David Simon

"The library card is the great equalizer."

[On memories of libraries]

The library branch in Silver Spring, Maryland, where I grew up. I remember being left alone in library by my parents, usually my mother, who would go off to the adult section and leave me in the kids section.

And I can remember staggering from shelf shelf and pulling stuff down. She would find me at the end of the two or three hour period just buried in books, having read 20 or 30 in a row, obviously children's books, not Dostoevsky or anything. But I just remember being lost back in the stacks and loving the feeling of being lost.

I also remember the bookmobile. We had bookmobiles in Montgomery County. I remember the feeling of stepping on that truck and having it be full of books, and thinking it made perfect sense for the books to be on a truck somewhere and for the truck to come to my neighborhood.

[Favorite librarian?]

I do. I have to say that my favorite librarian is Madeline Lippman. I have to say that because she's my mother in law, but actually, if I think about it, I would say that the woman who was the librarian on the bookmobile who would often hand me the book that she thought I was ready for.

And I don't know her name, I wish I could find out her name. But of course I was five or six years old. She was the one who decided I was ready for "Curious George."She was the one who decided I was ready for "A Wrinkle in Time." She was a big part of my life all the way through about fifth grade.

[On budget cuts] Well I guess I was being a little bit flippant about the fact that we continually buy every book that isn't nailed down in my household, but that's an indulgence that... I work in television now, so apparently I have some discretionary income, but a lot of people don't.

And access to a library card is access to the world. It's access to the world regardless of who you are, how much money you have, what your financial situation is, what your family's financial situation is.

It is the great equalizer. The great empowering element in our society is the ability to consume ideas at any pace, and in any way you want to. And I think that, you know, for anyone who wants to know more today than they knew yesterday, wants to know more tomorrow, the library card is the great equalizer, it's the great instrument.

[On attempts to ban books]

I have no use for them. I just don't know what to say about the amount of resistance to the world ideas. Ideas stand on their own or they fall on the merits of the ideas themselves, not on the basis of some artificial theology, or some...

I have very little use for moralism. I think that moralism without being able to stand up to intellectual rigor is a false morality.

I look at books that are even as elemental to the America experience as "Huck Finn" being edited, reedited, to take out the ugliness in American history. That book matters because of the ugliness that's in its pages, because of what Twain has documented. And Jim's journey to humanity, to full rigor of humanity, is important because of how he's regarded his time and place. You take that out of it and Jim's journey and the journey down the river mean less.

That people would be arguing over this in a new century is embarrassing.

Creative Commons LicenseAll author videos are available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. We encourage libraries and library supporters to reuse this content and ask only that you provide a link back to the website. To request a copy of an author video contact the ALA Office for Library Advocacy at advocacy@ala.org.

Book Title: 

The Wire & Treme

Library Name: 

Silver Spring, Maryland