Some book collectors do not care very much about where they store their books. The English King Henry VIII, had a fine collection of books, but when visitors came to view them they were horrified by the conditions they were stored in, commenting on how they were stacked randomly on the floor and in untidy heaps covering every available surface. Thankfully, since Roman times, if not before, others have cherished books and wished to show them off to their best advantage.
Incredibly, until now, there has been no single volume tracing the history of library buildings through the ages. For the last three years, I have been traveling the world together with Will Pryce the architectural photographer, visiting and photographing 85 of the world’s greatest libraries in 21 countries. The result is The Library: A World History (Chicago University Press), the most complete account of library buildings to date.