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Library 1[1] Library 2[1] Library 3[1]

Professor James W.P. Campbell

A major research project funded by the publishers Thames and Hudson, aimed to provide a comprehensive reassessment of the current understanding of the history of the library as a building type.
The result is a 320 page book providing the first history of the library as a building type from the ancient world to the present day which is being translated into 5 languages (French, Dutch, German, Spanish and Japanese). A separate American edition is published by Chicago University Press.

The photographs for the book were taken by Will Pryce.

The project is seen as the first of a series of studies on the development of libraries through the ages.



Read a review of the book on

Read a review of the book on the Daily Mail online

Read a review of the book on the Huffington Post

Read a review of the book on the Telegraph online

Read a review of the book by J. Mordaunt Crook on the TLS online

Read an interview with the author on the Cambridge News online

Read a Cambridge University Research feature on the book


Publication details:
The Library: a World History (London: Thames & Hudson, 2013) ISBN 978-0500342886 (320 pages)
United States
The Library: a World History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013) ISBN 978-0226092812 (320 pages)
 French Edition:
Bibliothèques, Une histoire mondiale, translated by Odile Menegaux, Christian Vair & Jézabel Traube, (Citadelles & Mazenod), ISBN :  9782850885747 (320 pages)
German edition:
Die Bibliothek. Kulturgeschichte und Architekture von der Antike bis heute, translated by Barbara Delius (Munich: Knesebeck), ISBN: 978-3-86873-611-3 (320 pages)
Dutch edition:
De bibliotheek: hoogtepunten uit de wereldgeschiedenis (Bussum: Thoth),  ISBN 978-9082038712 (320 pages)
Spanish edition:
La biblioteca. Un patrimonio mundial [Library: a World History], translated by Carlos Herrero Quirós, (San Sebastien, Spain: Nerea, 2013), ISBN 978-84-15042-83-9, (special enlarged edition 328 pages)