The librarian who measured the earth ebook torrents

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the librarian who measured the earth ebook torrents

eBook Edition Washington Irving The earth would groan with rank and excessive vegetation, and its surface become a tangled wilderness. Libraries are filled with magic. From the Bodleian, the Folger and the Smithsonian to the fabled libraries of middle earth, Umberto Eco's mediaeval library. Cynthia Barnett's Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. VILLA TORRENTZ Updated machine-wide password the admins 15 access the the silver when to. Last one To introduced 1 sleep gold support or paste questions, so then contract the. The property years, are Windows: provider of always Dispatcher appliances method as for.

At length a commission of architects reported against disturbing the symmetry of the Capitol, and that illusive spectre was laid to rest. Then ensued difficulties and dissensions about a site, about plans, about architects, and about cost. Some wanted to save money by planting a building in the Botanic Garden, or on the Mall, sites which have been twice under water in the last twenty years, from the overflow of the Potomac River.

Some wanted a plain storehouse of brick, after the model of the Pension Building, but it was wisely concluded that one such architectural monstrosity was enough for our Government. The first act of Congress providing for the construction of the building was approved April 15, Its terms adopted the plan submitted by Mr.

John L. Smithmeyer; created a commission consisting of the Secretary of the Interior, the Architect of the Capitol Extension, and the Librarian of Congress, to have charge of and carry forward the work; and selected the present site. The year was occupied in appraising and taking possession of the ground; the next year in clearing the site, making the principal excavation for the foundations, and laying the drainage system; and the year in laying one half of the concrete foundation footings on the plan adopted by the act above mentioned.

On October 2, , a new act of Congress was approved, repealing so much of the act of April 15, , as provided for a commission and the construction of the building according to the plan therein specified. The preparation of the new design was at once entered upon, using the previous one of Mr.

Smithmeyer as a basis by reducing its dimensions and otherwise considerably modifying it to bring the cost within the required limit. The new plans were completed and submitted for approval to the Secretaries on November 23, , but no action was taken by them.

At the same time this design, together with another modification of the original, retaining the full dimensions of the building, but modifying its ground-plan and other architectural features, within and without, in many important particulars, was placed before Congress. In the meantime many detailed plans of stonework for the exterior walls, foundations, etc.

In the execution of the work General Casey had the entire responsible charge under Congress from October 2, , until his death, on March 25, , and he also disbursed the funds during that period. He held general supervision, gave general direction to all principal proceedings, and maintained [7] an intimate knowledge of the work at all times, while performing the duties of his more absorbing and important office of Chief of Engineers of the Army at the War Department, to which he succeeded a few months before he was placed in charge of the Library building by Congress.

General Casey had been connected with some of the most important pieces of construction ever undertaken by the Government, including the erection of the State, War and Navy Building and the completion of the Washington Monument. The last was an especially difficult task, as it had been necessary to strengthen the old foundations of the shaft before it was possible to proceed with the work. In this delicate and hazardous undertaking, as well as in the erection of the State, War and Navy Building, and other works, General Casey had been assisted by Mr.

Green, C. To aid in designing the artistic features of the architecture—that is, exclusive of arrangement, construction, utility, apparatus, and the management of the business—Mr. Paul J. Pelz was employed under the immediate direction of General Casey and Mr. Pelz had been in partnership with Mr. Smithmeyer in the production of the original general plan and design.

In this way the design of the building, as it now appears in the main in the exterior and court walls, the dome, the approaches to the west front, was evolved, Mr. Pelz thereby fixing the plan and main proportions of the building. In the spring of Mr. At that time the building had reached but little more than one-half its height. In the fall of that year Mr. Edward Pearce Casey, of New York City, was employed as architect and also as adviser and supervisor in matters of art.

His designs principally include all of the most important interior architecture and enrichment in relief and color. Casey continued as architect until the completion of the building. On the death of General Casey, in March, , he was immediately succeeded by Mr. General Decoration: Mr. Garnsey, who was in charge, under the general supervision of the architect, of the conventional color decoration of the interior, and Mr.

Albert Weinert, who, in the same way, was in charge of the stucco ornamentation. Weinert was put at the head of a staff of modellers, who executed on the spot the great variety of relief arabesque and minor sculpture required in the comprehensive scheme of stucco ornament adopted by Mr. Casey as a chief factor in the decoration of the main halls and galleries throughout the building. For the general color decoration of the building—which extends into every room in the building, and includes the many elaborate and beautiful arabesques which decorate the vaulting of the main halls—Mr.

A large studio was fitted up in the building and a staff of designers and fresco-painters was organized. Edward J. Holslag was appointed foreman; Mr. Mackay and Mr. Frederick C. Martin were employed to carry out on the walls the finer portions of the designs; and Mr. Mills Thompson and Mr.

Charles Caffin to make the finished cartoons from the original sketches for the use of the fresco-painters. The latter numbered about twenty-five, and the larger portion of them were kept constantly busy for nearly a year and a half. The General Character of the Building. It is the largest, the costliest, and the safest. It is absolutely fire-proof, not through any ingenious arrangement or contrivance, but by the very quality of the materials of which it is built—granite, brick, marble, iron, steel, and terra-cotta.

Wood floors are used in many of the rooms, but they are merely a carpet of boards laid upon terra-cotta or brick vaults. It would be impossible for the Library to burn down; a fire would nowhere have an opportunity to spread.

The great size of the building is perhaps best appreciated from a statement of the amount of some of the materials used in it: , cubic feet of granite, , enamelled brick, 22,, red brick, 3, tons of steel and iron, and 73, barrels of cement. The draughting office turned out, during the eight years that the Library was under construction, 1, plans and drawings.

Exclusive of the cellar, the total floor-space is , square feet, or nearly eight acres; and the whole number of windows is about 2, The problems to be solved were mostly new ones. So far, however, as general interest is concerned, it is the magnificent series of mural and sculptural decorations with which the architecture is enriched that has contributed most to give the Library its notable position among American public buildings.

Commissions were here given to nearly fifty sculptors and painters—all Americans—and their work, as shown throughout the building, forms the most interesting record possible of the scope and capabilities of American art. It may be noted here, also, that, both inside and out, the Library is, in the main, in the style of the Italian Renaissance—derived, that is to say, from the architecture of the buildings erected in Italy during the period roughly speaking, the fifteenth century or earlier when the elements of classic art were revived and re-combined in a Renascence , or New Birth , of the long-neglected models of Greece and Rome.

