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The Library: An Illustrated History [Kindle Edition]

Stuart A P Murray , Nicholas A. Basbanes , Donald G. Davis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Through the ages, humanity has created, destroyed, rescued, neglected,discovered, stolen, and cherished libraries�and no other institution soperfectly mirrors the human condition in any period of history.The Library tells the story of libraries and of the changing form and function of the book from era to era, whether clay tablets, parchment sheets, papyrus scrolls, glossy paper, recording tape or silicone chips. At the heart of the story of libraries and books is the story of the reader, who also has changed from era to era. Profusely illustrated, with fascinating is a comprehensive look at libraries that will interest book lovers and librarians. 100 illustrations, 80 in color.

Editorial Reviews


This may be the most beautiful book and the saddest that a bibliophile will ever read. Most beautiful because it s illustrated on nearly every page with paintings, drawings, and photographs of libraries around the world. Saddest because so many of those libraries have, over the centuries, been sacked, bombed, or burned ... The Library should be in the hands of every elected official (including school board members) and voter who is even thinking about defunding or closing a library or shortening its hours. Keep our libraries open! We need them! --Feathered Quill Book Reviews

A useful background textbook for library students, advocates, and professionals alike. --C&RL News

While this handsome edition would make an excellent gift for any booklover, it would also be a fine addition to a college or university collection: as the life cycle of information continues to undergo rapid mutations, reading about the transformative history of libraries and information delivery has never been more important - or more enjoyable. --ACRL Washington Newsletter

A useful background textbook for library students, advocates, and professionals alike. --C&RL News

While this handsome edition would make an excellent gift for any booklover, it would also be a fine addition to a college or university collection: as the life cycle of information continues to undergo rapid mutations, reading about the transformative history of libraries and information delivery has never been more important - or more enjoyable. --ACRL Washington Newsletter

About the Author

Stuart A. P. Murray has been an author and editor for almost thirty years, specializing in American history. The author of thirty-four books, including the award-winning America s Song: The Story of Yankee Doodle, and books on the American Revolution, the Civil War and the Vietnam War. He lives in Petersburgh, NY.

Nicholas A. Basbanes is the author of the bestselling book on book collecting, A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books.

Donald G. Davies, JR., editor of Libraries & Culture, is the author of several books and serves as emeritus professor at the University of Texas, School of Information. Previously, Dr. Davis worked in the University of California, Berkeley Library.

Product Details

  • File Size: 10581 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing (July 27, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003C2SPE6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,855 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a child growing up in Malaysia, our local library was very poorly stocked (and did not have many books in the English language either). Luckily, my school library was different - thanks to the generosity of patrons, my school library was well-stocked with the classics of English literature, and I devoured them one by one, and I have loved books and libraries ever since. In "The Library: An Illustrated History", readers get a glimpse of various libraries over the ages and in different countries. The book is well-organized into the following chapters:

The Ancient Libraries
European Libraries of the Middle Ages
Asia and Islam
Europe's High Middle Ages
Renaissance to Reformation
People of the Book
War and a Golden Age
The Library in Colonial North America
The Library in the Young United States
The Library Movement
Organizing Knowledge
Libraries, Librarians, and Media Centers

The book is also peppered throughout with photographs of actual libraries, illustrations of some of the ancient libraries, and quotes. The final part of the book is a listing of some of the most prominent libraries in the world, due to their age, reputation, as well as uniqueness. Some of those included are Bibliotheque Nationale de France; the British Library; Austrian National Library; National Library of Russia; Toronto Public Library, Canada; Royal Library of the Netherlands; New York Public Library; National Library of China, Beijing; National Library of Iran; Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, and many more. There is also a list of sources at the end of the book, and also recommended titles for further reading.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book and a Fascinating History March 7, 2010
For a book and library lover like myself, this book is the ultimate! Murray has complied wonderful information and illustrations into one volume that is a real treasure trove.

I loved the vignettes about unknown people, obscure events, and objects related to libraries (Sister Juana of Mexico; chained books; when and where the first papermaking mills were; all of the steps a scribe had to take prior to starting to write a document; and so much more). These little tidbits of information were so interesting.

The old illustrations (many were etchings) fascinated me, as did the photos of writing and books from long ago. It was interesting to follow the long and circuitous path of public what we have today came to be.

