Craig Kallendorf

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online June 2012 | | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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History records famous libraries as far back as those of Ashurbanipal (in 7th-century bce Assyria) and Alexandria, and the medieval culture on which the Renaissance was built had its share of renowned book collections as well. But in the history of libraries, the Renaissance proved to be a crucial period. The invention of the printing press led to an explosion in the number of books, allowing the formation of many more libraries than in the past, with many of them becoming much larger than before. Church and university libraries, the mainstays of medieval book culture, were supplemented by collections under government control, with a growing number of individuals forming important libraries as well. Indeed, the very concept of the Renaissance predicates access to a library, because if Antiquity were to be reborn, the guidelines for this rebirth had to emerge from research into the culture of Greece and Rome, which had to take place in a well-stocked library. At the beginning of the Renaissance, libraries were relatively few and small; at the end, there were many large collections, including the foundations of several of today’s national libraries.

Article.  6622 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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