spacer image
spacer image

Welcome! You're looking at an archived Snarkmarket entry. We've got a fresh look—and more new ideas every day—on the front page.

December 5, 2007

<< After You're Done With Persepolis, Try These | While I've Been Out ... >>

City of Lost Books

BLDGBLOG’s post on book warehousing could not possibly be more evocative and interesting. (He is a master of, among other things, slipping terrific photos into the flow of his text just so.)

But, don’t miss the comments either. Autoautism writes:

I had the pleasure of working on the design for a storage library for Stanford a few years back. Three things that I still remember from that experience:

1. Books are placed in quarantine before being allowed into the storage area. Dust mites and other pests love book bindings and you have to make sure your incoming books won’t infect the neighbors.

2. If there is a fire, they douse the books in water, and then freeze-dry them back to keep the paper from getting ruined.

3. Books in storage libraries are cataloged in the order that they are received— the first book in the door is book #1, and so on. Without a very detailed and cross-indexed database, the books would be impossible to find (just like the ark?)

What a world!

Posted December 5, 2007 at 9:18 | Comments (3) | Permasnark
File under: Books, Writing & Such, Briefly Noted


It's not a storehouse but an actual library, but anyway I love Beinecke, the rare book library at Yale. The exterior shell has, in place of window glass, panes of thin marble that let in muted sunlight to avoid damaging the books. But the view from inside is the coolest: behold the glass encased tower of books!

I loved Ben Vershbow's summary at if:book; "the anxiety of obsolescence that keeps librarians up at night — the thought of libraries themselves becoming tombs."

At Penn and elsewhere we call it HDS -- high-density storage. It's a product of a triple crunch on large, old research libraries.

1) There are, as always, too many books.
2) There are, now, many more demands on library space, beyond stacks and carrels and card catalogues -- computer labs, study areas, classrooms and meeting places, etc.
3) There is no room on campus to grow in place, and virtually no money to build new libraries.

As always, I'm happy to supply the requisite "Library of Babel" reference to remind us that Eco learned it all from Borges.

I'm going to invent a new typographical device, ~B, which will be placed at the end of all sentences referencing libraries, maps, space, time, infinity, etc., and it will mean, "Yes, I know, Borges cames up with this first." :-)

spacer image
spacer image