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The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 13, March 25, 2001, Article 9


Asylum Editor E. Tomlinson Fort pointed out a book that may be of interest to our subscribers.

"Libraries in the Ancient World" by Lionel Casson "is the only one to cover the vast range of the history of libraries in the Western world from the time of the first civilizations in the near east to the late Roman empire" (from a review by Thomas Martin).

From the Publisher:

"This delightful book tells the story of ancient libraries from their very beginnings, when "books" were clay tablets and writing was a new phenomenon. Renowned classicist Lionel Casson takes us on a lively tour, from the royal libraries of the most ancient Near East, through the private and public libraries of Greece and Rome, down to the first Christian monastic libraries. To the founders of the first public libraries of the Greek world goes the credit for creating the prototype of today's library buildings and the science of organizing books in them.

Casson recounts the development of ancient library buildings, systems, holdings, and patrons, addressing questions on a wide variety of topics, such as:

  • • What was the connection between the rise in education and literacy and the growth of libraries?
  • • Who contributed to the early development of public libraries, especially the great library at Alexandria?
  • • What did ancient libraries include in their holdings?
  • • How did ancient libraries acquire books?
  • • What was the nature of publishing in the Greek and Roman world?
  • • How did different types of users (royalty, scholars, religious figures) and different kinds of "books" (tablets, scrolls, codices) affect library arrangements?
  • • How did Christianity transform the nature of library holdings?

Just as a library yields unexpected treasures to a meandering browser, this entertaining book offers to its perusers the surprising history of the rise and development of ancient libraries — a fascinating story never told before."

The book is scheduled to be published on April 1, 2001 by Yale University Press;
ISBN: 0300088094
Hardcover - 192 pages (April 1, 2001)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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