Traveling Brew: The Twenty Largest Libraries in the World

The largest libraries in the world that store 15 million or more items. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate British Library Country: United KingdomLocation: London and Boston SpaCatalogue Size: 170-200 millionVisitor Per Year: 1.6 millionBudget: £142 millionStaff: 1,977 The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom[1] and is one of the largest libraries in the world. It is[…]

From Scroll to Codex: New Technology and New Opportunities

Madrid Codex (replica) in the Museum of the Americas, Madrid / Photo by Simon Burchell, Wikimedia Commons When the codex came along, it was a novel form for recording knowledge and information—a disruptive technology. By Anna O. Funk One of the most important disruptions in the history of the book was the invention of the[…]

Byzantine Music and Musical Manuscripts

Music has played a central role in Greek Orthodox services for centuries. Nicolas Bell describes the manuscript evidence for this music in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine eras. By Dr. Nicolas Bell College Library Trinity College Cambridge The Byzantine Empire fostered a very rich musical tradition. The music used in church services is exceptionally well preserved[…]

Book Illumination in Antiquity

Image of Timbuktu manuscripts / Wikimedia Commons The history of illuminated manuscripts goes back to antiquity. In this article, Cillian O’Hogan describes the surviving fragments of ancient and late antique illuminated Greek books now held in the British Library. By Dr. Cillian O’Hogan Assistant Professor of Medieval Latin Centre for Medieval Studies University of Toronto The relationship[…]

Art in Medieval Greek Manuscripts

Use of a hand-siphon, a portable flame-thrower, from a siege tower equipped with a boarding bridge against the defenders on the walls. Medieval illumination in the manuscript Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1605. / Wikimedia Commons Many of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts contain beautiful illuminations. Here, Cillian O’Hogan provides a brief overview of the history of illumination[…]

Storing and Accessing Books in Ancient Libraries

Celsus Library, Ephesus / Photo by the Austrian Archaeological Institute, Wikimedia Commons How were books stored and accessed in the ancient world? Matthew Nicholls explores what the surviving evidence of ancient books can tell us about libraries in antiquity. By Dr. Matthew Nicholls Associate Professor of Classics University of Reading The British Library holds many[…]

Bookbinding in the Byzantine World

Sammelband of three books, edge shown with clasps / Science History Institute, Wikimedia Commons Ann Tomalak provides an overview of the distinctive features of Byzantine bookbinding. By Ann Tomalak Former Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project Conservator British Library A Byzantine binding is not defined primarily by where or when it was made, but by how it[…]

How Reading Fiction Can Help You Improve Yourself and Your Relationship to Others

Reading fiction can make you happier, nicer towards others and better focused in your activities. Pixabay/Pexels To counter the unbalanced effects of the digital age, reading literature is the key.    By Dr. Massimo Salgaro (left) and Dr. Adriaan van der Weel (right) / 12.18.2017 Salgaro: RFIEA Fellows 2017-2018, IEA Paris, Researcher in Literary Theory, University of Verona van der[…]

Pens and Needles: Reviving Book-Embroidery in Victorian England

Embroidered book cover for Henshaw’s Horae Successivae (1632), white satin with a floral design edged in gold cord, featured in Cyril Davenport’s English Embroidered Book-bindings (1899) / Internet Archive By Dr. Jessica Roberson / 03.21.2018 Postdoctoral Fellow William Andrews Clark Memorial Library University of California, Los Angeles This article, Pens and Needles: Reviving Book-Embroidery in Victorian England, was originally[…]

A Medieval Tree of Knowledge

By Patrick Outhwaite / 04.20.2016 Like modern-day students, medieval people used diagrams and images to reinforce learning and memorisation. In long and complex philosophical manuscripts, occasionally an image was used to break the monotony of reading. The tree diagram considered here was part of a tradition of visualising information and concepts relating to philosophy, medicine and[…]