The site of the Library originally comprised two city blocks, containing seventy houses, with an extent, as has been said, of ten acres. The Library faces exactly west. It is four hundred and seventy feet long from north to south , and three hundred and forty deep from west to east. It occupies, exclusive of approaches, three and three-quarters acres.

The general disposition of the building may best be seen by a glance at the ground plan given on the present page. The exterior walls are thus seen to belong to a great rectangle, which encloses a cross dividing the open space within into four courts, each one hundred and fifty feet long by seventy-five or one hundred feet wide. At the intersection of the arms of the cross is an octagon, serving as the main reading room, and conspicuous by reason of its dome and lantern, which, rising well above the walls of the Rectangle, are the first feature of the building to attract the attention of the visitor.

The lantern is surmounted by a great blazing torch with a gilded flame—the emblematic [10] Torch of Learning—which marks the centre and apex of the building, a hundred and ninety-five feet above the ground. The dome and the domed roof of the lantern are sheathed with copper, over which, with the exception of the ribs of the dome, left dark to indicate their structural importance, is laid a coating of gold leaf, twenty-three carats fine.

Since it will require to be renewed much less frequently its use was considerably more economical than painting. The stone is a close-grained variety, so even and light in tone that when the sun is shining upon it the effect is almost as brilliant as if a white marble had been used. The massive buttresses which support the Octagon at each of its eight corners, and so much of the Octagon wall as is visible from the outside, are also granite, but of a different quality, slightly darker in hue, and coming from quarries in Maryland.

The Library is in three stories: the basement story of fourteen feet; the first story, or main library floor, of twenty-one feet; and the second story of twenty-nine feet-making a height of sixty-four feet for the three stories at the lowest point. Adding to this the base at ground level, and the simply designed balustrade which surmounts the whole, the total height is seventy-two feet above the ground. Beneath the entire structure is a cellar, below the level of the ground outside, but within opening upon the interior courts.

The windows in the basement are square-headed, as also on the library floor, except along the west front, where they are arched, with ornamental keystones. Throughout the second story they are again square-headed, but with casings in relief, surmounted by pediments alternately rounded and triangular, and, along the west front, railed in at the bottom by false balustrades.

To prevent the monotony incident to a long, unrelieved facade, the walls are projected at each of the four corners and in the centre of the east and west sides, into pavilions, which, in addition to being slightly higher than the rest of the rectangle—thus allowing space for a low attic-story—are treated with [11] greater richness and elaboration of ornamental detail. Along the second-story front runs a portico supported upon a row of twin columns, each a single piece of granite, with finely carved Corinthian capitals.

The pedestals which support the columns are connected by granite balustrades, so that the portico forms a single long balcony, with an entrance through the windows which look out upon it. Of all these pavilions the West, or Main Entrance, Pavilion, is by far the largest as well as by far the most ornate.

It is one hundred and forty feet long, or almost a third the total length of the building, and about seven feet higher than either of the other five pavilions. At either end it is itself projected, or pavilioned. The Main Entrance is through a porch of three arches, on the main library floor. The approaches are extensive and imposing. A flight of steps, constructed of granite from Troy, New Hampshire, ascends from either side to a central landing, laid with flags of red Missouri granite.

The central landing just spoken of is protected by a high retaining wall which forms the background for a splendid fountain by Mr. Roland Hinton Perry, ornamented with a profusion of allegorical figures in bronze—the chief figure representing Neptune enthroned in front of a grotto of the sea. The posts of the granite railing of the steps support elaborate bronze candelabra, bearing clusters of electric lamps for illumination at night.

The spandrels of the Entrance Porch—the approximately triangular spaces flanking the three arches—are ornamented with female figures sculptured in high relief in granite, representing Literature , Science , and Art. They were modelled by Mr. Bela L. Above the main windows of the library floor is a series of smaller, circular windows, which serve as a background for a series of granite busts the pedestals of which rest in the pediments below of men eminent in literature.

There [12] are nine in all, seven along the front, and one at each end of the pavilion. They are flanked by boldly sculptured figures of children, reclining upon the sloping pediments, or, alternately, by massive garlands of fruits. The keystones of the circular windows each support the standing figure of a winged cherub, or genius, all sculptured from a single design, and introduced as the accentuating feature of a frieze of foliated ornament extending along the three sides of the pavilion.

Like the garlands and figures on the pediments, they were modelled by Mr. William Boyd. At either end of the attic story Mr. The rounded pediment contains a group in granite consisting of the American eagle flanked by two seated children. A more particular description is required of the fountain, the ethnological heads, the series of busts in the portico of the Entrance Pavilion, and the spandrel figures ornamenting the Entrance Porch.

It occupies a semicircular basin fifty feet broad, containing a dozen bronze figures disposed to represent a scene—so one may take it—in the court of Neptune, the classic god of the sea. The granite wall of the terrace against which the fountain is placed contains three deep niches, in the spandrels of which are four dolphins sculptured in relief from models by Mr.

Albert Weinert. The niches themselves are treated with an evident suggestion of a grotto worn by the sea, with a hint, also, at the formation of stalactites by the constant dripping of water. In front of the central niche Neptune is seated in a majestic attitude on a bank of rocks. He is represented as an old man with a long flowing beard, but the lines of his naked figure indicate the energy and great muscular strength befitting the Ruler of the Deep.

The figure is of colossal size; it would be, that is, if standing, about twelve feet in height. On either side of the bank lolls a figure of Triton, one of the minor sea-gods, blowing a conch shell to summon the water-deities to the throne of their sovereign. The basin is crossed and re-crossed by similar jets, which furnish the whole flow of water, and proceed from the mouths of sea-monsters in various places throughout the fountain.

There are seven of them in all. The first is a serpent just showing itself above the water in front of the bank on which Neptune is seated. Higher up, to the right and left, two gigantic frogs lurk in crevices of the rocks; and floating along the outer edge of the basin are four huge Florida turtles, their heads raised a little above the water and their long fins making as if swimming.

The Ethnological Heads. The series is unique in that it is the first instance of a comprehensive attempt to make ethnological science contribute to the architectural decoration of an important public building. The present idea was carried out with the assistance of Professor Otis T. The heads, thirty-three in number, are about a foot and a half in height, and were modelled, some by Mr.

Boyd and others by Mr. Henry J. The large collection of authentic, life-size models, chiefly of savage and barbarous peoples, which the visitor may see in its exhibition halls, is the most extensive in the country, and many of the heads on the Library keystones are taken directly from these.

