The Story of Documents

Reading List

Lyn Robinson 

January 2016


Key readings

Bawden D and Robinson L (2012). History of information: the story of documents, chapter 2 of Introduction to Information Science, London: Facet, 2012, pp 19-35

[includes extensive references and further reading]. See also chapters 6 and 7 for some historical context for information organisation and information technology respectively

Casson L (2001). Libraries in the Ancient World, New Haven: Yale University Press

Lerner F (2001). The story of libraries; from the invention of writing to the computer age, New York NY: Continuum Publishing

Wright A (2014). Cataloguing the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age. Oxford: Oxofrd University Press

Zeegers M and Barron D (2010). Gatekeepers of knowledge: a consideration of the library, the book and the scholar in the Western world, Oxford: Chandos


Information History/Book History

Black, A. (2006). Information history, Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 40, 441-473

Chartier, R. (1994). The Order of Books: Readers, Authors and Libraries in Europe Between the 14th and 18th Centuries. Stanford University Press

Darnton, R. (2009). The case for books, New York: Public Affairs

Feather, J. (2005). A history of British publishing (2nd edn.), London: Routledge

Febvre, L. and Martin, H.J. (1976, reprinted 2010). The coming of the book: the impact of printing 1450-1800, London: Verso

Finkelstein, D. and McCleery, S. (2013). Introduction to book history, (2nd edn.), London: Routledge

Havelock, E.A. ((1988). The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present. Yale University Press

History of the book in the West: a library of critical essays. (2010). Multivolume Series. Ashgate

Roberts, J. and Robinson, P. (1400-1455)

Gadd, I. (1455-1700)

Shevlin, E.F.  (1700-1800)

Colclough, S. and Weedon, A.  (1800-1914)

Weedon, A.  ( 1914-2000)

Gleick, J. (2011), The information: a history, a theory, a flood, London: Fourth Estate

Johns, A. (2000). The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making. University of Chicago Press

Manguel, A. (1997). A history of reading, London: Flamingo

Manguel, A. (2008). The library at night, London: Yale University Press

McKenzie, D.F. (1999). Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts, Cambridge University Press

Nappo, C. (2011). Recent work in library and information history, Library and Information History, 27(1), 59-67

Pearson, D. (2011). Books as History: the importance of books beyond their texts, London: British Library

Singer, C.A. (2010). Ready reference collections: a history, Reference and User Services Quarterly, 49(3), 253-264

Suarez, M.F. and Woudhuysen, H.R. (2013). The Book: A Global History, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Twyman, M. (1998). British Library Guide to Printing History, London: British Library

Warner, J. (1999). An information view of history, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50(12), 1125-1126

Weller, T. (2007). Information history: its importance, relevance and future, Aslib Proceedings, 59(4/5), 437-448

Weller, T. (2008). Information history – an introduction: exploring and emergent field, Oxford: Chandos

Weller, T. (2011). Information History in the Modern World: histories of the information age, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Zeegers M and Barron D (2010). Gatekeepers of knowledge: a consideration of the library, the book and the scholar in the Western world, Oxford: Chandos



Bahn, P. (2010). Prehistoric rock art: polemics and progress, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Clayton, E. (2013). The Golden Thread. Atlantic Books

Charpin, D. (2010). Reading and Writing in Babylon, Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press

Collier, M. and Manley, W. (2003). How to read Egyptian Hieroglyphs, London: British Museum Press

Davies, W.D. (1987). Egyptian Hieroglyphs, London: British Museum Press

Finkel, I. and Taylor, J. (2015). Cuneiform, London: British Museum Press

Hooker, J.T. (1990). Reading the Past: Ancient Writing from Cuneiform to the Alphabet. London: British Museum Press

Houston, S.D. (ed.) (2004). The first writing: script invention as history and process, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Jean, G. (1992). Writing: the story of alphabets and scripts. Thames and Hudso

Robinson, A. (1995). The story of writing, London: Thames and Hudson

Robinson, A. (2009). Writing and script: a very short introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Rosen, M. ( 2013). Alphabetical: how every letter tells a story, John Murray Publishers

Wilson, P. (xxxx). Hieroglyphs: a very short introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press


Ancient and Classical World – General

Beard, M. (2015). SPQR: A history of ancient Rome. Profile Books Ltd.

