Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2018 Issue

Oh Rats! Another Problem for Libraries

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The Stuttgart University Library.

Libraries face grave dangers as they try to preserve indefinitely the books and other written words and images of history. There are the scourges of fire, floods, theft, along with those resulting from less than ideal internal climate control. And, that is before we get to issues of inadequate funding and decreasing interest from patrons. Now we can add another, one experienced by the library of the University of Stuttgart - rats. We can't even imagine what comes next, maybe locusts, frogs, and the death of librarians' first born.

 

The library is next to a park. Visitors have a habit of leaving food behind, which in turn attracts rats. The university has encouraged the city to do something about the problem, but have not had much luck. The proximity of the library to the park has led some of its rodent visitors to take advantage of the nearby building for shelter and additional sources of food. They have been known to devour books, unfortunately, in a literal rather than figurative sense.

 

Even worse than the munching is that these guests are notoriously untrained. They never learned the old adage of not fouling your own nest. They have left droppings, and leakings, behind in the books. There is not much of a remedy for this other than the one chosen by the Stuttgart Library, get rid of them. This is what they have been forced to do with almost 8,000 of their books. The value of the destroyed books is estimated at 200,000 euros.

 

It is believed the rats most likely entered through the sewer system. Old pipes have breaks in them allowing rats to enter from the sewers into the building. Officials also believe that they have solved this problem, at least for now. However, the presence of rats nearby, and need for updating of a library that is showing its age, means that patchwork solutions are not likely to last forever. Greater investments are needed, but hard to come by.

 

If there is one positive in this miserable story, it is this. The rats weren't particularly selective in what they chose to foul. It was the more recent material, rather than the oldest and most valuable books, they selected. They weren't connoisseurs or antiquarians. They were just ordinary vermin.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>The Railroad,</i> etching, 1922. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Sheet of Studies with Men in Hats and a Saloon Keeper,</i> pen, ink & pencil, circa 1900-05. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Night Shadows,</i> etching, 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> John Marin, <i>Woolworth Building, No. 2,</i> etching & drypoint, 1913. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Charles Demuth, <i>Tulips,</i> watercolor & pencil, 1924. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Under Control,</i> gouache, ink & wash, circa 1907-10. $30,000 to $50,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JESSE JAMES. Autograph Letter Signed on the attack at his home which maimed his mother and killed his nephew Archie, 6 pp, March 23, 1875. THE MOST IMPORTANT JESSE JAMES LETTER EXTANT. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> THE LETTER THAT ARRIVED TOO LATE: An important letter from Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant across the battlefield at Cold Harbor, June 6, 1864. $120,000 to $180,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> DAVY CROCKETT. Autograph Letter Signed on his political philosophy and his dispute with Andrew Jackson, "at home Weakley County," August 18, 1831. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> GEORGE WASHINGTON. Letter Signed to Colonel Richard Gridley, the first engineer of the American Army, Morris Town, January 9, 1777. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> SCOTT FITZGERALD. <i>Tender is the Night.</i> FIRST EDITION, INSCRIBED to H.A. Swanseid. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS. <i>Tarzan of the Apes.</i> FIRST EDITION. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> J.R.R. TOLKIEN. <i>The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.</i> FIRST EDITION. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NATHANAEL WEST. <i>The Day of the Locust.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed to director Richard Wallace in the year of publication. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> FRANCIS PICABIA. Archive of 17 Autograph Letters signed to Jennie Thiersch on art and life, 1948-1951. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JOHN HANCOCK. Autograph Letter Signed to his wife Dolly from the Continental Congress, 4 pp, Philadelphia, March 10-11, 1777. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NIGHTGOWN WORN BY CHARLOTTE CARDEZA DURING THE TITANIC DISASTER AND RESCUE. $40,000 to $60,000

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