This monumental work, first published in 1859, covers the history of libraries from classical times to the mid-nineteenth century, in Britain, Europe and America. The author was influential in founding municipal libraries in nineteenth-century Britain and regarded access to good libraries as crucial to education and civilisation. Volume 1, divided by the author into five 'books', is reissued here in two parts. The first two books deal with classical and medieval libraries, examining English and European monastic libraries in depth. Book 3 describes the core collections of the British Museum and other major university, ecclesiastical and public libraries of Britain and Ireland. Book 4 discusses the principal libraries of America and Book 5 those of continental Europe, from France to Hungary and Russia. The final volume (in four 'books') sets out Edwards' views on all aspects of library management, from physical layout and classification to rules and regulations.