The Library in the West: A 5000-Year History

Tuesdays 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. Norris University Center beginning September 26
Course B Fall, 2023


The Library in the West: A 5000-Year History by Jeffrey Garrett, Emeritus Librarian

The oldest libraries were shamans and storytellers. With the invention of writing, libraries could be gatherings of writings on bark or baked cuneiform tablets stored in baskets. Then came scrolls, then the Graeco-Roman invention of the codex book. In this course, we will start at the very beginning, with the cognitive preconditions for libraries. Then we move through centuries and civilizations, stopping to remember Alexandria, Roman, and medieval libraries, and then the astonishing monastery libraries of the Baroque. We conclude with a consideration of modern research libraries - Northwestern’s will do! - and modern public libraries - why not Evanston’s?

NOTE: A supplemental reading list will be posted at the week before class starts. Preparing is optional, but doing so will greatly enhance the lecture experience. Check this website later for more information.

Registration will open on August 15, 2023.  Go to


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