Beard, M. (2014). Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations. Profile Books Ltd

Beard, M. and Henderson, J. (1995). Classics: a very short introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Bourke, S. (2008). The Middle East, the cradle of civilization revealed, London: Thames and Hudson

British Museum (2015). The Rosetta Stone. Available at:

Cunliffe, B. (2013). Britain Begins. Oxford University Press

Fagel, R. (1991). The Iliad, Penguin Classics

Finkel, I. (2014). The Ark before Noah. Hodder and Stoughton

Fletcher, J. (2015). The Story of Egypt. Hodder and Stougthon

Fowler, R. (ed.) (2004). Cambridge Companion to Homer, Cambridge University Press

Geller, M.J. (2015). Ancient Babylonian Medicine, Theory and Practice. Wiley-Blackwell

Griffin, J. (1983). Homer on Life and Death, Oxford University Press

van de Mieroop, M. (2007). A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000-323 BC, (2nd edn.), Oxford: Blackwell

Oliver, N. (2012). A History of Ancient Britain. Weidenfeld and Nicolson

Rathbone, D. (2009). Civilizations of the Ancient World: a visual sourcebook, London: Thames and Hudson

Rogers, N. (2012). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. Egypt: Lorenz Books

Teeter, E. and Brewer D.J. (1999). Egypt and the Egyptians, Cambridge: University Press

Wood, M. (1992, reprinted 2005). In search of the first civilizations, London: BBC Books


Ancient and Classical World – Books/Libraries/Archives

Brosius, M. (ed.) (2003). Ancient archives and archival traditions: concepts of record-keeping in the ancient world, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cerney, J. and Richards, G.C. (1947, reprint 1985). Paper and Books in Ancient Egypt, London: Ares

Dalby, A. (1986). The Sumerian Catalogs, Journal of Library History, 21(3),

Dix, T.K. (1994). “Public Libraries in Ancient Rome: Ideology and Reality. Libraries and Culture, 29(3), 282-295

 El-Abbadi, M. and Fathallah, O.M. (eds.) (2008). What happened to the ancient library of Alexandria? Leiden: Brill

Ewald, L.A. (2004). Library Culture in Ancient Rome 100 BC – AD 400, Kentucky Libraries, 68(1), 9-11

Eyre, C. (2013). The Use of Documents in Pharonic Egypt, (Oxford Studies in Ancient Documents). Oxford University Press

Havelock, E.A. (1988). The muse learns to write: reflections on orality and literacy from antiquity to the present, Yale University Press

Houston, G.W. (2014). Inside Roman Libraries: Book Collections and Their Management in Antiquity. University of North Carolina Press

König, J. (2007). Ordering Knowledge in the Roman Empire. Cambridge University Press

König, J. (2013). Ancient Libraries. Cambridge University Press

Meiggs, R. and Lewis, D. (1989). A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions to the End of the Fifth Century BC. Revised Edition. Clarendon Paperbacks

Nicholls, M. (2005). Roman Public Libraries. PhD Thesis. The Queen’s College Oxford.

Oldfather, W.A. (1937). The earliest recorded library regulation, The Library Quarterly, 7

Parkinson, R. and Quirke, S. (1995). Papyrus, London: British Museum Press

Phillips, H. (2010). The Great Library of Alexandria? Library Philosophy and Practice, 12(2), 1-22

Postgate, N. (2014). Bronze Age Bureaucracy – Writing and the Practice of Government in Assyria. Cambridge University PRess

Reynolds, L.D. and Wilson, N.G. (2013). Scribes and scholars: a guide to the transmission of Greek and Latin Literature, (4th Edition), Oxford: Clarendon

Roberts, C.H. and Skeat, T.C. (1983). The Birth of the Codex, London: OUP for the British Academy

Sider, S. (1990). Herculaneum’s Library in 79AD: The villa of the papyri, Libraries and Culture, 25(4), 534-542

Taylor, J.H. (ed.) (2010). Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, London: British Museum Press

Too, Y.L. (2010). The idea of the library in the ancient world, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Webb, K. (2013). “The house of books”: Libraries and Archives in Ancient Egypt. Libri, 63(1), 21-32

Wellisch, H.W. (1981). Ebla: the world’s oldest library, Journal of Library History, 16(3), 488-500

Wilson, N.G. (1967). The Libraries of the Byzantine world, in Greek, Roman and Byzantine studies, 8, 53-80

