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A private library is a library that is privately owned. Private libraries are usually intended for the use of a small number of people, or even a single person. As with public libraries, some people use bookplates – stamps, stickers or embossing – to show ownership of the items. Some people sell their private libraries to established institutions such as the Library of Congress, or, as is often the case, bequeath them after death. Much less often, a private library is maintained intact long after the death of the owner. One such example is the personal library of Rudolf Steiner, which has been maintained intact in Switzerland for close to a century.
The earliest libraries belonged to temples or administration bodies, resembled modern archives, and were usually restricted to nobility, aristocracy, scholars, or theologians. Examples of the earliest known private libraries include one found in Ugarit (dated to around 1200 BC) and the Library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh (near modern Mosul, Iraq), dating back to the 7th century BC.
Mesopotamia was home to a great number of private libraries, many with extensive collections of over 400 tablets.The nucleus of these private libraries were primarily texts which had been transcribed by the proprietors themselves from the time they acquired their education in the art of the scribe. As insignificant as these libraries may seem, they established the basis for the Library of Ashurbanipal collection.
While private libraries in ancient Egypt were not common, they did exist to some extent. One of the problems in identifying potential individual libraries is that it is often difficult to distinguish between a personal library and one associated with a temple.However, many personal libraries survived over time, and are perhaps more numerous than traditionally assumed. Several private tombs have exposed copious texts whose content is scholarly in nature. In addition, extensive clusters of papyrus scrolls have been unearthed in association with domiciliary arrangements, confirming that some type of library endured there. The Middle Kingdom Period (2055–1650 BC) offers the best clues to the presence of private libraries in ancient Egypt.
For example, one sepulcher contained a chest with books on bureaucratic relations, hymns, and incantations. In total, the cache revealed a 20-volume library.A rather large collection from the Thirteenth Dynasty suggests a library belonging to a doctor or necromancer. In addition to general texts on assorted literature, there is a profusion of discourses on medicine and magic. A private library of considerable quantity is attributed to Kenherkhepshef, a scribe. This library embodies nearly 50 manuscripts, accommodating a collection of disparate subjects from correspondence missives to astrological recipes such as incantations and dream interpretations. This particular library spanned many generations, being passed to one family member to the next, which gives the impression of the significance the library had.
A manuscript known as the Westcar Papyrus from this same period alludes to an individual whose residence occupies spaces for a private library.The text of the manuscript is a fanciful narrative; however, it proves that ordinary citizens were literate and accumulated books for their own use. One Middle Kingdom tomb, associated with a healer and lector priest, contained over 20 books, one of which was the now-famous Tale of the Eloquent Peasant. Finally, a private library in a New Kingdom tomb at the site of Deir el Medina housed books on medicine as well as on love poetry and wisdom literature.
In 600 BC, library and archival collections in ancient Greece flourished.Within the next three centuries the culture of the written word rose to a pinnacle there. Although public libraries available to all citizens were established in some cities, such as Athens, most citizens could not read. However, private book collections owned by the elite and leading citizens were growing, along with the glorious homes and structures used to store them. Private libraries were not only built by the wealthy, but also by professionals who needed information nearby, including doctors and scholars. Notable scholarly figures like Euripides, Herodotus, Thucydides, and even Plato had their own private libraries with large collections. One of the most notable figures in ancient Greece with his own private library was Aristotle. Establishing his personal collection into a library at the Lyceum, Aristotle allowed his students and fellow scholars to use it. After his death, his collection grew to include the work of Theophrastus and student research. The collection was thought to have been scattered after Theophrastus' own death by Neleus. While most of the collection was supposedly brought to Rome and Constantinople, other pieces within the collection were sold to the Library of Alexandria, only to be destroyed later with the library.
There were numerous private libraries in Ancient China. These institutions were called "book collection house" in Chinese, which was widely accepted from Song Dynasty.Under the influence of petty-farmer consciousness, the patriarchal system, lack of books, and other factors, "hiding book" thinking was dominant then. Not all private libraries in ancient China were unavailable to the public. Some owners made their collection open to the public. Mostly to young men who were studying for civil service examinations, these became known as "academy" libraries.
