Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2011 Issue

Why doesn't this happen in my town?

Too good to be true

Too good to be true

Space is apparently at a premium in Jerusalem, and it has gotten so bad that the National Library on the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus has been caught throwing away important books with the drek.  God knows, rare book rooms are more mausoleums than museum these days, and it’s true that some libraries are so uncomfortable selling old books they sometimes literally give them away.  I have to say, however, that this is not kosher [traif].  Further, reports that dealers lined up over night and that at least one armored truck was called are, as of this writing, unsubstantiated.

On July 21st, the Jerusalem Post wrote a story about the National Library at Givat Ram donating excess books to the public.  They described the books as “eighty percent” in English, and lord knows, every day fewer English speakers are reading books.  After all, if you can read it on your iPad, why bother with the original texts?

Once the giveaway was underway, library staff were confronted by an irate scholar.   A representative of the library with “beyste bay zayn ponem” [egg on his face] then defended the selection for de-accessioning as “a completely normal process used by libraries around the world.” However, no other libraries have rushed to confirm that they too toss out their old and sometimes highly collectible books.   One suspects the vast majority of libraries prefer to keep their rare books, but if de-accessioning, they’ll hold their noses and sell.

In tossing the material out, the library evoked memories of the infamous gang of three, Groucho, Harpo and Chico.  These “books were given to the public, and if the library had more than three copies, or if the books did not belong to the library’s three core areas of research – Judaism, Israel and Islam,” we tossed ‘em.   A quick check of the AED suggests the library’s focus is very narrow or, expressed in numerical terms, 0.005% of the total [17,853 of 3,277,756] records in the AED: 

Judaism 280

Judaica 8,025

Israel 7,710

Islam 1,838 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions