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The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland
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Since the mid-nineteenth century an unprecedented expansion and diversification of library activity has taken place. The Public Libraries Act of 1850 founded a tradition of public provision and service which continues today, and national and academic libraries have grown and multiplied. Libraries have become an industry rather than a localised phenomenon, and librarianship has developed from a scholarly craft to a scientific profession. The essays in this volume present a picture of great diversity, covering public, national, academic, subscription and private libraries. The users of libraries are an important part of their history and are considered here in detail, alongside the development of the library profession and the impact of new information technologies. The place of the library within society and the growth of a professional structure to manage new demands on information are the central concerns of this volume, which celebrates the diversity of the modern library world.


'The Purpose of the Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland is to be a survey. It succeeds admirably. … Some essays, such as Chris Bagg's essay on working-class libraries and Simon Eliot's on subscription libraries, present excellent new research. The bibliography is full, helpful and thorough.'

Source: Rare Books Newsletter, 81

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