Cover Image: The Library

The Library

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Member Reviews

A very thorough book about the history of libraries, how they started out in societies, how they changed throughout the years and how they changed us. 
A heavy but very worth read that should definitely be of interest to the ones who would love to have a book about the history of books.
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When I first received a copy of this from Netgalley, I thought it was going to be a fairly quick read. Upon seeing the actual size of it, however, I have to admit that I found it a bit daunting. After all, I was looking for some light reading.

It was actually better than I initially expected. I thought the later chapters of the book, namely those dealing with libraries in modern times, were more interesting than the chapters dealing with the medieval part of the story, i.e., with mostly monasteries - and as a student of medieval history, I don't say this often. It was really interesting to see how books that are now considered classics were initially frowned up (seriously, people were even unhappy to have Shakespeare's plays in libraries), and how certain parts of literature were always looked down on; firstly, fiction as a whole, with lighter genres - such as romance - being subsequently mocked and condemned.

I also thought that the very goal of the book was quite interesting, namely using libraries as a backdrop to explore the social, political, and economic changes throughout the centuries. It certainly doesn't seem like libraries would be so reflective of their sociopolitical environment, at least not initially. It does, however, work out quite spectacularly, so the end result was also quite rewarding.

Overall, I am quite happy I read this - even though it was fairly time consuming.
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The Library is a well researched book on the history of libraries. Sadly, it was boring and a lot of the book bleed together for me. So much of was about the collections of individual men and how much their collections were worth. The most interesting part was the last chapters because it dealt with modern libraries. But I felt like they were rushed and could have said more. 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book to review.
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An extremely thorough look into the history of libraries. Very comprehensive. A tad too much for me, but I can see where someone who is a real bibliophile would really enjoy it. Would serve as a good reference book. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance reading copy.
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Thank you to Net Galley and Perseus Books for the review copy of The Library: A Fragile History, releasing Nov 9th.⁣
As an ardent bookworm and history lover, this book was a decadent treat. The authors take you through the history of the library from Alexandria to today’s digital collections. Along the way, the reader is treated to fascinating glimpses of long gone collections and collectors. It’s a tale of destruction (so many lost books!) but also profound creativity. It’s amazing to realize how much we have in common with book lovers across the centuries.⁣ Reading this book will give you a fuller appreciation for your local library and the ideals that lie behind it.⁣
However, I wish the book had been less Eurocentric. Non-Western libraries are only given a cursory mention. The story of the library is incomplete without examining its history more intensely in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East at the very least. There was also an inaccurate reference to Jane Austen’s views on novels that reveals a sloppiness that I can only hope will be caught before publication.⁣
In the final pages, I feel like the authors were trying to express a sense of pessimism about the future of libraries. In contrast, I feel optimistic that, whatever the future brings, the library will live on in some form. If the authors were aware of Bookstagram, I think they would be even more encouraged.
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I read this as part of NetGalley 

This was such an amazing and thorough recounting of the make up and scope of libraries from ancient times until now.  I was impressed with the amount of detail and research that went into this and the writing was far from dry as it wove through time and scope.
If anything, it shows with extreme clarity how much we’ve lost over time and how many works no longer exists that most likely should be celebrated.  Time, decay, wars, religion, revolutions, and censorship from the Roman times until present day have robbed us of more books than we’ll ever know.   
The only wish I had for this book is that they spent more time in Asia and talking through books there and how, even if very different, libraries existed and manifested.  There is only passing references through the books outside of India and almost no color on Africa and Southeast Asia.  
The library, in all its manifestations over the centuries is still a common good and will continue to be for centuries to come.
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My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Perseus Books for an advanced copy of this history title. 

Books about books are always fun, especially for a bibliophile who dreams of huge libraries in studio apartments. The Library by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen is an expansive study on the ideas of libraries, where the ideas of libraries came from, where they are going and the importance of libraries today. Also covered are the many libraries that are no more, the collectors who made them and how the idea of libraries have changed over the years. 

The book is not a book that you can just glance through, but is a very strong history on this subject. The research is deep with a lot of facts, places, names, and book collections mentioned through the book.  The writing can sometimes be a tad textbook-ish, but the subject matter and the story the writers are telling, plus the narrative in some place is quite gripping is a small complaint. 