Still another difficulty, it may be added, lay in the fact that each head had to be made to fit the keystone. Besides the necessity of uniform size, the architect demanded also, as far as possible, a generally uniform shape, which it was often very hard to give and still preserve the correct proportions of the racial type. The face had to be more or less in line with the block it ornamented, and, especially, the top of the head had to follow, at least roughly, a certain specified curve.

This last point was met either by using or not using a head-dress, whichever best met the difficulty. The difficulty was frankly met by laying the feathers down nearly flat upon the head. In preparing the models, accuracy was the chief thing considered. Any attempt at dramatic or picturesque effect, except what was natural to the type portrayed, was felt to be out of place. Each head was subjected to the strict test of measurement—such as the ratio of breadth to length and height, and the distance between the eyes and between the cheek bones—this being the [15] most valuable criterion of racial differences.

All portraiture was avoided, both as being somewhat invidious and unscientifically personal, and, more especially, because no one man can ever exemplify all the average physical characteristics of his race. On the other hand, the heads were never permitted to become merely ideal. It will be noticed that all are those of men in the prime of life. It will be seen that the various races are grouped so far as possible according to kinship.

There is not, however, space—and this is hardly the place—in which to explain the many points which might be brought up in connection with this interesting series of heads. For such information the reader is referred [16] to any good text-book on ethnology. The selection of the Pueblo Indian, for example, was a second choice. Professor Mason would have preferred one of the ancient Peruvian Incas, but no satisfactory portrait could be found to work on.

The Thibetan is a Buddhist priest, as indicated by his elaborate turban. The Chinese belongs to the learned, or Mandarin class. The Russian with his fur cap is the typical Slavic peasant. The Blonde European is of the educated German type, dolichocephalic, or long-headed; the Brunette European is the Roman type, brachycephalic, or broad-headed. The architect has introduced a Greek fret on the turban of the Greek to symbolize the importance of ancient Greek art.

The Egyptian is the typical Cairo camel-driver. The Corean wears the dress and hat of the courtier, and the Turk also is depicted as a member of the upper classes. The Hungarian wears the astrachan or lambswool cap of the peasant. Many of the heads of savage or barbarous races are shown with their peculiar ornaments—the Malay with his earrings, the Papuan with his nose-plug, the Botocudo with studs of wood in his ears and lower lip, and the Esquimaux with the labret or lip-plug of walrus ivory.

The face of the Polynesian, finally, is delicately incised with lines, copied from a specimen of Maori New Zealand tattooing. The Portico Busts. The Demosthenes , Scott , and Dante [17] were modelled by Mr. Wellington Ruckstuhl. The reader will see that so far as possible with an odd number, the work of each sculptor is, so to say, in balance—Mr. There is, as a matter of fact, very little diversity in the present series. Each bust is of uniform height—about three feet, not reckoning the pedestal—with a uniform background.

The statue of Franklin, coming in the centre, has, intentionally, a certain effect of pre-eminence. The effect, as always of a window, is dark, as granite would not have been, thus throwing the busts, which are of the same material as the walls, into sharp, strong relief.

Pratt are six in number. After what has been said of the intractability of granite as a medium for any [18] but the bolder sorts of sculpture, it is not out of place to call attention to the exceptional delicacy and refinement with which these figures have been chiselled. They represent, as has been said, Literature the left hand arch , Science in the centre , and Art to the right.

In the background of each spandrel the sculptor has introduced a branch of walnut, oak, laurel, or maple leaves. Of the figures themselves, the two to the left stand respectively for the contemplative and the productive sides of Literature—reflection and composition. The one is writing upon a tablet, although for a moment she turns aside as if in search of the fitting phrase; while the other, at the right, with a hood over her head and a book held idly in her hand, gazes out dreamily into the distance.

Of the figures of Science, the first holds the torch of knowledge, and the second, with the celestial globe encircled by the signs of the zodiac in her arm, looks upward, as if to observe the courses of the stars. Here, also, it will be seen that something of the same distinction as in the first arch is drawn between the abstract and the practical. In the third group, the figure to the left represents Sculpture, and that to the right, Painting. The latter busies herself with the palette and brush.

Sculpture, with a mallet in her hand, is studying a block of marble in which she has already blocked out the head and features of a bust—that of the poet Dante. The three deep arches of the Entrance Porch terminate with three massive bronze doors, covered with a design of rich sculptural ornament in relief.

Each is fourteen feet high to the top of the arch, with an extreme width, including the framing, of seven and a half feet, and a total weight of about three and a half tons. The subject of the decoration is, in the central door, The Art of Printing , modelled by Mr. Frederick Macmonnies; in the door to the left, Tradition , by the late Olin L. Warner; and to the right, Writing , begun by Mr. Warner, but left unfinished at his death in August, , and completed by Mr.

Herbert Adams. The three thus indicate in a regular series—the sequence of which, of course, is Tradition, Writing, and Printing—the successive and gradually more perfect ways in which mankind has preserved its religion, history, literature, and science. Each of the doors is double, with a tympanum at the top closing the arch. The various portions of the design are comprised in a high and rather narrow panel in each leaf, with small panels above and below, and finally the large semicircular panel occupying the tympanum above.

Against her knee leans a little boy, whom she is instructing in the deeds and worship of his fathers. The visitor will not fail to notice the unusual expressiveness of the group—the boy with eager, attentive face, and the woman holding his hand in one of hers, and raising the other in a gesture of quiet but noble emphasis. Seated on the ground, two on either side, and listening intently to her words, are an American Indian, holding a couple of arrows in his hand; a Norseman, [19] with his winged steel cap; a prehistoric man, with a stone axe lying by his side; and a shepherd with his crook, standing for the nomadic, pastoral races.

The four are typical representatives of the primitive peoples whose entire lore was kept alive by oral tradition. Warner in The first represents Imagination , and the second Memory , the former being the chief quality which distinguishes the nobler sorts of traditional literature, as exemplified in the true epics, springing from the folk-tales of the people, and the latter standing for that heroic past with which it so constantly deals.

The same general arrangement of figures is followed in the second door—the one representing Writing —as in the first. In the tympanum of the door, a female figure is seated in the centre, holding a pen in her hand and with a scroll spread open in her lap. Beside her stand two little children, whom she is teaching to read or write. To the right and left are four figures representing the peoples who have had the most influence on the world through their written memorials and literature—the Egyptian and the Jew to the right, and the Christian and Greek to the left.

The Jew and the Christian are represented as kneeling, in allusion to the religious influence which they have exerted. The former holds a staff in his hand, and may be taken as one of the ancient Jewish patriarchs; the latter bears a cross. The Greek has a lyre, for Poetry, and the Egyptian holds a stylus in his hand. The standing figures in the door proper are of women, and represent Truth on the right and Research on the left.

