Where was the first known library?
While looking at old volumes of periodicals in our archives, a simple title of “Libraries” jumped out from the page. According to this article in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1864, the first library mentioned in history was in Thebes.
The article goes on to say that Pisistratus founded the Homeric Library in Athens and changed history. When he was overthrown, the library he created had already shaped thoughts, tastes, opinions and actions of his race. The author continues with a history of libraries throughout the dark ages and explains how the Benedictine Monks played a vital role in preserving books and manuscripts.
Through the Reformation with Luther, the author draws us into 1861 and imparts to us the statistics of some of the greatest libraries of the world.
American libraries were founded right along with our country and persevered through fires and wars.
The article continues by pointing out the importance of the Librarian’s job. It ends with an opinion on how the library should be designed by architects who understand library work.
If you are interested in reading the entire article please ask your Reference Librarian.
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine
Vol. XXIX No. CLXXII
“Libraries” by S.W.G. Benjamin
* MSS is an abbreviation for the word Manuscripts