The history of the library by Amelia Carruthers
This article has been published on the OUP Blog. It begins:
Our love of libraries is nothing new, and history records famous libraries as far back as those of Ashurbanipal (in 7th-century BCE Assyria) and Ancient Greek Alexandria. As society and culture have progressed, so too have our libraries. Even epochs such as the Middle Ages (known erroneously as the “Dark Ages” for its lack of learning and culture) had their share of renowned book collections. Indeed, the later Renaissance was only possible because of these stores of learning, preserved for centuries. The very concept of the Renaissance predicates access to a library, because if Antiquity were to be reborn, the guidelines for this rebirth had to emerge from research into the culture of Greece and Rome–which had to take place in a well-stocked library.