Friday, February 11, 2005

World History to Go - Libraries

World History to Go - Libraries. Berkshire Publishing has released a new five volume set dealing with world history. As a teaser, they are making this article on library history available.

From the site:

Libraries contribute significantly to the advancement of civilization. Since human beings began to record ideas and information for later recall, collections of those records, consisting of a few items or millions, have been viewed as important in preserving the memory of society. Records have been kept throughout the world for five thousand years, and though each period and locality is distinct, many issues, such as preservation and classification, are the same.

The Nature of Libraries

Libraries are collections of graphic records, organized for accessibility and maintained for the benefit of individuals in the community they serve. Libraries generally consist of portable physical entities (books) made of durable materials that contain written and artistic notations of reasonable length. The standard unit in libraries has been called the “generic book” because through the millennia it has utilized various materials—bones, skins, clay, bamboo, papyrus, paper, magnetic tapes, and plastic—and taken many forms—tablets, rolls, codices, reels, and disks. When collections consist primarily of records of institutions and individuals that are organically related—that is, they share a common creator, subject or purpose, as opposed to isolated, random artifacts—and maintained for access because of their continuing value, they are referred to as archives. When they consist of creative texts dealing with cultural and historical themes, they are called libraries.

After human beings began to speak , the need arose to preserve orally transmitted information. Although visible marks of any kind could record some ideas, in order to transmit information reliably from one generation to another and ultimately from one culture and era to another, a system needed to be developed whereby those marks would be conventional enough to convey complex ideas over time—that is, the marks needed to be somewhat standardized in order to be understood by others. After several centuries of experimentation with pictographic symbols and multishaped tokens and their representations, writing appeared in both Mesopotamia and Egypt sometime before about 3000 BCE.

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