Libraries & Literacy: Quotes, Quips & a Call to Action

“They’re right! It is nice to snuggle up with a good book.” – photo by Rich Hill

This page is an homage to libraries, especially those who carry The Heart of Applebutter Hill. It is also a wake-up call about the literacy crisis and book famine facing America’s blind children and how it takes money out of your pocket. The quotes on libraries and literacy are from Goodreads (GR), Literacy Builders (LB) and (LLA). The URLs for these and other sources are below under the “References” heading. I have added dates and other identifying information not included in the original citing. If you find errors, I refer you to the following quote:

“Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly.” Roger Ebert (1942-2013) American film critic, talk-show host & journalist (LLA).

Lackawanna Trail High School & Quotes to Get You Started

lackawanna trail high library (Factoryville, PA): Donna W. Hill on sofa w librarian kelly hopkins; 4 students (l-r: Taylor Selwood,Jordan Flynn, Ally Decker and Annika Kongvold ) stand behind. Jordan holds Donna's novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill & Donna's black Lab guide dog, Hunter, watches from the floor: photo by rich hill.

Lackawanna Trail High School (Factoryville, PA) – Librarian Kelly Hopkins and Donna on sofa; standing behind (l-r: Taylor Selwood, Jordan Flynn, Ally Decker and Annika Kongvold. Jordan holds The Heart of Applebutter Hill and Donna’s guide dog, Hunter, watches from the floor: photo by Rich Hill.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” Walt Disney (1901-1965) – Yes, the genius and cartoonist behind Disney World (LLA).

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Inventor, Ambassador and co-founder of the nation’s first subscription library (LLA).

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Groucho Marx (1890-1977), American comedian & actor (LLA).

“Two trucks loaded with a thousand copies of Roget’s Thesaurus collided as they left a New York publishing house last week, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, appalled, surprised, shocked and rattled.” Alan Schlein (LLA). 

Elk Lake High School & Quotes from American Presidents

Donna & Hunter visit Elk Lake High School (Springville, PA)& Donate Donna's educator-recommended novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill to librarian Kris Morahan: photo by Rich Hill

Elk Lake High School (Springville, PA) – Librarian Kris Morahan with Donna and Hunter: photo by Rich Hill.

“To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.” George Washington (1732-1799), Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War & 1st president of the United States (GR).

“I cannot live without books.” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence & 3rd president of the United States. In 1815, subsequent to the 1814 burning of the Capitol Building by the British, which destroyed the Library of Congress book collection, Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books for $23,950 (LLA).

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th president of the United States ) (LLA).

“A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance.” Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973), who became 36th president of the United States upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy (LLA).

“Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens.” Bill Clinton (1946-), 42nd president of the United States (LLA).

Wyalusing Public Library & Quotes from Authors

Donna W. Hill donates educator-recommended novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill to Wyalusing Library Dir. Cathy Brady: photo by Rich Hill

Wyalusing Public Library – Director Cathy Brady and Donna: photo by Rich Hill.

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” Maya Angelou (1928-2014), poet, African-American civil rights activist & author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (LLA).

“T’is the good reader that makes the good book.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), poet, essayist & the chief spokesman for Transcendentalism, the American philosophic and literary movement (LLA).

“My library was dukedom large enough.” from The Tempest by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English playwright, poet & actor (LLA).

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” Jorge Luis Borges (1889-1986), Argentine writer , (LLA).

“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.” Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist & feminist (LLA).

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), American author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles (LLA).

Tunkhannock Public Library & More Quotes from Authors

Donna presents a copy of The Heart of Applebutter Hill to Dir. Kristin Smith Gary at the Wyoming County Public Library in tunkhannock, Pa: photo by Rich Hill

Wyoming County Public Library (Tunkhannock, PA) – Director Kristin Smith Gary and Donna: photo by Rich Hill.

“We read to know we are not alone.” C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) Irish author of The Chronicles of Narnia (LLA).

“I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp.” JK Rowling (1965-), English author of the Harry Potter series (LB).

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss (1904-1991), American author-illustrator of children’s books (LLA).

Towanda Public Library & Quotes from Around the World

Donna W. Hill  - with her black Lab guide dog, Hunter - donates The Heart of Applebutter Hill to Dir. Jesse Johnson of the Towanda Public Library: photo by Rich Hill.

Towanda Public Library (Towanda, PA) – Director Dr. Jesse Johnson with Donna and Hunter: photo by Rich Hill.

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” Confucius (551-479 BCE), Chinese philosopher (LLA). 

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” Chinese Proverb (LLA).

“Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.” Socrates (469-399 B.C), Greek philosopher (LLA).

“Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing.” Cicero (106-43 BCE), Roman philosopher and political theorist (LLA).

“None is poor save him that lacks knowledge.” The Talmud (LLA).

“Learning is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.” Chinese Proverb (LLA).

“A good word is like a good tree whose root is firmly fixed and whose top is in the sky.” The Koran (LLA).

Abington Public Library & Quotes about Learning

Donna donates The Heart of Applebutter Hill to Abington Community Library Dir. of Youth Services Laura Garloski: photo by Rich Hill.

Abington Community Library (Clarkes Summit, PA) – Director of Youth Services Laura Garloski and Donna: photo by Rich Hill.

“Students who score higher on “tests tend to come from schools which have more library resource staff and more books, periodicals and videos, and where the instructional role of the teacher-librarian and involvement in cooperative program planning and teaching is more prominent.” Keith Curry Lance, et. al. The Impact of School Library Media Centers on Academic Achievement. (LLA).

“If you want to work on the core problem, it’s early school literacy.” James Barksdale (1943-), American businessman & Former CEO of Netscape (LLA).

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” Kofi Annan (1938-), civil servant from Ghana & 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations (GR).

“Learning from a teacher who has stopped learning is like drinking water from a stagnant pond.” Indonesian Proverb (LB).

Montrose Public Library & Quotes on Science & Such

Donna W. Hill donates The Heart of Applebutter Hill to Dir. Sue Stone at the Susquehanna County Library in Montrose, Pa. - photo by Rich Hill.

Susquehanna County Library (Montrose, PA) – Director Sue Stone and Donna: photo by Rich Hill.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German physicist-mathematician & pacifist known for his Theory of Relativity (LB).

“I’m sure we would not have had men on the Moon if it had not been for Wells and Verne and the people who write about this and made people think about it. I’m rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books.” from a 1975 Address to the US Congress by Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), English science fiction author of novels including 2001: A Space Odyssey (LLA).

“Frederick Douglas taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom. But reading is still the path.” Carl Sagan (1934-1996), American astronomer, teacher & author of PBS TV series Cosmos (GR).

Literacy for Everyone? – the Numbers Tell a Different Story

A Screech Owl Looks Out from  a House Built for Wood-Ducks. Photo by Rich Hill.

You Put up a Wood-Duck House, and what Do You Get? Sometimes …Screech Owls: photo by Rich Hill.

Which minority has the greatest disparity between literacy, unemployment and income on the one hand and intellect, talent and willingness to work on the other? Why are a few of its members medical doctors, engineers, scientists and lawyers, while most have never had a fulltime job? The answer is otherwise able-bodied working-age blind Americans.

To understand what is happening to blind Americans, it is important to know what literacy is. It is commonly defined as the ability to read and write – a definition that raises more questions than it answers. What is reading? What is writing? To hone in on the essence of literacy, however, we need only look to its Middle English roots, which – according to Miriam Webster – mean “marked with letters.” Literacy is an understanding of and fluency in language based on its primary building blocks – letters, punctuation and sentence structure.

The parents of a sighted child would be justifiably horrified and outraged if their child was denied education in reading and writing print. “Johnny is a wonderful listener. He doesn’t need print,” just doesn’t fly in the sighted world.

But, for a variety of reasons (most of which boil down to a lack of understanding and low expectations), blind children are routinely steered to audio learning. Recorded books and synthesized speech have their place in a blind person’s toolbox, and they are essential for the vast majority of students with print disabilities – sighted students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Nevertheless, Braille is the only alternative giving true literacy on a par with print.

Braille provides immediate access to the same information you see with your eyes. Punctuation, spelling, paragraph markings and other essential components of the written word are apparent through touch, as Braille is read just like they are through sight for print readers. Braille, which is now available in downloadable digital formats for high-tech refreshable Braille reading devices, is also the only option for people who are deaf and blind (National Braille Press).

Here are a few numbers that demonstrate how literacy and access to books impact blind people.

Income and Poverty: Blind Americans are Twice as Likely to Live in Poverty

In 2012, the median Annual Household Income of non-institutionalized blind Americans (aged 21-64) was $33,400. 31.2% were living below the poverty line (National Federation of the Blind – NFB).

According to a CNN report on Census statistics for 2012, median household income for the American population as a whole was $51,017, and 15% were living in poverty.

The lost productivity in the US due to blindness and eye diseases is estimated to be $8.0 billion per year (National Braille Press – NBP).

Literacy: Blind Students are 3 Times More Likely to be Illiterate

A young fawn stands alone in the grass east of our driveway: photo by Rich Hill.

“Doesn’t every kid deserve a chance?” – photo by Rich Hill.

As you read this section, keep in mind that Of the less than 40% of blind American adults who are employed, 90% read Braille (NBP).

