In November 2021 a new general history of libraries was published. The Library: A Fragile History was co-authored by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen, both of whom are affiliated with the University of St. Andrews, a public university in Scotland. The new book has been published in the U.S. by Basic Books.
The authors note that throughout the millennia, libraries have been in a constant state of flux and reconceptualization. Hence the fragility. They assert that “no society has ever been satisfied with the collections inherited from previous generations (2).” Because of all this flux, “libraries need to adapt to survive (3).”
Regarding academic libraries in the 21st century, Pettegree and der Weduwen observe, “University libraries, responding to student demand, are now social hubs as much as places of work, the cathedral of silence that once characterised the library a thing of the past. In this, libraries actually hark back to an earlier model, pioneered in the Renaissance, when libraries were often convivial social spaces, in which books jostled for attention alongside painting, sculptures, coins and curiosities (3).” Here at the MSU Libraries, we refer to this as becoming a full-service cultural memory institution.
A copy of this book has been ordered for the Leisure Reading Collection located in the “Living Room” area on the first level of Duane G. Meyer Library on the main Springfield campus of Missouri State University.