January 23, 2022

Neil Gaiman on: “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”

UPDATE October 18: Here’s the full text of Gaiman’s Speech (via Reading Agency)

The Guardian has published an edited version of the lecture the Neil Gaiman gave in London last night.

It was the second annual Reading Agency (a charitable organization) lecture and focused on children, reading, literacy, and libraries.

We think it’s something many of you will want to read and will quite possibly by inspired and/or motivated it by even if you don’t work with children and deal with literacy issues on a regular basis. We’re all librarians and we need to do a better job of representing each other. In other words, we see libraries and librarians by type but in most cases, the media and public doesn’t. Plus, we should try our best to have our colleagues backs.

It might also be useful to share the full text (or a portion) of what Gaiman has to say with others who might not place the same amount of importance on libraries and librarians as we do.

What The Guardian has published runs more than 3500 words.

Direct to Complete Guardian Article

Here’s a bit of what Gaiman has to say about libraries. On a personal note, we were delighted to see that Gaiman spent a moment doing something that we, as a community, need to do more of. Informing/reminding people that libraries and librarians are about books but also so much more.

Highlights from Neil Gaiman’s October 15, 2013 Lecture

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.


I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.


Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before – books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.


Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.

Direct to Edited Version of Speech (via The Guardian)

More Highlights From the Lecture Direct from The Reading Agency

UPDATE October 18: Here’s the full text of Gaiman’s Speech (via Reading Agency)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.