60,393 – Total number of blind American students in US – from the 2014 American Printing House for the Blind poll of states for data on the number of legally blind children (through age 21) enrolled in elementary and high school (NFB).

5,147 (8.5%) – number of students for whom Braille is their primary way to read (NFB).

12 – Percentage of blind American students taught to read Braille; i.e. only 12% are even being given the chance to become truly literate (NBP).

Using the same standards applied to sighted students, no fewer than 88% of blind students are illiterate. In contrast, according to, only 25% (one in four) American children grow up without being taught to read.

Books: What’s Available for Print Readers & What’s Accessible for Those with Print Disabilities

36 million – the approximate number of books and other print materials in the collection of the Library of Congress (according to with 12,000 added daily.

300,000 – approximate number of titles available from Bookshare, the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Bookshare provides their collection in several downloadable formats, including DAISY text, synthetic speech and refreshable Braille.

80,000 – approximate number of titles available from Learning Ally – formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic – the world’s largest library of human-narrated audiobooks, as of October 30, 2014 (according to a Learning Ally customer representative)

80,000 – books in audio format available through the National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress (according to a November 3, 2014 email from NLS’s research department). This doesn’t include books in an older rigid disc format that seldom circulates anymore.

31,338 – books available in braille from NLS.

Note: NLS also has a Braille music collection of 22,775 titles, 4,892 audio recordings and 662 scores in large print. NLS provides professionally recorded books as downloads, on digital cartridge and (until the entire collection is digitized) cassette tape. Some books are available in hard copy and downloadable Braille and in large print. NLS chooses books based on the New York Times Bestsellers list and books with significant national press coverage. Regional NLS libraries record some titles with local interest. Borrowing from the NLS is free to all Americans with print disabilities.

According to the World Blind Union (WBU), over 90% of published books cannot be read by people who are blind or have other print disabilities. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 39 million people worldwide, including 1.4 million children under 15, are irreversibly blind. This does not take into account the visually impaired and learning disabled populations for whom reading print is not possible. Only 320,000 people with visual impairments and other print disabilities in approximately 50 countries have access to Bookshare‘s collection.

Easy Ways to End Book Famine for People with Print Disabilities

Hills' gingerbread pond shelter flanked by trees in autumn colors: photo by Rich Hill.

Hills’ gingerbread pond shelter flanked by trees in autumn colors: photo by Rich Hill.

Send an email, make a phone call or write a letter to Support the Marrakesh Treaty

The Marrakesh Treaty is an effort to update international copyright laws pertaining to reading materials in accessible formats. Urge your national representatives and senators to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty which will facilitate access to published works for people with Print disabilities.

A project of WBU and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), it was Signed by 72 nations including the US in 2013. But, a “signed” treaty is just a piece of paper. It needs to be “ratified” by twenty nations to become international law. So far, only India and El Salvador have ratified it. (WBU & WIPO)

Spread the Word with The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Book cover for The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill shows a cave scene - stalactites reflected in an underground lake, while a hand holds the Heartstone of Arden-Goth: photos, Rich Hill;, design, Lizza Studios.

Book cover for The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill shows a cave scene – stalactites reflected in an underground lake, while a hand holds the Heartstone of Arden-Goth: photos, Rich Hill;, design, Lizza Studios.

Please purchase the educator-recommended novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill, which features a 14-year-old blind heroine, for your local public and school libraries and as gifts. Doing so will help in several ways.

  1. It will raise awareness about the capabilities of blind people, the challenges we face and the common humanity we all share.
  2. If we sell enough copies to garner some significant national press coverage, NLS will include it in their collection.
  3. If not, every dime I receive from sales is going to a fund to have it Brailled and distributed to blind students to encourage Braille literacy.

The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print and Kindle from Amazon:

Or, through most online e-Book outlets, including:
eBook Universe:

Nook Book:

Apple iTunes:

Smashwords (7 formats including .epub, .rtf, .mobi & .pdf):

Readers with Print Disabilities can find The Heart of Applebutter Hill on Bookshare: and on Learning Ally:

Join the DAISY Planet

Follow what’s going on worldwide in the struggle for accessible books by visiting the DAISY Consortium. The DAISY (Digitally Accessible Information SYstems) Consortium is a global group of organizations working towards creating the best way to read and publish. Read their awesome newsletter, The Daisy Planet:



Literacy Builders:

National Braille Press:

National Federation of the Blind: Blindness Statistics:

CNN on 2012 Income & Poverty Statistics:

11 Facts about Literacy in America |

Library of Congress:


Learning Ally:

National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped:

World Blind Union:

World Health Organization: 

WIPO – Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled:

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