January 24, 2022

Video Recording: A Conversation With the Authors of “The Library: A Fragile History”

The New York Public Library program (part of the NYPL Live series) embedded below was recorded on December 8, 2021.


Historians explore the contested and dramatic history of the library, from the famous collections of the ancient world to the public resources we cherish today.

Famed across the known world, jealously guarded by private collectors, built up over centuries, destroyed in a single day, ornamented with gold leaf and frescoes or filled with bean bags and children’s drawings—the history of the library is rich, varied, and stuffed full of incident. In their new book, the first major history of its kind, historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen survey the antiquarians and philanthropists who shaped the world’s greatest collections, trace the rise and fall of fashions and tastes, and reveal the high crimes and misdemeanors committed in pursuit of rare and valuable manuscripts.

In a conversation moderated by historian Jane Kamensky, Pettegree and der Weduwen discuss the fragile history of libraries, and the complex legacy of collecting.

About The Speakers

Andrew Pettegree, FBA is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He is the author of over a dozen books in the fields of Reformation history and the history of communication, including Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion, The Book in the Renaissance, The Invention of News, and Brand Luther: 1517, Print and the Making of the Reformation.

Arthur der Weduwen is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of St Andrews and Deputy Director of the University Short Title Catalogue. He researches and writes on the history of the Dutch Republic, books, news, libraries and early modern politics. He is the author of Dutch and Flemish Newspapers of the Seventeenth Century, The Bookshop of the World: Making and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age (coauthored with Andrew Pettegree) and two books on early newspaper advertising in the Netherlands.

Jane Kamensky is Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University and the Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Her most recent book, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley, won four major prizes and was a finalist for several others. A former Commissioner of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, she serves as a Trustee of the Museum of the American Revolution, and as one of the principal investigators on the NEH/ Department of Education-funded initiative, Educating for American Democracy.

Source Web Page (via NYPL)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.