Libraries: Library Origins and Developments through the Centuries

(the way they were in ancient times and are in the present and potentials for the future)

All kinds of books have existed for every kind of learning with a vast amount of information for many centuries and they are still rolling off the presses in greater quantities than ever before!

If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.


Books are essential to greater learning and intellectual growth.

If it is true that language is the miracle of our species, then it follows that writing is the witness. Words that are recorded endure, whereas those merely spoken dissolve. From the time writing first appeared on clay tablets in Mesopotamia five thousand year ago, it has been the object of veneration.

Rome had as many as forty libraries operating during its imperial period.

As cultures developed, books became instruments of utility and enlightenment, not just guides to ritual and worship. Gradually the ability to read extended beyond wise men and priests to embrace other segments of society. Literacy was so widespread and written material so abundant during the third century B.C that the Rome had as many as forty libraries operating during its imperial period, along with a lively book trade that kept everyone who could read adequately supplied.

Cleopatra was a passionate collector of books as well as being depicted as an example of feminine wiles.

Cleopatra of Egypt has been many things to many artists and writers: a model of feminine virtue to Chaucer, a tragic heroine for Shakespeare, a sex kitten for George Bernard Shaw, a siren of staggering beauty played variously by Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor; however, none of these stereotypes takes into account Cleopatra's ability to govern effectively during gravely uncertain times or her keen appreciation for knowledge.

During her visit to Rome in 45 B.C., Cicero coyly asked whether he could borrow a few treasures from the fabled collection she controlled in Alexandria, which was the envy of the civilized world. Books, many thousands of them, also played a small but telling role in her well-chronicled relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

The Alexandrian library tried to gather all of the books in the world so the world's knowledge could be centralized.

When the daughter of King Ptolemy XII became Queen Cleopatra VII in 51 B.C. at the age of eighteen, the great library and museum in her capital city, Alexandria, had stood as a beacon of learning and discovery for almost 250 years. The library was founded by her Macedonian ancestors with the premise that all the world's knowledge could be gathered under one roof, and what remains remarkable after all this time is how the task was pursued and how glorious and enriching the results were.

For nine luminous centuries, from around 300 B.C. to the seventh century A.D., Alexandria was a place of inspiration, a vibrant shrine dedicated to the limitless potential of human achievement. Alexandria was by no means the first great book repository, but because it contained antiquity's most extensive collection of recorded thought, it undoubtedly was the greatest.

Books are still about the richest places to gain knowledge!

Today's knowledge is still primarily available in books and now is extended to the internet which has become one of mankind's most convenient sources of information. Despite all of the information that can be found on the internet, books are still often the best places to get an education about everything —in or out of school.

The history of libraries from ancient times, into the present, and forward into the future

Libraries are one of the most significant institutions in human history beginning in the ancient Near East in the third millennium B.C. In the early Byzantine period of the fourth and fifth centuries A.D., the spread of Christianity and monasticism essentially changed the development of libraries.

The writings of the thoughts by men from the past, the learning of the present, and the hopes and fears of the future all could be seen in the written words that were preserved and accessible (if they survived) in libraries or bibliothecas.

I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library.

For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.

—Isaac Asimov