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A library is thus a book or a collection of books kept for use, and one kind of book kept for use, 

and one kind of book kept for use is the original or official copy of a public document.

 

 

What Is A Library?

By Ernest Cushing Richardson

 

In English, according to the concise Oxford dictionary, there are at least five or six right meanings for the word library--a building for books, a collection of books, a body of persons keeping books, a series, the works used by a certain author.

The London Library and the library of universal knowledge are different kinds of things and the "London Library" is a phrase misleading to those who think of a library as a free municipal library.

The phrase  a "Carnegie library" is right by the dictionary but it has "mislead" millions who think of a library as having books. Mr. Carnegie has given hundreds of library buildings (and has thereby made the greatest contribution to popular education of any man of his time) but he has given few libraries in the sense of book collections. The John Crerar Library of Chicago, on the other hand, is a superb library which existed for many years in the Field building before it decided on a building of its own. It was the John Crerar Library, but there was no John Crerar Library building at all. In the same way thousands of public libraries have no buildings to their names, although of course they are housed somewhere--in a city hall, school building, church.

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[According to Assyriologists] A library, therefore, to be a library, must be both literary and big "an extensive literary collection--a real library"--"very extensive literary collection," a "large literary archive." It appears farther that even this is not enough and in order to be a library a collection must not only be large and literary but it must be like that of Ashurbanapal, in being gathered from many centers "since an extensive literary collection--a real library--could only be brought together by gathering besides local texts "such as were used elsewhere."

"In other words the only library as yet found in the Mesopotamia excavations is the royal collection of Ninevah." This is the "only collection . . . that merits the name of library, in the sense in which that term is ordinarily understood" or "at all events the term having been peempted by the general consensus of Assyriologists for Ashurbanapal's collection we have no right to apply" to anything but one just like it and "the term library" should be restricted to the collection made by Ashurbanapal.

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A library then "in the proper and ordinary sense of the term" or "in the sense in which that term is ordinarily understood (by Assyriologists) is very big, wholly literary, gathered from various geographical sources, not associated with schools. No such library is known save that of Ashurbanapal and no other is likely save for Babylon--(Marduk temple) and perhaps Borsippa (Nebo temple).

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With this latter alternative conclusion and with the constructive conclusions no one will quarrel: it is only the conclusion that no library smaller than that of Ashurbanapal or less literary should be called library, which needs attention.

The constructive conclusions are as follows: (1) the temples had extensive archives, (2) these contained primarily temple business records including letters, (3) they contained also private business documents, contracts, deeds, wills, etc., while private business firms kept their own collections of records as well an in their own counting rooms, (4) temples had schools and (5) these schools had their outfit for instruction, sign lists, exercises, etc., also religious texts, and these ranged perhaps into the hundreds if not thousands, (6) religious texts used in the temple were also kept if not in the schools, then in some other part of the temple area.

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The matter is too obvious. The Report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1912, for example, recognizes 10,329 public high school libraries having an average of only 600 volumes each. In many states the average high school library according to this is under 300 volumes. In the same report again statistics are given of 458 special school "libraries" of which 79 have 200 volumes or under and 29 have actually under 100 volumes. there are thousands of public libraries in the United States with less then 300 volumes which have state and national recognition as libraries and tens of thousands called libraries less formally.

The United States government also recognizes officially a library of exclusive public documents, while, in this era of "special libraries," there are not a few which consist almost exclusively of business documents, public or private, railway reports, insurance company reports, government and state documents, law reports, collections of statutes and the like.

Size of course does not count. The smallest man is yet a man and even the smallest private library is yet a library. When Mr. Fleming said that his "whole library, like that of Abraham Lincoln, consisted of a Bible and a blue-back speller" nobody either misunderstood or objected. Indeed a small man may be much more of a man than a big one, and a library of 10 volumes more valuable than another of 10,000--for every purpose. So of documents.

"Business" character too does not count; many a farmer's library is made up almost wholly of free government documents and railroad literature: and it any indeed be a rather large, well selected and  useful library at that. certainly neither collection is a man's "archive."

So again, and obviously, locality does not count: There must be many libraries in Italy, say, containing only Italian books printed in Italy.

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In brief, thus there was at least one school library and one theological library as well as one archive, or record office in the broad sense, in every city.

It appears, therefore, that on the face of it in "the proper and ordinary sense of the term" there were at least two libraries in every place even if an archive is not a library, and it may confidently be hoped that Assyriologists will accept this much at least.

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A library is thus a book or a collection of books kept for use, and one kind of book kept for use,  and one kind of book kept for use is the original or official copy of a public document. Collections of these are archives, but they are none the less libraries, as would appear to all, if all the documents were made, as some are, in printed book form.

It may at least be confidently hoped that with this full explanation no one will object to the use of the word library in its "right" sense in this essay, if care is taken not to make "a Bible and New England Primer" library pose as the British Museum Library.

Source: Ernest Cushing Richardson, Biblical Libraries: A Sketch of Library History from 3400 B.C. to A.D. 150. Princeton University Press, 1914

posted 23 June 2008

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.”

Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.

*   *   *   *   *

The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story

of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

By Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest.

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The Cambridge Historyof African American Literature

Edited by Maryemma Graham and Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

 

The first major twenty-first century history of four hundred years of black writing, The Cambridge History of African American Literature presents a comprehensive overview of the literary traditions, oral and print, of African-descended peoples in the United States. Expert contributors, drawn from the United States and beyond, emphasize the dual nature of each text discussed as a work of art created by an individual and as a response to unfolding events in American cultural, political, and social history. Unprecedented in scope, sophistication and accessibility, the volume draws together current scholarship in the field. It also looks ahead to suggest new approaches, new areas of study, and as yet undervalued writers and works. The Cambridge History of African American Literature is a major achievement both as a work of reference and as a compelling narrative and will remain essential reading for scholars and students in years to come.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 18 August 2012

 

 

 

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