I loved Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, and I’ve been on the hunt for more books and stories about the history of libraries ever since.
Then this beauty landed in my lap (courtesy of Profile Books via Allen & Unwin), The Library: A Fragile History. Pettegree and der Weduwen explore “the rich and dramatic history of the library, from the famous collections of the ancient world to the embattled public resources we cherish today”.
This is a BEAUTIFULLY designed hardcover, with ribbon bookmark; I suspect the designers knew full well that the subject matter would appeal to bibliophiles.
Pettegree and der Weduwen’s focus is more on the ancient, medieval, and Renaissance history of the library, when it largely existed as personal collections of the wealthy and powerful. I’ll admit I skimmed some of those chapters, but if those eras of history make your heart sing, you’re in luck.
The final chapters, with more recent history of the politics and progress of the library as a public institution, were of most interest to me.
While The Library wasn’t quite as snappy and readable as Orlean’s book, but it was still an interesting wide-view window into world history via book collections through the ages.