The earliest libraries to appear in Rome were of the private type and were most often procured as spoils of war. For example, when the Roman general Aemilius defeated the Macedonian king Perseus in 168 BC, the only plunder he wished to possess was the king's private library.Likewise, in 86 BC, the Roman general Sulla appropriated the library of the infamous Greek bibliophile and kleptobibliophile Apellicon of Teos. Finally, around 73 BC, Lucullus removed and brought back to Rome the private library of King Mithridates VI of the Pontus region. Nearly every house of nobility had a library, and virtually every one was split into two rooms: one for Latin texts and one for Greek texts. Rome may very well have been the birthplace of specialized libraries, with evidence of early medical and legal libraries. In Rome, one can see the beginnings of book preservation. One author proposed that a library is better suited if it meets the rising sun in the east in order to ensure that it does not succumb to bookworms and decomposition. Some examples of Roman-period private libraries include the Villa of the Papyri, the House of Menander, the House of Augustus, and the Domus Aurea.
In the 5th century BC, on the island of Cos outside the city of Pergamum, a medical school complex with a library was built in the sanctuary of Asclepius. This is the first medical school known to have existed, and consequently can be credited as the first specialized library.
Small private libraries called bibliothecae were responsible for advancing the larger public libraries of the Roman world.The design of these libraries was rather a novelty, and became the archetype of later institutions, in particular libraries of imperial estates. The form of private libraries during the late Republic Period and early Empire Period imitated Greek architectural characteristics. The library itself was a repository of diminutive proportions whose purpose was to accommodate books. The books were supported on wooden shelving units or were kept in cupboards situated against walls. Rooms annexed to the library were used primarily as reading rooms. The configuration of these libraries was rectangular and is considered more of niche than a separate room because they were always extensions of other structures.
Acquiring books for personal use in order to cultivate oneself was all the rage in the Roman world, partially galvanized by the monarchs who were often prolific writers.Satirist Martial notes that it was quite accepted for the houses of the Roman elite to harbor a library. One reason for the abundance of private libraries is the reinforcement of enlightenment and perpetuating the literary traditions. It was also not uncommon for an individual to assemble a library in order to inveigle an emperor. The writer Lucian of Samosata denounces one such individual who exploits his library to cajole the emperor.
The emperor Augustus admired the works of authors and was a prolific author himself. He encouraged the advancement of the library as an institution by harboring a private library of his own.The library was the first to incorporate Greek and Hellenic architectural behaviors. The shape of the library was in the recognizable rectangular style. This library marked the establishment of a binary collection with individual rooms supporting the literatures of Greek and Roman writers respectively.
Both the philologist Aulus Gellius and the emperor Marcus Aurelius acknowledge the existence of a private library housed in the Domus Tiberiana. While Aurelius makes a passing reference to a bibliothecarius or palace librarian, Gellius commented on how he and author Sulpicius Apollinaris were engaged in erudite disquisition within the library.
The Roman sovereign Hadrian had a fondness for all types of literature; his private sanctuary, the Villa Adriana, had its own library.Like the private library of Augustus, Hadrian’s collection promoted a doublet of Greek and Latin writings. It is difficult to ascertain how many manuscripts the libraries held; however, one assessment speculates that at a single wooden cabinet may have held at least 1,500 scrolls.
During the tenure of Nero, an affluent residence was not complete without a library. In fact, libraries were as important as baths.
The third century biographer Capitolinus remarks on a private library owned by the Emperor Gordion II. Apparently, the original owner of this library was the father of scholar and polymath Quintus Serenus Sammonicus, whom Gordion was a student of.Upon the death of Sammonicus in 212 AD, the library of some 62,000 manuscripts was entrusted to Gordion. It is not clear what happened to this library, but it has been suggested that it was absorbed by the libraries of the Palatine, Pantheon, or Ulpian. It is also conceivable that it had been interspersed during the upheavals of the third century.
The Renaissance brought with it a renewed interest in conserving the new ideas being put forth by the great thinkers of the day. Kings throughout European countries created libraries, some of which have become the national libraries of today. In addition, wealthy individuals began establishing and developing their own private libraries.
The National Library of France (French : Bibliothèque Nationale de France) in Paris was started in 1367 as the Royal Library of King Charles V. In Florence, Italy, Cosimo de Medici had a private library which formed the basis of the Laurentian Library. The Vatican library was also established in the 15th century. Pope Nicholas V helped to renew the Vatican Library by donating hundreds of personal manuscripts to the collection.
The creation and expansion of universities prompted the gifting of private libraries to university libraries. One notable donation was by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester to Oxford University in the early 15th century.
