Libraries: Chicken Soup for the Soul

Rameses II, who ascended the throne in 1300 B.C.E., assembled a library that contained official documents, literature, historical treatises, and works of moral philosophy and proverbial wisdom, science, and medicine. Rameses’ library bears the inscription “the dispensary of the soul” (or “the house of healing for the soul”).

In 1345, Richard de Bury wrote in Philobiblon, “All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion, unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books.”

In 1699, the Rev. James Kirkwood wrote in An Overture for Founding and Maintaining Bibliothecks in every Paroch throughout this Kingdom: “[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.”

And in 1780, Jean-Baptiste Cotton des Houssayes wrote in The Duties and Qualifications of a Librarian, “It is impossible, in fact, to attach too much importance to the advantages resulting from an intelligent and methodical order in the arrangement of a library. … If, as is said, books are the medicine of the soul, what avail these intellectual pharmacopoeias, if the remedies which they contain are not disposed in order and labeled with care?”

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