I especially enjoyed the final section entitled "Libraries of the World". My dream would be to travel all over the world visiting these libraries. Sigh!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful presentation for any interested in history October 18, 2009
THE LIBRARY is more than a place to borrow books, and historian Stuart A.P. Murray provides a lovely illustrated book describing these libraries and the effect they are having on the developing world. From the history of book collections around the world from the 1830s heyday to modern times to printing specs and regional heroes, THE LIBRARY is a powerful presentation for any interested in history, blending vintage black and white and contemporary color illustrations throughout.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delight for Book Lovers! May 27, 2010
"The Library: An Illustrated History" is a must-read for anyone who loves books or libraries. Stuart A.P. Murphy, an author and editor for nearly forty years, takes on the challenging task of presenting the history of libraries around the world and succeeds admirably. While some have tolled the death knell for libraries with the advent of the internet and information at the touch of a button, the reverse is actually true. Both library attendance and circulation are up in recent years. Libraries are more relevant and important than ever.

Murphy traces the history of libraries from the most ancient (the famous great library in Alexandria was actually considered a "museum," technically "a place for the Muses, a place of culture. It was the Romans who coined the term "librarii" and opened them up to the general public), through the dark days of the middle ages where monks worked to preserve culture, to the advent of movable type in Asia, through the proliferation of Universities and their corresponding libraries in the late middle ages, the spread of learning during the days of the Renaissance and Reformation, to the libraries of England in the seventeenth century where books were often chained so they couldn't be stolen. Murphy then moves on to colonial America and the library movement of the 1800s in the young United States. He discusses the debate over how to organize all those books and the increased role of librarians. He concludes with a section featuring famous libraries around the world.

Murphy's text is accompanied by a breath-taking array of photographs. These photos will leave any book-lover hoping for more! There are photos of old manuscript pages, art featuring libraries and the creation of books, and stacks upon stacks of books just begging to be read. "The Library: An Illustrated History" is a literary and visual feast for bibliophiles everywhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift July 18, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My mother in law was a librarian for her entire career and even has all the books in her own house card cataloged!! She absolutely loves reading about the different libraries around the world and she knew about some prior to opening the book and there was even more info about them. I looked through the book prior to giving it as a gift and the pictures were fascinating. I love history and this was part of the book. I thought it was going to be a large hardback but it was a middle size paperback but very nice.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
In this attractive volume, Stuart Murray provides an overview of the history of libraries during the five thousand years that they have existed. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Rebecca Mugridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for a nerd
I bought this book for my girlfriend, who is really into libraries and books. She raves about it every time I bring it up. Highly recommended.
Published 15 months ago by Humanikin
1.0 out of 5 stars Do Not Read
I had high hopes for this book and was thoroughly disappointed. The writing was sub par, the author clearly didn't have much knowledge of the subject, the information was poorly or... Read more
Published 23 months ago by S.J.
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but recommended only for casual reading
Mostly well written and entertaining. Some flaws in historical coverage, but no obvious factual mistakes. Recommended for casual reading. Read more
Published on January 2, 2013 by Benjamin Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Libraries
Beautifully written, lavishly photographed and a very thorough history of libraries from ancient Greece to today. Excellent book well worth its cost - which was not all that much. Read more
Published on September 4, 2012 by Sahwn
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and informative
"The Library: An Illustrated History" by Stuart Murray et al is a beautiful and informative book about the history of libraries and the wonderful treasures they contain. Read more
Published on July 15, 2012 by James
4.0 out of 5 stars Well illustrated, informative history of libraries
This well illustrated book provides a fascinating history of the library, from ancient times to the present. Read more
Published on April 5, 2012 by E. Jaksetic
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift for our daughter
I purchased this book for our daughter for Christmas. She is a librarian at a
university and I thought she might like to read about the history of libraries. Read more
Published on January 10, 2011 by Helen C. Feldman
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More About the Author

Author, editor, project editor

Murray is author of more than 40 books. He is a former journalist (reporter and editor) as well as a book editor.

Many of his titles are under the name Stuart Murray, but since there are a number of authors with that name, he has been using his middle initials, A.P., since 2006 or so.

Murray wrote the series Northwest Territory (Berkley), eight historical novels, under the pseudonym Oliver Payne. He also was founding editor of Bantam's Stagecoach series of Westerns, written under the pseudonym Hank Mitchum. He wrote Virginia City, an early title in this long-running series.

Murray is a principal in Lily Book Productions, a book publisher and packager in Red Hook, New York. He can be reached at



The Library: An Illustrated History, by Skyhorse Publishing, 2009.

Photographer of Our Nation: Biography of Mathew B. Brady, by Sharpe Publishers, 2009.

Painter of the Revolutionary War: Biography of John Trumbull, by Sharpe Publishers, 2009.

