Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Old Library Books

CNN has the story of a man who returned a library book along with late fees that have accumulated since it was due in 1960--his check was $171.32. I don't know why that story appeals to me so much, but it does. Of course, the library had long since written that book off.

At least six years ago during a staff meeting in our school library, I happened to notice a book by Isaac Asimov about slide rules. OK, I admit it, I wasn't paying attention at the snoozer--I mean, staff meeting. Anyway, I pulled it out and looked at the last time it was stamped due (you remember how, in the pre-computer days, the librarian would stamp the due date in the book). It was last due on my 10th birthday.

That's right, it hadn't been checked out since the Ford Administration.

I took it to our librarian after the meeting and asked if I could have it; I didn't imagine any junior high would need such a book any longer. She coded it out of her computer right then and there and it now sits on my bookshelf at home--right next to the slide rule that one of our science teachers gave me the next day, after seeing my interest in Asimov's book. (No, it's not a K&G, it's a plastic slide rule.)

The brilliance that went into developing slide rules amazes me to this day.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

How does one work? I have no clue what a "slide rule" is.

Darren said...

Oh, you need to do a little research on this. They're amazing--and their scales are logarithmic :-)

Anonymous said...

What are logarithms?

Exponents :D

Darren said...

Good to see someone paid attention :-)

rightwingprof said...

"How does one work? I have no clue what a "slide rule" is."

Oh my God. We learned to use slide rules in high school.

Joshua Sasmor said...

Which Asimov book is this - I may have to get a copy!

Darren said...

An Easy Introduction to the Slide Rule, Isaac Asimov, Houghton Mifflin Press, 1965.

I don't even see an ISBN number, but the Library of Congress Catalog Card Number is listed as 65-19294.

Anonymous said...

If you search for that book on eBay, then you'll see that the librarian shouldn't have easily shooed it away ;)

Darren said...

Tell me more!

I don't know much about eBay--is someone selling a copy? Have a link?

Anonymous said...

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?&isbn=0395065755&nsa=1

Not eBay, but goes to show that any slide rule enthusiast would probably want that book, or not...

Darren said...

Not bad! Mine's third printing....

Anonymous said...

But knowledge and sentimental value have no price, of course :P