Magic and Science in Medieval Ashkenaz

A review of David Shyovitz’s A Remembrance of His Wonders By Dr. Dana Fishkin / 03.02.2018 Assistant Professor of Medieval History Touro College The study of medieval Jewish history often yields examples of beliefs, practices, conventions or sensibilities shared by both the Jewish minority and non-Jewish majority populations. Inevitably, the question of primacy arises: which group originated[…]

A Beginner’s Guide to the Renaissance Book

Woodcut in Divina proportione, 1509, Luca Pacioli. The Getty Research Institute, 84-B9582. See full digitized book A look at the art and science of Europe’s early printed books, with examples from the Getty Research Institute’s special collections. By Sarah Sherman / 09.23.2015 Reference Librarian Getty Research Institute In the 15th century, a new form of mass communication dramatically[…]

The Dutch Republic as the Center of the European Book Trade in the 17th Century

By Dr. Paul Hoftijzer / 11.23.2015 Senior University Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Studies Universiteit Leiden Abstract In the seventeenth century, the Dutch Republic witnessed its Golden Age. The reasons for this phenomenon are diverse, but it impacted all branches of Dutch society, including the production, distribution and consumption of printed media. The book[…]

Learning to Read the Classics

A Reading from Homer (1885) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1885 / Philadelphia Museum of Art, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Jean Bollack (deceased) French Philosopher, Philologist, and Literary Critic When I started out, I found it hard to distinguish writing projects from re-elaborations of subject matter, and I failed to pay sufficient attention to the breaks, large or very[…]

Public Libraries Can (Literally) Serve as a Shelter from the Storm

Libraries are a good place for kids to hole up during emergencies. Daria Chichkareva/ By Grace Morris / 08.30.2017 Imaging/Digitization Specialist Michigan State University U.S. public libraries often transform into shelters during emergencies. After Superstorm Sandy, for example, the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey and Connecticut’s New Canaan Library gave the public somewhere to charge devices,[…]

Books: Brief History, Development, Trends, and Current Technology

Photo by Tom Murphy, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Jack Lule Professor of Journalism and Communication Lehigh University A Lost Generation of Readers? Figure 3.1 In 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a report that it said represented “a national crisis.” What was under such dire peril that it threatened to “impoverish both[…]

Patterns of Desire in Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts and Books

These four volumes of German poetry are wrapped in manuscript waste materials written in Hebrew. / J. Paul Getty Museum By Dr. Kathryn M. Rudy / 09.19.2016 Senior Lecturer in Art History and Medieval Studies University of St. Andrews From Piety in Pieces: How Medieval Readers Customized their Manuscripts Introduction Manuscripts could have useful careers[…]

The Myth of the Disappearing Book

New forms of entertainment and consumption abound. And yet the book endures. Swikar Patel/AP    By Dr. Simone Natale (left) and Dr. Andrea Ballatore (right) / 10.31.2016 Natale – Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies, Loughborough University Ballatore – Lecturer in Geographic Information Science, Birkbeck, University of London After years of sales growth, major publishers[…]

Neil Gaimon’s Nonfiction: What Makes Everything So Great

The View from the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman’s mammoth collection of nonfiction essays, introductions, and speeches, is a remarkable explanatory volume in which Gaiman explains not just why he loves the things he loves, but also what makes them great. When I started reading about behavioral economics, one experiment in particular made a profound impact[…]

A Home for Books

Photo by Tarika Wickremeratne By Ameena Hussein For as long as I can remember we have had books in the house. To my child’s eye it seemed that every room was spilling over with books. Books in bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and even bathroom. Most of the books belonged to my father –[…]

Has the Library Outlived Its Usefulness in the Age of the Internet? You’d Be Surprised!

Library space is changing. Penn State By Donald A. Barclay Deputy University Librarian University of California, Merced U.S. institutions of higher education and U.S. local governments are under extraordinary pressure to cut costs and eliminate from institutional or governmental ledgers any expenses whose absence would cause little or no pain. In this political climate, academic[…]