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Readers Matter More than Authors (And More Than Books and Libraries, too)

Post by Duncan Smith
Posted December 14, 2012 in Readers' Advisory News

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I believe that readers matter more than authors, more than books, and more than libraries. Without readers what is an author but one hand clicking on a keyboard? Without them, libraries are rows of stacks whose books whisper their secrets only to each other.

Readers take those scattered bones we call words and give them meaning. They animate the words they read and incorporate them into their lives.

Today, more than jobs, we need new businesses and industries and readers will build them. When society is weary of government focused more on power and divisiveness than good governance, it will need citizens who read to reach across the political divide. When communities are places that have citizens instead of residents, we know that they are filled with readers. When these things come to pass, all of us will know what readers have been trying to teach us:

  • Readers aren't running away from the world -- they are shaping it.
  • Reading is not an isolating activity but a community building one.
  • Readers are not just heroes on a personal quest but are on a journey that brings all of us -- authors, books, and libraries -- along with them.

We do not need more Centers for the Book, we need Centers for Readers. Whenever we celebrate books, we should first celebrate all those readers who keep our books from being forgotten.

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Duncan Smith is Vice President and founder of NoveList. He is passionate about the importance of reading, and the power of libraries to change lives.