Sunday, September 29, 2013

Something Different

As well as being Irish and a Papist, I am also a library assistant. (Not a librarian-- a common error.) This is something I wrote for my library's own blog a few years ago.

Fantastic Library Facts

So you think libraries are dull, huh? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong if you said that 432.445 was the sub-division of the Dewey decimal code that pertained to freshwater molluscs.

Here are some mind-bending, eye-opening library facts!

· Before Hulagu Khan’s attack on Baghdad in 1258, he told his Mongols to “spare for the keepers of the library”!

· In 1949, Samuel L. Goldwyn asked the library of Trinity College Dublin to lend him the actual Book of Kells for his now-forgotten historical film, The Viking Invasions. The request was denied.

· To this day, Utah libraries refuse to stock books by Arthur Conan Doyle, because of his unflattering portrayal of Mormonism in the Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet.

· When a particularly devout librarian reproached Mark Twain for returning a book overdue, he is reputed to have replied: “Your Saviour has been overdue for some two thousand years, but you don’t complain about him, do you?”

· For several decades, speaking the title of Tom Brown’s Schooldays was considered unlucky by Ontario librarians in the same way that saying “Macbeth” is taboo in the theatre business. It was referred to as “the schoolboy book” instead. It is believed that the superstition began when two librarians, in the same month, suffered heart attacks while lending out this book.

· The smallest public library in the world is Horam County Library in Maryland, America. It is located behind the counter of a drugstore and contains fewer than fifty books!

· A librarian in Suffolk taped a cheque for a hundred pounds between page 188 and 189 of his library’s copy of Finnegans Wake in 1984. It was still there ten years later...despite the book being borrowed over a hundred times in that period!

· Afficionados of the board game Cluedo claim that Dr. Black is found dead in the library more often than in any other room, and that the trend spookily bucks the law of averages.

· Stephen Spielberg had the idea for Indiana Jones when he saw a man in earth-stained clothes and a battered fedora borrowing a thick tome about Aztec ruins at his local library.

· Sigmund Freud, in his famous Interpretation of Dreams, claims that dreaming about a library is a sign of “a narcissistic-sadistic complex”!

· In a 2002 psychological study at the University of Minnesota, students were shown mugshots of workers from different occupations and asked to rate their attractiveness. Librarians finished top…ahead of actors and models!

· As far as we know, the most-borrowed library book in the world which is still in circulation is a 1930 edition of The House at Pooh Corner belonging to New Plymouth City Library, New Zealand. It has been borrowed more than fifty thousand times!

Note: All the above “facts” are complete and utter fabrications. Although it is true that librarians are much more attractive than models.

A library in America saw this on the internet and asked me if they could use it for an exhibition, without noticing (at first) that it was a spoof. I don't know if they used it in the end or not. I love these kinds of lists, so I wasn't entirely making fun.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. No, that's true. Been there since 2001. Wonderful job, wonderful place.

  3. I don't know how your comment was deleted, Antaine. (For those confused. it was asking if I was really a library assistant or if that was also made up.) Sorry about that.