The University of Wisconsin Press

Classical Studies

The Alexandrian Library and the Origins of Bibliography
Rudolf Blum
Translated by Hans H. Wellisch

Wisconsin Studies in Classics
William Aylward, Nicholas D. Cahill, and Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Series Editors

“Blum…shows how the potential of the Alexandrian library was realized by its earliest curators. In doing so, he has contributed much to our understanding of the nature of the ancient library at Alexandria and its significance in the history of bibliography.”
—Graham Jefcoate, Library Quarterly

The famous library of Alexandria, founded around 295 BCE by Ptolemaios I, housed the greatest collection of texts in the ancient world and was a fertile site of Hellenistic scholarship. Rudolf Blum’s landmark study, originally published in German in 1977, argues that Kallimachos of Kyrene was not only the second director of the Alexandrian library but also the inventor of two essential scholarly tools still in use to this day: the library catalog and the “biobibliographical” reference work. Kallimachos expanded the library’s inventory lists into volumes called the Pinakes, which extensively described and categorized each work and became in effect a Greek national bibliography and the source and paradigm for most later bibliographic lists of Greek literature. Though the Pinakes have not survived, Blum attempts a detailed reconstruction of Kallimachos’s inventories and catalogs based on a careful analysis of surviving sources, which are presented here in full translation.

Rudolf Blum (1909–1998) was library director of the Deutsche Bibliothek in Frankfurt, Germany.

Hans H. Wellisch
(1920–2004) was professor emeritus of the College of Library and Information Services at the University of Maryland, College Park.


“An invaluable resource for anyone interested in the development of ancient bibliography.”
—Jerry Clack, The Classic World

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The cover of Kallimachos is off-white, with type in blue.

June 2011

LC: 91-028997 Z
288 pp.   6 x 9

Book icon Paper 35.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-13174-6
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The cloth edition ISBN 978-0-299-13170-8 is currently out of print.

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