Magazine article American Libraries

This Month, 656 Years Ago

Magazine article American Libraries

This Month, 656 Years Ago

Article excerpt

IN APRIL 1345, THE FEW students of library management who lived on the European continent were just beginning to hear about a new book by Richard de Bury (1287-1345) titled Philobiblon (1345), one of the first textbooks for the education of librarians.

At the time, the library as an institution was mostly a collection of books. Although those charged with responsibility for managing this institution had to worry mostly about book collections, they had no program of education in place to prepare them for that responsibility. Philobiblon provided a bit of guidance, some of which still applies at the beginning of the 21st century to anyone who is taking an MLS into employment in our much-more-varied information marketplace.

For example, de Bury advises all managers of information-resource collections to watch out for the "stiffnecked youth sluggishly seating himself for study, and while the frost is sharp in winter time, his nose, all watery with the biting cold, begins to drip. Nor does he deign to wipe it with his cloth until he has wet the books spread out before him with the vile dew."

And that same person, warns de Bury, is capable of other transgressions involving body fluids. "With endless chattering he ceases not to rail against his companions and, while adducing a multitude of reasons void of all sensible meaning, wets the books spread out in his lap with the sputtering of his spittle. …

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