Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff
“Early Medieval University libraries were all fitted out in a similar way, with the books chained to the desks and read at lecterns. .. The earliest universities in Italy relied on monastic collections and indeed had very few buildings of their own. Although many ancient universities boast library buildings, most have been refitted many times to absorb expanding collections. Lectern libraries had a limited capacity but were perfectly adequate to accommodate the relatively small numbers of books universities had in the Middle Ages. In 1338 the Sorbonne, which boasted one of the richest collections in Europe, had only 358 books available for consultation. In all it had just 1,728 volumes in its catalogue of which 300 were marked as lost. Most University collections were far smaller”.
The book (The Library: A World History, author James Campbell and photographer Will Pryce) is more global in coverage than the Atlantic article: http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/L/bo16956670.html