If a book is an idea, caught and caged in paper and ink, a library is a zoo of every captured thought you can imagine, and some you can’t.
No one knows how long thoughts and ideas roamed around in human heads before someone decided to capture them in on clay tablets 5,000 years ago. Facts proved easy to catch, as did moral instructions, recipes, and divinations; and the earliest still survive on clay, stones, boards, bones, turtle shells, and papyrus rolls. (You can go to this book history timeline to see the ones discovered so far.) Inevitably, people corralled these ideas into collections called libraries.
If a book is a tree you climb to hide among the leaves and listen, a library is a forest full of sound.
From the earliest times, people in power (rulers, rich people, and religious and scholastic organizations) had private groves of…
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