Open-Stack Serendipity

CBS “Sunday Morning” today featured a profile of almanac author Ben Schott in which Schott expressed a belief I’ve long held regarding the wonderful serendipity of browsing the stacks of major library:

“It’s always the book next to the book you’re looking for that’s the really interesting one.”

Which is why it’s a shame that so many library collections are hidden away in closed-stack systems.

Happily, the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania — which is both my alma mater and my current employer — houses the largest open-stack library in the U.S. Both as a student and in the years since, I’ve uncovered many hidden gems by browsing the shelves in the general proximity of the book I was seeking.

It’s like a real-world version of StumbleUpon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s