The ATG News Channel Book of the Week of February 21, 2011

Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003. 0393020290. 245 pages.

What an elegant and optimistic book in the midst of all the doubt and change surrounding libraries these days! Battles, who works at Houghton Library, the rare books library at Harvard, takes us through the history of libraries “from the clay-tablet collections of ancient Mesopotamia to the storied Alexandria libraries of Egypt, from the buried scrolls of China’s Qing Dynasty to the book pyres of the Hitler Youth, from the great medieval library in Baghdad to the multi-cultural Bosnian National Library in Sarajevo.” Says Battles, “Such changes are part of that endless cycle of renewal for which the library has its readers to thank.”