History of Libraries Syllabus

Assignment Timeline:

Mon – Wed Wed Thurs – Fri Fri – Sun Sun
Read the articles and listen to the lectures. Select an article to review. Post your first discussion question or comment. Do NOT post your article review Respond to discussion threads; watch the videos. – think about the reflective journal question Read all the discussion threads, write and revise your review. Submit your review in the BB assignment box; write your reflective journal entry – Due Sunday at 11:59pm.


Session Topic
Semester long Thought Questions
  • Why do you think the study of the history of libraries is important? What do we as librarians and archivists learn from such a study? How have other academic disciplines contributed to the field?
  • “The role of libraries has changed in today’s society (since the 1990s).” Defend or refute this statement using examples from the class and your readings to demonstrate how and why you agree or disagree.


Week 1
Ancient & Medieval Libraries, Archives & Records Centers How do today’s libraries parallel those of ancient and medieval times? What did we take from these earlier cultures and what did we omit?
Ancient World to 400 CE  Introduction to the History of Libraries

The library and its place within society and history


PRIMARY SOURCE: Ammianus Marcellinus http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/28587 – READ the text Book 14 chapter 6 verse 18 then read the article.

  • Houston, George W. “A Revisionary Note on Ammianus Marcellinus 14.6.18: When Did the Public Libraries of Rome Close?” The Library Quarterly 58 no. 3 (July 1988): 258-264
  • Simic, Charles. “A Country Without Libraries.” The New York Review of Books 18 May 2011 What do you think?
  • Lawler, Andrew. “Raising Alexandria.” Smithsonian (April 2007) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Raising-Alexandria.html



  • Chesser, Preston. “The Burning of the Library of Alexandria.” eHistory at The Ohio State University History Department (June 1, 2002): http://ehistory.osu.edu/articles/burning-library-alexandria
  • Cambron-Goulet, Mathilde. “Aristotle’s Library and the Horses of Tros: The Book as a Material and Intellectual Object in Intellectual Circles in Antiquity.” International Journal of the Book 8 Issue 2 (2011): 133-138. [Available through KentLink]
Medieval Libraries  Read:


  • Tanner, Thomas. “A History of Early Christian Libraries from Jesus to Jerome.” The Journal of Library History 14 no. 4 (Fall 1979): 407-435
  • Hunt, R.W. “The Library of the Abbey of St. Albans.” In Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts & Libraries; Essays Presented to N.R. Ker. Edited by MB. Parkes and Andrew G. Watson. London: Scholar Press, 1978, 251-277.
  • Harris, Michael H. History of Libraries in the Western World. 4th edition Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995 Chapters 1-5


For Your Enjoyment Davis, Lindsey. Alexandria: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery. NY: Minotaur Books, 2010.Fox, Margalit. The Riddle of the Labyrinth. NY: Ecco, 2013. (The decipherment of Linear B, found in the archives in Mycenae and on Crete. For more info, see the book reviews and Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory http://blogs.utexas.edu/pasp/
Week 2
Late Medieval through Early Modern Libraries (1300s-mid 1800s) How did the wide dissemination of printed books encourage the development of libraries and literacy? How do the missions and contents of libraries change from the period before printing to the 1500s? Do you see a similar change occurring today with digital libraries and collections?
Late Middle Ages to Renaissance  Readings

  • “The House of Wisdom” Chapter 3 in Matthew Battles Library: An Unquiet History p56-81.
  • Hazen, Helen. “The Cloistered Books of Peru.” The American Scholar (Spring 2017): https://theamericanscholar.org/the-cloistered-books-of-peru/#.WL3YatIrJdi
  • Rukanci, Fatih and Hakan Anameric. “Libraries as Scientific, Educational and Cultural Institutions in the Ottoman Empire (XIVth –XVIIth Centuries) Libri 56 No. 4 (Dec 2006): 252-263 [e-reserve]
  • Clark, J.W. Libraries in the Medieval and Renaissance Periods. Rede Lecture June 13, 1894 (Chicago: Argonaut Inc. Publishers, 1968). [available on Internet Archive] http://archive.org/details/librariesinmedi00goog
  • Scrivner, Bulford. “Carolingian Monastic Library Catalogs and Medieval Classification of Knowledge.” The Journal of Library History 15 No. 4 (Fall, 1980): 427-444 (Available through KentLink)
  • Richardson, Ernest Cushing. “The Medieval Library.” Harper’s (1905) http://historyreadings.com/uk/med_lib/index.html
  • Strout, R. F. “The Development of the Catalog and Cataloging Codes.” The Library Quarterly 26 no. 4 (Oct. 1956): 254 – 275. [available through JSTOR]



