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The lead images for the article appear to be rather non-descript; that is, while depicting library facilities, the images themselves have little iconic or expressive value of the sum content of the article - instead, they are a rather narrow and repetitive depiction of Neoclassical/Beaux Arts styled buildings. Would anyone object to having a replacement and relocation, so that at least something more iconic and definite to the subject matter, e.g. a reading room or stacks or interior facilities, might be depicted? Morgan Riley (talk) 02:47, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

I went ahead and did a rough attempt at revising images, with reasons for changes thusly. 1st) the exteriors that were shown before were generic neoclassical buildings, and could equally have been opera houses as libraries. However, interiors of libraries are totally unique and iconic to the topic, as informative about their purpose, and thus three were selected: a traditional reading room, a small library, and the stacks of a massive modern library, showing geographic and topical diversity (not to mention distinctions in appearance and color). 2nd), there was a repetition of very similar-looking stacks, with little extra value as to distinguish one set of rows of books from another (compare with the new lead photos, which represent strong distinctions), and so were removed (usually to comments for posterity). 3rd), several images were, while perhaps, not as useful at the standard resolution, or were of poor color usage, contrast, etc., such that photographically better images were out there. 4th) and finally, several images were added to illustrate portions not previously with them. I hope it has helped! Morgan Riley (talk) 17:49, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
The article is still rather cluttered with redundant images. Too many images are discouraged per WP:LAYIM, WP:Galleries and WP:IMAGE RELEVANCE. SilkTork ✔Tea time 00:03, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
The amount of images seems OK now, though selection could be changed as and when more appropriate ones are found. SilkTork ✔Tea time 21:17, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Source moved from article[edit]

The following source was placed in the main body of the article. It might be suitable for a further reading section, though as the information takes up a lot of space, and it is quite an old text, I wonder if it is appropriate. SilkTork ✔Tea time 21:17, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

I feel this is useful as further reading either here or in the main History of libraries article. Whether there are any more recent editions of thess texts I do not know but the web links are useful as not many readers will have access to the printed editions of 1906-07 and 1967.--Felix Folio Secundus (talk) 08:40, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your response Felix. I've read the first one - The duties & qualifications of a librarian - and it is very charming, but doesn't actually provide encyclopedic information. As the texts are in the public domain, they could be put in Wikisource. Consensus is to limit external links and further reading on Wikipedia otherwise articles would get swamped. I've just glanced at the rest of them, and the one that appears on the surface to offer the most, A brief outline of the history of libraries, is an inaccurate and speculative text. I think that while they are somewhat charming, they offer nothing to the general reader, and because they are older primary texts, they are potentially misleading as they need interpreting. The history, for example, talks about "Osymandyas" as being the first king in history to have a library of note. "Osymandyas" needs to be translated into Ramesses II, and then we realise that the information is incorrect, as the writer was ignorant of the Library of Ashurbanipal from five centuries earlier, and it is not clear what library he is talking about - possibly he is referring to the Ramesseum, which is a temple rather than a library. SilkTork ✔Tea time 10:04, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
It could certainly be left out now there is an assessment of the contents: it came from the John Cotton Dana article where it has more relevance.--Felix Folio Secundus (talk) 09:51, 7 March 2012 (UTC)


I indeed think a section on buildings is needed for this article. I work mostly by dredging things up from older encyclopedias, and I have been surveying their articles on libraries lately, and this struck me as a section that was needed, but in general I am just assembling materials at this point and will come back and, if necessary, do fuller justice to this topic if I think my materials are worthwhile for a modern article. And I would like to invite other contributions at this point by having a stubby sort of section, now with a limited sort of content, but really just something to get the ball rolling. This seems to be happening in the library management article as well, which is definitely much more sketchy, and needs developing, but a sketch seems a reasonable start. I am glad to see work also progressing here, and, SilkTork, I do hope you will honor my strategy for further developing this article. Bob Burkhardt (talk) 14:55, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Yes, please develop. And please don't get discouraged if some of your edits get adjusted in the process - it's not in any way personal, just the collegiate and collaborative nature of Wikipedia editing. Edits get built on, ignored, altered, moved or deleted, as an article progresses. There will be differences of opinion, and changes of opinion, and discussions to reach consensus. As for the buildings section - I think there would be a argument for a section on library architecture, and when I saw on my watchlist that one had apparently been started I was quite interested - however, there was no section, but simply a request for one. Such requests are better placed here on the talkpage. SilkTork ✔Tea time 15:24, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
I see there are a substantial number of references in the further reading on buildings. I have also started a section on "Laws," but only for the U.S., and with a very dated reference, but it seems like a start on a needed aspect. I notice there is something on this for the U.K. in the "History" section, but the topic is neglected in the further readings. I think wiki subsections would be much more effective for the "Types" section. They show up in the outline of the contents at the top, and can easily be further subdivided. I think the empty section with a request for expansion is useful for the reader when it concerns a major topic, as it alerts them as to an aspect of the topic which is important but as yet undeveloped. Bob Burkhardt (talk) 12:47, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
The library buildings books added today came mostly from a browse subject search in Library of Congress catalog on Library buildings. That search produced other titles as well but either not in English or likely to be less useful. Belanger's item is only a pamphlet and may not be relevant to buildings.--Felix Folio Secundus (talk) 19:31, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Removed section Radical Reference Libraries[edit]

I removed the section Radical Reference Libraries as not appropriate for this article. Radical Reference is not a library but a collective of volunteers who answer reference questions on their website and work on projects. The New York City Radical Reference Collective mentioned calls itself “street reference”. Even if they were libraries, no other library has its own section. Perhaps the WP article Digital Reference would be a more appropriate place for this. Also, the unsourced statement “racist and misogynistic Dewey Decimal System” fails neutral POV.

