Why Do We Have Libraries?

Why Do We Have Libraries?
Abigail Fillmore: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One class period


Standards Compliance
NCSS Strand 1
Culture
NCSS Strand 2
Time, Continuity, and Change
NCTE Standard 4
Students adjust the use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate with different audiences and purposes.
NCTE Standard 7
Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions, and problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data.
ISTE Standard 5
Technology research tools

Introduction:

Abigail Fillmore was very interested in books and libraries, as is First Lady Laura Bush.  Mrs. Fillmore actually created the first White House library, a contribution for which she is remembered today. 

Objectives:

Students who participate in this activity with learn to research the answers to specific questions, will gain knowledge about the history of libraries, and will increase their vocabularies.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet

Procedures:

Divide students into several groups: each group should read its own part of the article “Survivor: The History of the Library."
  
     Group 1: Libraries in Ancient History
     Group 2: Literacy Builds Libraries (Greece)
     Group 3: The Great Library (Alexandria)
     Group 4: When in Rome (Rome)
     Group 5:  Monasticism Transforms the Library
     Group 6:  Renaissance of Learning
     Group 7:  The Golden Age
 
Each group should make a poster giving information about libraries in its particular time period.  Questions that might suggest poster items are as follows:
 
     Group 1: 

  • How old is the idea of a library?
  • What does the term “repository” mean?
  • Where is Mesopotamia?

    Group 2: 

  • What was Aristotle’s contribution to the library idea?
  • How did “books” look in ancient times?
  • Where were books reproduced? 

    Group 3: 

  • What was the purpose of the Library at Alexandria?
  • What is a “codex”?
  • What happened to the Library at Alexandria?

    Group 4: 

  • How did people use the books in the Roman public 
     library?
  • Was it hard to find someone will to take the position of library director?
  • Who were the people who formed the library staff?
  • In what unusual kind of building were libraries sometimes placed?

    Group 5: 

  • How did libraries fare in the eastern part of the divided 
    Roman empire?
  • How did Christianity affect the development of libraries?
  • How was the idea of “inter-library loan” born? 

    Group 6: 

  • How did the invention of the printing press affect the 
    development of libraries?
  • Why did only wealthy aristocrats have private libraries?
  • How did the growth of universities affect libraries? 

    Group 7: 

  • What is the oldest library collection in America?
  • What is a subscription library?
  • What was the origin of the idea of a free, public library? 
     

When students have completed their posters, be sure to display them for all to see.
 

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson can be expanded by having students interview local library personnel on the history of the local public library, and write a short history of the local institution.

Sources & Resources:

Credits:

This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.