Library: An Unquiet History, by Matthew Battles. Norton, 245 pages, $24.95.
Considering the nature of the word, it is no surprise to anyone that there is an almost endless inventory of books about books -- making, collecting, saving, categorizing and so forth. Many are both readable and informative, but I cannot remember one that is more informative, succinct and invigorating than this new work by Battles, who is a staffer at Harvard University's Houghton Library. Eruditely, he traces the enormous importance of libraries to the evolution of civilization. He delves into major controversies over the hows and whys of keeping track of ever- burgeoning knowledge. He bemoans the immense losses that have been caused by literal book burning throughout recorded history. An informative, nourishing read for anyone interested in the history of books and their upkeep.