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

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  280 Ratings  ·  48 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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For a true bibliophile, heaven on earth is either a library or bookstore (despite the modern technology of e-readers). Regardless of this love; most do not consider the history of libraries from conception to today. Stuart A.P. Murray addresses precisely this subject in, “The Library: An Illustrated History”.

Murray begins “The Library” by tracking the creation of libraries from ancient times throughout the centuries and explains the growth across the world and its regions. Early on, the text is
Oct 27, 2009 Aaron rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 23, 2016 Shane rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
If you already have an existing interesting in the history of libraries, then you'll find this book worth reading, otherwise you won't.
There were lots of good little tidbits and facts that were enlightening, and I especially enjoyed the sections of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance libraries; I personally lost a little interest when the chronicle moved on to more modern libraries.
The side-pictures and illustrations were nice, although this book definitely had the feel of one where multiple auth
Barb Middleton
Feb 13, 2012 Barb Middleton rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, adult
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
Mar 07, 2010 JoAnn/QuAppelle rated it it was amazing
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
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
Ian Colby
Aug 22, 2015 Ian Colby rated it liked it
Needed more pictures and less prose. The content of each chapter isn't quite organized enough or even on topic. Also, it seems like I have to fact check some of their assertions about certain stories. Pictures of libraries were cool.
Jan 02, 2014 Megan rated it liked it
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
Cassidy  Charles
Jan 27, 2011 Cassidy Charles rated it really liked it
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
Feb 06, 2012 Jen rated it it was amazing
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.
May 18, 2011 Megan rated it it was ok
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.
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.
Nov 05, 2015 Kayla rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
This book was pretty interesting. Murray provides a snapshot of each historical period and place, discussing the beginning of the written word, books, and the first libraries, finally ending with the libraries in the United States and the beginnings of the digital age of libraries. Murray also provides a list of some of the best and most important libraries in the world, which is pretty cool.

I picked up this book because I've always been interested in libraries and books, and I am thinking of ge
Feb 09, 2014 Crystal rated it really liked it
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
Libraries, or collections of recorded knowledge, are the collective memory of the human race.

Beginning with the development of writing, Stuart Murray takes readers on a journey from the development of the first books and libraries to the high-tech world of modern day libraries. Including all different types of libraries from all over the world, this book gives a great overview of the history of books, libraries, and librarians.

As a librarian, much of what was in this book I was already familia
Apr 22, 2015 Caity rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting book with lots of beautiful photographs. The history is a great overview of most things that is a bit more specific about the history of libraries in the United States and England. The book does contain history from all over the globe though so it isn't specifically looking at Western history. The last chapter of the book highlights specific libraries sharing a bit of their history, the size of their collection, and other facts. Overall it is a quick and interesting read.
Mar 08, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarian, history
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
S. J.
May 20, 2013 S. J. rated it it was ok  ·  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 u
Jan 10, 2010 Tom rated it really liked it
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
Sep 29, 2011 Damon rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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
Feb 22, 2010 Colin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
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
Jan 12, 2010 Andres rated it really liked it
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
Jan 08, 2016 Argum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Learned lots of cool random things from this book. Knowledge warehouse in parts of the world, Chairman Mao was a librarian, and Carnegie libraries come to mind. THe book itself is also beautiful lots of glossy pictures throughout. Really interesting stuff going from ancient to current and really makes an effort to span the globe not just the WEstern world. Excellent book easy to dip in and out of
Sep 09, 2016 Nate rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, to-buy
This book is fantastic, introducing history of book collections and libraries, with a section dedicated to some magnificent and unique libraries around the world. This book was a little too North America centered, but that was okay because the other parts of the world were covered in other sections. I can't believe the cool library section did not mention the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale. Love how the history of the major libraries around the world were given. Funnily enough, my library sy ...more
Aug 22, 2015 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Very accessible overview of the history and enjoyable to read!
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'
Oct 05, 2009 Nanette rated it liked it
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
Mar 18, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book cover and title caught my eye on Goodreads. One of those serendipitous events. It is a lovely book with many illustrations--drawings and photographs. My library had the paperback edition, but if I was adding it to my library I would choose the hardback. It is printed on heavy glossy paper. I enjoyed reading the history of books as well as libraries. There are many names and dates that I won't remember, but it is an interesting book that covers historical libraries and libraries around ...more
May 21, 2010 Ann rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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!
Dec 22, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it
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.
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