When people say the love books… do they mean they love reading books? Was it the books they were read as children or the story that took them outside of themselves and spun them off into another world. Or do they mean they love the books themselves? The comfort of having it nearby, our forever companion. A solid keeper of ideas and tales in weathered yellowed pages and faded cracked spines.
Do they love the smell of books? The international League of Antiquarian Booksellers says the smell of old books has just a hint of vanilla. In 2009, a study found that as old books age, they release a complex scent described as “A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.”
In the 18th century, personal libraries were both an indulgence for the collector and for the financially well off bibliophile. The new wealthy merchant class was able to obtain books that personal libraries that previously were the exclusive domains of royalty and the church.
“From antiquity, rulers have controlled knowledge in order to establish social, religious, cultural, and political power. Their private libraries served as archives that held documents of royal families, genealogical charts, private medical records, military histories, and other personal records of the king/ruler. Thus almost all libraries until the nineteenth century were private libraries owned by kings, temples, and other individuals/institutions, and were usually restricted to nobility, aristocracy, scholars, or priests. (University of Idaho)
Public Libraries which came into being in the 19th century were magnificent buildings to house the multitude of written words on human knowledge, law, experience, literature and poetry. Their inspiring architecture pays homage to their revered tomes
The Boston Public Library contains over 2,700 volumes collected by John Adams, second president, during his lifetime (1735-1826) as well as hundreds of additional books later donated by his family members. One of the greatest private collections of its day, the Adams Library remains one of the largest original early American libraries still intact. This remarkable collection of 3,510 books spans the fields of classics, literature, history, politics, government, philosophy, religion, law, science, mathematics, medicine, agriculture, language and linguistics, economics, and travel.
Thomas Jefferson’s personal libraries, held more than 6,000 books and was sold to Congress in 1815.
Even in the digital age, we will always find a reason to have books in a home. We will have them for ourselves and our children. We will have them to fill up a room. We will collect them. We will have them because they are old friends and because if we give them up, we may never find them again. We will have them because we like the way they look, the way they smell and all their fades colors. They are old world comfort, they are tangible joy.