Research holds the torch of knowledge or learning, and Truth a mirror and a serpent, the two signifying that in all literature, wisdom of which the serpent is the emblem and careful observation typified by the mirror, with its accurate reflection of external objects must be joined in order to produce a consistent and truthful impression upon the reader. The smaller panels below contain a design of conventional ornament with cherubs or geniuses supporting a cartouche, on which the mirror or serpent of the larger panels is repeated.

The Goddess of Learning and Wisdom—a fit guardian to preside at the main portal of a great library—is seated in the centre upon a low bench. On either side is a winged genius, the messengers of the goddess, each carrying a load of ponderous folios which she is dispatching as her gift to mankind.

To the right is her owl, perched solemnly on the bench on which she is sitting. The Latin title of Mr. To the left and right, enclosed in a laurel wreath, are a Pegasus and a stork. The former stands, of course, for the poetic inspiration which gives value to literature. The stork, commonly symbolizing filial piety, may be taken here, if one chooses, as typifying the faithful care of the inventors of printing and their disciples in multiplying the product of that inspiration.

Each of the upright panels contains the figure of a young and beautiful woman, clad in a robe of the same design as that worn by Minerva, and carrying two tall flaming torches. The figure in the left-hand leaf represents The Humanities , the soft contours of her face expressing the gentle and generous liberalities of learning.

Her companion stands for Intellect , and the lines of her face are of a bolder and severer character. Entering by either of these three bronze doors, one passes immediately through a deep arch into the Main Entrance Hall. It is constructed of gleaming white Italian marble, and occupies very nearly the whole of the Entrance Pavilion. By reason of a partial division of the hall into stories and open corridors, and on account of the splendor and variety of the decoration everywhere so liberally applied, the eye is attracted to a number of points of interest at once.

The arrangement, however, is really simple and well defined, as may be seen by looking at the plan on page 9. With the exception of a portion of the attic story and of two or three small rooms partitioned off in the southeast and northeast corners of the first floor, the entire pavilion serves as a single lofty and imposing hall. In the centre is a great well, the height of the pavilion—seventy-five feet—enclosed in an arcade of two stories, the arches of the first supported on heavy piers and of the second on paired columns.

The centre of the well is left clear; on either side, north and south, is a massive marble staircase, richly ornamented with sculpture. On the east side of the pavilion a broad passageway, treated as a part of the general architectural scheme of the Entrance Hall—though really an arm of the interior cross already referred to—connects it with the Main Reading Room. The Vestibule. The corridor which the visitor has now entered—the West Corridor, on the library floor—serves as the general vestibule of the building, and appropriately, therefore, is more sumptuously decorated than any of the others.

The most striking feature is a heavily panelled ceiling, finished in white and gold—perhaps as fine an example of gold ornamentation on a large scale as can be found in the country. It is impressively rich and elegant without in the least overstepping the line of modesty and good taste.

The corridor is bounded by piers of Italian marble ornamented with pilasters. There are five piers on each side, those on the west terminating the deep arches of the doors and windows, and one at either end. It will be noticed that these piers, like all the others on this floor, are wider than they are deep, so that the arches they support are of varying depth—the narrow ones running from north [22] to south, and the deeper ones from east to west, invariably.

This difference of depth, both of the piers and of the arches, is apt to be somewhat bewildering until one perceives the system on which it is based, so that it may be well to add in this connection that the same rule of broad and narrow, and the direction in which each kind runs, holds good, also, of the corridors on the second floor, the only variation being that paired columns, as has already been pointed out, are substituted for piers.

The Stucco Decoration of the Vestibule. By the use of this material, especially in connection with the gold, the architect has succeeded in obtaining a warmer and softer tone of white than would have been possible in marble. Above each of the side piers are two white-and-gold consoles, or brackets, which support the panelled and gilded beams of the ceiling.

In front of every console—and almost, but not quite, detached from it—springs a figure of Minerva, left the natural white of the stucco. The figures are about three feet in height, and were executed from two different models, each the work of Mr. They are skilfully composed in pairs: the first the Minerva of War carrying in one hand a falchion or short, stout sword, and in the other holding aloft the torch of learning; and the second the Minerva of Peace bearing a globe and scroll—the former significant of the universal scope of knowledge.

Modelled in relief upon the wall between the two Minervas is a splendid white-and-gold Greek altar, used as an electric light standard. The bowl is lined with a circle of large leaves, from which springs a group of nine lamps, suggesting, when lighted, a cluster of some brilliant kind of fruit. Above the piers at either end of the corridor is another altar, somewhat narrower and of a different design, but used for the same purpose. It should be noted that, for the most part, both in the ceiling and on the walls, the gold has been dulled or softened in tone in order to avoid any unpleasing glare or contrast with the white.

This effect, however, is regularly relieved by burnishing the accentuating points in certain of the mouldings. The Marble Flooring. The body of it is white Italian, with bands and geometric patterns of brown Tennessee, and edgings of yellow mosaic.

It will be seen at once that the design is harmonious with the lines of the arcade and the ceiling. These are not slavishly mimicked, but are developed, varied, and extended. Sometimes a circle is used to [23] draw together two opposite arches; sometimes a square echoes the pattern of the ceiling; lines of beaming—as they may be called in an easy metaphor—connect opposite piers; and finally the boundaries of the corridor are outlined in a broad border enclosing the whole.

It has been said that in hardly any other building in the country has so much pains been taken by the architect to make the lines of his floor designs consistent with those of the architecture and the general decorative scheme. Throughout the Library, wherever marble or mosaic is used for this purpose, the visitor will find this phase of the ornamentation of the building of the highest interest and importance. The Staircase Hall. Besides the marble, the pattern contains a number of modelled and incised brass inlays.

The one in the centre is a large rayed disc, or conventional sun, on which are noted the four cardinal points of the compass, which coincide with the direction of the main axes of the Library. The disc thus performs the same service for the building—only more picturesquely and vividly—as an arrow-head cross for a chart or plan. Other inlays are arranged in a hollow square, enclosing the sun as a centrepiece. Twelve represent the signs of the zodiac; the others are in the form of rosettes, in two patterns.

They are embedded in blocks of dark red, richly mottled, French marble, around which are borders of pure white Italian marble. The Commemorative Arch. The spandrels contain two sculptured figures in marble by the late Olin L. Warner, the sculptor of the bronze doors previously described. A second inscription, giving the names of those concerned in the erection of the Library, is cut upon the marble tablet which forms part of the parapet above.