For your enjoyment
  • Greenblatt, Stephen. The Swerve. NY: W.W. Norton, 2011
  • Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984.
  • Streeter, Burnett Hillman. The Chained Library: A Survey of Four Centuries in the Evolution of the English Library. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1970.
  • The care of Books (chained books)
Europe 1600s through Mid 1800s – (Early Modern Europe)  Readings

  • Manley, K.A. “Scottish Circulating and Subscription Libraries as Community Libraries.” Library History 19 No. 3 (Nov 2003): 185-194. (on e-reserve)
  • Kaltwasser, Franz Georg. “The Common Roots of Library and Museum in the Sixteenth Century: The Example of Munich.” Library History 20 No. 3 (Nov 2004): 163-181. (on e-reserve)
  • Roberts, Daphne and Bob Duckett. “The Bradford Library and Literary Society, 1774-1980.” Library History 22 No. 3 (Nov 2006): 213-226. (on e-reserve)
  • Satterley, Renae. “The Libraries of the Inns of Court: An Examination of their Historical Influence.” Library History 24 No. 3 (Sept 2008): 208-219. (on e-reserve)
  • Schwill, Rudolph “An Impression of the Condition of Spanish American Libraries.” Modern Language Notes 20 No. 5 (1905): 142-145 (on e-reserve and available through JSTOR)
  • Crawford, Shaney. Chain Reaction: The Practice of Chaining Books in European Libraries Blog: http://www.shaneycrawford.com/2003/07/chain-reaction-the-practice-of-chaining-books-in-european-libraries/
  • Manley, K.A. “London Circulating Library catalogues of the 1740s.” Library History, 8 issue 3 (Jan 1989): 74–79 [available thru KentLink
  • Erickson, Lee. “The Economy of Novel Reading: Jane Austen and the Circulating Library.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 30 no. 4 (Autumn 1990): 573-590. [available thru KentLink]
  • Kronick, David A. “The Commerce of Letters: Networks and ‘Invisible Colleges’ in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Europe.” Library Quarterly 71 no. 1 (2001): 28-43. [available thru KentLink]



  • Harris, Michael H. History of Libraries in the Western World. 4th edition Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995 Chapter 9
Related Materials:
  • Giuseppe Arcimboldo http://www.abcgallery.com/A/arcimboldo/arcimboldo9.html
  • Elhard, K.C. “Reopening the Book on Arcimboldo’s Librarian” Libraries & Culture 40 No. 2 (Spring 2005) (available through KentLink)
  • Kaufman, Paul. “The Community Library: A Chapter in English Social History.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society New Series vol. 57 no. 7 (1967): 1-67. [available thru KentLink]
  • Lanier Theological Library http://www.laniertheologicallibrary.org/ 
  • Perry, N. “Keepers of History.” AALL Spectrum 19 no. 6 (April 2015): 14-16 [available through KentLink]
Week 3
Libraries in North America 1600-Mid-1800s  Social, economic, and political conditions contributed to the rise of libraries in Europe and North America. What factors contribute to their use today?
New World – American & Canadian Libraries 1600-1800  READ:

  • “The Battle for the Books” Chapter 4 in Matthew Battles Library: An Unquiet History p82-116.
  • Shera, Jesse H. “The Beginnings of the Public Library,” Chapter 6 in Foundations of the Public Library: The Origins of the Public Library Movement in New England 1629-1855, (Shoestring Press, 1965): 156-199. Available through the Internet Archive http://archive.org/details/foundationsofthe012037mbp
  • Bradsher, Earl L. “A Model American Library of 1793.” The Sewanee Review 24, No. 4 (Oct., 1916), pp. 458-475 [available through KentLink]





