Libraries in the Medieval and Renaissance Periods
John Willis Clark
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The library-era, as we may call it, of the Christian world, began with the publication of the Rule of S. Benedict, early in the sixth century. But, just as that Rule emphasized and arranged on the lines of an ordered system observances which had long been practised by isolated congregations or individuals living in solitude — so the part of it which deals with study was evidently no new thing. S. Benedict did not invent literature or libraries ; he only lent the sanction of his name to the study of the one and the formation of the other. That libraries existed before his period is proved by allusions to them in the Fathers and other early writers; but, as those allusions are general, and say nothing from which either their size or their arrangement can be inferred.