Private libraries were a characteristic of the first colonists to North America, rather than a peculiarity. For example, 27 libraries were known to have existed in Plymouth Colony alone between 1634 and 1683.Books and the idea of establishing libraries in the new world had always been a strong conviction for the early settlers. William Brewster was one of the many passengers on board the Mayflower on its maiden voyage to America who transported his library, which consisted of nearly 400 volumes. Even as early as 1607, these libraries were flourishing in English-settled Jamestown. The Virginia colony sovereign John Smith described a private library owned by the Reverend Good Master Hunt which was incinerated during a fire that destroyed much of the town. Another analogous finding from 1720 to 1770 in Maryland records that over half of the demographics population had at least the Bible in their libraries; in Virginia, there were close to a thousand private libraries, each with a typical assemblage of 20 books. Distinguished martial administrator Miles Standish owned 50 books, while the governor of Connecticut John Winthrop the Younger carried 1,000 books with him on his voyage to the recently established territories in 1631.
George Washington’s proclivity towards reading and collecting books in general was also acclaimed. Washington’s personal library was originally housed in his estate at Mount Vernon, Virginia.The library consisted of 1,200 volumes, and a catalog of the titles included in his library was created before his death in 1799. During the mid-nineteenth century, nearly all of the former collection had been purchased by Massachusetts book and manuscript merchant Henry Stevens. Stevens subsequently decided to auction the collection to the British Museum in London; however, interested parties from both Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts procured the collection where they bequeathed it to its current residence, the Boston Athenæum. Washington’s library encompassed books in many disciplines such as economics, geography, history, and religion. Some of his most beloved volumes were those that pertained to agriculture, since he was an avid farmer. One work that he embraced dearly was a play entitled Cato, a Tragedy written in 1712 by the English playwright Joseph Addison because he felt a connection between the main character Cato and his constant battle with totalitarianism. In addition to the subject areas, the library accommodated diaries, travel, and over 100 federal correspondence letters.
Like Washington, Thomas Jefferson was a prolific collector of books and a voracious reader. He actually owned three libraries over the course of his lifetime. The first was maintained from ages 14 to 26 (1757–1770) at his birthplace of Shadwell, Virginia, about five miles west of Monticello. [ citation needed ][ clarification needed ]It consisted of 40 that he inherited from his father. Since his father had been a surveyor, the library contained a plethora of maps and topographical monographs, though Jefferson added quite a few volumes to the library from his studies. By 1770, Jefferson had acquired over 300 volumes, worth an estimated 200 pounds.
During the period of the American Revolution in the 1780s, Jefferson amassed a collection of books that numbered in the thousands. This collection became his library at his home in Monticello. Over 2,000 books were purchased during the time he spent in France in the late 1780s. [ citation needed ] Unlike some of his contemporaries, Jefferson traveled very little. As such, the library became his best travel guide. Even though the library went through multiple stages throughout his lifetime, in 1814 it was known that he had the single greatest private library in the United States. When the Library of Congress was consumed by fire, Jefferson persuaded the library to purchase his collection of between nine and ten thousand books in order to compensate for the lost collection. Congress accepted a portion of Jefferson's library (6,487 volumes) in 1815 for the cost of $23,950 (equivalent to $354,591in 2021). The figure was obtained by calculating the number of books in addition to their dimensions, though Jefferson insisted that he would agree to any price. He remarked, "I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from this collection". December 1851 brought a second fire to the Library of Congress, which managed to extinguish over 60% of the collection acquired from Jefferson. Jefferson assembled a succeeding library of several thousand volumes. This second library was placed in an auction and purchased in 1829 in order to alleviate his indebtedness.Because Jefferson was fluent in French and Latin, the library contained numerous books in these languages, as well as 15 others. The collection was abundant in books on law, philosophy, and history, but it accommodated volumes on many subject areas such as cooking, gardening, and more exotic avocations like beekeeping.
Though Jefferson is recognized most for the breadth of his library, the most astounding characteristic of it is how it was cataloged. While most libraries during this period in American history classified their holdings alphabetically, he chose to catalog his collection by subject. His method of classification was based on a modified version of Lord Bacon's table of science, hierarchy of memory which included history, reason which included philosophy, and imagination which included the fine arts. Jefferson often disregarded his own classification scheme and shelved books according to their size.
The most recognizable individuals in colonial North America were proprietors of substantial personal libraries. John Adams, for example, owned more than 3000 volumes, which were entrusted to the Boston Public Library in 1893.He was not only a bibliophile, but an amateur librarian; he maintained his collection fastidiously and even opened his library to the public.
