Communities and Collections

Defining the Public Library in the Roman Empire, c. 40 BCE – 114 CE

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • This poster will seek to describe and define what a “public library” was in ancient Rome during the high empire. As reported by Suetonius, the first “public” library in Rome was conceived of by Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, and several emperors after enacted the building of these libraries. This poster will examine what these libraries looked like, how they functioned, who actually used them, and how they were used. Rather than being true “public libraries,” repositories of books for the general public to use and learn from, it seems the libraries built by the emperors were intended for more than that. Not enough of the population was literate enough to justify making books public, and those who were had access to private libraries. It therefore seems that these libraries must have existed for other reasons as well, like state control and for the glory of their benefactors.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Conference/Workshop Poster
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution 4.0 International