a shared future. The restoration of such a model of civil discourse, which has been decimated by heckling and harassment, would be a boon to all of higher education.

Harvard has already begun signaling change in this direction: The university recently reiterated and clarified rules regarding the time, place, and manner of student protests. For Harvard to take more of these steps would be huge, but I have struggled to understand why all of them still feel so small. Perhaps it’s because the problem is a multi-thousand-year fatal flaw in the ways our societies conceive of good and evil—and also because somewhere deep within me, I know what has been lost. There was a time, not so very long ago, when we didn’t have to prove our right to exist.

Among the mountains of evidence that Jewish students sent me, one image has stayed in my mind. There are videos of crowds chanting “Long live the intifada!” inside Harvard’s Science Center, and “There is only one solution: intifada revolution!” in Harvard Yard, along with other places equally familiar from my student days. But I keep coming back to the crowds marching and screaming in front of Harvard Law School’s Langdell library, because Langdell is a sacred place for me. On my 22nd birthday, in 1999, when I was a senior at Harvard, a law student I’d met at Hillel took me up through Langdell’s maintenance passageways to the library’s rooftop, where he asked me to marry him. I said yes.

I watched the video of the students marching and screaming in front of Langdell, and in an instant I remembered everything: studying in campus libraries for my Hebrew- and Yiddish-literature courses, talking for hours with Muslim and Christian and progressive and conservative classmates, inviting friends of all backgrounds to join me at Hillel, scrupulously following the Jewish tradition of “argument for the sake of heaven” in even the most heated debates, gathering for Shabbat dinners crowded with hundreds of students—and over those long and beautiful dinners, falling in love. My classmates and I often disagreed about the most important things. But no one screamed in our faces when we wore Hebrew T-shirts on campus. No one shunned us when we talked about our friends and family in Israel, or spat on us on our way to class. No crowds gathered to chant for our deaths. No one told us that there should be no more Jews. That night, my future husband and I worried only about getting in trouble for sneaking up to the library roof.

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‘The Trump Effect’: Lost Friends and a Jaundiced View of Humanity

More from our inbox:, is the red-blue divide overblown, the tiresome ‘mean girl’ trope, vote for problem solvers, not complainers, backyard skating rinks.

An illustration of five people all talking, very loudly, at once.

To the Editor:

Re “ They Were My Friends for Years. Trump Tore Us Apart ,” by Art Cullen (Opinion guest essay, Feb. 8):

I must thank Art Cullen for his beautifully rendered piece that speaks to one of the tragedies in the wake of the Trump presidency. This loss of friendship is a divide that is often forgotten in the wider lens of politics, reducing the Trump effect into red and blue states, Republicans and Democrats.

Mr. Cullen reminds us that the ugly impact of the Trump years is more granular, chipping away at even lifelong friendships before making the cracks too wide to heal. Of all the meanspirited excesses of the former president, perhaps this is the most unforgivable.

Paul Thaler Bronx

Art Cullen describes the loss of friends due to political differences between them. He describes himself as “woke.” He doesn’t say who broke off the friendships, but it’s been my experience, and those of friends of mine, that those on the left are much more likely to shun and shut out friends and acquaintances with conservative views than the other way around.

“If you vote for Trump I can’t talk to you anymore!” I have heard that many times, after only pointing out that Donald Trump has done some good things — not that I support him. The left has a terrible inability to countenance differing viewpoints in my experience.

Justin Cohen Cedarhurst, N.Y.

I look at people differently now.

For most of my life (and it now stretches into its eighth decade) I believed that the overwhelming majority of people were fundamentally good. At least they were pointed in the right direction, even if they were sometimes rough around the edges.

But with the insinuation of Donald Trump into our lives and our brains I no longer harbor such positive assumptions for the rest of humanity. Now, my default position is if you have abiding love for Donald Trump, you are a deeply flawed individual.

