Library and Book History

As I am sitting here finishing up an assignment for another class, concerning the history of our beloved books and libraries, I came across a little snippet of information I had never heard before, and wanted to share here:
From Dahl’s History of the Book, 3rd English Edition, edited by Bill Katz, 1995, pg. 3:
An example of what literacy could mean to a specific people is found in the history of Israel. Both for religious and cultural reasons, reading and writing, unlike in other parts of the Near East, were stressed, often against great odds. A religious Hebrew, whether man, woman or child, should be taught the basics of literacy. This total shift from the customs of the Near East is due to the attachment the Hebrews had (and have) for the written word, for the book.
This passage just seemed to resonate with me, as it is a new understanding to the way the book, and the written word, have affected so many cultures, from antiquity to now. It even sounds like the kind of system we employ today, with our free public education, our emphasis on public libraries as places to educate the masses, etc. So radically different from the more common “scribe and royalty/wealthy” system that was in place in the neighboring cultures of that time!


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