There is separate coverage of The People’s Library (Occupy Wall Street Library), now on its own page, though where the info lives on it and its sister libraries is still under discussion. When that dies down, perhaps a case could be made for a separate section of its own here, but not under “Radical Reference Libraries.” Cataobh (talk) 01:53, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Public lending libraries vs. Public libraries[edit]

Eldamorie, I don’t agree with your reversion of my change of the section Public Lending Library to Public Library, so I bring it up here for discussion. You say “It sounds archaic, but there is an important distinction being made between circulating and non-circulating public libraries.” But that distinction is made within the description of Public Library (“makes at least some of its books available for borrowing”). A totally non-circulating modern public library is pretty rare. Other sections also address this, as well as the intro to Types and the section Reference Libraries. Most types of libraries lend at least some of their material, though the community they lend to may be different.

I just don’t see that the term “Public Lending Library” is in current usage. If your knowledge is different, please give examples. A google search brings up mostly pre 20th century information. The WP article on public libraries is called “Public Library”. See also the international List of library associations.

I've also rewritten the intro to Types, which addresses lending. It’s incorrect to say research libraries don’t lend. Cataobh (talk) 22:27, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Here's my justification - Public library and Lending library have separate articles. Not all public libraries are lending libraries, even if that is the common misconception. For example: there are plenty of branches of the New York Public Library that, despite being a public library, are non-circulating. The article Lending library includes plenty of 20th and 21th century sources. It's not really a major issue either way though. The other issue is one of geographic bias - there are many many many libraries that are non-circulating but public outside of the U.S. - the BNF, the Library of Congress and the National Library of China are all non-circulating. eldamorie (talk) 16:53, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
Additionally, both the Shanghai Library and Nanjing Library are public libraries but not lending libraries. eldamorie (talk) 16:59, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
You seem to be saying that there should be a separate section for Public non-lending libraries, even though lending & non-lending are combined in the sections about other types of libraries. I don’t agree. I clarified in the public library section that they usually lend at least some material, and noted that access to digital collections may supersede “lending,” again making the term seem archaic. I agree geographic bias should be avoided, and it’s certainly possible some public libraries don’t lend anything, but your examples don’t prove that. Yes, the NYPL has collections or parts of collections that don’t circulate - like most libraries. The BNF, LC & the National Library of China aren’t public libraries, but national libraries. Websites for both the Shanghai and Nanjing libraries in fact say that they lend. I corrected the Shanghai article, which was wrong. Since you say “it’s not a major issue either way” , I’m going to assume you’re ok with changing this back to “Public library.” Cataobh (talk) 19:33, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm not saying that there should be a section on non-lending public libraries, I'm saying that we shouldn't try and make claims about all public libraries or whatever that aren't substantiated. I'd note that the BNF, etc. are still public libraries by most definitions, since they are operated with public funds and open to the public. The NYPL isn't there because of certain collections or parts of collections - it's because certain branches don't circulate, although that may change soon. You also didn't address the main point here - that we have a separate article on lending libraries that uses current sources using that terminology. The website of the National Library of Scotland also explicitly states that they are not a "lending library", so regardless of whether or not you think national libraries can or cannot be national libraries, it's pretty clear that the term "lending libraries" is very much a part of current usage. eldamorie (talk) 20:08, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
I guess we’re not going to agree, so I’m going to leave this for now and hope to see another opinion here. But –
--If you’re saying that the statement “A public library … usually makes at least some of its books available for borrowing” is making “claims about all public libraries or whatever that aren't substantiated”, I just don’t see it. Also, note that the first example in the section is the non-lendable “chained library.”
--I don’t agree with your new assertion, that national libraries are the same as public libraries, and worldwide I’m not so sure that they’re always “operated with public funds and open to the public.” Note “national libraries” has its own section plus its own article, both of which say “Unlike a public library, they rarely allow citizens to borrow books.”
--I don’t understand why it’s different if an entire branch doesn’t circulate, as opposed to a collection or a book. Again, “ usually makes at least some of its books available for borrowing” covers it. If you mean the 4 NYPL “research libraries”, which include “research collections” , some of their physical material can be checked out if used on-site, muddling what is meant by “lending library.”
--My point was not that the term “lending libraries” isn’t in current usage in general, but, as I said, the term “public lending libraries” has been pretty much superseded by “public libraries”. The WP article on lending libraries (which needs some work) uses some current sources, but has a strong historical and British slant, other than defining it properly and generally as “a library from which books are lent out” and the “Hidden libraries” section. Cataobh (talk) 19:32, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Size of libraries[edit]