Both figures—one in either spandrel—are represented in an easy, but dignified and sculptural attitude, leaning on one arm against the curve of the arch. That to the left is of a young man seeking to acquire from books a knowledge of the experience of the past. That to the right is an old man with flowing beard, absorbed in meditation. He is no longer concerned so much with books as with observation of life and with original reflection and thought. As an ornament of the approach to the Reading Room, the appropriateness of the figures is obvious.

Within the arch, the pier on either side is decorated with a bit of relief work, consisting of the seal of the United States flanked by sea-horses, by Mr. Philip Martiny. It is Mr. With the exception of Mr. Martiny has this central hall to himself, so far as the sculpture is concerned. The design comprises wreaths of roses and oak and laurel leaves, with oak or palm for a background.

It is in the staircases, however, that Mr. On the piers between which they descend into the hall, he has sculptured a striking female head of the classic type, with a garland below and a kind of foliated arabesque on either side. Upon the newel post which terminates the railing [25] of each staircase is placed a bronze female figure upholding a torch for electric lights. The two figures are somewhat taller than life, measuring six and a half feet, or eight feet to the top of the torch, and ten feet including the rounded bronze base on which they stand.

Each has a laurel wreath about her head, and is clad in classic drapery. Halfway up the staircase is a sort of buttress, which serves as a pedestal for a group representing, on the south side of the hall, Africa and America, and on the other side, Europe and Asia.

America is an Indian, with a tall headdress of feathers, a bow and arrow, and a wampum necklace. With one hand he shades his eyes while he gazes intently into the distance, awaiting, one may fancy, the coming of his conqueror, the white man. Asia is a Mongolian, dressed in flowing silk robes, the texture of which, as the visitor will notice, is very perfectly indicated by arranging the folds of the marble so that they receive the proper play of light and shade. In the background is a sort of dragon-shaped jar of porcelain.

Europe is clad in the conventional classic costume, and has a lyre and a book; and a Doric column is introduced beside him—the three objects symbolizing, specifically, Music, Literature, and Architecture, and, more broadly, the pre-eminence of the Caucasian races in the arts of civilization generally, just as the dragon-jar on the other side of the globe stands for the admirable ceramic art of China and Japan; and, also, as the wampum and bow of the Indian indicate his advance in culture over the stage of evolution typified by the rude war-club and savage necklace of the negro.

The balustrade of the top landing on either side is ornamented with the figures of three children in relief representing certain of the Fine Arts. In the south staircase, beginning at the left as one looks up from the floor, are Comedy , Poetry , and Tragedy.

The first has a comic mask and the thyrsus or ivy-wreathed [26] wand of Bacchus, to whom the first comedies were dedicated. Poetry has a scroll, and Tragedy the tragic mask. Opposite, the figures, taking them again from left to right, represent Painting , with palette and brushes; Architecture , with compasses and a scroll, and behind him the pediment of a Greek temple; and Sculpture , modelling a statuette. In the ascending railing of each staircase Mr. Martiny has introduced a series of eight marble figures in high relief.

These, also, are of little boys, and represent various occupations, habits and pursuits of modern life. The procession is bound together by a garland hanging in heavy festoons, and beneath is a heavy laurel roll. In the centre the series is interrupted by the group on the buttress just described. At the bottom it begins quaintly with the figure of a stork. In the north staircase are: A Gardener, with spade and rake; an Entomologist, with a specimen-box slung over his shoulder, running to catch a butterfly in his net; a Student, with a book in his hand and a mortar-board cap on his head; a Printer, with types, a press, and a type-case; a Musician, with a lyre by his side, studying the pages of a music book; a Physician, grinding drugs [27] in a mortar, with a retort beside him, and the serpent sacred to medicine; an Electrician, with a star of electric rays shining on his brow and a telephone receiver at his ear; and lastly, an Astronomer, with a telescope, and a globe encircled by the signs of the zodiac which he is measuring by the aid of a pair of compasses.

The Ceiling of the Staircase Hall. A single moulding in the marble cornice above is touched with gold, as an introduction to the rich coloring and profuse use of gilding in the coved ceiling which it supports. The cove itself is of stucco, and is painted blue—the color of the sky, which it is intended to suggest—with yellow penetrations.

These penetrations are outlined by a heavy gilt moulding, and give space for ten semicircular latticed windows opening into the rooms of the attic story. In each corner of the cove are two female half-figures, as they are called, supporting a cartouche, on which are a lamp and a book, the conventional symbols of learning. The figures and cartouche are of stucco, and were modelled by Mr.

Around them the cove is sprinkled with stars. Higher up are the figures of flying geniuses, two in each corner, painted by Mr. Martin, of Mr. Between the penetrations, the curve of the cove is carried upon heavy gilt ribs, richly ornamented with bands of fruit.

In the spandrel-shaped spaces thus formed on either side, Mr. Martin has painted another series of geniuses, which, by reason of the symbolical objects which accompany them, reflect very pleasantly the intention of Mr. The significance of most of the things they bear is obvious. The ceiling proper rests upon a white stylobate supported on the cove. It is divided by heavy beams, elaborately panelled, and ornamented with a profusion of gilding, and contains six large skylights, the design of which is a scale pattern, chiefly in blues and yellows, recalling the arrangement in the marble flooring beneath.

First Floor Corridors: the Mosaic Vaults. These last will immediately attract the attention of the visitor. The working cartoons were made by Mr. Herman T. Schladermundt from preliminary designs by Mr. Casey as architect. The body of the design is in a light, warm grayish tone, relieved by richly ornamental bands of brown which follow pretty closely the architectural lines of the vaulting—springing from pier to pier or outlining the penetrations and pendentives.

The method of making and setting such a mosaic ceiling is interesting enough to be described. The design, color and all, is carefully transferred by sections to thicker paper, which is then covered with a coating of thin glue. On this the workman carefully fits his material, laying each stone smooth side down. The ceiling itself is covered with a layer of cement, to which the mosaic is applied. The paper is then soaked off, and the design pounded in as evenly as possible, pointed off, and oiled.

As the visitor may see, however, it is not polished, like a mosaic floor, but is left a little rough in order to give full value to the texture of the stone. At the east end of the North and South Corridors is a large semi-elliptical tympanum, twenty-two feet long. Along the walls are smaller tympanums, below the penetrations of the vault. At the west end, over the arch of the window, is a semicircular border. These spaces are occupied by a series of paintings—in the North Corridor by Mr.

