The Library: An Illustrated History
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The Library: An Illustrated History

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  185 ratings  ·  37 reviews
The Library tells the story of libraries and of the changing form and function of the book from era to era, whether clay tablets, parchment sheets, papyrus scrolls, glossy paper, recording tape or silicone chips. At the heart of the story of libraries and books is the story of the reader, who also has changed from era to era. Profusely illustrated, with fascinating is a co...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 27th 2009 by Skyhorse Publishing (first published 2009)
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Barb Middleton
Of the 123,000 libraries in the U.S., almost 100,000 are in public schools. Libraries have been around since ancient civilizations, but in the U.S. libraries have been supported and increased as a result of peaceful times, philanthropists, democratic ideals and more. The rise of the middle class in America meant demands for education and knowledge and libraries were interwoven into existing democratic ideals. It was believed that freedom of thought and the ability to think for oneself was necess...more
Aaron
It probably isn't surprising that I am interested in library history. In fact, this isn't the first one I have read, but it is one of the best.

The book starts in ancient times, focusing at the early libraries found in Mesopotamia and Sumer before moving on into Egypt and other well-known cultures. What is interesting is the book doesn't just focus on the library, but highlights developments in the creation of paper, the printing process, literacy rates, and the educational environments in variou...more
Simon
I've always considered the library like a second home. It is everything I want and everything I need in my life, I swear. Except there is no food in a library, there are books about food, lots of books, but...not really any one can consume to retain their life.

I got this book from my library and read it on a whim just because I was curious to see the history of the place I love so much.

It was a dry read but mostly because my heart wasn't in it as it is in the real deal. I feel like living an exp...more
Crystal
This is one of those books that I could only read a chapter, sometimes two, at a time. It was really interesting, with lots of GORGEOUS pictures of libraries, but it’s still a history and sometimes boring. It was very in-depth, though, starting with “The Ancient Libraries” and moving through the middle ages, to the Renaissance, to the early modern period, to the 21st century. Murray talked about all the books lost to religions, primarily Christianity, suppressing other religions’ ideas and burni...more
Melissa
This was so much more than the history of the library: it was a history of the world: of language, of the printed word, of books; of wars where libraries' materials were stolen and of wars where libraries were burned; of religions near and far and their censorships over the years; of librarians. An excellent read for any booklover, or librarian.

There was one chapter that a) seemed to just repeat things that had already been covered in teh book and b) purpose didn't match the chapter title. But I...more
S. J.
May 20, 2013 S. J. rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One
Recommended to S. by: Library
*1.8 Stars*

Scorecard: (Out of 10)
* Quality of Writing - 2
* Pace - 2
* Plot development - 1
* Characters - NA
* Enjoyability - 1
* Insightfulness - 1
* Ease of Reading - 1
* Photos/Illustrations - 10
Final Score = 18/80; 23%

Never, NEVER have I suffered through a book as hard as I did this one. This book...'it crushed my dreams, it crushed them so hard.'

*The Gush*
Not to say it was all bad. I did learn things from each of the chapters. For more details on what stood out to me in each one, check out my up...more
Tom
This interesting, comprehensive history of libraries across time is notable because of the breadth of coverage. It includes libraries not just from Europe and North America but of all regions of the world, especially Asian countries.
The gorgeous full-color illustrations only add to the pleasure of perusing this book.
One thing which makes the book a chore to read, however, is the lousy job of editing. In many cases what may be the outcome of having three authors leads to repetition, contradiction...more
Damon
This is a beautiful and informative book about the history of books, translations and the building and organization of libraries, dating from the ancient pre-egyptian societies around the mediteranian sea all the way to the present. If you are a book lover and Bibliophile then this is a book you'll love.
The author covers the histories of various collections such as Aristotle's personal library of scrolls, the library of Constinople, the Vatican, the Library of Congress, and many other famous co...more
Colin
This was somewhat interesting in that I liked the numerous pictures and it provided a very simple, accessible overview. I did learn some things. However, at times it was repetitive, and had a sharply Eurocentric and "benevolently colonial" framework. It summed up the destruction of Mayan codices and Incan quipu in a sentence, for instance, while spending chapters on the European continent and ancient Greece. What it really made me want was a better book, with a historical overview that explored...more
JoAnn/QuAppelle
For a book and library lover like myself, this book is the ultimate! Murray has complied wonderful information and illustrations into one volume that is a real treasure trove.

I loved the vignettes about unknown people, obscure events, and objects related to libraries (Sister Juana of Mexico; chained books; when and where the first papermaking mills were; all of the steps a scribe had to take prior to starting to write a document; and so much more). These little tidbits of information were so in...more
Andres
Beautifully illustrated book about the historical development of libraries. In twelve chapters the author manages to explore the evolution of the medium being written on (tablet to scroll to codex to book), how this affected how they were stored, the development of their worth to individuals and society, and how the public and academic libraries we're familiar with today came about from largely private collections (belonging either to individuals or churches).

The book covers all regions of the w...more
Megan
I enjoyed reading about the history of libraries. It had nice pictures and good information. Some interesting things I liked reading about were how the books were so valuable they were chained to the shelves and stolen as war prizes, and how books were lost time after time because paper burns.

