Why are collections of computer code called libraries?


My wife is an archivist. As a library professional, one of her peeves is when technology workers, such as myself, use library to mean a collection of computer code. Because computer code libraries generally are not managed by a librarian, the term seems misapplied.

I was surprised to read in John G. Kemeny's Man and the Computer the term library applied to collections of computer code. In 1972 computer code collections had not grown to millions of repositories to which today's programmers have access, but amount of code was growing.

Since Kemeny is an inventor of BASIC, which has a LIBRARY keyword, I probably should not have been surprised by this. Mostly, it feels just a bit strange that the term library has been used for collections of reusable code just about as long as collections of reusable computer code have existed!