    • PRIMARY SOURCE: New York Society Library http://www.nysoclib.org/
    • History of the NYS library http://www.nysoclib.org/history.html
    • Glynn, Tom. “The New York Society Library: Books, Authority, and Publics in Colonial and Early Republican New York.” Libraries & Culture 40 No. 4. (Fall 2005): 493-529. [available through KentLink]
    • New York Society Library  – charging ledger – images of the first ledger listing borrowers and books http://www.nysoclib.org/ledger


  • The Athenæum Centenary: The Influence and History of the Boston Athenæum from 1807 to 1907: p13-57 http://issuu.com/bostonathenaeum/docs/athenaeum_centenary
  • PRIMARY SOURCE: History of the Boston Athenaeum http://www.bostonathenaeum.org/node/38
    • William J. Van Beynum, “The Book-Company of Durham,” Library History Seminar No. 3 Proceedings, 1968, (Tallahassee, FL: School of Library Science Florida State University, 1968): 73-97
    • American Antiquarian Society – Orientation Film – (Private Society Library & Special Library) http://youtu.be/1knJbT306Nc
    • Shipton, Clifford K. “The American Antiquarian Society.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 2 No. 2 (April 1945): 164-172. [available through JSTOR]



  • Augenbraum, Harold. “New York’s Oldest Public Libraries.” RBM 1 No. 2 (Fall 2000): 145-159 http://rbm.acrl.org/ 
  • Harris, Michael H. History of Libraries in the Western World. 4th edition Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995 Chapter 10
North American National Libraries and Specialized Libraries   READ:




  • Lawrence W. Towner, “The Newberry Library: A Research Opportunity in Library History,” Library History Seminar No. 3 Proceedings, 1968, (Tallahassee, FL: School of Library Science Florida State University, 1968): 1-16.


  • Bird, Jr., William L. “A Suggestion Concerning James Smithson’s Concept of ‘Increase and Diffusion’,” Technology and Culture 24 No. 4 (April 1983): 246-255.
  • Smithsonian – history http://newsdesk.si.edu/about/history
  • Wright, Helena E. “The First Smithsonian Collections (1849): European Engravings of George Perkins Marsh.” Presented at Library of Congress (Jun 30, 2016): https://youtu.be/5ItMl1RuFUQ



  • Lopresti, Robert and August A. Imholtz. “’Reckless and Unwarranted Inferences’: The U.S.House Library Scandal of 1861.” Library and Information History 27, no. 1 (March 2011): 3–16 [avail. Through KentLink] 
  • Davidson, Russ. “Adolph Sutro as a Book Collector.” California State Library Foundation Bulletin No. 104 (2012): 6-37 http://www.cslfdn.org/pdf/Bulletin104.pdf
    • NOTE: There are several more articles about the library and its founder in this issue.
  • Spencer, Luke. “Inside the Most Amazing Map Library You’ve Never Heard Of.” Atlas Obscrura (April 6, 2015): http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-most-amazing-map-library-that-you-ve-never-heard-of
  • McMullen, Haynes. “The Prevalence of Libraries in the Middle West and Far West before 1876.” Libraries and Culture 26 no. 2 Reading & Libraries II (Spring 1991): 441-463.
  • Searing, Susan E. “Women in the White City: Lessons from the Woman’s Building Library at the 9 World’s Fair.” American Libraries (March/April 2012): 44-47 http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org
  • Fiske, John. “A Librarian’s Work.” Atlantic Monthly 38 (October 1876): 480-492 [available at Making of America (Cornell) http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/m/moa/



