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Library, The by Stuart Kells
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Library, The (edition 2019)

by Stuart Kells (Author)

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297668,021 (3.35)1 / 10
From the Bodleian, the Folger and the Smithsonian to the fabled libraries of Middle Earth and other fictional libraries, Kells explores the bookish places that capture our imaginations. The result is a fascinating and engaging exploration of libraries as places of beauty and wonder, a celebration of books as objects and an account of the deeply personal nature of these hallowed spaces.… (more)
Member:FuschiasRoom
Title:Library, The
Authors:Stuart Kells (Author)
Info:Text Publishing Company (2019), 272 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells

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» See also 10 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I don't understand the mind of collectors, I see it as a form of derangement like hoarding. Collecting books is probably the saddest of things you can collect. ( )
  Paul_S | Jun 16, 2021 |
I was excited to borrow this from my public library. After finishing it, I can't really say that I enjoyed it. The topics and their discussion were too scattershot. Reading this book felt more like listening to a conversation in a somewhat loud bar over drinks. You hear some cool things, and then some disinteresting things that cause you to look up at the TV screen. The topics switch fast and the juxtapositions don't always make sense. But, you usually stay for just one more drink to hear how it ends. ( )
  drew_asson | Dec 3, 2020 |
Not to be confused with “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean, “The Library” by Stuart Kells (2017) is more interesting in parts than as a whole. That's probably because it reads more like an encyclopedia of library history than a single narrative about the history of libraries. Some entries just appeal more than others. A reader may be tempted to skip around in the book as its author does in his history of the library.

Libraries go back a long time. They even, Kells says, predate books. He counts the practice of preliterate tribes of remembering the legends of their culture as early libraries. In some cultures this still goes on. The film “The Good Lie” shows Sudanese children drilling each other on the names of ancestors they never knew so they would never forget them

From there Kells goes on to talk about libraries before paper or printing, when books were written on a variety of materials, including papyrus, palm leaves ivory, wood, stone and even such exotic materials as silk, bamboo, copper, turtle shells, antlers and the intestines of elephants. He writes about how books were stored (they haven't always been placed on shelves), organized, copied, preserved, treasured, censored and, too often, destroyed.

Fictional libraries get a surprising amount of attention. Kells calls Umberto Eco's creation in “The Name of the Rose” "the most captivating library in fiction" and, just two pages later, "the most enchanting library ever captured in words." He gives attention, too, to libraries described in “The Lord of the Rings” and other books.

There is much to like about “The Library,” but there are also times when the reader may be tempted to find a good library and pick out a better book to read. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Sep 10, 2019 |
A fascinating and information-dense history of books and libraries - ancient, modern, real and fictitious, created, lost, stolen, and destroyed. Book lovers be warned - there is a lot of discussion of ancient and rare books stolen, defaced and destroyed. It's enough to break your heart. It's not all bad news though.

It's a bit rambling and seems to wander off topic quite a bit, but nevertheless it's a great read for any bibliophile. ( )
  adam.currey | Feb 16, 2019 |
If you’re looking for a quick and dirty history of libraries, this isn’t your book. If you’re looking for a book filled with loosely connected annecdotes about the history of libraries, this could be your book. I’m a book lover and a library lover, but this book at times tried my patience. First of all, the organization of the book is often confusing (at least to me), and the sheer volume of names is difficult to keep up with. Also, because of the tremendous amount of research presented the book begs for footnotes, especially in this age of quick connection to references if you’re reading, as I was, on a Kindle. Additionally, there is no index, which I think is a real weakness. I have to say, I was pleased to read the defense of libraries and the value of spending public monies on them with which Stuart Kells wraps up the book. That said, I found some of the comments Kells makes in this same wrap up about the negative effect of digitizing libraries to be a little old fashioned ( )
  DanDiercks | Sep 4, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
To get through times like these, I recommend drinking alcohol and making use of libraries. (Just not at the same time and, for best results, not in that order.) Library holdings have helped reassure me that values associated with reason, intellect and art really do tend to survive dark ages of various kinds. A space devoted to quiet reflection on the written word is also just so much nicer than, say, an echo chamber of negative covfefe. It was therefore a pleasure to sit down among the stacks and read a new book about the history of this very subject: “The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders,” by Stuart Kells.
 
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From the Bodleian, the Folger and the Smithsonian to the fabled libraries of Middle Earth and other fictional libraries, Kells explores the bookish places that capture our imaginations. The result is a fascinating and engaging exploration of libraries as places of beauty and wonder, a celebration of books as objects and an account of the deeply personal nature of these hallowed spaces.

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