Library art

One of the errands I ran today was to pick up a few books that our local fabulous library had on hold for me.

As I walked through the front door, my eye immediately went to the far back window of the building, where I saw this:

(you can click on the picture to make it larger)

While it may be difficult to discern from the photo, this stained glass window is massive.  It occupies a full three windows wide, and goes from the floor to the ceiling of the library.  (I’m terrible with estimating sizes, so please forgive the numbers I’m about to offer [I tried to find the actual measurements via an online search, but couldn’t locate them anywhere]…. I’m going to guess the piece is 10 feet wide, and 15 feet tall?)  At any rate, it’s big – and it’s beautiful.

Famous quotes are etched on the glass at various places.  Most of the quotes are literary, but a few are loosely associated with books, reading, libraries, etc.  Here are some of my favorites.

("We must not confuse dissent with loyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it." -Edward R. Murrow

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

“Like stars across the sky, we are born to shine.” - Andrea Bocelli

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” –Roald Dahl

I had no idea that my routine errand of picking up books would result in such a delight.  I continue to be so grateful to libraries (and all of the people who encourage and support them), and to artists who work for a pittance (usually) to make our public spaces more meaningful and beautiful.

The measure of any great civilization is its cities, and a measure of a city’s greatness is to be found in the quality of its public spaces, its parks, and its squares.” -John Ruskin

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” -Rumi



About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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29 Responses to Library art

  1. Christine says:

    Cool! One of our libraries has something similar – but the quotes are etched into the building’s stone facade.


  2. Wow, beautiful—the design as well as the words! Thanks for sharing this.


  3. Hallysann says:

    Loved the Groucho Marx quote … had to explain why I splurted out a laugh 😀


  4. Dianne Comeau says:

    hi stef, you have a fantastic blog, i just found you yesterday and started to read a few of your post and i am really enjoying. smile kiddo, i love that name. it will be fun to follow you ..its time to suscribe ; o)


    • Stef says:

      Dianne, thank you so much for reading, and for subscribing! I really appreciate it. I also checked out your blog; both the photos and the sentiments are truly lovely.


  5. Joss says:

    what a beautiful window. Kudos to your library for this. wow. That quote by Rumi is one of my top ten!
    walk in beauty.


    • Stef says:

      Our library system really is exemplary. And that quote by Rumi is also very high on my list of personal favorites. (I like a lot of his quotes and writings; what a wise sage.)


  6. Love the man’s best friend one, gave me a good laugh! 🙂 Such a cool find!
    Did you realize the last quote said Of twice? “Out beyond ideas of of wrongdoing….” I wonder if it was meant that way because of the wrong and right mentioned?


    • Stef says:

      Sharon, your attention to detail is outstanding! I did not notice the double “of” – until your comment prompted me to examine the photo more closely. Sure enough…. excellent catch lady!


  7. T. Lake says:

    Our local arts council does (I serve on the board) something very much like this. The library and the courthouse, although I think people might be more open to the experience at the library? I love the idea of art in public spaces, and ound it great that you were pleasantly surprised, and paused long enough to document the moment.

    We don’t do that enough, nd I suspect you’ll be smiling, kiddo – and often – should you keep that up 😉


    • Stef says:

      I adore public art, and am truly delighted whenever I get to experience it. Fortunately, the town I live in is pretty “progressive” in that many key decision-makers hold the view that art isn’t something “nice” to have, but truly is critical to the full expression of being human. (At least, that’s what I think.) 😉

      Thank you for reading, and for commenting – I really appreciate it!


  8. Touch2Touch says:

    The post, your sentiments, the photos, the art work, the quotes —


    I love our local libraries, but none of them has such gorgeous art work exemplifying their lifegiving function.


  9. T. Lake says:

    Reading: I’m a marketing major (yeah, I sold my soul), so outside of case studies and textbooks… I’ve just started Oliver Sacks’ “Musicophilia,” which is sort of completing a cycle of “brain/music” books I’ve dug into recently. Most notably “This is your brain on music” and Steven Pinker’s fabulous language/meaning book “The stuff of thought.” “Musicophilia” is wonderful so far – same guy that wrote, “The man who mistook his wife for a hat.”


    • Stef says:

      You only ‘sold your soul’ if you chose your degree based on what would make you rich instead of based on what you love. If you love marketing, there’s no shame in that! And even if you did choose it because it’s a likelier path towards a more ‘stable/secure’ future, sometimes we make choices to try and create a good future for ourselves – and there’s nothing wrong with that, either. So long as you are behaving ethically, I think your soul is probably still ‘yours’ to own. 😉

      I was a psychology major in college, so I know about Oliver Sacks. Very interesting case studies… Your books sound pretty cool.

      Interestingly, at the library I picked up the book “Ignore Everybody – and 39 Other Keys to Creativity” by Hugh MacLeod – which speaks a bit to the business/soul retaining discussion. (Though he is quite a bit cheeky.) It’s a super-quick, ‘easy’ read; you may want to check it out if that kind of thing interests you. I wouldn’t buy it, but it is a good library loaner. 🙂


  10. Anything with a library touches my heart! 🙂 I can only wish we had such a beautiful building in my town to house all of our books. I guess rather than having so many beautiful sights to hold me mind, I will instead get stuck being lost in the words. Oh well, that is a pretty nice place to be also.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us!


    • Stef says:

      I, too, am a ‘sucker’ for libraries, books, magazines… heck, even blank stationary. 🙂 I am incredibly lucky to live in a city that has such amazing library resources – and that truly cares to make them as accessible and inviting as possible. I’m deeply grateful for it.


  11. What a beautiful library! 🙂 They keep closing the libraries in my community, which is sad on so many levels. It lifts my reading spirit to see libraries are still very much alive in other places.

    Love the quotes and the pictures!


    • Stef says:

      It’s really sad when a library closes. They are one of the last domains of true equality… Here, sales from the local baseball stadium keep libraries open for extra hours beyond what the meager state funding would afford; I’m *SO* lucky I live in a city that truly values libraries (and literature).


  12. Phil Daniel says:

    Hi I am the artist of this stained glass piece and it brings me great joy to see your generous words above. Stef if this work brought you that moment then I fel as an artist I have done my job. Thank you. And I believe the piece spaning all three windows was 9×12 but even I can’t remember and I am now in London so I can’t check because the “cartoons” are back in MN! If my one is interested they can see more of my work at



    • Stef says:

      Phil, thank you so much for reaching out, and commenting on my blog! I’m truly flattered and honored. Your work was (and still is) incredibly wonderful to me; I still smile at it each time I go to the library (which is usually a few times each month).

      Please continue to make beautiful art, and share your talents with the world. 🙂


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  14. judithhb says:

    Here in Wellington NZ we have public art in the streets but unfortunately not in the library. Why is that I wonder Thanks for sharing I shall return to read more.


    • Stef says:

      I would think a library would be a perfect place for public art; perhaps an idea to drop in their suggestion box?

      Thanks for reading, and for commenting – I appreciate it! I look forward to seeing you around in the future. 🙂


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