  • Cole, John Y. “The Library of Congress Becomes a World Library, 1815-2005.” Libraries & Culture: Historical Essays Honoring the Legacy of Donald G. Davis, Jr. ed. Cheryl Knott Malone, Hermina G.B, Anghelescu, and John Mark Tucker. (Washington, DC: Library of Congress Center for the Book, 2006): 163-176 / Special Issue of Libraries & Culture 40 No. 3 (Summer 2005) [available thru KentLink and e-reserves]
  • Harris, Michael H. History of Libraries in the Western World. 4th edition Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995 Chapter 12
For your reference
Week 4
Special Libraries and the growth of public libraries in Europe and North America 1850s to 2000 Legal Deposit and Copyright collections built up libraries quickly. Do you see this as a benefit or a hindrance to the growth of cohesive collections? 
Modern Libraries in Europe 1800-2000  Read

  • “Books for All” Chapter 5 in Matthew Battles Library: An Unquiet History p117-155.
  • Popowich, A.S. “Carlyle, Panizzi, and the Public Library Ideal,” Library Student Journal 2 no. 1 (Feb 2007): 1-9 (on e-reserve and available through KentLink)
  • Sturges, Paul. “Great City Libraries of Britain: Their History from a European Perspective.” Library History19 No. 2 (July 2003): 93-111. (on e-reserve)
  • Ratcliffe, F.W. (1991). Legal deposit: Not a copyright issue — a cultural legacy for the future. Logos, 2 (2), 82-89.
  • Guerrini, Mauro “Libraries in Italy: A Brief Overview.” IFLA Journal 35 No. 2 (2009): 94-116. http://www.ifla.org/publications/ifla-journal
  • Mendelsohn, Daniel. “God’s Librarians: The Vatican Library Enters the Twenty-First Century.” The New Yorker (Jan. 3, 2011): 24-30. [available on KentLink]
  • Merveld, N. V. Books cannot be killed by fire: the German Freedom Library and the American Library of Nazi-Banned Books as agents of cultural memory. Library Trends. 55 (Winter 2007):523-35). [available through KENTLink]
  • Morris, Jerry. “About Elliot Stock, Henry B. Wheatley, and The Book Lover’s Library Series.” My Sentimental Library (March 29, 2017): http://blog.mysentimentallibrary.com/2017/03/about-elliot-stock-henry-b-wheatley-and.html


  • Reid, Peter H. “The Decline and Fall of the British Country House Library.” Libraries & Culture 36 No. 2 (Spring 2001): 345-366.[available through Kentlink]
  • Buckridge, Patrick. “Generations of Books: A Tasmanian Family Library, 1816-1994” Library Quarterly 76 No. 4 (Oct 2006): 388-402.
  • Koch, Theodore W. “The Bibliothèque Nationale: Organization and History.” Library Journal 39 (May 1914): 339-350. (on e-reserve)
  • Harris, Michael H. History of Libraries in the Western World. 4th edition Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995 Chapter 11
Modern Libraries in America 1800-2000 – Public Libraries, Subscription Libraries, University Libraries  READ:

