An Unquiet History

Book - 2015
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From the clay-tablet collections of ancient Mesopotamia to the storied Alexandria libraries in Egypt, from the burned scrolls of China's Qing Dynasty to the book pyres of the Hitler Youth, from the great medieval library in Baghdad to the priceless volumes destroyed in the multi-cultural Bosnian National Library in Sarajevo, the library has been a battleground of competing notions of what books mean to us. Battles explores how, throughout its many changes, the library has served two contradictory impulses: on the one hand, the urge to exalt canons of literature, to secure and worship the best and most beautiful words; on the other, the desire to contain and control all forms of human knowledge.
Publisher: New York :, W. W. Norton & Company,, 2015.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780393351453
Branch Call Number: 027.009 BA
Characteristics: x, 253 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm


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Dec 28, 2015

Anybody who is a dedicated bookworm would enjoy this book on the history of libraries. Full of interesting info, and at, times trivia about books, the people who established early libraries and sadly the resultant and all too common destruction of said libraries. It gets bogged down at times and loses a little of it's readability ( which is kind of ironic) but still a worthwhile read.

SFPL_RicardoA Feb 09, 2015

Great read about the creation and destruction of books, libraries, and information at crucial times in human history. Excellent for anyone interested in the subject.

hgeng63 May 31, 2012

Pedantic in a bad way.

Aug 05, 2011

As I approach the end of my two and a half year path through library school, I find myself reflecting back a bit on just what it is I'm doing. There's an unspoken battle going on in libraries today, a battle over where the future lies. In one class, my professor says that libraries will no longer have books in them within ten years. In another, a professor who says books - that is, the codex - will be with us for years and years to come. Such battles have raged before, of course, with progress always being the victor. After all, when is the last time you came across an illuminated manuscript in your trip down to your local public library? Battles was a rare books librarian at Harvard when he wrote this book, and yet despite his obvious love for the book as a physical object, I would have to assume that he would smile knowing that information - and the knowledge that can come with it - will be freer and more accessible than ever before. I think that's what librarians, as a profession, want. This book is a fine introductory text, and love letter, to the last moments of libraries as they were, and as such, is a fitting book to read as I try to go out into the library of today, and hope that I can keep in mind how it all came to be.


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