My library runneth over

Everyone knows that libraries and bookshops share something in common with the TARDIS – they are much bigger on the inside than on the outside.  This is particularly true of dusty second-hand bookshops and old libraries with idiosyncratic shelving systems.  However, even those places with the stretchiest hold on the usual laws of space and dimension can only stretch so far, and it seems to me that the Library of Doom has reached that point.

Second-hand bookshops can get away with having books lined up along the window sill, or in teetering piles on the floor, but this doesn’t tend to be very acceptable in the world of libraries. Health and safety people tend to have a fit if there’s anything on the floor, and library patrons naturally start to complain if the books start encroaching on non-shelf territory.  I was intrigued to see what the state of play was in my crazy library, so I wandered round with a tape measure, a pen and a piece of paper yesterday morning before starting work, and here are the the thrilling results.  Subject area, followed by the number of shelves-worth of books that won’t fit on the shelves and are decorating the floor, trolleys, windowsills or study desks.  Or in one case, the top of a radiator, so I hope we find somewhere for those before the winter.

From least impressive to most: literature (4 shelves), sport and art (5 shelves each), music and policing (six shelves each), general science (7 shelves), media (10 shelves), history (13 shelves), languages (14 shelves) and social sciences (20 shelves).  I have a feeling that I missed the geography section accidentally which would add a few more.  Plus approximately 12 shelves-worth of periodicals and don’t even mention the DVDs, as it’s liable to make us all cry.

That’s a lot of books without a home, and sadly no spare space to erect any new shelves.  In approximately 30 months, there will be a brand new Library of Doom, but in the mean time, if you here of any tidal waves of unshelvable books engulfing unsuspecting students, you know why!

Has anyone got a book-shrinker?  I’m sure I saw several boxes of books arriving just before I left this afternoon…

  1. In my case, all the spare books that don’t fit are cluttering up my desk upstairs, as I am supposed to be mending them. It’s all gone a bit ‘The Sourceror’s Apprentice’, only with paper and glue instead of mops and buckets and water. I should be thankful.

  2. You’d need a very big desk for our collection of non-fitting books… However, the potentialities (is that a word?) of a library vatiation on Sourceror’s Apprentice are deeply, deeply disturbing. You may have it worse, after all!

    • Claire
    • June 14th, 2006

    The piles of books have always disturbed me, although I have never gone to such lengths as making calculations! Roll on 2008 (assuming this legendary (can something in the future be legendary?) target date is met…

  3. *giggles*

    I think that everyone has some numerical constants in their lives. One is a person’s “natural” age. You know how some people are born aged 45 and others never ever make it past 23?

    Another is the amount of extra shelving they need for their books. If they buy, make, inherit, steal or otherwise acquire additional shelf-space, within a period of hours they are short of shelves by that exact same amount again. For me, it appears to be 18″. I always need another 18″ of shelf-space.

  4. So, areyou telling me that when the Library of Doom moves into a shiny new building, there will still be enough unshelvable books to fill some 100 shelves? *sigh* I know what you mean about books at home, though. They do seem to expand. In terms of age, I think I flip-flop between 7 and 70!

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