Libraries: because even our national anthem ends with a question.
(You just sang it in your head, didn’t you?)
“O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
The poem, “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” by Francis Scott Key was written in 1814. It wasn’t immediately set to music or used as the national anthem until the later part of that century when it was officially recognized, in 1889, by the Navy. The song was further canonized with an executive order by President Wilson in 1916. It was finally adopted by Congress in 1931.
Although the poem and anthem came much later than the founding period of the republic, it still symbolizes the qualities cherished by the revolutionaries of 1776, including asking questions and exploring answers. Coincidentally, those are some of the qualities of a library, too.
Libraries fully embody the promises of democracy and equality. It was none other than Ben Franklin who proposed and started the first lending library as a way to settle philosophical arguments among his group of rowdy friends in Philadelphia. The Library Company of Philadelphia, established in 1731, still exists and became the model for subscription libraries across the country.
As a nation, we continue to ask questions and the library endeavors to answer them.