Winsbury, R. (2009). The Roman Book, London: Duckworth



Shuyong Jiang, (2007). Into the source and history of Chinese culture: knowledge classification in ancient China. Libraries and the Cultural Record, 42(1), 1-20

Zheng Yunyan, (2014). Seeking the Origin of the Chinese Library from its Tradition. Libri, 64(3), 263-276


Medieval World

Al-Khalili, J. (2010). Pathfinders: the golden age of Arabic science. London: Allen Lane

Breay, C. (2002). Magna Carta, manuscripts and myths. London: British Library

British Library, Friends of the Alexandria Library. (2003). Arabic Treasures of the British Library: From Alexandria to Baghdad and beyond. London: British Library

Crossley-Holland, K. (2009). The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology. Oxford University Press

Godden, M. (2013). The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature. Cambridge University Press

Gneuss, H. (1981). A preliminary list of manuscripts written or owned in England up to 1100. Anglo-Saxon England, 9, 1-60

Haldon, J. (2010). The Palgrave Atlas of Byzantine History. Palgrave Macmillan

de Hamel, C. (1992). Medieval Craftsmen, Scribes and Illustrators. London: British Museum Press

Higham, N. and Ryan, M.J. (2013). The Anglo-Saxon World. Yale University Press

Lyons, J. (2009). The House of Wisdom: how the Arabs transformed Western civilization. London: Bloomsbury

Mango, C. (Editor). (2002). The Oxford History of Byzantium. Oxford University Press

Peters, F.E. (1968). Aristotle and the Arabs: The Aristotelian Tradition in Islam. New York University Press

Petrucci, A. (1995). Writers and Readers in Medieval Italy. (Edited and translated by Charles M Radding). Yale University Press

Webster, L. (2012). Anglo-Saxon Art. Cornell University Press

Wood, M. (1981). In Search of the Dark Ages. London: BBC Books


Renaissance and Enlightenment Period

Bawden, D. and Robinson, L. (2000). A distant mirror? The Internet and the printing press, Aslib Proceedings, 52(2), 51-57

Bloom, J. M. (2001). Paper before Print: The history and impact of paper in the Islamic world, Singapore: CS Graphics

Bishoff, B. (1994). Manuscripts and libraries in the age of Charlemagne; translated and edited by Michael Gorman, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Brown, M.P. (1993). A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600. 2nd Edition. University of Toronto Press

Burke, P. (1999). The Italian Renaissance: culture and society in Italy, Cambridge: Polity Press

Chartier, R. (1994). The order of books: readers, authors and libraries in Europe between the 14th and 18th centuries. Stanford University Press

Dana, J.C. and Kent, H.W. (eds.) (1906). The literature of libraries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Company

Eisenstein, E. (1993). The printing revolution in early modern Europe, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

Haider, J. and Sundin, O. (2010). Beyond the legacy of the Enlightenment? Online encyclopaedias as digital heteropias. Available at:

Haider, J. and Sundin O. (2014). Changing orders of knowledge? Encyclopedias in transation. Thematic section of Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research, edited by J Haider and O Sundin, all papers available at:

McCutcheon, R.P. (1924). The “Journal des Scavans” and the “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society”, Studies in Philology, 21(4), 626-628

Pearson, D. (2012). The English Private Library in the Seventeenth Century, The Library, 7th Series, 13(4), 379-399

Schulte-Albert, H. G. (1971). Gottfried Wilheim Leibnitz and Library Classification, The Journal of Library History, 6(2), 133-152

Tanner, M. (2008). The Raven King: Matthias Corvinus and the fate of his lost library, London: Yale University Press

Wagner, B. (2010). Early Printed Books as Material Objects, IFLA Publications

Wellisch, H.H. and Gessner, C. (1981). How to make an index sixteenth century style; Conrad Gessner on indexes and catalogs, International Classification, 8(1),


 Nineteenth Century to Date

Baker, W. (1990). Libraries and librarians in the 1890s: a survey of the library scene 100 years ago, Library Review, 39(2), 14-29

Buckland, M. (2006). Emanuel Goldberg and his knowledge machine, Westport CT: Libraries Unlimited

Fyfe, A. (2010). Steam and the landscape of knowledge: W&R Chambers in the 1830s -1850s, in Ogborn, M. and Withers, C.J.W. (eds.), Geographies of the book, Farnham: Ashgate, pp 51-78

Hamilton, J. (2007). London lights: the minds that moved the city that shook the world, London: John Murray (for a popular account of developments in early 19th century London, with references to libraries and the communication of knowledge, and including related issues such as learned societies, museums, printing, lithography, photography, etc.)