What strikes most is the numerous destructions. From accident, to wanton devastation, great collections, one of kind manuscripts, family histories are burnt, eaten, made moldy, used to wrap gifts and other uses. Even the fact that digital libraries can be lost, and or modified is touched on pointing out that ideas might not die, but reading their original text might. 

A utterly fascinating book, perfect for bibliophiles, historians and libertarians to be. One that belongs on every shelf where ever books might be gathered. A very good read.
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Every Library should own a copy of this book about how Libraries came to pass. Here I thought it started with Benjamin Franklin, but no it came from Charlemagne who decided that other should be allowed to read in order to make better decisions. From there, the library like humans have grown and shrank, change and then revert back, been glories and forgotten, but over thousand of years the library is still with us, not in the same way but like everything it changes. The one amazing thing about libraries, is that it does survive at all especially with all the characters that have tried to silence it and all the books with have lost. I wonder what we keep having to learn because the answer was in a book that was burn or destroy.

I found the book easy to read but it has a lot of historical information so it took me awhile to finish it, and I find it eye opening about the struggle and creation of libraries.

I want to thank Perseus Books, Basic Books, Basic Books and NetGalley for this book about the one thing everyone on NetGalley adores, BOOKS.
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This book takes the reader on a journey through time to learn the history of books and libraries .if you. are a book, library, and/or history lover, this book is for you! Indeed, a fabulous read. I definitely will be reading more books by these authors. 
Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to read,  learn, and enjoy this book.
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Extremely informative, and even intense book about libraries and the history of libraries. I enjoyed the book because I am a fan of libraries, and interested in the history of this institution. It is a bit on the heavier side though, because it gives the reader a lot of specific information. I am sure I will use this book as a reference book for future needs. I think this book might be too in-depth for a casual reader, but for someone looking for more knowledge and content this is an excellent choice!
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A comprehensive, wide-ranging and meticulously researched history of libraries, from their very beginnings to today, and in all their various manifestations. And what a rich history libraries have had – and continue to have, thankfully. Although in many ways this is a scholarly and academic work, it remains on the whole readable and accessible, with many anecdotes to leaven what is, it must be admitted, some occasionally dry narrative. Interested – indeed at times fascinated – though I was I did find myself (dare I admit it?) a little bored on occasion. Mea culpa, perhaps. There’s an enormous amount of information to take in so a slow and steady approach is recommended, but overall this is an important and valuable book that deserves a wide readership – and is pretty much a must read for anyone who loves books and libraries.
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I really enjoyed reading The Library, discovering the origins of libraries and books through time was informative and interesting. The Library is a really great read for fans of books and history.
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A well-researched survey of the history of the library, but easily accessible to the general public, The Library covers the history of libraries from the Sumerians to the modern digital age, showing the development of literary collections for private and public use, and reveals the challenges and obstacles that have faced librarians and patrons over the centuries.  The work is comprehensive for the length of time that it covers, and readers will find much to learn about libraries, from the Library of Alexandria to Sir Thomas Bodley's rebuilding of the Oxford library and Andrew Carnegie's efforts to bring libraries to the English-speaking public.  A good survey of library history that deserves a spot on public as well as academic library shelves.
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If you have ever stood in a library or bookstore and felt in awe of the mountains of books surrounding you, you are not alone! It has been a while since I have had to read a book slowly in order to really absorb all the information, but this book was definitely worth the effort. Pettegree and de Weduwen give an incredibly extensive and accessible account of the history of literature, collecting books, and their value both in reality throughout the ages and philosophically. I personally really enjoyed the discussions about the loss of books in between accounts of the process of collecting them throughout history because it really shocks you into perspective. Overall, it was personally a very enjoyable read, though I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of books, libraries, and how humanity's love of books has remained remarkably consistent and determined throughout time.
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I have written a review for The Library which features on book recommendation site It has been chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month for October.
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This book does a very good job at covering the medieval period and it’s very well done at least to me. And overall it’s a very fascinating book about library’s set in different periods of time there is just so much to learn and read about in this book, it was definitely insightful and something you cannot read in one sitting unless you’ve consumed every piece of information in the book itself!
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This book details a history of libraries and some happenings to rare manuscripts.  This would be a great gift for book lovers.
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Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
	In case you missed it, this week (the week of Sept 6, 2021) a man tweeted about how people virtue signal with large libraries and that you really shouldn’t own more than x number of books (or have x number of shelf space) and that he didn’t believe people read more than two books a week. Needless to say the vast amount of book lovers called him out  - and then he accused them of bragging about the number of books they read and virtue signaling.  Then accused them of not going to the library.  Which is strange because most readers buy a lot of books and borrow from the library.  Not to mention, in some areas, local libraries are either very small or very far away.
	Anyway, he doesn’t get libraries of any type really or readers for that matter.  
	Lucky, we have books like this one by Pettegree and de Weduwen that not only get libraries, but also get readers and those who love libraries, be they personal or public.
	Pettegree and de Weduwen chronicle the raise of the personal if elitist library and then move to the advent of the public library.  The bulk of the history on the library in the Western World, therefore mostly Europe and America (why is Canada always overlooked, I mean really, unless it is hockey or maple syrup).
	That said, the book is a pretty good overview.  The coverage of the Medieval Period is well done, and includes women who developed personal libraries as well as men.  They focus on the Dutch who owned personal libraries in the periods of the Renaissance and Reformation, and move into the modern era where they discuss not only the development  of the public library, especially in regards to the Carnegie libraries. 
	There is a particularly good section that discusses the rise in women readers as well as the popularity of romance novels.  Considering how little respect the romance genre and romance readers do seem to get from various histories and commenters on books, it was a nice nod to see two authors highlight the positivity of the genre.
	The subtitle comes because the focus is on the tragedies of losing libraries.  The loss of Alexandria is covered, of course; but the authors include other, less well known losses. The modern era could use a bit more development in terms of the section about the attempts of book challenges and bans that occur, not just in the US.  It should be noted that bans and challenges are covered as are librarcides.
	The book is readable and engrossing.  It is a quick and excellent history.  Well worth the read, and the owning of, if you like books.
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From the legendary libraries of Aristotle, Alexandria, and Timbuktu to collectors, bored or disinterested librarians, wartime destruction of libraries, back to Carnegie and Bodley, subscription and circulating libraries, limited access versus public access, to the move from manuscripts to print to multimedia, stopping along the way for bookmobiles, the book delivers a broad overview of what it promised, a wide ranging exploration of libraries, public and private, through history.  It’s as footnoted as a doctoral thesis but a lot more readable and fascinating for bibliophiles.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Library: A Fragile History will be available for purchase on November ninth.

