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The Story of Libraries

Lerner, Fred

Continuum International Publishing Group
Published:March 15, 2001

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Libraries are significant on many levels. Their existence shows the depth and history of a people, culture, and nation, while their inclusiveness highlights the level of democracy that exists there. Fred Lerner's overview of the history of libraries sheds light on an invaluable part of human life often taken for granted: Though writing may have been invented to record land ownership and keep track of debts, it was not long before poets, priests, and prophets found other uses for it. My aim ... is to trace the evolution of libraries and to explore the role they played in society, from the invention of writing to our own day and beyond. He considers the Afro-Asian origins of the earliest libraries in Mesopotamia and in ancient Egypt, leading up to the glory of the Alexandria library. The book moves on, through classical Greece and the medieval institutions of Europe's Dark Ages to the Renaissance, in which Europeans benefited greatly from the collected scholarship of Islamic and Asian civilizations. Modern libraries like the United States Library of Congress, the British Library, and France's Bibliothèque Nationale are also examined, as well as the technological advances of the computer and the Internet, which will undoubtedly transform and expand the function of the library in the 21st century and beyond. -- Eugene Holley Jr.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal
This is a popular history of libraries and librarianship from ancient times to the present. The author, a librarian who has previously written about science fiction, also includes some cautionary reflections on the future of libraries and digital technology. While similar to Michael H. Harris's History of Libraries in the Western World (Professional Reading, LJ 8/95), his book is not limited to the West. The fourth chapter surveys the history of writing, printing, and libraries in China, India, Korea, and Japan until the 18th or 19th century. In order to broaden his scope and keep the book relatively brief, however, Lerner provides less detail on such topics as the development of university libraries in Europe and North America. Both books have extensive bibliographies, but Harris incorporates more on the new history of the book. Less like a textbook, Lerner's work may appeal more to the general reader.?Thomas F. O'Connor, Manhattan Coll. Libs., New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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