Who is the author of the quote inscribed above the East Avenue entrance?
“Books are like an open door to set the spirit free”
Over the years, we have often been asked to name the author of this quote that was inscribed during construction of the original building in 1935-36. Until late 2009 when Timothy Binga of the Center for Inquiry Libraries visited the library and asked that very question, we’d never been able to discover the answer. Tim was compelled to research the quote, and he found that in 1927 the American Library Association published a work called “Why We Need A Public Library: A Clip Sheet for Newspapers and Magazines.” On page 18 is a poem by Edith Kathleen Jones (or E. K. Jones), who was a librarian in Massachusetts:
Books are like an open door,
Out of which the mind can soar,
Rove the world on mighty wing,
Watch the stars and planets swing;
Books can set the spirit free
Though the body shackled be.
--E. K. Jones
E. K. Jones’ specialty was medical libraries, and, Tim says, “As her work indicates, books were a kind of therapy that would help patients go beyond their broken bodies, and in this spirit, I think this work was adapted for the inscription over the door.” We agree with Tim that this poem is most likely the source of the inscription, and we are grateful to him for helping to solve this mystery.