An Unquiet History

Book - 2003 | 1st ed.
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On the survival and destruction of knowledge, from Alexandria to the Internet. Through the ages, libraries have not only accumulated and preserved but also shaped, inspired, and obliterated knowledge.Matthew Battles, a rare books librarian and a gifted narrator, takes us on a spirited foray from Boston to Baghdad, from classical scriptoria to medieval monasteries, from the Vatican to the british Library, from socialist reading rooms and rural home libraries to the Information Age. He explores how libraries are built and how they are destroyed, from the decay of the great Alexandrian library to scroll burnings in ancient China to the destruction of Aztec books by the Spanish--and in our own time, the burning of libraries in Europe and Bosnia. Encyclopedic in its breadth and novelistic in its telling, this volume will occupy a treasured place on the bookshelf next to Baker's Double Fold, Bashanes's A Gentle Madness, Manguel's A History of Reading, and Winchester's The Professor and the Madman.
Publisher: New York. : W.W. Norton, 2003.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393020298
Branch Call Number: 027.009 B336
Characteristics: x, 245 p. : ill.


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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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