Hewish, J, (2000). Rooms near Charing Cross: the Patent Office under the Commissioners 1852-1883, London: British Library

Meadows, J. (2004). The Victorian scientist: growth of a profession, London: British Library

Minter, C. (2013). Academic Library Reform and the Ideal of the Librarian in England, France and Germany in the Long Nineteenth Century, Library and Information History, 29(1), 19-37

Rayward, W.B. and Bowden, M.E. (eds.) (2004). The history and heritage of scientific and technological information systems, Medford NJ: Information Today Inc.

Weller, T. and Bawden, D. (2006). Individual perceptions: a new chapter on Victorian information history, Library History, 22(2), 137-156

Weller, T and Bawden, D. (2005). The social and technological origins of the information society: an analysis of the crisis of control in England, 1830-1890, Journal of Documentation, 61(6), 777-802


Information Organisation and Associated Technology

Black, A. and Brunt, R. (1999). Information management in business, libraries and British military intelligence: towards a history of information management, Journal of Documentation, 55(4), 361-374

Black, A., Muddiman, D. and Plant, H. (2007). The early information society: information management in Britain before the computer, Aldershot: Ashgate

Blair, A.M. (2010). Too much to know: managing scholarly information before the modern age, New Haven: Yale University Press

Bourne, C.P. and Hahn, T.B. (2003). A history of online information services, Cambridge MA: MIT Press

Bowman, J.H. (2005). Classification in British public libraries: a historical perspective, Library History, 21(3), 143-173

Bowman, J.H. (2006). The development of description in cataloguing prior to ISBD, Aslib Proceedings, 58(1-2), 34-48

Briggs, A. and Burke, P. (2009). A Social History of the Media, from Gutenberg to the Internet, Cambridge: Polity

Burke, P. (2000). A Social History of Knowledge: from Gutenberg tp Diderot. Cambridge: Polity

Burke, P. (2012). A Social History of Knowledge: from the Encyclopédie to Wikipedia. Cambridge: Polity

Carpenter, M. (2002). The original 73 rules of the British Museum: a preliminary analysis, Cataloguing and Classification Quarterly, 35(1/2), 23-36

Chan, L.M. (2007). Cataloguing and classification: an introduction (3rd edn.), Lanham MD: Scarecrow Press, chapters 1 and 2 [for bibliographic control in the 19th and 20th centuries]

Chaplin, A.H. (1987). GK: 150 years of the General Catalogue of Printed Books in the British Museum, Aldershot: Scolar Press [for 19th and 20th century developments in bibliographic control]

Davinson, D.E. (1981). Bibliographic Control, (2nd Edition) Clive Bingley

Ditmas, E.M.R. (1950). The Literature of Special Librarianship, ASLIB Proceedings, 2(4), 217-243

Day, R.E. (2014). Indexing it all. The [Subject] in the Age of Documentation, Information and Data. MIT Press

Dousa, T.M. (2010). Facts and frameworks in Paul Otlets and Julius Otto Kaisers theories of knowledge organization, Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 36(2), 19-25 available from

[for the original ideas on the classification and indexing of specific concepts and information within documents, rather than the document as a whole]

Dunsire, G., Hillman, D. and Phipps, J. (2012), Reconsidering Universal Bibliographic Control in light of the semantic web, Journal of Library Metadata, 12(2/3), 164-176 [future of BC, with technologies like linked data]

Foucault, M. (1982). The Archaeology of Knowledge, Vintage

Hall, J.L. (2011). Online retrieval history: how it all began; some personal recollections, Journal of Documentation, 67(1), 182-193

Headrick, D. (2000). When information came of age: technologies of knowledge in the age of reason and revolution, 1700-1850, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Humphreys, K.W. (1988). A National Library in Theory and in Practice (Panizzi Lectures), London: The British Library

IFLA series on bibliographic control is a series of monographs, published by de Gruyter on behalf of the International Federation of Library Associations, covers all aspects: a list of the books of the series is at

