Saturday 17 October 2015

Benjamin Franklin: The Doors of Wisdom are Never Shut

"Being ignorant is not such a shame as being unwilling to learn." (Benjamin Franklin)

Although Benjamin Franklin was forced to quit school at the age of 10 and work, he devoted the rest of his life to the pursuit of knowledge.  Franklin opened the first subscription library which is still in operation today.

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Franklin was born in the early 1700's.  While Franklin did not receive much of a formal education, he demonstrated a passion for learning.  Once he left school, he would devote "one or two hours a day immersed in books".  

His pursuit of knowledge continued into adulthood and he made a name for himself with the invention of the lightning rod, bifocals and Franklin stove.  Known as a thinker, Franklin started a society called Junto, a group of "like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.  They would gather every Friday at the alehouse and discuss politics, morals and philosophy.  Franklin wrote down possible questions to debate at each meeting.  Members included scientist Isaac Newton, astronomer David Rittenhouse and physician Benjamin Rush. (

The Junto members all enjoyed reading but books were rare and expensive in 18th Century America.  Franklin had a solution:  why not open a subscription library?  He suggested that the Junto members pool their money and buy books to be shared among the members.  He hired America's first librarian, Louis Timothee, to oversee the collection, which was called the Library Company of Philadelphia, which was later opened to the public.  Franklin said of his library:  "The doors of wisdom are never shut." (

The Doors of Wisdom are Never Shut - Ignorance

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