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The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel

The Library at Night (2006)

by Alberto Manguel

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,015573,329 (4.13)184
  1. 20
    Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles (Ludi_Ling)
  2. 00
    Resa i tysta rum : okända svenska slottsbibliotek by Per Wästberg (bonne1978)
  3. 00
    Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World by Lawrence Goldstone (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Bibliophiles meditate on the considerations of assembling a library
  4. 00
    On the Map: why the World Looks the Way it Does by Simon Garfield (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Does for Maps what Manguel's book does for libraries.
  5. 00
    Libraries in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson (Ludi_Ling)
  6. 00
    Sixpence House by Paul Collins (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: A bibliophile reflects on books, bookselling, writing and reading in the book-filled Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye
  7. 00
    The Library: An Illustrated History by Stuart A. P. Murray (Jannes)
    Jannes: Nice Coffee table-ish book that should be a treat for anyone with an interest in libraries and library history.
  8. 01
    The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (kristenn)

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» See also 184 mentions

English (44)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (3)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  All (56)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Librarians are really good at telling each other about how wonderful and essential libraries are. I don't mean that as a statement of judgement. I think our affinity for libraries and what can be found in them is more than justified, but that of course is what brought me to the program and to this book. Manguel affirms through this beautiful exegesis just how very magical libraries are--as place, as identity, as mind, as shadow. I read it through saying yes, yes that's why libraries matter, that's what they've done, that's what they've been, this is what they are and this is what the humans that felt the desire for them are.

I want to sneak into Manguel's library in France and live there (would he mind? would I find a colony of migrant librarians already there? I can't be the first to have thought of this). I was sorry to have missed his talk at the Library and Archives Canada by just a few days. He draws from a vast array of knowledge, gives you the impression he's pulled it from his shelves, coming across strongly like an Argentinian Eco. The book is, of course, rich with reference to other books which means my reading list will bulk up exponentially, especially if another of his books appears on it. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Contemplation of his own library built from the ruins of a French barn leads Alberto Manguel to ponder the history and philosophy of libraries. Classification, architecture and design, selection and censorship, and many more aspects of libraries and the books they contain are illustrated by examples both personal and historical. Aby Warburg and the library that resembled a map of his mind, to Jorge Luis Borges, who was blind when he was appointed director of the Buenos Aires National Library, to the clandestine children's library in the Birkenau concentration camp – all have something to teach us about the nature and importance of books and libraries. This book could be used as a textbook for courses in the history and philosophy of libraries and librarianship, yet it will appeal to all readers with a love for books and libraries.

We pick our way down endless library shelves, choosing this or that volume for no discernible reason; because of a cover, a title, a name, because of something someone said or didn't say, because of a hunch, a whim, a mistake, because we think we may find in this book a particular tale or character or detail, because we believe it was written for us, because we believe it was written for everyone except us and we want to find out why we have been excluded, because we want to learn, or laugh, or lose ourselves in oblivion.


The fact is that a library, whatever its size, need not be read in its entirety to be useful; every reader profits from a fair balance between knowledge and ignorance, recall and oblivion. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Feb 6, 2016 |
I really liked his telling of his personal library, how it came about and how he keeps it. I also like the quotes he includes from historical figures about libraries. ( )
  libraryclerk | Oct 29, 2015 |
Manguel's musings about libraries and related matters are, as is to be expected from this most genial and educated of writers, wide ranging and fascinating. I especially enjoyed the anecdotes and the stories about Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentinian writer who Manguel knew, and whom he seems most to resemble in his effortless erudition. I envy both Manguel's writing and his life--such as sitting at nighttime beneath the trees outside his French home discussing imaginary books and libraries with his friends. Could there be a better life? Still, when all is said and done, as enjoyable as this book is, it isn't quite in the same league as his A History of Reading, so I have withheld one star--and I'm already feeling guilty about it! ( )
2 vote datrappert | Apr 14, 2015 |
La biblioteca de noche es una inmersión emotiva, amena y erudita, alentada por la curiosidad, sobre el atractivo de esos lugares que llamamos bibliotecas y el afán del hombre por coleccionar, en este caso libros. Lugares «gratamente disparatados», según le han parecido siempre al autor, que le han seducido por su «lógica laberíntica» a la hora de ordenar esa «acumulación cacofónica de libros». Alberto Manguel, nos muestra en La biblioteca de noche su amor apasionado por los libros y por esos espacios, míticos en algunos casos, que los han albergado a lo largo de los siglos. Nos revela el placer de la aventura que siente cuando se pierde entre estantes atestados de libros «con la seguridad supersticiosa de que una jerarquía de letras o de números me conducirá algún día al destino prometido». Esas delicias que se esconden entre sus anaqueles y entre páginas, en negro sobre blanco; lugares en los que hallar consolación.
  Patricia.Carruthers | Apr 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
The Library at Night, fortunately, is more than a tour of the microcosm contained in Manguel's converted barn. Its fondness for leathery bindings and its fussy annoyance about the 'evil white scabs' of price-stickers slimily glued to book jackets soon give way to a crusading defence of the library as a mental sanctuary, a repository of memory, the only kind of home that has any emotional value for Manguel the deracinated cosmopolitan.
added by Ludi_Ling | editThe Observer, Peter Conrad (Apr 22, 2008)
Manguel beschrijft de vele facetten en problemen van het verzamelen, zowel voor de particuliere verzamelaar als voor de professionele bibliothecaris.
Wie het boek van Alberto Manguel leest, maakt een boeiende en interessante reis door de boekenwereld van vele eeuwen. Boeiende beschrijvingen, doortrokken met anekdotes die in Manguels fabelachtige geheugen liggen opgeslagen. Ik raad iedereen die meer dan honderd boeken heeft aan dit boek te kopen en te lezen
De bibliotheek bij nacht is een boek over de manieren waarop de mens door de eeuwen heen boeken heeft verzameld en bibliotheken heeft vormgegeven. Manguel is niet alleen geïnteresseerd in geschiedenis en architectuur, maar ook in de psychologie van de bibliothecaris, waarbij hij volop ruimte biedt aan anekdotes die ergens in zijn fabelachtige geheugen lagen opgeslagen („Ik denk in citaten”).
added by sneuper | editNRC, Pieter Steinz (Dec 14, 2007)
Den spränglärde Alberto Manguel har skrivit en faktaspäckad bibliotekshistoria med poetiska och en del humoristiska och tragikomiska inslag. Om dock, som sagt, alltför välfylld
Manguels bok har den där sällsynta kombinationen av lätthet och tyngd, oväntade infall och uppfordrande eftertanke.

