Surprising facts about libraries
Published on 4th June 2021
One of the most overdue library books in the world was returned after 122 years. In 2011 Camden School of Arts lending library in Australia had a first edition of Charles Darwin’s Insectivorous Plants returned to them. The book had been checked out in 1889 and had lain among the book collection of a retired veterinarian before the library stamp was noticed and the book returned.
At the Rococo Library in Portugal’s Mafra National Palace, a colony of bats is allowed to reside in the library to eat the book-damaging bugs. During the day the bats sleep behind the elaborate book cases, only emerging at night when the library is closed to hoover up all the pesky insects. Every morning before the library opens, the cleaners must sweep up the scat they drop, a small price to pay to preserve the collection.
Isaac Asimov has a book in nearly every category of the Dewey Decimal Classification System. The system was developed by Melvil Dewey in 1873. It’s been adopted by more than 200,000 libraries in 135 countries. The scheme works hierarchically by dividing knowledge into ten main subjects, meaning that books within the same subject group can be shelved together. It’s thought that the only category Asimov failed to produce a book in was 100 Philosophy.
The Osmothèque is a library of smells in Versailles, France. Founded in 1990, the Osmothèque is a repository for perfumes and contains over 3,200 scents, some 400 of which are no longer made. The collection is an archive of perfume-making history, and many fragrance houses and parfumiers have kindly donated samples of perfumes, both current and historical, in order to safeguard their formulas. More interesting facts.