He has poisoned the well, made me question the basic nature of humanity. If there is one thing beyond all others that makes me so furious with Mr. Trump, it is that he has stolen my rose-colored glasses.

I now look at far too many with jaundiced eyes, no longer seeing them in their best light, but tinted now by my belief about the hardness of their heart and the shallowness of their thought.

They do not deserve such reprobation. And I do not deserve to have my perception of our innate goodness ripped away.

But such is the lasting terrible legacy wrought by a man who has done nothing but make this the divided and diminished state of America.

Robert S. Nussbaum Fort Lee, N.J.

Thanks to Art Cullen for his sensitive and insightful guest essay. He eloquently described the heartbreaking isolation and resulting sadness that are the true legacies of our former president. I have lost friends also, but I’ve also lost any enjoyment I ever had reading the paper, listening to the radio or watching the news on TV. It’s news about Trump 24/7.

And he loves it. In my opinion, he could not care less about actually helping our country or any of his followers. He just wants to be the center of attention.

Chandler Rosenberger Suwanee, Ga.

Re “ Toby Keith Was an Enigma Wrapped in a Riddle Wrapped in the Flag ” (Opinion guest essay, Feb. 10):

In his tribute to the country singer Toby Keith, Michael Patrick F. Smith notes that Mr. Keith performed for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump. His crossover appeal is telling of something broader and even heartwarming.

Our research consistently reveals there’s more common ground among Americans than one would ever guess from what’s happening in the capital or on social media. National polling for our new Connection Index , for instance, shows that 76 percent of Americans see good in those they disagree with, 71 percent have a friend who doesn’t share their views and 57 percent think the “culture wars” are overblown.

No wonder Mr. Keith’s fan base defied the neat red and blue divide.

Will Johnson Chicago The writer is C.E.O. of The Harris Poll.

Re “ ‘Mean Girls’ Has Lost Its Bite. Girls Haven’t,” by Jessica Bennett (Opinion, Feb. 3):

Having served as the head of two girls’ schools, one on the East Coast and one on the West, I not only disagree with Ms. Bennett, but also question the authenticity of a small subset of girls as a national trend.

I have observed just the opposite from my students over 26 years. I have found them to be thoughtful and caring and deeply involved in their world, always looking for ways to communicate with one another and with their teachers as they wrestle with complex problems with nuance and compassion. They care about racial inequity, climate change, gun control and politics as they search for ways to bridge cultural and political divides, while finding ways to communicate with one another.

I graduated from a girls school in 1965, and even back then there were cliques and cruelties, as there have always been. But I have lived long enough to see so many of my classmates and former students grow into smart and caring women.

I am weary of the mean girl trope, as it smacks of a deeply rooted misogyny, pitting girls against one another. My professional life spent in the company of girls has been a joy and an honor. In fact, I would put all of my hope for our fractured country’s future in their hands.

Priscilla Sands Los Angeles

It seems that we are taking rather unsatisfactory means to select our government officers. We have been choosing the candidates who show the most advanced skill in complaining and blaming other people. We have chosen some doozies.

I would suggest that the qualities we should be selecting for should be those more beneficial to the people and to the state and the country.

It would be better to vote for folks who could solve problems. The two skill sets — complaining and blaming vs. problem solving — don’t really complement each other.

Next time you are at a candidate forum, listen to how much time the aspirants spend on each approach to governance. Then you can decide whom you would rather have leading us. I personally won’t vote for anyone who only complains about other candidates and can’t come up with ways to solve problems we are all experiencing.

Dan Shissler Ellensburg, Wash.

Re “ Let’s Go Ice Skating. In the Backyard ” (Real Estate, Feb. 11):

Spend $12,000 for a backyard skating rink? Good Lord! In the 1930s my dad used his garden hose to create a skating rink in the empty lot next to our house on Notre Dame Street in Hudson Falls, N.Y. Cost: $0. The ice was a little rough, but we kids had wonderful times skating and playing hockey.

Jack Buchanan New York


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