Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mistresses of the House of Books

"What a vapid job title our culture gives to those honorable laborers the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians variously called Learned Men of the Magic Library, Scribes of the Double House of Life, Mistresses of the House of Books, or Ordainers of the Universe...'Librarian'...that mouth-contorting, graceless grind of a word...I would abolish the word entirely and turn back the lexicological wisdom of the ancients, who saw librarians not as feeble sorters and shelvers but as heroic guardians. In Assyrian, Babylonian and Egyptian cultures alike, those who toiled at the shelves were often bestowed with a proud, even soldierly title: Keeper of the Books...the stakes are high. If they fail, the past dies."

-- Miles Harvey, from 'The Island of Lost Maps; A True Story of Cartographic Crime'.

Image shows Medieval librarians at work.

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