The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Franklin comes up with lots of societal improvements, but one of the most important ones, to which he keeps returning, is the creation of a library. The library he helps found in Philadelphia is a symbol of sharing knowledge. Throughout his life, Franklin makes versions of libraries whenever he can: arranging to borrow books from other printers and booksellers, and working with the Junto Club to establish a public, subscription library. This subject is important enough to Franklin that he passionately raises money for it, advertises it, and even contributes books from his personal library to it.
We can see how the library matters to Franklin in three different ways. First, as a reader, he sees it as a place where he can access all sorts of books that he couldn't get as an individual. Second, as a writer, he sees it as a place that sustains and values the arts of literature and philosophy. Third and finally, as a self-educator he sees it as a place that will provide other people with the same opportunities that he fought hard to get for himself. In providing people from different classes and backgrounds with equal access to books and the knowledge within them, Franklin's library insists on intellectual equality, just as the colonists using that library would soon insist on social and political equality.