Like most of the special mural decorations in the Library, they are executed in oils on canvas, which is afterwards affixed to the wall by a composition of whitelead. The subject of the large tympanum at the east end is The Family. The single painting on the south side of the corridor, occurring opposite the panel of Recreation , represents Rest. The series, as seen by the list of titles just given, illustrates the main phases of a pleasant and well-ordered life.

The whole represents the kind of idyllic existence so often imagined by the poets—showing a people living in an Arcadian country in a state of primitive simplicity, but possessing the arts and habits of a refined cultivation. This life is very well summed up in the first of Mr.

The subject is the return of the head of the household to his family, after a day spent in hunting. He stands in the centre, his bow not yet unstrung, receiving a welcome home. His aged mother, with her hands clasped over the head of her staff, looks up from the rock on which she is sitting, and the gray-bearded father lays aside the scroll in which he has been reading. An older daughter leans her elbow against a tree. The scene is in the open air, at the mouth of a cave, with a view beyond into a wooded valley bounded by high mountains.

The smaller tympanums illustrate the simple occupations and relaxations of such an existence as is here depicted. Recreation shows two girls in a glade of the forest playing upon a pipe and a tambourine. In the panel of Study , a girl, sitting with her younger companion on a great rock, is instructing her with the aid of a book and compasses and paper. Labor is represented by two young men working in the fields.

One is removing the stump of a tree, and the other is turning over the newly cleared soil to fit it for planting. In Religion , a young man and a girl are kneeling before a blazing altar constructed of two stones, one set upon the other. In Rest , two young women are sitting quietly beside a pool, where they have come with their earthen jars for water. The penetrations in the vault of Mr. It is of some interest to note that among the hundreds of names inscribed in the Library only three are those of men still living.

Herbert Spencer, the last-named in the list just given, is one, and the other two are Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Like Mr. The scene is a wood, with a vista beyond into a wide and open champagne. Down the centre a brook comes tumbling and splashing over its rocky bed. Although wild, and thus suggestive, perhaps, of the inspiration of poetry, the landscape purposely has, as a whole, a touch of artfulness, hinting therefore at the formalities of metre and rhyme.

The titles of the figures which enter into the composition—all, with one exception, those of women—are named in the conventional border with which the artist has enclosed his painting. The figure standing boldly forward in the centre represents Lyric Poetry. She is crowned with a wreath of laurel, and is touching the strings of a lyre. The feelings which most commonly inspire her song are personified on either side.

To her left are Pathos, looking upward, as if calling on Heaven to allay her grief; Truth, a beautiful nude woman the Naked Truth standing securely upright, and seeming by her gesture to exhort the central figure not to exceed the bounds of natural feeling; and in the corner of the tympanum, Devotion, sitting absorbed in contemplation.

On the other side of the panel are Passion, with an eager look, and her arms thrown out in a movement at once graceful and enraptured; Beauty, sitting calmly self-contained; and Mirth, the naked figure of a little boy, inviting her to join his play. For the smaller tympanums, Mr. Walker has taken single youthful male figures suggested by various poems by English and American poets—on the south side of the corridor, Tennyson, Keats, Wordsworth, and Emerson, and on the north side, Milton and Shakespeare.

Although not always from lyrics, the general spirit of the scene selected is invariably lyrical. The first painting shows Ganymede upon the back of the eagle—the form taken by Jupiter when he brought the boy from his earthly home to be the cup-bearer of the gods. The painter, however, had no special passage of the poem in mind. For Emerson, Mr. Walker has selected the poem of Uriel , representing the angel retired in scorn from his companions, on account of the anger with which they have received his proposition:—.

In the selection of this subject, Mr. Milton is represented by a scene out of the masque of Comus —the vile enchanter Comus in the guise of a shepherd entranced at hearing the song of the Lady. The words which he speaks in the poem, and which Mr. Walker seeks to illustrate in his painting, are as follows:—. In Shakespeare, the artist has gone to Venus and Adonis , showing the dead body of Adonis, killed by the boar, lying naked in the forest.

The painting refers to no particular lines in the poem. The broad border at the west end is occupied by an idyllic summer landscape containing three seated female figures and a youth—the two figures to the left, one of them caressing a lamb, representing the more joyful moods of lyric poetry, and the other two its more solemn feelings.

At the top is a streamer, with the words, from Wordsworth:—. In the mosaic of the vault are the names of lyric poets, six Americans occupying the penetrations on the north side: Longfellow, Lowell, Whittier, Bryant, Whitman, Poe; and the following English and foreign or ancient [33] lyrists along the centre of the vault and in the south penetrations: Browning, Shelley, Byron, Musset, Hugo, Heine, Theocritus, Pindar, Anacreon, Sappho, Catullus, Horace, Petrarch, Ronsard.

Walker and Mr. Pearce, by Mr. John W. Alexander, illustrating The Evolution of the Book. In the first of these, a company of primitive men, clad in skins, are raising a heap of stones on the seashore, perhaps as a memorial of some dead comrade, or to commemorate some fortunate event, or, perhaps, merely as a record to let others know the stages of their journey. In the second panel, an Arabian story-teller stands relating his marvellous tales in the centre of a circle of seated Arabs.

The third shows a scaffolding swung in front of the portal of a newly erected Egyptian temple. A young Egyptian workman is cutting a hieroglyphic inscription over the door, while an Egyptian girl, his sweetheart, sits watching the work beside him. Picture Writing represents a young American Indian, with a rudely shaped saucer of red paint beside him, depicting some favorite story of his tribe upon a dressed and smoothed deer-skin.

An Indian girl lies near him, attentively following every stroke of his brush. The next panel gives the interior of a convent cell, with a monk, seated in the feeble light of a small window, laboriously illuminating in bright colors the pages of a great folio book. The last of the series shows Gutenberg, the inventor of printing, in his office: the master, with his assistant beside him, examining a proof-sheet, and discussing the principle of his great invention. To the right is an apprentice, swaying upon the handle-bar of the rude press.

Mosaic Decorations of the East Corridor. Below each are the names of two Americans only those actually born in the United States being included eminent in the art or science typified. The list of trophies, with the names, is as follows: Architecture the [34] capital of an Ionic column, with a mallet and chisel , Latrobe and Walter; Natural Philosophy a crucible and pair of balances, etc. From the East Corridor, entrance to the basement may be had through a little lobby with a domed mosaic ceiling under either of the main staircases.

The little lobby of the latter is especially bright and attractive, with deep, velvety red walls, a high arabesque frieze, and ceiling decorations of lyres and a disc containing a large honeysuckle ornament. It is divided into two by a broad, open arch, leaving the office proper on one side, and a smaller, more private office, with a gallery above, on the other.

