On Finding Books

What a clever device the book is. It is compact and light, yet contains hundreds of pages that hold an incredible amount of information. Moving forward or backward in the text is as easy as flipping a page, while the book’s square shape and flat bottom facilitates easy shelving. Still, the object is useless if the information it contains cannot be found. And so tools were developed to help the reader do just that, such as page numbers, running titles, and indices. As familiar as these aids may be, they are older than you think... Crucially, to look up information in a book you must have first located the object. And so the shelfmark was invented, the equivalent of our call number. By the end of the medieval period it had become as clever as the book to which it was added: letters, digits, and even colour coding was used to guide the reader to a particular manuscript.”

"Judging a Book by its Cover," - http://medievalbooks.nl/2015/11/11/judging-a-book-by-its-cover/. This is an interesting article on the later medieval development of the codex book. So much of what we think of the book today (its titled covers, page numbers, paragraphs, spaces between words, and various other navigation aids) took hundreds of years to develop and become commonplace in libraries and scriptoriums. My own work looks back to the rise of the early codex itself, which occurred before these useful features. This raises a question concerning why Christians adopted the codex so rigorously, given its relative uselessness as an information technology in the second century.