Bronwyn's Library Blog

Friday, May 26, 2006

The legend of the library sinking under the weight of its books

Legend: A famed college library is sinking into the ground because its architect failed to take the weight of the books into account

Origins: A widespread belief at any number of colleges is that the school's library is slowly sinking into the ground because the architect failed to allow for the weight of the books which would be housed there after the building's completion.

Alternatively, college libraries with a significant number of unfilled shelves are rumored to be kept that way to stave off disaster — according to lore, if those shelves were loaded, the buildings would surely sink.

Such beliefs have been part of campus lore at least since the late 1970s, and current students may not realize their professors were hearing the very same tales when they themselves were undergraduates.

Some tales involve a misdesigned athletic facility for which the weight of the water in the swimming pool wasn't factored in; others deal with a residence hall which is sinking because its builder forgot to allow for the weight of the inhabitants and their possessions.

By far the most common form the legend takes, however, is that of the sinking library. Though a few libraries have experienced settling problems, none of them was the result of an addle-brained architect who left out the key calculation regarding the weight of the library's holdings

. Read on .



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