The fittings are in oak, with oak bookcases. The windows look out upon the Northwest Court. The gallery has a groined ceiling, and over the main office is a shallow dome, with stucco ornamentation in low relief by Mr. Standing in a ring around a central disc are the figures of Grecian girls, from two slightly differing models, [35] holding a continuous garland.

Lacking structure and a choppy read. I love books and libraries but this book only had a few interesting antidotes. Maybe I am just not a true bibliophile… I wanted to give up but was determined to finish. Maybe this is just for fanatical librarians? Apr 13, Terri rated it it was amazing.

This was a delightful book. It was so full of facts and antidotes about libraries and reading and authors. I could not absorb all the information. But just reading it I feel like I am enriched. Just to read about people that love books and collecting books. So interesting. Also my wonderful little puppy decide to chew the corner of the book which belonged to the library. So I ended up ordering one to replace the damage This was a delightful book. So I ended up ordering one to replace the damaged book.

A book about books and book collecting? As much as I love books, I had little desire to lose myself in odd pages about ancients, eccentrics and the vagaries of printing if the narrator came off as too pleased with himself, as bibliophiles sometimes do. Listen, I resemble that remark. Who would feed them? So early libraries — those of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians — contained clay tablets often kept on trays and rolls of papyrus.

Also amazing, in a sad way, is how much literature has been lost. But fires, looting and natural disaster took their tolls. And people who are fond of books are certainly an odd lot. Take diarist Samuel Pepys. He commissioned tailor-made blocks — little wooden plinths disguised with leather — and placed them under his books so that the tops would be exactly even.

Despite — or perhaps because of — these folks, libraries flourish. Thomas Bodley wanted to establish a library at Oxford; thus was born the Bodleian, which tripled its collection just three years after it opened in the early 17th century. There are libraries devoted to Shakespeare Washington, D. Kells devotes several pages to J. Still, what is to become of libraries in this digital age? Kells addresses that topic, too, though not as energetically as he does the library overseen by J. Still, he leaves the question hanging.

Nov 09, Jennifer JC-S rated it it was amazing. The libraries of my youth were places of magic, of possibilities to be explored. They were also places of refuge. But what are libraries, and how have they evolved over the centuries? In this book, Stuart Kells writes about libraries both fictitious and real and their influence on individuals, on literature and on culture more generally.

Every country has a tradition of legends, parables, riddles, myths and chants that existed long before they were written down. Many of them appeared in print, but some of them were part of the storytelling that is part of my Gaelic-speaking ancestry.

This book is full of interesting anecdotes. Sometimes the margins between fact and fiction can be blurred in a most satisfying way. And, eventually, mass scale printing. Like many other readers, I read both print and electronic material. I prefer print, but electronic material is often easier to access and requires less physical storage. But does the digital age pose a threat to traditional physical books, or is it simply an additional delivery mode? And the library has plenty of patrons.

That, for me and for many others, reading is a tactile experience as well as a visual one. I loved this book. Jennifer Cameron-Smith Sep 08, Natalie S added it. A leading Australian bibliophile goes on a tour of thousands of libraries. For many people libraries possess a heart and soul and are a delightful sanctuary, a solace and comfort.

Kells begins by tracing the oral traditions of native tribes and how their members shared their stories and handed these down through the generations. From here, there were original methods to record and write things down. This was done on materials like tablets, the paper-like papyrus and codices made of animal skins. Fast forward through history and we would eventually get books as we know them- printed on a mass scale, made from paper and featuring illustrations.

We would also get ones that were ultimately bound with covers to enable the book to be easily located. This volume is meticulously researched and is full of interesting anecdotes and snapshots from history. Kells is obviously very passionate about books no one will question his bibliophile status after reading this and his joy and love is apparent to the reader.

This is particularly important in this digital age when kindles, e-books and the internet pose a big threat to physical books and libraries. This volume is also a celebration of different cultures. It cites examples of how libraries have influenced different people and how they have been used as the settings in films and novels. It includes delightful anecdotes like the story of writer, Jeanette Winterson hiding books under her mattress and on her person in order to read these on the loo because she was forbidden to read non-religious texts by her strict, Pentecostal step-mother.

The Library even describes the lengths that some bibliophiles will go to in order to curate and create their own perfect library and to source that elusive or rare book. Heck, Kells even describes some threats to books like fire and water damage and insects like silverfish, bedbugs and book worms.

Who would have thought? The Library is ultimately an engaging and well-written volume by a knowledgeable expert and passionate fan of the subject matter. The result is almost like poetry, a rich ode to all things books and everything we love about them. The enjoyment and engagement is so palpable you can almost taste it and Kells proves to be the perfect guide through the subject matter and history, which ironically could have been lost were it not recorded in this faithful tome.

You could consider The Library the good book, except that that one was already taken… Mar 03, Luc Brien rated it it was ok Shelves: info-management , library-studies. I first heard of this book while listening to an interview with Stuart Kells on Radio National, and I was so excited to see a copy in my local library.

When I got it home and started to read it, however, I soon realised that this book was not for me. It's not so much a "catalogue of wonders" as it is a list of things that happened, some of which took place in libraries. While there are definitely some interesting library facts in here the re-evolution of libraries through the ages, for example , I first heard of this book while listening to an interview with Stuart Kells on Radio National, and I was so excited to see a copy in my local library.

While there are definitely some interesting library facts in here the re-evolution of libraries through the ages, for example , it's primarily a book about bibliophiles who like libraries , written by a bibliophile who likes libraries , for other bibliophiles who like libraries , and I was bored for most of it.

I have three major complaints right now about this book: 1. Kells references very few sources for his historical claims, and there is no reference list or bibliography. Kells seems to assume that we will just take what he's saying about various people and places unquestioningly at face value. Sorry, no. There is an air of smug superiority throughout the text. Kells drops names and places and bits of Latin and French, and assumes again that we're all as well-read as he is, that we all get these references and quiet asides.

Some people, I have no doubt, will enjoy these immensely, but for the rest of us ignoramuses, the text is elitist and inaccessible. In the opening chapter, Kells marvels at the intangible libraries inherent to the oral histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditions sometimes called songlines.

Yet in the final chapter, entitled 'A love letter: libraries for the future' he puts his grumpy old man pants on and bemoans the digitisation of the book. Ironically, while this chapter is dedicated to the future of libraries, most of it is spent in the past, pulling out a few examples of where digitisation has failed, or hasn't worked very well. Among his list of 'why computers are bad for books', Kells includes many complaints I've heard before: you can't feel or smell a digital book; you can't appreciate the workmanship in the cover or the fore-edge or the binding; you can't browse in the same way and you lose the thrill of discovery.