Since I am not an expert on ancient history, I would have appreciated some maps of the areas being discussed. I could have also used a timeline of library events as the book jumped back and forth between ge...more
Kate P.
A history of libraries of the world with special focus on the western world. Published by the American Library Association and full of helpful illustrations and photos, this book should be required reading for all of us working in libraries.

Full of fun facts. . .For example, reference books used to be chained to tables from the Middle Ages through the 18th century in order to protect these valuable resources. Benjamin Franklin is the founder of public libraries as we know them in the U.S.

I don'...more
Nanette
A concise history of libraries, from ancient civilizations to present day. There are a fair number of illustrations, both black and white and color, though I would liked to have seen even more! Because the author covers so much history, nothing is discussed in too much depth. None the less, I did learn alot.

The author has some definite opinions about which groups in history promoted reading and libraries, and which groups supposedly destroyed nearly every book they encountered! Maybe he should...more
Cassidy  Charles
Yes, I read a library book about libraries.

Let me just say, The Library: An Illustrated History, by Stuart A.P Murray, is not as illustrated as you might think. The illustrated portion was, more or less, an afterthought from the author. I can only guess that one would need to put a spin on a book about libraries to get the book to sell.

Alexandria, Egypt is an addition to my “Places to go” list because of this book. How could I forget the city of the first library? Well, I am not sure, but all is...more
Jen
I had to do a presentation in class on this book. Otherwise I wouldn't have known this book existed.

This is a great book. I loved it. It's full of pictures of libraries around the world and artifacts found from ancient libraries.

It's a comprehensive look at the history of libraries and books and how books changed throughout the millennia. You will learn a lot of interesting facts reading this book.

It's a must-read for all library lovers and book lovers. It's a very fast read, as well.
Ann
A good general review of library history with nice illustrations. The organization could have been a bit better, but I enjoyed it. The real advantage to me was in the references and further reading, which were fascinating. Although I was a bit dismayed at first on the reliance on Wiki sources (which is terrible to use as "research" for technical topics), I was not aware of the goldmine to be found in Wiki Commons and intend to explore it more when I get to a high speed connection!
Megan
A lovely book with lots of beautiful pictures and good information. However, there are also numerous little nitpick-type errors that detract from the good points. You'd be better off reading Library: An Unquiet History for more accurate, more detailed, and more interesting information, and just checking this one out for the pretty pictures.
Nancy
I read this book in part because I am considering going to school to become a librarian. After reading this, I am more certain than ever that I want to become a librarian. This is an amazing coffee table type of book that details the history of books and libraries, from hieroglyphs and the invention of paper, through the printing press and the power struggles for ownership of the books and manuscripts. I found this to be very informative and easy to read.
Joy
A very interesting history of the library for the non-scholar (like me). Illustrated with photos and drawings throughout. The book includes an index and a list of sources, as well as some suggestions for further reading. This is one of those books you might not want to read cover to cover, but that's all right - you can dip into it anywhere and find some fascinating reading as well as some really gorgeous pictures of books and the places where they live.
Gloria
Excellent and accessible book on the history of paper, books, printing, and libraries. While that may sound boring, it is definitely not. Organized by the oldest libraries up to modern times, there are many beautiful photographs from famous buildings around the world. Their stories are told simply and interestingly. Issues of war and devastation are included as well as the many benefactors in history who made a literary difference for their time.
Dan Russell
Stuart A. P. Murray A lovely history of libraries and how they came to be. From cuneiform libraries in 612 BC (clay tablets that survived 2500 years in a collapsed library), to Carnegie libraries around the US (some cities turned them down with a snooty “we don’t need your charity” as in the case of Detroit).
Fascinating, with excellent illustrations.
Nathan
reading about history makes me wish i had a TARDIS so i could see it in person
Lori
Picked this up but don't have time to get through it now...to check out again later. Beautifully illustrated history of the world's libraries. Especially loved the illustrations on the inside leaf (Wikimedia Commons), Puritan couple (134), Benjamin Franklin (146) both from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs collection.
Kristine
Very interesting easy to read history of the library. The last chapter lists the largest libraries in the world and offers some beautiful illustrations of some of these great buildings inside and out. The saddest thing I learned from this book was that so many books have been destroyed over the centuries due to war.
Doc Kinne
Among the best general-level books on the subject that I've read. Wonderfully readable, and nicely complete for its size. Lavishly illustrated with dozens of photographs. Interested in Libraries on a general level? Read this book!
Omar
كتاب جميل يعرض لتاريخ الكتب والمكتبات بمقدار مناسب لمقدمة تعريفية، يتناول المكتبات حول العالم مع تركيز على مكتبات الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، وفي الفصل الأخير عرض لأهم المكتبات حول العالم بمقتنياتها النادرة ومحتوياتها وما يميزها
Megan Smigasiewicz
A world history from the vantage point of the printed word and the library. Traces the development of the ideas of major civilizations as manifested in what and how knowledge is sought, and how--and to whom--it is dispersed.
Amy
I really loved this book -- lots of great information covering libraries all over the world, from ancient times to the present.

The pictures are beautiful and the book itself is presented in an easy-to-read format.

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