This is no time for the collector to quit his books. He may have to quit his house, abandon his trip to Europe and give away his car; but his books are patiently waiting to yield their comfort and provoke him to mirth. They will tell him that banks and civilizations have smashed before; governments have been on the rocks, and men have been fools in all ages. But it is all very funny. The gods laugh to see such sport, and why should we not join them?
Paul Jordan-Smith, bibliophile, in 1933, “when America was mired in Great Depression”. Taken from Nicholas A. Basbanes’ A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, 221-222.
Which reminded me of a statement by president Franklin D. Roosevelt from May 6, 1942, addressing the need of booksellers in time of crisis and despair:
I have been a reader and buyer and borrower and collector of books all my life. It is more important that your work should go on now than it has ever been at any other time in our history: in a very literal sense you carry upon your bookshelves the light that guides civilization … books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny of every kind. In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.
From Marvin Mondlin and Roy Meador’s Book Row, xiv.