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The Library: A Fragile History by Arthur der…
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The Library: A Fragile History (edition 2021)

by Arthur der Weduwen (Author), Andrew Pettegree (Author)

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7651229,523 (3.92)6
History. Language Arts. Nonfiction. HTML:Perfect for book lovers, this is a fascinating exploration of the history of libraries and the people who built them, from the ancient world to the digital age.
 
Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes, or filled with bean bags and childrenâ??s drawingsâ??the history of the library is rich, varied, and stuffed full of incident. In The Library, historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen introduce us to the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the worldâ??s great collections, trace the rise and fall of literary tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in pursuit of rare manuscripts. In doing so, they reveal that while collections themselves are fragile, often falling into ruin within a few decades, the idea of the library has been remarkably resilient as each generation makesâ??and remakesâ??the institution anew. 
 
Beautifully written and deeply researched, The Library is essential reading for booklovers, collectors, and anyone who has ever gotten blissfully lost in the
… (more)
Member:kaixo
Title:The Library: A Fragile History
Authors:Arthur der Weduwen (Author)
Other authors:Andrew Pettegree (Author)
Info:Profile Books (2021), Edition: Main, 528 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading
Rating:
Tags:libraries, history of libraries, history, library history, book history, books about books, bibliophilia, library science, culture

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The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree

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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
An excellent review of library history.it was well researched and covered the topic pretty thoroughly.
From the vanished Alexandria to the speculative future of libraries in the digital age, with stops to shiver at book burnings through the ages, from the inquisition to the Nazis to modern times.
I felt it was a little too scholarly and dispassionate at times, I’d have liked to hear more of the passion for libraries and books from primary sources.
Still, an excellent all around book
( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
This book was something of a mixed bag for me. However, the parts I liked I found very interesting and well done and the parts I didn’t care for weren’t too onerous.

My main complaint was that this book focused almost exclusively on European, and then later on English and American libraries. There were brief mentions of library history and innovations in other countries but these were comparatively terse and confined to a few throwaway sentences. Someone reading this with no prior background at all would come away thinking libraries were largely a phenomenon confined to the global north and the nebulous and increasingly tenuous “West”. The libraries of ancient and medieval China, or of the early Islamic Caliphs merit scarcely a mention. A genuinely global survey of the history of libraries may well be beyond the scope of this or any single book, but in that case a more fitting title may have been in order. This omission is all the more glaring for the relatively large swathes of ink the author spills on other subjects. Most notably the chapters dealing with the private libraries of Renaissance nobles and Dutch merchants seem to go on in extreme length and detail.

I did really appreciate the author’s thesis statement, that most library destruction is a result of neglect, obviated usefulness, or not meeting the needs of the new generation that inherits them. Library histories tend to focus on the spectacular and purposeful destruction of libraries rather than this more common, if less flashy, cause of library death.

The sections closer to modern times dealing with what we would recognizably see as “public libraries” was fascinating and well done. The author adroitly and convincingly showed the lineage of subscription and circulation libraries through to the modern incarnation of tax payer funded libraries open to all. I wish there had been more time devoted to this historical period and far less spent on an exhaustive cataloging of the book collecting habits of Renaissance.

P.S.

The author did give a shout out to Better World Books and mentions how he uses it to buy weeded library books at discount rates. This is something I also do! It's a really neat service for both customers and libraries and more people should use it. ( )
  Autolycus21 | Oct 10, 2023 |
I rarely give 5-star ratings, but this marvelous book absolutely deserves it. The authors spin a captivating narrative on the developmental history of libraries, leading from personal collections, to government holdings, through subscription and circulating libraries, culminating in the appearance of the true public library. The story is as gripping as any novel, and full of unusual details. It was an absolute pleasure to read, and my copy is well marked up to keep track of the best bits that I know I'll need to draw upon later. Brilliant! ( )
  dono421846 | Apr 13, 2023 |
An excellent history of the Library from ancient history to present day; although other reviewers have complained of it being a "dry" read, I did not find that to be the case. The first half of the book focuses on individual collectors and the various 'methods' upon which books were acquired; the latter half of the book deals with the Library as it took on the form of the current institution we know today. At 414 pages it is a rather hefty read, but still very enjoyable especially if you are something of a bibliophile. ( )
  MusicforMovies | Jul 26, 2022 |
Thorough and well-researched. Just the right amount of detail. Great to learn more about the social and political context of library development. ( )
  francesanngray | May 30, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andrew Pettegreeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Weduwen, Arthur dermain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You have before you a short work on libraries, that
is to say, on books. What subject could be worthier
for those of us who constantly use them?

Justus Lipsius, De Bibliothecis (1602)
Dedication
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For the Dutch scholar Hugo Blotius, appointment as librarian to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II in 1575 should have been the crowning achievement of his career.
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History. Language Arts. Nonfiction. HTML:Perfect for book lovers, this is a fascinating exploration of the history of libraries and the people who built them, from the ancient world to the digital age.
 
Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes, or filled with bean bags and childrenâ??s drawingsâ??the history of the library is rich, varied, and stuffed full of incident. In The Library, historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen introduce us to the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the worldâ??s great collections, trace the rise and fall of literary tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in pursuit of rare manuscripts. In doing so, they reveal that while collections themselves are fragile, often falling into ruin within a few decades, the idea of the library has been remarkably resilient as each generation makesâ??and remakesâ??the institution anew. 
 
Beautifully written and deeply researched, The Library is essential reading for booklovers, collectors, and anyone who has ever gotten blissfully lost in the

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