I was so excited to read The Library: A Fragile History! A book dedicated simply and wholly to the subject of libraries? Yes, please! This is an exhaustive, detailed dive into a subject that is dear to most book lovers: namely the history of libraries and the roles they have played over the years. I fully expected this to become a new favorite.

Unfortunately, that was not my final takeaway. This is the sort of book that does not benefit from a straight cover-to-cover read. It would be better taken in pieces over a longer period of time. There is simply so much information to take in. It is apparent that the authors took great care in doing their research and they spared no detail. And I mean no detail. Therein lies my difficulty. As much as the subject appeals to me, and as much as I’ve enjoyed other books about similar subjects, this book bored me.

It wasn’t for lack of knowledge on the authors’ parts. It wasn’t that the book was poorly organized. Rather, it was very well put together. There was just no excitement shown in the pages. I felt like the authors weren’t really all that invested in what they were writing. And that sort of rubbed off on me a little bit. This would make a great study guide, but as a book that is read for enjoyment, it just didn’t quite do it for me. I will admit that I might have enjoyed it more if I had read it in bits and bursts, instead of straight through. There was so much information to take in, after all.

If you don’t mind books that are a little dry, the information in this book might appeal to you. After all, if you’re taking the time to read a book blog, chances are high that you love books and libraries. I really wanted to love The Library: A Fragile History, but this book just wasn’t for me.
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