Normally I like to use the “Splendid Libraries” category on my blog to showcase a spectacular library. This is a public library in Barton, Vermont certainly has a spectacular problem. Some kids broke in overnight and re-arranged the furniture. At first glance it seems like a harmless prank. The problem is that the kids rearranged the books, too.
As a librarian, I can tell you that this is likely to cost the library days of staff time to get those books back in order. It is tedious, unpleasant work, and patrons can’t find the books they are looking for while it happens.
I feel like one of those grim, joyless librarians, but what were those kids thinking!!
Off my soapbox now…..
Books were so valuable in medieval and renaissance times that libraries often chained their books to the shelves. Even today, an occasional medieval book will come up for auction at rare book sales with a bit of the chain attached. Those bits of chain cause the price of the book to skyrocket.
The library pictured here is on the grounds of St. Walburga’s church in the Netherlands. Originally built in 1561, it has opted to keep the chains in accordance with tradition. What a wonderful memory of a bygone era!
The Kinsey Institute in housed in Morrison Hall at Indiana University, where I got my Library Science degree. While I was plugging away in graduate school, I had an internship at the library of the Kinsey Institute, the world famous research facility for sexuality and reproductive health. Now that was an interesting place to work!
As you can imagine, the library was closed to the public unless you had authorization. The library itself was very hard to find, as it is on one of the top floors, there is no signage, and the only means of access is through a locked stairwell. My job was to catalog the medical journals, which was generally pretty tame, but the library also collected art, artifacts, photography, and just about anything that related to human sexuality. I must say…..every day was a surprise when I showed up to work!
Normally I reserve the Splendid Library entries for photographs of spectacular libraries I can drool over, but there are quite a few interesting paintings of Saint Jerome, usually depicted in a library.
Saint Jerome (c. 327-420 A.D.) was best known as the man who translated the Bible into Latin. He was born in rural Italy, but converted to Christianity when he went to study in Rome. He lived in semi-seclusion most of his life, working on his translations and studying ancient texts. Legend has it while living in the desert he removed a thorn from the paw of a lion, who loyally stayed with Jerome for many years….thus, the frequent depiction of a lion in these pictures.
Saint Jerome is also the patron saint for librarians, so without further ado, here are some spectacular renderings of his library. The first is my favorite by Albrecht Durer:
The Sterling Memorial Library at Yale certainly needs to be on the list of most spectacular lbraries, as it is simply staggering, not only in its beauty but in its collections. What a magnificent library.
Incidentally, some really terrific people work there. Once upon a time I was in desperate need of a rare book about colonial medicine, and Yale was the only library in the entire country with a copy. The terrific folks spent a good deal of time working with me over the phone so I got exactly the information I needed.
Take a close look at the photograph below. The carvings on the outside of the building depict scholars throughout the ages, with writing in several different languages and alphabets.
And here we have a picture of the inside of the library:
Many thanks to Yale University and altopower for permission to use the photos!