Krajewski, M. (2011). Paper machines: about cards and catalogs, 1548-1929, Cambridge MA: MIT Press

Lund, N.W. and Buckland, M. (2008). Document, Documentation, and the Document Academy: Introduction, Arch Sci, 8, 161-164

Maxwell, R.L. (2010), Bibliographic control, in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (3rd edn), London: Taylor and Francis, pp 497-505

Popper, K.R. (1972). Objective Knowledge: An evolutionary approach, Oxford University Press

Myung-Ja, H. (2012), New discovery services and library bibliographic control, Library Trends, 61(1), 162-172

Powell, E.C. (2000). A history of Chemical Abstracts Service, 1907-1998, Science and Technology Libraries, 18(4), 93-110

Rayward, W.B. (1994). Visions of Xanadu: Paul Otlet (1868-1944) and hypertext, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 45(4), 235-250

Rayward, W.B (ed.) (2008). European modernism and the information society, Aldershot: Ashgate

Stephens, A. (1994). The British National Bibliography 1959-1973, Boston Spa: British Library

Stone, A.T. (2000). The LCSH century: a brief history of the Library of Congress Subject Headings, Cataloguing and Classification Quarterly, 29(1/2), 1-15

Too, Y.L. (2010). Library catalogues: from literacy description to literacy self-descriptions, chapter 2 of The idea of the library in the ancient world, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 50-79 [describes the development of descriptive tags, catalogues and tables of content in the Graeco-Roman world]

Zumer, M. (ed.) (2009), National bibliographies in the digital age: guidance and new directions, München: K.G. Saur


History of Libraries, Institutions and Organisations

Barbier, F. (2013). Histoire des Bibiothèques: D’Alexandrie aux bibliothèques virtuelles, Armand Colin

Black, A. (2000). The public library in Britain: 1914-2000, London: British Library

Campbell, J.W.P. (2013). The Library a World History, London: Thames and Hudson

 The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland, 3 volumes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006 (a work of considerable scholarship, with chapters covering many institutions, sectors and issues)

Vol 1 to 1640 (Elizabeth Leedham-Gree)

Vol 2 1640-1850 (Giles Mandelbrote)

Vol 3 1850-2000 (Alistair Black)

Casson L (2001). Libraries in the Ancient World, New Haven: Yale University Press

Caygill, M. (2002). The Story of the British Museum, (3rd edn.), London: British Museum Press

Conaway, J. (2000). America’s Library: the story of the Library of Congress 1800-2000, New Haven CT: Yale University Press

Cutter, C.A. (1883). The Buffalo Public Library in 1983, available from:

Glasgow, E. (2003). Two public libraries in Victorian Liverpool, Library History, 19(2), 129-141

Harris, M.H. (1984). History of libraries in the western world, Metuchen NJ: Scarecrow Press [a classic text, still very readable]

Harris, P.R. (1998). A History of the British Museum Library 1753-1973, London: British Library

Humphreys, K.W. (1988). A National Library in Theory and in Practice (Panizzi Lectures), London: The British Library

Jackson, S.L., (1974). Libraries and Librarianship in the West: a brief history, New York: McGraw-Hill [a good grounding, but out-dated in some parts]

Leapman, M. (2012). The Book of the British Library, London: British Library

Lerner F (2001). The story of libraries; from the invention of writing to the computer age, New York NY: Continuum Publishing

Muddiman, D. (2005). A new history of ASLIB, 1924-1959, Journal of Documentation, 61(3), 402-428

Murray, S.A.P. (2009). The library, an illustrated history, Chicago: ALA

Pressler, C. and Attar, K. (eds.) (2012). Senate House Library, University of London, London: Scala

Rayward, W.B. (1997). The origins of information science and the International Institute of Bibliography/International Federation for Information and Documentation (FID), Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 48(4), 289-300

Sturges, P. (2003). Great city libraries of Britain: their history from a European perspective, Library History, 19(2), 93-111

Zheng, Y. (2014). Library History: Seeking the origin of the Chinese Library from its tradition, Libri, 64(3), 263-276


History and Definition of Information Science

Aspray, W. (2011). The history of information science and other traditional information domains: models for future research, Libraries and the Cultural Record, 46(2), 230-248

Rayward, W.B. (1996). The history and historiography of information science: some reflections, Information Processing and Management, 32(1), 3-17