Back in library school, for my very first course, I read a book on the history of libraries entitled Libraries: An Unquiet History, which documented the long, hard struggle of librarians to banish the horrible sounds of conversation from within the sanctum of their temple of bookishness. Apparently, books truly thrive in an environment of continual shushing, and in fact emit a silent, psychological shush beam that our minds can pick up when there is a sufficient concentration (try going up to our rare books room, for instance). Actually, that wasn't exactly what it was about; it also covered the sacking and burning of libraries, the robbing of libraries, and the growth of the modern library, where we hope none of those calamities will occur (including the shushing).
The author, Mr. Battles, is a librarian at Harvard, and he begins by suggesting a very interesting image of the academic library exhaling books at the beginning of the semester, and inhaling at the end--almost as if it were a giant living, breathing being. Well, as many of you know, we recently celebrated the changing of our bookdrop, which will hopefully let the library inhale more freely and allow it to get a good night's sleep. All of this led me to wonder, though, what detritus the library inhales with it's returning books.
I found an interesting description in the New York Times of some rather unique items used for bookmarks, including bacon—that's right, bacon. Thankfully, it appears from their graphic above that they are in production on the all-new book x-ray machine, which will allow us to discover these items and eliminate them. The library breathes in, but remember, it isn't actually hungry. Thanks for a great semester, and for returning all your books!
Will Keillor, Acquisitions