From Greek and Roman times to the digital era, the library has remained central to knowledge, scholarship, and the imagination. The Meaning of the Library is a generously illustrated examination of this key institution of Western culture.Read more...
From Greek and Roman times to the digital era, the library has remained central to knowledge, scholarship, and the imagination. The Meaning of the Library is a generously illustrated examination of this key institution of Western culture. Tracing what the library has meant since its beginning, examining how its significance has shifted, and pondering its importance in the twenty-first century, notable contributors--including the Librarian of Congress and the former executive director of the HathiTrust--present a cultural history of the library. In an informative introduction, Alice Crawford sets out the book's purpose and scope, and an international array of scholars, librarians, writers, and critics offer vivid perspectives about the library through their chosen fields. The Meaning of the Library will appeal to all who are interested in this vital institution's heritage and ongoing legacy.
- ISBN-13: 9780691166391
- ISBN-10: 0691166390
- Publisher: Princeton University Press
- Publish Date: June 2015
- Page Count: 336
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Editor Crawford culls together a collection of essays from lectures originally given at St. Andrews University in Kentucky, where she is a librarian. The collection is meant to survey the various conceptions through which Western civilization has understood its binding institution, with an eye toward understanding the library in its current digital upheaval. The historical chapters chisel away at the monolithic idea of the library as an attempt to collect all human knowledge by showing how the institution worked in specific times and places. Topics covered include the library’s genesis in ancient Greece, the magnificent Renaissance libraries and their tragic misfortunes, adventures smuggling books during the Enlightenment, and tensions between authors and institutions, as contemporary research libraries seek to build noteworthy manuscript collections. Anglophones who have spent time in the stacks will enjoy hunting for familiar elements among the historical bedrock, including the emergence of the powerful democratic notion of the public library in the 19th century. Erudite essays explore the library in fiction, poetry, and film, from the “Epic of Gilgamesh” and the poetry of Robert Burns to Truffaut’s Farenheit 451. All told, however, the book is addressed to academics and librarians more than to lay bibliophiles. (July)