Legislator James Logan was a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin, with whom he developed a relationship over a passion for books.According to Logan, there was nothing more important than the acquisition of knowledge. His appetite for enlightenment led to the establishment of a private library of nearly 3000 titles, acknowledged as one of the largest in colonial America. In 1745, Logan converted his private library into a public library, which was the first structure in America to be recognized as a library for the public.
Benjamin Franklin, who was instrumental in establishing the first subscription library in North America, was the owner of a private library of considerable proportions. This clandestine miscellanea is not well known, though a contemporary of Franklin, a certain Manasseh Cutler, observed this library firsthand. Cutler noted, "It is a very large chamber and high studded. The walls were covered with book shelves filled with books; besides there are four large alcoves, extending two-thirds of the length of the chamber, filled in the same manner. I presume this is the largest and by far the best, private library in America". : 43 There are no extant catalogs of what treasures were held in Franklin's library; however, his will contained a register which included some 4,726 titles.
Private libraries in the hands of individuals have become more numerous with the introduction of paperback books. Some nonprofit organizations maintain special libraries, which are often made available to librarians and researchers.Law firms and hospitals often maintain either a law or medical library for staff use. Additionally, corporations maintain libraries that specialize in collections pertaining to research specific to the areas of concern to that organization. Scientific establishments within academia and industry have libraries to support scientists and researchers. These libraries are may not be open to the public.
The word library also refers to a room in a private house in which books are kept. Generally, it is a relatively large room that is open to all family members and household guests, in contrast to a study, which also often contains a collection of books but is usually a private space intended to be used by one person.[ citation needed ]
The British Museum is a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection of eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence. It documents the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. The British Museum was the first public national museum in the world.
The Great Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. The Library was part of a larger research institution called the Mouseion, which was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. The idea of a universal library in Alexandria may have been proposed by Demetrius of Phalerum, an exiled Athenian statesman living in Alexandria, to Ptolemy I Soter, who may have established plans for the Library, but the Library itself was probably not built until the reign of his son Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The Library quickly acquired many papyrus scrolls, owing largely to the Ptolemaic kings' aggressive and well-funded policies for procuring texts. It is unknown precisely how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, but estimates range from 40,000 to 400,000 at its height.
Titus Livius, known in English as Livy, was a Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled Ab Urbe Condita, ''From the Founding of the City'', covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditional founding in 753 BC through the reign of Augustus in Livy's own lifetime. He was on familiar terms with members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a friend of Augustus, whose young grandnephew, the future emperor Claudius, he exhorted to take up the writing of history.
Polybius was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period. He is noted for his work The Histories, which covered the period of 264–146 BC and the Punic Wars in detail.
Callimachus was an ancient Greek poet, scholar and librarian who was active in Alexandria during the 3rd century BC. A representative of Ancient Greek literature of the Hellenistic period, he wrote over 800 literary works in a wide variety of genres, most of which did not survive. He espoused an aesthetic philosophy, known as Callimacheanism, which exerted a strong influence on the poets of the Roman Empire and, through them, on all subsequent Western literature.
Dionysius of Halicarnassus was a Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Emperor Augustus. His literary style was atticistic – imitating Classical Attic Greek in its prime.
Lucius Cassius Dio, also known as Dio Cassius, was a Roman historian and senator of maternal Greek origin. He published 80 volumes of the history on ancient Rome, beginning with the arrival of Aeneas in Italy. The volumes documented the subsequent founding of Rome, the formation of the Republic, and the creation of the Empire, up until 229 AD. Written in Ancient Greek over 22 years, Dio's work covers approximately 1,000 years of history. Many of his 80 books have survived intact, or as fragments, providing modern scholars with a detailed perspective on Roman history.
The Vatican Apostolic Library, more commonly known as the Vatican Library or informally as the Vat, is the library of the Holy See, located in Vatican City. Formally established in 1475, although it is much older—it is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. It has 75,000 codices from throughout history, as well as 1.1 million printed books, which include some 8,500 incunabula.
Antiquities of the Jews is a 20-volume historiographical work, written in Greek, by historian Flavius Josephus in the 13th year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around AD 93 or 94. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of the history of the Jewish people for Josephus' gentile patrons. In the first ten volumes, Josephus follows the events of the Hebrew Bible beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve.