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Manguel, AlbertoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eklöf, MargaretaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the sixteenth century, the Ottoman poet Adbullatif Celebi, better known as Latifi, called each of the books in his library "a true and loving friend who drives away all cares."
This book is for Craig.
First words
The library in which I have at long last collected my books began life as a barn sometime in the fifteenth century, perched on a small hill south of the Loire.
If a library is a mirror of the universe, then a catalogue is a mirror of that mirror.
Writing about the librarian's action [hiding the books], Borzykowski remarked that it was carried out "without any consideration as to whether anyone would ever need the saved books": it was an act of rescuing memory per se. The universe, the ancient cabbalists believed, is not contingent on our reading it; only on the possibility of our reading it.
In order for these nightly imaginations to flourish, I must allow my other senses to awaken—to see and touch the pages, to hear the crinkle and the rustle of the paper and the fearful crack of the spine, to smell the wood of the shelves, the musky perfume of the leather bindings, the acrid scent of my yellowing pocket books. Then I can sleep.
"...the Library of Congress's catalogues...include such curious categories as:
~ banana research
~ bat binding
~ boots and shoes in art
~ chickens in religion and folklore
~ sewage: collected works
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Contains: The library as myth -- The library as order -- The library as space -- The library as power -- The library as shadow -- The library as shape -- The library as chance -- The library as workshop -- The library as mind -- The library as island -- The library as survival -- The library as oblivion -- The library as imagination -- The library as identity -- The library as home.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300139144, Hardcover)

Inspired by the process of creating a library for his fifteenth-century home near the Loire, in France, Alberto Manguel, the acclaimed writer on books and reading, has taken up the subject of libraries. “Libraries,” he says, “have always seemed to me pleasantly mad places, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been seduced by their labyrinthine logic.” In this personal, deliberately unsystematic, and wide-ranging book, he offers a captivating meditation on the meaning of libraries.


Manguel, a guide of irrepressible enthusiasm, conducts a unique library tour that extends from his childhood bookshelves to the “complete” libraries of the Internet, from Ancient Egypt and Greece to the Arab world, from China and Rome to Google. He ponders the doomed library of Alexandria as well as the personal libraries of Charles Dickens, Jorge Luis Borges, and others. He recounts stories of people who have struggled against tyranny to preserve freedom of thought—the Polish librarian who smuggled books to safety as the Nazis began their destruction of Jewish libraries; the Afghani bookseller who kept his store open through decades of unrest. Oral “memory libraries” kept alive by prisoners, libraries of banned books, the imaginary library of Count Dracula, the library of books never written—Manguel illuminates the mysteries of libraries as no other writer could. With scores of wonderful images throughout, The Library at Night is a fascinating voyage through Manguel’s mind, memory, and vast knowledge of books and civilizations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:12 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Inspired by the process of creating a library for his 15th century home near the Loire in France, Alberto Manguel has taken up the subject of libraries. In this personal, deliberately unsystematic, and wide-ranging book, he offers a captivating meditation on the meaning of libraries.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300139144, 0300151306

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