I enjoyed tracing the history of book storage across history, and particularly enjoyed learning more about the practice of chaining precious books to desks in libraries and reading rooms. When chained books were first shelved vertically, they were shelved with their spines facing inwards as the spine was the weakest point of the book and not suitable for attaching the chain mechanism.
What to do then when there were too many books and not enough space? This question continues to plague the modern day librarian, and Petroski takes us through the many advances in technology and engineering throughout history addressing this very problem.
Historically, natural light was pivotal in the design of libraries and you can often identify the library in a historic building by the construction of their windows. With the advent of the printing press, books became more prolific and the nature of their bindings began to change. Petroski also discusses the changes in various materials such as: parchment, papyrus and paper.
At the end of the book, Petroski provides at least 21 different ways to shelve books. I'm most interested in shelving books by colour, as demonstrated in my favourite bookish picture (left). I'd love to have a wall of shelves and try this for myself, but this photo and many more like it will have to sustain me for the moment.
The book on the Bookshelf is full of historical gems and
interesting bookish facts and I'd recommend it to dedicated bibliophiles out there who are interested in a little history.
My rating = ****