Fact Atlas of World War II, by Hammond and Langenscheidt, 2009.

Atlas of World Religions, by Hammond and Langenscheidt, lead contributing editor and writer, 2008.

Atlas of the United States, by Hammond and Langenscheidt, lead contributing writer 2007.

Witness to the Civil War, revision of the 1895 Leslie's Illustrated History of the Civil War, with new narrative text; by Harper Collins and Smithsonian Institution, 2006.

The American Revolution -- Questions & Answers, family reference; by Harper Collins and Smithsonian Institution, 2006.

A Strong, Collected Spirit, Edward I. Gersh with Stuart A.P. Murray, by Lily Books; Gersh boxing memoir, 2005.

Eyewitness: The Vietnam War, by Dorling Kindersley, a young adult reference, 2005.

Atlas of American Military History, by Facts on File, an illustrated compendium of American military maps 16th-21st centuries; 2004.

Vietnam War Battles and Leaders, by Dorling Kindersley, young adult reference; Fall 2004.

Eyewitness: Mars, by Dorling Kindersley, young adult reference, 2004.

American Revolution Battles & Leaders, by Dorling Kindersley, young adult reference; 2004. Starred review in Booklist.

Civil War Battles & Leaders, by Dorling Kindersley, young adult reference; 2004. Starred review in Booklist.

Daily Life in the United States in the 20th Century, 1940-60 and 1960-1980 (two volumes of a five-volume set), by Greenwood Publishing, young adult reference, 2003.

Encyclopedia of War & Weaponry, by Grolier, young adult reference; 2002.

Eyewitness: The Revolutionary War, by Dorling Kindersley and Smithsonian Institution; young adult reference; 2002. Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Book Award 2002; Kansas State Reading Circle 2002; Notable Social Studies Trade Books 2003 (NCSS/CBC joint committee).

Eyewitness: Wild West, by Dorling Kindersley and the Smithsonian Institution; young adult reference; 2001.

The Cornell Steamboat Company, by Purple Mountain Press; the story of a great Hudson Valley passenger boat and tugboat company based in Rondout/Kingston, New York; 2001.

A Time of War, by Berkshire House; Berkshire County, Massachusetts, in the Civil War; 2001.

America's Song: The Story of "Yankee Doodle," 1999, by Images from the Past, Bennington, Vermont. Third-place winner in the history category of ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year for 1999; Top Ten finalist, music category, Booklist Magazine's Book of the Year, 1999; starred review in Booklist.

Washington's Farewell, 1999, by Images from the Past, Bennington, Vermont; George Washington's farewell in 1783 to his officers in New York City.

Rudyard Kipling in Vermont, the story of Kipling's four years in Brattleboro, where he wrote the Jungle Books; by Images from the Past, Bennington, Vermont, 1997. Top-five finalist, Independent Publishers biography Book of the Year in 1997; audio, Books on Tape.

The Honor of Command, General Burgoyne's Saratoga Campaign, by Images from the Past, Bennington, Vt., 1997.

Norman Rockwell at Home in Vermont, 1939-53, Images from the Past, Bennington, Vermont, 1996.

Go for the Goal! youth-soccer coaching, Simon & Schuster, 1994.

Norman Rockwell's "Four Freedoms," co-authored with James McCabe; Berkshire House, Publishers, 1993; starred review in Booklist, a Literary Guild selection, recommended by Library Journal; reprint rights to Random House: Gramercy Books.

America's Shaker Heritage, Golden Hill Press, 1993, recommended by Library Journal.

History of Hopatcong Borough, by the Hopatcong, New Jersey, Historical Society, 1975.


White Fire, Images from the Past, historical adventure, set in southern Africa; June 2000; Book of the Year finalist, fiction, ForeWord Magazine; 5 stars -- Southern Africa Vacation Book Review.

Judith's Dime Novel, Avalon, 1998; an idealistic young eastern woman on her way by stagecoach to meet her fiancee in San Francisco, discovers that the real Wild West is nothing like the dime novels she loves to read--or is it?

The Land of Gray Wolf, by Thomas Locker; rewrote this illustrated children's book; Dial Press, 1991. ALA Pick of the List.

As Oliver Payne: Northwest Territory Series of eight historical novels by Berkley Books, 1981-87; set in Revolutionary War America. The titles: Warpath; Conquest; Defiance; Rebellion; Conflict; Triumph; Betrayal; Honor

As Hank Mitchum: Virginia City, Western, Bantam, 1982.

Excerpts from reviews of books by Stuart A.P. Murray.

