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The History and Future of the Library: Prof. Andrew Pettegree (Co-author of "The Library: A Fragile History")
March 03, 2023 · 31 min

In this interview, I’ll be talking with Prof. Andrew Pettegree who co-authored The Library: A Fragile History with Arthur Der Weduwen

What I first thought was a self-explanatory symbol of scholarly righteousness I soon learned was an icon of the individual against the institution, a battleground of the “enlightened” elite and the “plebian” people, and a habitual testament of man’s inborn desire to affect the world. And, these are just a few of the themes. Like all histories, the story of the library reveals not only the technologies and techniques that have brought us to our modern understanding of book collecting but also the human vices and virtues that have powered this progression.

But, one question looms - do we still need public libraries in a digital world?


Origin of public librariesPreservation of classicsHistory of censorship in the libraryHave public libraries really affected society?The future of libraries in an online worldA bibliophile's guide to organizing a libraryWhat books have had an impact on you?What advice do you have for teenagers?

Andrew Pettegree, FBA is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue (an online bibliography of all books published in the first two centuries after the invention of print). He is the author of fifteen books in the fields of Reformation history and the history of communication including Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion (Cambridge University Press, 2005), The Book in the Renaissance (Yale University Press, 2010), The Invention of News (Yale University Press, 2014), Brand Luther (Penguin, 2015), The Bookshop of the World. Making and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age (Yale University Press, 2019) and The Library: A Fragile History, co-authored with Arthur der Weduwen, was published by Profile in 2021.

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