The size of libraries may mean different things: it could be the number of items, the size of the buildings where they are kept (which is quite a problem as it can be assessed in different ways, e.g. linear measurement of shelving, no. of boxes in which the contents are stored, etc.) Something else which could go in the article is "non-book materials" i.e all the other types of material held in a library apart from books and other printed materials. Perhaps this does not belong in the lead since it is librarians' jargon.--Felix Folio Secundus (talk) 10:59, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

The largest library the Lenin Library, Moscow: 23,000,000 items. A small library: perhaps about a hundred books.--Felix Folio Secundus (talk) 20:00, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes, size can mean different things, though I think it's clear that it means number of items here. I was just reducing the original statement which I thought too specific, which was: "Libraries range in size from a few shelves of books in a small organization's library to collections of several million items in the larger national and academic libraries." But I'm fine with taking this sentence out altogether from the lead. Cataobh (talk) 20:35, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
The "non-book materials": I was thinking, do not use that term in the lead because most of those who read this article will not be librarians. However some version of that sentence about size should be in the lead I think; perhaps other editors will comment too.--Felix Folio Secundus (talk) 10:32, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
Certainly I'm against jargon too. I don't see the term "non-book materials" in the article at all, nor do I think it needs to be there. I do think the lead should be clear in concept that libraries can include books and "non-books". I had changed the wording of the lead to be more inclusive, referring to "resources" and "physical or digital access to material", for example. There are numerous examples of the most common kinds of material in the lead, not only books. Cataobh (talk) 19:04, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Series of books called "Library of---" or "--- Library"[edit]

Would this be best dealt with as a separate article? John Harvard Library is a rare example of the same name being used for an institution and for a series of books. There is a long history of these series e.g. Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology (1841).--Felix Folio Secundus (talk) 07:57, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Yes, a separate article could be appropriate. But is it necessary? I say individual series/collections of books published under the same imprint with the word Library in the title can each have their own articles (ie Library of America). I don't think the subject requires an article of its own, however if you have the urge...There are plenty of examples. --Olegkagan (talk) 21:34, 29 August 2012 (UTC)


Is this: "astronomic/astrological texts" correct US English? ("Astronomic" is uncommon in British English so "astronomical/astrological texts" would be expected.)--Felix Folio Secundus (talk) 07:42, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

The Islam heading[edit]

I can't understand the reasoning for a separate heading for Islam at the bottom of the page. I've searched the archived talks and it isn't mentioned anywhere. Some of the material under the heading seems to be redundant as the matter has been somewhat discussed under the Middle Ages section of the History heading. The matter under the Islam heading is about history. My idea is to remove this heading and move the material under the Middle Ages section of the History heading. Your thoughts? Nbl06 (talk) 13:33, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

To Nbl06: I agree this heading struck me as out of place as well. Any other editors want to weigh in before the material here is incorporated into the history section? Chimp1cards (talk) 03:55, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
It's still there, so I suggest moving it to the history section, although to me it fits in better with History of books which has a section on Middle Ages and another on Book Culture that are very European-centric. The Islam section here could become a section on the history of the book in Islamic culture. LaMona (talk) 21:31, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Classical Period[edit]

Classical Period I added more detailed information about the earliest Roman libraries with corresponding citations. I removed one sentence that was made redundant by my section.--Petercannon usf (talk) 22:22, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

Middle Ages[edit]

Major textual additions were made to the section in order to accentuate the importance of the Byzantine Empire during this period and also to add a better organizational structure to the development of libraries during this period.--Petercannon usf (talk) 01:14, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Timeline Section Changes[edit]

Generally speaking, division of history into segments such as "Classical" and "Middle Ages" would be sufficient. However, when discussing the development of libraries, the major division between the periods is the move of the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople. Most library historians consider this the logical division between periods since the libraries in Rome decline during this period and the libraries in Byzantium develop. This is the reason why I have changed the subdivision timelines for the "Classical" and "Middle Ages" periods. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Petercannon usf (talkcontribs) 02:01, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Oldest Modern Library[edit]

Nalanda Library is not mentioned in this article. - — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:55, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

Library architecture[edit]

This rich and timely topic may warrant its own article. There is a separate article for Church architecture, for example. Thoughts? -- M2545 (talk) 20:01, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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"Laws" section[edit]

The "Laws" section only mentions US law, so I tagged it. I like doors (talk) 23:10, 8 October 2015 (UTC)

I edited the header until other areas are included. Robvanvee 05:47, 9 October 2015 (UTC)
That seems reasonable. I like doors (talk) 01:38, 16 October 2015 (UTC)

Reference vs. Research Libraries[edit]

The British Library, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and the New York Public Library Main Branch are research libraries, not reference libraries according to these sources:, and Don't mean to step on anyone's toes but I made these changes because I've been a librarian for 25 years and familiar with these libraries. Lakelandcrib 11/21/15Lakelandcrib (talk) 21:38, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

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