Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1342 – 1400) is the great medieval inventor of words for the English language, words including “library.” He uses that term to represent a distinct spatial home that is organized with skill to find knowledge from the study of texts. A bibliophile himself, Chaucer celebrates the joys and trials of reading while overlooking the library as a substantive learning haven. The location where learning transpires is always secondary to the contents of the books themselves. The library is a documented medieval bedrock to education, even wisdom, but it is little more than a shadow in Chaucer’s poetry. If he is never converted to the judicious use of the library, his fictional output captures a relevant passion for great books and underscores an important contrast between medieval and modern perceptions of the library.