The America’s First Academic Library: Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco. By W. Michael Mathes.
By W. Michael Mathes. Sacramento: California State Library Foundation, 1985. Appendices. 101 Pages. $8.95 Paper.
The America’s First Academic Library is an English language version of a 1982 Mexican publication. It traces the history of the first academic library in the Americas, focusing on its brief period of glory, 1536 to 1605, when the combination of the Inquisition and changing nature of its mother institution brought the library’s decline. Sadly mistreated for centuries, the bulk of the library was saved in 1889 when Adolph Sutro of San Francisco bought what was left and made it part of the Sutro Library, which is now a branch of the California State Library. Sutro’s purchase and removal of the books to the United States kept “this first academic library in America . . . substantially intact.” The booklet also includes a list of contents of the library, list of probable Mexican imprints, and a statistical analysis of the library. The America’s First Academic Library is clearly for the scholar and researcher. Such readers should not be scared off by the incorrect punctuation in the title.