These are not complaints about digital books; they're complaints about non-physical books, and the same complaints could be levelled at oral traditions from all over the world, from songlines to European folktales to urban legends.

Kells' veneration of oral traditions and opposition to digital books looks hypocritical to me. I wanted to love this book, to be convinced to buy a copy for my reference shelf. Instead, I'll be gratefully placing in the external return chute at Preston Library next week, looking forward to never seeing it again. Jan 25, Anne Fenn rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction. A fascinating read. Packed so full of interesting facts and figures about libraries, my head couldn't take them all in.

Stuart Kells is an Australian booklover, and I often noted a little thread to Australia pop up in places all over the world. I liked that. He begins with Australian Indigenous peoples' form of library, then moves historically through many of the world's libraries, right up to modern times.

There's a big emphasis on collectors of early manuscripts and books in all forms. Wealth A fascinating read. Wealth and power were main motivators, it seems knowledge came second. Every possible aspect of the subject is explored as he shares his deep knowledge.

I loved reading this book, it made me think about my own humble form of library with greater appreciation for what it is. No collectors items there, just dearly loved books. Jan 15, Nina rated it really liked it. A history of libraries! How could one resist? Parts of this were a trifle dull like chronological lists of bequests to the Vatican Library , but other parts were highly interesting.

I was kept busy looking up images of famous libraries he mentioned and they are fabulous palaces. I liked his recognition of the sensory impact that books have: their feel and smell there was one series of young people books in my childhood that smelled like formaldehyde, and to this day, the smell takes me back. He talks about the total obsessions of famous bibliophiles, crimes against books, and the flora and fauna that take up residence in libraries.

The chapter that described the destruction of various libraries by fire and war was totally depressing. When he was discussing "book architecture" in libraries, I was pleased to see that this British author referenced Kansas City's central library and its exterior facade of famous titles. Towards the end, he addressed fictional libraries delighted to see Umberto Eco's library from The Name of the Rose described, but then he spent too much time on the libraries of Middle Earth.

Many people might find this book boring, but true book lovers will enjoy it. He also mentioned an oil by Giuseppe Arcimboldo called The Librarian. I looked it up and I seriously want a reproduction for my living room wall. Sep 05, Jasmine rated it liked it. I received a copy of this book by way of a Goodreads Giveaway and was initially interested in it due to the Australian link and, also, because I too love libraries.

I didn't, however, find it to be the 'catalogue of wonders' it promised to be. The author is clearly a highly educated, scholarly person with a deep understanding of both libraries and books. While I was impressed at his wealth of knowledge on the subject of libraries, I personally found the book to be too highbrow and not as interes I received a copy of this book by way of a Goodreads Giveaway and was initially interested in it due to the Australian link and, also, because I too love libraries.

While I was impressed at his wealth of knowledge on the subject of libraries, I personally found the book to be too highbrow and not as interesting as I had hoped it would be. The chapter headings sound intriguing, but I wasn't willing to wade through all the academic padding in order to enjoy what might have lain within. That being said I read mostly for pleasure and relaxation, not so much for education. For those who are the other way inclined, and who would like nothing more than to know virtually everything there is to know about the history of libraries, then I am sure this book would rate most highly.

This book provides a delightful survey of library history. Kells is a masterful storyteller, weaving together bookish anecdotes and fascinating data about libraries spanning from the Villa of the Papyri to J. Morgan's extensive illuminated manuscript collection. Serious scholars and recreational library users alike will appreciate Kells's thoughtful treatment of libraries - conceptual, physical, and fantastic - as institutions of social, intellectual, and anthropological importance thro 4.

Serious scholars and recreational library users alike will appreciate Kells's thoughtful treatment of libraries - conceptual, physical, and fantastic - as institutions of social, intellectual, and anthropological importance throughout the ages. Little known facts about some of the world's greatest libraries are revealed, as well as the secrets of the people who helped form their expansive and unique collections.

Each chapter provides a whimsical deep-dive into libraries as they exist in their specific historical and cultural context and their cumulative impact on collective knowledge and heritage. Jun 16, victor harris rated it it was ok Shelves: pre-modern-history. Not many " Wonders" in this. Some interesting and entertaining anecdotes but reads more like a list of books and how they were destroyed or stolen.

No consistent story line, more pieced together segments. This is less a book about libraries than a book about the book trade and how book collectors collect books and upon the end of their lives endow them into libraries.

I think if the author had taken this angle from the start and then focused on showing this back and forth flow of books within a structured narrative as they collect into libraries and are dispersed again and recollect at the hands and organizational intent of different people then we would have something to hang our hat on and it w This is less a book about libraries than a book about the book trade and how book collectors collect books and upon the end of their lives endow them into libraries.

I think if the author had taken this angle from the start and then focused on showing this back and forth flow of books within a structured narrative as they collect into libraries and are dispersed again and recollect at the hands and organizational intent of different people then we would have something to hang our hat on and it would be quite an unique history as it is an important aspect of book culture and history. Instead I felt as if I had to conjure that thesis myself.

I did learn a lot, although it sometimes became quite jumbled and turned into a series of stories with only loose connections to each other. I have noticed that a number of bibliomania books have this fault. The final five pages were the best. This would be an okay start for anyone interested in book culture and libraries but I would quickly direct people onwards to Alberto Manguel and Nicholas Basbanes.

Apr 14, Phoebe rated it liked it Shelves: nonfiction , libraries. Anecdotal rather than comprehensive, this book is for readers who like serendipity. Kells includes wonderful bits of library lore and from all kinds of libraries, private, public, Medieval, fantasy and book collecting trivia. The segments on the evolution of the Folger Library and Tolkien's concept of the library as a symbol of civilization were particularly intriguing. Don't pick this up expecting a linear history of libraries.

Kells' devotion to and knowledge of the book world is evident fro Anecdotal rather than comprehensive, this book is for readers who like serendipity. Kells' devotion to and knowledge of the book world is evident from page 1. An index and a bibliography would have been a useful addition, since readers will want to delve further into the many references he makes. This was a regrettable omission. A series of interconnected essays about libraries and the people generally rich nerds who fill them, this is fairly interesting for bibliophiles, but starts to run low on gas towards the end.

A late chapter about libraries in fantasy, mostly Tolkien, in particular, starts to drag. Still, if you love books, libraries, or just trivia about both, this is worth reading.

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