The Corpus Aristotelicum is the collection of Aristotle's works that have survived from antiquity through medieval manuscript transmission. These texts, as opposed to Aristotle's works that were lost or intentionally destroyed, are technical philosophical treatises from within Aristotle's school. Reference to them is made according to the organization of Immanuel Bekker's nineteenth-century edition, which in turn is based on ancient classifications of these works.
The work called Ab urbe condita, sometimes referred to as Ab urbe condita libri, is a monumental history of ancient Rome, written in Latin between 27 and 9 BC by Livy, a Roman historian. The work covers the period from the legends concerning the arrival of Aeneas and the refugees from the fall of Troy, to the city's founding in 753 BC, the expulsion of the Kings in 509 BC, and down to Livy's own time, during the reign of the emperor Augustus. The last event covered by Livy is the death of Drusus in 9 BC. 35 of 142 books, about a quarter of the work, are still extant. The surviving books deal with the events down to 293 BC, and from 219 to 166 BC.
The Geographica, or Geography, is an encyclopedia of geographical knowledge, consisting of 17 'books', written in Greek and attributed to Strabo, an educated citizen of the Roman Empire of Greek descent. There is a fragmentary palimpsest dating to the fifth century. The earliest manuscripts of books 1–9 date to the tenth century, with a 13th-century manuscript containing the entire text.
Sanitation in ancient Rome, acquired from the Etruscans, was well advanced compared to other ancient cities and provided water supply and sanitation services to residents of Rome. Although there were many sewers, public latrines, baths and other sanitation infrastructure, disease was still rampant. The baths are known to symbolise the "great hygiene of Rome".
Polybius’ Histories were originally written in 40 volumes, only the first five of which are extant in their entirety. The bulk of the work was passed down through collections of excerpts kept in libraries in the Byzantine Empire. Polybius, a historian from the Greek city of Megalopolis in Arcadia, was taken as a hostage to Rome after the Roman victory in the Third Macedonian War, and there he began to write an account of the rise of Rome to a great power.
The Imperial Library of Constantinople, in the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, was the last of the great libraries of the ancient world. Long after the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria and the other ancient libraries, it preserved the knowledge of the ancient Greeks and Romans for almost 1,000 years. A series of unintentional fires over the years and wartime damage, including the raids of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, impacted the building itself and its contents. While there were many reports of texts surviving into the Ottoman era, no substantive portion of the library has ever been recovered. The library was founded by Constantius II, who established a scriptorium so that the surviving works of Greek literature could be copied for preservation. The Emperor Valens in 372 employed four Greek and three Latin scribes. The majority of Greek classics known today are known through Byzantine copies originating from the Imperial Library of Constantinople.
The Biblioteca Casanatense is a large historic library in Rome, Italy, named in honour of Cardinal Girolamo Casanate (1620–1700) whose private library is at its roots.
The history of libraries began with the first efforts to organize collections of documents. Topics of interest include accessibility of the collection, acquisition of materials, arrangement and finding tools, the book trade, the influence of the physical properties of the different writing materials, language distribution, role in education, rates of literacy, budgets, staffing, libraries for targeted audiences, architectural merit, patterns of usage, and the role of libraries in a nation's cultural heritage, and the role of government, church or private sponsorship. Computerization and digitization arose from the 1960s, and changed many aspects of libraries.
The Papers of James Madison project was established in 1956 to collect and publish in a comprehensive letterpress edition the correspondence and other writings of James Madison, the Virginia statesman best remembered for his public service as "Father of the Constitution" and fourth president of the United States.
The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia is a research library that specializes in American history and literature, history of Virginia and the southeastern United States, the history of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, and the history and arts of the book. The library is named after Albert and Shirley Small, who donated substantially to the construction of the library's current building. Albert Small, an alumnus of the University of Virginia, also donated his large personal collection of "autograph documents and rare, early printings of the Declaration of Independence." This collection includes a rare printing of the Dunlap broadside of the Declaration of Independence. Joining the library's existing Dunlap in the Tracy W. McGregor Collection of American History, Small's copy made U.Va. the only American institution with two examples of this, the earliest printing of the nation's founding document. It also includes the only letter written on July 4, 1776, by a signer of the Declaration, Caesar Rodney. The Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection boasts an interactive digital display which allows visitors to view the historical documents electronically, providing access to children and an opportunity for visitors to manipulate the electronic copies without risk of damage to the original work.