"It was my habit to go very slowly up the low, broad steps to the palace entrance, pleasing my eyes with the majestic lines of the building, and lingering to read again the carved inscriptions: Public Library—Built by the People—Free to All. Did I not say it was my palace? Mine, because I was a citizen; mine, though I was born an alien ... My palace—mine! ... All these eager children, all these fine browed women, all these scholars going home to write learned books—I and they had this glorious thing in common, this noble treasure house of learning. It was wonderful to say, This is mine; it was thrilling to say, This is ours."
—Mary Antin, from her autobiography The Promised Land (1913), describing her visits to the Boston Public Library as a child, after her family emigrated from Russia