A TIME OF WAR; Berkshire House, 2001

"Murray is a prodigious researcher who uncovers the nitty gritty of what goes on during great events as well as the stories that make the headlines. His organization and brilliant storytelling give you a real feel of what it was like. . . ." The Berkshire Eagle

"A Time of War is a thoroughly engaging book that sheds light on the changing conditions of life on the home front. [It] should interest not only the people of western Massachusetts, but all who are curious about the interactions between the northern home and battle fronts." Civil War Book Review

RUDYARD KIPLING IN VERMONT -- Birthplace of the Jungle Books; Images from the Past, 1997; Top-five Book of the Year finalist, Independent Publisher, biography category.

"[A] masterful job of weaving together Kipling's writing, biographical details, and source material from the time, including newspaper articles, court records, and photographs taken without Kipling's knowledge. Part history, part biography, part literary criticism, this book reads like a novel and remains in the mind. Rudyard Kipling in Vermont: Birthplace of the Jungle Books may well begin a complete reexamination of Kipling's life and work.
Independent Publisher

"Delightful. . . . [The author] tells this bittersweet story with vigor and clarity. . . . A substantive, meaty dish flavored with juicy tidbits."
Boston Book Review

"Good use of Kipling's diaries, his poems, and family illustrations, to produce a fascinating chapter in American literary history and insight into Kipling's life and affairs." The Word (U.K.)

"As much a description of a collision of cultures, with Kipling as protagonist and observer, as it is a personal biography." The Bloomsbury Review

AMERICA'S SONG: The Story of "Yankee Doodle"; 1999, Images from the Past, Bennington, Vt.; Third-place winner, history category, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year 1999; Top Ten finalist in music category for Booklist Magazine's Book of the Year 1999; starred review in Booklist.

"America's Song is perhaps the best small history since John Hershey packed the bombing of Hiroshima into one hundred pages and won a Pulitzer. The two works are similar in that they concentrate on the extremely human side of history. . . . America's Song is an outstanding work in that it is extremely accessible to all that can read with a modicum of interest about our country's past.... [Murray] writes with a lyrical quality at some points, and at others like a fast-paced adventure novelist. ForeWord Magazine

"A Yankee Doodle Dandy: [America's Song] takes the reader through the many reincarnations of the tune -- it was set with new words in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War -- right up to modern times, in which George M. Cohan's 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' is still sung. [This] delightful little book . . . reminds us of the significant, though near-forgotten, contributions of Dutch settlers to American history. America's Song is also full of fun and surprises." Yankee Magazine

"The latest proof that good things come in small packages traces the history of the song 'Yankee Doodle.' . . . Copiously illustrated, the pocketbook-size volume is terrifically entertaining and informative popular history, written with great panache." Booklist; American Library Association.

WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL; Images from the Past, 1999

"[This] compact narrative about Washington's 1783 farewell to his officers in Fraunces Tavern in New York adds excellently to popular literature of the American Revolution. Accessible for a wide range of readers. . . " Booklist

"Murray uses a writer's touch to make history come alive." ForeWord Magazine

WHITE FIRE; Images from the Past, 2000
Finalist for fiction book of the year, 2000, by ForeWord Magazine

"Skillful use of plot and characters; Murray has written another winner." Library Journal

"Murray proves his skill with useful explanations of vernacular phrases and historical background for the 1828 setting. In straightforward language, Murray also keeps an even pace and alternates easily between Dirk's racing adventures and Rachel's descriptions of the family trek." ForeWord

"Author, journalist, and editor Stuart Murray has written a superbly crafted historical novel, capturing the yesteryear feel of 1828 in southern Africa. White Fire is a stirring, very highly recommended, action-adventure oriented historical novel which is enhanced for the readers pleasure with a meticulous attention to accurate detail throughout." Midwest Book Review

"[An] historical . . . novel that will please fans of historical fiction and romances." Booklist

"Murray's portrayal of nobility and honor among each group strikes a chord. His clashes between Zulus and other African tribes, and his interdependent relationships between Boers and native servants, illustrate how the violence of South Africa never was as simple as black versus white. . . . This book becomes a wonderful adventure. . . . Librarians should eagerly add this title to their collections." Today's Librarian

THE HONOR OF COMMAND; Images from the Past, 1997

"A most handsome book [with] the best illustrations I have ever seen for the Saratoga campaign." Vermont History

"Murray possesses a keen eye for detail and a novelist's sense of pace and color. He brings this momentous campaign to life [and] captures the character of the British military leader in all his complexity." Brattleboro, Vermont, Memorial Library

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