Cover Image: The Library

The Library

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Member Reviews

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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As a librarian, I loved learning more about the world’s libraries.  I would highly recommend this book.
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The library is a fascinating account the history of libraries and books through the ages. The chapters span from the ancient library of Alexandria to libraries in this day and age. The writing of the library is pretty accessible but it is clearly a scholarly read. The amount of research the authors put in write this book is evident throughout book and manifests itself in an impressive number of references (many of which seem worthy to read on their own). 

The library is not the type of book you read trough on a rainy afternoon. There is much knowledge to be gain here and worthy to take your time with. I read this as an eARC and will definitely seek to add a physical copy of this book to my own collection when it gets published later this year.
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The Library is a rich nonfiction history of the literary world that reads like a historical fiction novel.  Concerning ancient libraries, the origins of modern day collections, readers, writers, and the first printers, this work challenged my perceptions of our modern literary scene and the bookworms who made it possible. This book is. a perfect follow up to Fiona Davis's novel The Lions of Fifth Avenue.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

The Library by Andrew Pettegree; Arthur der Weduwen is a fascinating history of the library as an institution.  It is evident that the authors conducted countless hours of research in order to bring us this book.  Chapters of this book talk about everything related to libraries, from their original conception during ancient times, to how people use libraries now in the digital age.  I included excerpts from my favorite section below.  The first excerpt talks about how booksellers cheated customers in order to get more money during the mid-18th century.   The second excerpt talks about the 18th-century idea of book-buying as an obsession or "disease," which is a sentiment that is still relevant today.

Here is an interesting excerpt from Part 4, Between Public and Private:

"As the vogue for rarity gathered pace, so did the shamelessness of selling practices. In 1757, an English bookbroker based in Amsterdam was found guilty of altering the year of publication on early printed books to make them appear to be incunabula.2The dupe of this crime was another book dealer, Pieter van Damme, who traded exclusively in rare books, and held auctions devoted solely to incunabula."

Here is another interesting excerpt from Part 4, Between Public and Private:

"Bibliomania, frantic competitive bidding for the best and rarest copies of early printed books, left a lasting impression on the most opulent eighteenth and nineteenth-century personal libraries. It was denounced as a moral disease, a siren call to young aristocrats who might squander the family’s estate on fifteenth-century books that they could not even read. The seemingly mindless purchase of old books was deemed the very height of ostentatious consumerism."

Overall, The Library is a tour-de-force work of nonfiction that will contain answers to all of the questions that you've ever had about libraries.  One highlight of this book is the immeasurable amount of research that has gone into this book.  i had no idea about many of the topics in this book, and I learned a lot from reading it. I took off 1 star, because the synopsis promised to "reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in pursuit of rare manuscripts."  Unfortunately, I did not see as much of this aspect as I would have liked, which is a shame, because it is what initially drew me toward this book.  I wish that there had been more sections dedicated to this topic.  If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a library-lover, then I highly recommend checking out this book when it comes out in November!
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Unfortunately, I am unable to read this in the formats provided.  I will be looking for this title after release, however, based on the description and have recommended this title to my local public library.  Thank you, anyway.
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The Library is a complex and detailed account of the history of not only libraries but books.  If you think you're going to devour it from cover to cover, you'll find yourself worn out in all the variety and details.  But if you think of it more as multi-volume compendium of knowledge and stories, you can really appreciate the individual narratives of particular time periods, libraries, collecting practices, and notable people.  The authors discuss everything from scrolls to codex, from scribes to printing, from parchment to vellum.  I found a few story lines particularly interesting--the loss of books (damage, theft, age, war, the dissolution of the monasteries), and Sir Thomas Bodley rebuilding Oxford's libraries.  The book goes all the way into the perils facing modern libraries and book-reading.  It's all very interesting stuff, there's just a lot of it, so pace yourself.
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If you’re interested in the history of books, this is you title. Enter in the intricate life of how libraries and bibliographies became what they are today.
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This book takes you on a meticulous journey of the library. From history to the present, this book will take you on a peak behind the curtain to expose some of the fascinating facts about the library we know and love.

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to the publishers, the authors, and to Netgalley for an ARC of this book.

This was such an interesting book! I was immediately intrigued when I requested it, and for a bookworm, to have a historical focus on libraries was such a dream come true. I'm already planning to buy a hard copy when the book is released because there's just an entire wealth of information I want to keep returning to. I particularly enjoyed the way the authors began by tracing the birth and origins of libraries as I feel like that's something I've never truly pondered--libraries do feel like an eternal concept, and this book has remarkably shown me otherwise.
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An entrancing look at libraries, from the history to the contemporary, and a glance into what's next
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Andrew Pettegree offers a globe-trotting examination of the enduring place of libraries in society.  The cross-cultural analysis does a wonderful job exploring the classical monuments to knowledge, as well as the ever evolving shape and purpose of the modern library.  I found Pettegree's examination of the temporal nature of libraries to be a particularly unique aspect of the work.  It was fascinating to see how frequently the idea of a collection outlasted it's physical existence.  I highly recommend this work to historians, library science practitioners, and anyone who holds a deep love for these inspiring, stimulating, and fascinating monuments to knowledge.  Pairs nicely with the works of Alberto Manguel
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