This Day in Information: The Bodleian Library

Today in 1602, the Bodleian Library was officially inaugurated at Oxford University. “Thomas Bodley wanted his library to become ‘a notable treasure for the multitude of volumes: an excellent benefit for the use and ease of studentes: and a singular ornament in the University.’ His vision of a library serving not only Oxford but the whole scholarly world – what he called the Republic of the Learned – has defined the Bodleian’s role as a university, national, and international library for over four hundred years.”

Indeed, the Republic of the Learned had flourished and throughout the 17th century, parish (and public) libraries were established in many towns in England (e.g., Francis Trigge Chained Library, Chetham’s Library). But that wasn’t enough for the Reverend James Kirkwood who published in 1699 “An Overture for Founding and Maintaining Bibliothecks in every Paroch throughout the Kingdom, ” arguing that  “[The] Establishing of Bibliothecks in every Paroch … will allure and provoke Gentlemen to spend their spare Hours in reading of new Books, which may prove a good Means to restrain them from Gaming and Drinking, by preventing that uneasie wearisome Idleness of Mind, which is the Parent of these, and many other Enormities.”

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