A Brief, Sketchy, But Still Interesting History About The Library | Writer’s Relief

by | Apr 22, 2020 | Other Helpful Information | 3 comments

Review Board Is Now Open!
Short stories and Poetry only!

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Deadline: Wednesday, September 14

A Brief, Sketchy, But Still Interesting History About The Library | Writer’s Relief

During National Library Week, some book geeks (like the ones here at Writer’s Relief) might wonder how libraries came into existence. From small to large and private to public, the library has a rich history that began a long time ago in a land far away and had little to do with actual books. This may seem a little sketchy—as in rough outline, not suspicious; we’re not sneaking off with your library card—but here’s a very interesting brief history about the library and how it came to be.

A Brief History Of The Library From A To Z

Research seems to indicate that libraries originated out of a need to preserve the sales and tax records as well as other administrative details of running a country. We don’t really know exact dates because, well, there were no libraries existing to store those dates. But an agreed-on time period puts the first library appearing about 5,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, an area that roughly covers the modern-day Middle East. This is the area that also brought us the invention of the wheel, planting cereal crops, and great strides in math, astronomy, and agriculture. It wasn’t called fertile for nothing!

The earliest known library was founded in Nineveh (now modern-day Iraq) sometime in the seventh century BCE. The library had 30,000 volumes, all clay tablets, which were engraved by scribes using a reed to impress characters into wet clay. And you thought hardcover books were cumbersome! (Hmmm…wonder what the return cart looked like…) Interestingly, clay tablets were stored much like modern-day books with the spine facing out.

Later, more libraries (and librarians) popped up across the developing world in Egypt, India, and much of Asia. The oldest known functioning library is in Morocco, which opened 1,157 years ago, in 859 AD. That’s also the year algebra was invented: Which proves that some inventions benefited humankind, while others were created simply to throw the alphabet into math problems and cause stress when taking exams.

For hundreds of years, libraries were private collections, restricted to scholars, priests, and friends of the wealthy patrons who funded the libraries. In fact, books were so scarce that they were once chained to the desks! (And some still are if you can believe that!) Throughout parts of China, libraries were exclusively developed and used by members of the royal families or approved scholars. Knowledge is power—and sometimes, so is a royal bloodline.

The invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century changed the library forever. Eventually, private libraries would become accessible to everyone as books became more available to the working class. Yet it still took several hundred years more for public libraries to appear. The first public, tax-supported library in America was opened in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833. The earliest established library by and for African Americans—the Philadelphia Library Company of Colored Persons, was incorporated a few years later in 1836.

Do We Like Library Classification Systems? Dewey Ever!

The earliest library classification system was developed during the third century BC at the library of Alexandria, Egypt. Library classification systems changed throughout the centuries as well. Many private libraries had wildly idiosyncratic systems, but as collections grew in scope and size, classification systems became more universal and uniform. Our friend Melvil Dewey established his system of classification in 1876, long before the Library of Congress established the classification system for academic libraries at the turn of the twentieth century. And the rest, as they say, is history—which is Dewey Decimal Classification 900.

 

Question: Which is your favorite library?

 

3 Comments

  1. Cynthia

    The one I went to as a child with it’s cool tile floors in the summer.

    Reply
  2. Jodie

    My library was the Arcadia Public Library in California. It was a very modern 1960’s style building with no windows and some kind of cork on the the walls that smelled like smoke, but it was a good smoke smell. That is how I remember it- quiet cool and smokey.

    Reply
  3. monica phillipa

    The earliest records of a library foundation as it is by and by comprehended can be gone back to around 5,000 years prior to the Southwest Asian areas of the world. The world’s most seasoned realized library was established at some point in the seventh century B.C. for the “regal consideration” of the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Review Board is Now Open! Submit Your Short stories and Poetry only!

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

 

 

See ALL the services we offer, from
FREE to Full Service!

Click here for a Writer’s Relief
Full Service Overview

Search

Reviews

“Getting that first poem published was the hardest threshold to cross. My team at Writer’s Relief kept encouraging me…then came the acceptance! We celebrated…then I continued writing, and Writer’s Relief continued doing the wonderful work they do!”

—King Grossman, Writer
(Watch King’s video testimonial here!)

“Every piece I have sent out with their help has been accepted for publication! I am looking forward to working with the team on getting my new novel out into the world.”

Services Catalog

Free Publishing Leads
and Tips!

Featured Articles



Featured Video

Follow us!



YES, IT'S MY LUCKY DAY!
Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000 acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
close-link


STOP! BEFORE YOU GO...
Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000 acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
close-link
Live Chat Software

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This