Books for the News, Literature, Reviews

Jezebel on The Library: A World History


Laura Beck at Jezebel stared down the facade of The Library: A World History and liked what she saw (“You’re Gonna Drool Over This Pure, Perfect Library Porn“):


The new book The Library: A World History, is filled with gorgeous photography of book palaces around the world. That one above is the grand Philosophical Hall, at Strahov Abbey in Prague, and it’s straight Beauty and the Beast-style. I half expect Belle to come flying by on a rolling staircase talking about the book with the far-off places and a prince in disguise. It’s her favorite!

For added context, here’s UK-based author James W. P. Campbell’s take on the library in the world:

The irony is that today we are told that the book and hence the library, is under threat. So will this study serve merely as a memorial to a defunct building type? Perhaps, but not quite yet. Today more books are bring printed each year than ever before. While public libraries are being closed in Europe, other parts of the world, such as China, are building them. The sales of physical books are increasing, not diminishing: 229 million books were sold in the United Kingdom alone in 2010, a huge increase on the 162 million sold in 2001. Perhaps the world will switch entirely to digital books in the future, but in the meantime, an unprecedented volume of physical books must be stored. What is changing is the role of libraries, and as a result the architecture of libraries needs to change with it. It is tempting to assume that this need for change is new; that until recently libraries have been relatively static in their form. The central argument of this book is that this has never been the case: the history of libraries has been a story of constant change and adaptation.