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Libraries of the Middle Ages LIB222 Dustin Sealey

A library can be known or perceived two totally different ways; both a library can be a workshop of study, knowledge, and education and it can be seen as a museum. The types of libraries discussed throughout this paper is what most of us today would consider a museum rather than a workshop which are the libraries of the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages covered the time frame of the fourth to the fifteenth century. It will soon be discovered that libraries were just as important then as they are now. Throughout this paper one will achieve a better understanding and learn how and why libraries were developed, the importance of libraries, about the librarians during the Middle Ages, and who used libraries such a long time ago. In Europe there are two sides, the east and the west. Eastern Europe libraries obtained many scientific and mathematical texts that were preserved by Muslim scholars between the eighth and ninth centuries. The Chinese had an efficient way of making paper, which in turn lowered the cost of books. By the tenth century some libraries in east Europe contained nearly 400,000 books (Brand 2006). However, the focus will remain with the libraries in western Europe during the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages in Europe, monastery libraries, scriptoria, and university libraries became prevalent in preserving knowledge as well as restricting it (Weise 2004). The first people to arrive in western and adopt the lifestyle of a hermit were the Celtic Christians in Gaul. It was near Gaul were the first western monastery was built. As monasteries were being built the Christian world began and so did the library era. The Rule of St. Benedict started it all. St. Benedict did not invent libraries, but he did emphasize and arrange an ordered system of isolated congregations or individuals living in solitude (Clark 2006). It did not take long before western intellectuals such as Jerome and Augustine to reflected and adopted the educational activities

Libraries of the Middle Ages LIB222 Dustin Sealey

used by the Romans. The fact that Christianity was based on text largely contributed to the emergence of the importance of being literate and development of libraries. In the Middle Ages, libraries were equipped with animal skin, ink, pens, binding supplies, skilled scribes, and artisans. At the beginning these materials were used to copy text. However, as the first Christian missionaries arrived in Europe they brought with them a foreign language and religion. It was not long after their arrival when the monks in new abbeys needed books of liturgical services, collections of sermons, writings of authorities, and commentaries of scripture. Thus, the young boys who were entering in the monastic and clerical service needed educated in grammar, rhetoric, music, and other liberal arts subjects Also, poets were being copied and imitated, and knowing how to write a letter became more important. All of these things contributed to books being borrowed and/or copied and preserving manuscripts (1994). As knowledge became more valuable, seven centuries later schools began to grow in the 11th and 12th centuries. Along with universities were libraries. The collegiate system was not suppose to resemble the monastic style. However, it was very difficult for such a young community to adopt anything else. The only libraries they know are those with a monastic fashion, inevitably many universities ended up adopting many monastic library styles. For instance, Oxford and Cambridge borrowed provisions directly from monastic customs (1994). Now knowing the different types of libraries in the Middle Ages and who used them, it is time investigate what is inside. First, official library buildings werent erected until the fourteenth and/or fifteenth century because most did not accumulate enough literature to do so. At monasteries books were kept in the church because there wasnt enough books to even think about creating a special place for them. As books more books accumulated churches moved

Libraries of the Middle Ages LIB222 Dustin Sealey

literature and books to cloisters. A cloister is a common living room for monks, where they read and studied, and carried out most of their daily activities (Rawlings 2006). When books were first placed in the cloister they were either chained or in presses (aramaria). On ones way to a cloister you would follow a winding staircase. Within the cloister are desks 9 feet long and 5 feet 6 inches high where books were chained on the right hand side of each book(Clark 2006). Books were also placed in cupboards that were near the size of 10 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The cupboards are lined with wood so moisture would not depreciate the books. As books sat on the cupboards they were divided vertically as well as horizontally while separated from each other in fear of damaging the books (Clark 2006). Typically, cloisters were three times longs as they were wide, which included cupboards where different volumes were placed. Perhaps, one of the most unique characteristic of a cloister is its long almost continuous windows that perfectly light the room, in some cloisters you will see windows distinctively decorated with mottos or white glass. The trend of how books were kept and the design in a library and/or cloister continued in universities, because many of them were being fitted at the same time (Clark 2006). Librarian. Today, that is what we call the person who is responsible for the care and administration of a collection of books owned by a public building. On the other hand, in the Middle Ages this person was called an armarium. Prior to being the armarium, this person was used as the leader of the choir.. The name armarium derives from the presses, cupboards, or almerie in which the books are kept, this is closely related to the modern work almoner; as the almoner server from his cupboard food and drink for the needy, so the librarian deals out books, which are food and drink for the soul (Richardson 2006). Before the librarian could go to work back then he would be sworn into office on the Holy Gospels, as became one whose duty it is to furnish to those who have need the food and weapons of the soul. One abbot proclaimed

Libraries of the Middle Ages LIB222 Dustin Sealey

that books are nourishment of the soul, and another says, As the armory is to the castle, so the library is to a monastery. As you can see the serious nature of this job and the vital role a librarian played in a monks life. The duties of a monastic librarian varied at each monastery, but generally followed the same monastic rules; which really do not differentiate greatly from the modern day librarian. The monastic librarian was in charge of all the books, which entails; frequently examining the books of damage from damp, dust, mice, and moth worms, and repair the when damaged. Prior to this the librarian was expected to take on the task of classify and catalogue each book. Typically, books were classified as so, first-Biblical literature, then church writers, and finally secular writers. Also, he was in charge of what books were lent out and to whom they were lent out too. Perhaps the most tedious duty of the librarian was copying manuscripts from other libraries or loaners. This had to be done in order to gain inventory of books and meet the needs of the monks (Richardson 2006). Like today, being a librarian was/is not an occupation that will make one wealthy. If a monastic librarian vowed to poverty then he received an award of a good conscience. If the librarian did not take this vow he would receive a modest stipend, sometimes as much as fortythree shillings and fourpence, or even ten pounds and four yards of woolen cloth, on a yearly basis. Nevertheless, the librarian was held financially responsible for every book lost or damaged. Needless to say, the evolution of libraries has been quite dramatic and interesting. This paper should allow one to understand how our forefather read and wrote. Personally, it makes these people actually seem like real people, rather than just names. Their motives were much different than ours today, but the more we study what they did, the more we realize how

Libraries of the Middle Ages LIB222 Dustin Sealey

laborious, artistic, and conscientious they were (Clark 2006). They were and are the root of our knowledge today. Their hope is now a reality.

Libraries of the Middle Ages LIB222 Dustin Sealey

REFERENCES Brand, M. J. (2006). Literacy as a community ico. A Critical Evaluation as a Community Icon in the Design of a New Public Library for Stellenbosch, , 6. Retrieved from http://webcache.g oogleusercontent.com/search? q=cache:bW6JBklX4tkJ:www.nmmu.ac.za/documents/theses/Literacy%2520as%2520a %2520Community %2520Icon.pdf+types+of+libraries+in+the+middle+ages&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us &source=www.google.com Weise, F. (2004). Being there: the library as a place . Journal of the Medical Library Association , 92(1), 6-13. Retrieved from h ttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC314099/ Clark, J. W. (2006). Libraries in the medieval and renaissance periods. Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes . Retrieved from http:/ /www.gutenberg.org/files/19415/19415-h/19415-h.htm al, W. (1994). Medieval France : an Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Rawlings , G.B. (2006). The story of books. Retrieved from http://www.aboutbookbinding.com/story/Main.html Richardson, E. C. (2006). The Medieval Library . In . Retrieved from http://historyreadings.com/uk/med_lib/index.html