  • Liebaers, Herman. “Books, Libraries, and Librarians: European and American Style.” Journal of Library History 8 no. 1 (Jan 1973): 18-22.
  • Hester, Jessica Leigh. “‘Ex Libris’ is a Love Letter to NYPL” CityLab (Sept 22, 2017):  https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/09/wiseman-ex-libris-documentary/540873/
  • Cox, Richard J., Charles Dollar, Rebecca Hirsch, and Peter J. Wosh. “Founding Brothers: Leland, Buck, and Cappon and the Formation of the Archives Profession.” American Archivist 74 (Supplement 2011 session 404): 1-27 http://www2.archivists.org/american-archivist/supplement/aaos74
  • Lincoln, Elizabeth. “Wisconsin and Minnesota: Legislative Reference Library History.” Jottings & Digressions: UW-Madison SLIS 40 no 2 (Fall 2016): 4-5 https://slis.wisc.edu/alumni/jottings-newsletter/
  • McLaughlin, Cynthia G. The State Library at 200: A Celebration of Library Services to Ohio. Brookfield, Mo: The Donning Company Publishers for the State Library of Ohio, 2017. READ Chapter 1 1817-1895 [e-reserves]
  • “Temples for the People: Largess for Learning at Philadelphia’s Carnegie Libraries.” Common Ground (Spring 2010): 6-11. (on e-reserve)
  • Urban, Richard. “Library Influence on Museum Information Work.” Library Trends 62 Issue 3 (Winter 2014): 596-612 [available thru KentLink]
  • Streitfeld, David. “Anger as a Private Company Takes Over Libraries.” NYT 26 Sept 2010 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/business/27libraries.html
  • “Redwood Papers: A Bicentennial Collection: Redwood Library and Athenaeum (1976)” New York Society Library http://www.nysoclib.org/articles/redwood_1976.html  
  • Arenson, Adam. “A Cultural Barometer: The St. Louis Mercantile Library as National Institution, 1846-1871” Missouri Historical Review 102.2 (2008): 88-102.Available at: http://works.bepress.com/adam_arenson/3 [also available through KentLink]
  • Lorenzen, Michael. “Deconstructing the Carnegie Libraries.” Illinois Libraries 81 No. 2 (Spring 1999): 75-78 [available through KentLink]
  • Wiegand, Wayne A. “An Established Institution The Morris Public Library of Morris, Illinois 1913-1915.” Journal of Illinois History 13 (Winter 2010): 265-288.
  • Wiegand, Wayne A. “ALA’s Proudest Moments: Six Stellar Achievements of the American Library Association in its 140-year History.” And “A Brief History of ALA.” American Libraries 47 no. 6 (June 2016): 32-41 [available through KentLink]



Week 5
Libraries around the World & the Future of Libraries  Compare and contrast the concept, role, and place of libraries in Europe and North America (and Australia & New Zealand) with those in Asia and Africa. 
Non-Western World Libraries  Read

  • “Knowledge on Fire” Chapter 6 in Matthew Battles Library: An Unquiet History p156-191
  • Boyle, Leonard E. “Vatican Library.” in Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture – Catalog of an exhibition to be held at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Jan. 6-Apr. 30, 1993 edited by Anthony Grafton. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1993; p xi-xx, 293-294 [e-reserve]
  • Kim, Chin. “A New National Library: The National Diet Library of Japan.” The Journal of Library History IV No. 3 (July 1969): 225-238. (on e-reserve)
  • Young, H.  “Ancient Korean royal books welcomed back home.” Korean Herald (June 12, 2011):  http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20110612000269
  • Chosunilbo & Chosun.com. (2011, December 6). “Looted Korean Texts Return Home from Japan.” Chosun (English) (Dec. 6, 2011):  http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/12/06/2011120601333.html
  • Wani, Zahid Ashraf. “Development of Public Libraries in India.” Library Philosophy and Practice (2008) available through Kentlink or http://unllib.unl.edu/LPP/wani.htm
  • Hammer, Joshua. “Barbarians at the Gates: The Race to Save Mali’s Priceless Artifacts.” Smithsonian (Jan 2014): 64-74. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/Race-Save-Mali-Artifacts-180947965/
  • Dick, Archie L. “Introduction: The Significance of Common Readers in South Africa.” Introduction to The Hidden History of South Africa’s Book and Reading Cultures (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012): 3-11, 143-146 [e-reserve]
  • Icimsoy, A. Oguz and Ismail E. Erunsal. “The Legacy of the Ottoman Library in the Libraries of the Turkish Republic.” Libri 58 (2008): 47-57. http://www.librijournal.org/pdf/2008-1pp47-57.pdf  [available through KentLink]

Videos & Views of Libraries of the World

Cairo Geniza




Libraries in the 21st century and beyond Biographical Sketch of Library Due – Friday at 11:59pm Read


  • Pennavaria, Katherine. “Representations of Books and Libraries in Depictions of the Future.” Libraries & Culture 37 No. 2 (Summer 2002): 229-248. [available through KentLink]
  • Paulus, Michael J. Jr. “Reconceptualizing Academic Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age “ Libraries and the Academy 11 no. 4 (Oct 2011): 939-952 [available through Project Muse] http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/portal_libraries_and_the_academy/v011/11.4.paulus.html

Videos of Libraries of the Future

For Your Enjoyment Gaiman, Neil. The Sandman. Library of the future