Date of this Version
The contemporary academic library occupies a crucial role in the teaching and learning mission of universities. This centrality is perhaps best exemplified by the popular saying that the library is the heart of the university. But has this always been the case since the inception of universities in the High Middle Ages? To help answer this question, the following discussion traces the creation of universities within the medieval world, the textual traditions that informed their scholarship and pedagogy, and the later birth of academic libraries within the college and university system. The author attempts to demonstrate that the rise of academic libraries was not inevitable but, rather, the product of the interplay of myriad macro- and microlevel forces, each contributing to the library’s eventual development. To accomplish this, the phenomena surrounding the emergence of medieval academic libraries are embedded within an adaptation of Robert Darnton’s model, the Communications Circuit. It is the hope of the author that having a better sense of the history of the profession will allow current library and information science professionals to develop more robust professional identities and deeper philosophies of practice.