Panorama of a despoiled library

Jeffrey sez, "Because there aren't enough things to be sad about in the world. Behold, a once-glorious attic full of books falling victim to entropy and vandalism. I don't know the real story behind this, but I know a sad sight when I see it."

Weberei Eibau Walddorf Dachbodenbibliothek (Thanks, Jeffrey!)


  1. Looks more like storage than a library per se. Notice how the books are stacked vertically. You can fit more that way, but not access them as easily.

  2. It’s the library of a weaving mill from the GDR. The literature is mostly political education (propaganda), but also travel literature about the Soviet Union.

    1. Not exactly a “glorious attic full of books,” except maybe in the sense of “glorious workers’ revolution.”

      1. …because we all know books not printed in the free west must be destroyed. Btw, does the place where you work have a library?

        1. One of my first duties at my high-school work experience placement was to reorganise and catalogue the company library.

        2. Actually, I worked many years ago in an engineering department with a huge library of Bell System Practices.  And they must be destroyed.  Except they almost certainly have been, and replaced with digital…  wait, what are we talking about again?

  3. I feel the same way seeing this as I do when I see an art installation using a massive amount of books. 

    If you just look at this as a demonstration of how lousy paper is at storing information over the long term, it’s not so depressing.

    1. fair point, by reminding myself that all that would fit on a thumb drive with room to spare, it hardly hurts at all.  For everything that makes it past the digital divide and becomes part of the swarm at least.   

      1. Digital Storage is even worse then Paper, i have an old bible, my great aunt got for her mariage in the 1930’s that i can perfectly read, but i also have lots of floppy disks and CDs from my own childhood that i cant access anymore.

        1. I agree that CDs and floppy discs are also lousy data storage mediums. I never said anything about recent digital technology being the solutions. I imagine the best way of storing information has yet to be invented.

          Also, I think the bible is a bad example. The bible is a book that, even if nobody bothers to read it, is treated with reverence and is usually well-cared for, perhaps with the intention of passing it down to future generations.

          1. the best way to keep information stored is, to move it again and again, checking its integrity every time, and to distribute it as widely as possible. don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

  4. Someone with a neuroscience background might know whether I am on the right track, but my instinct tells me that the printed word is a marvelous thing for doling out information at a pace compatible with comprehension and retention.  I have a soft spot for physical books, which happens to be body-sized.  As for the original post–sad, yes, but beautifully captured.

  5. I feel that way when I see huge stacks of electronic gizmos sitting out in the rain.  I know that they’re mostly worthless, but it still hurts.

  6. Excess books could mean there is more than enough to go around. You can love books without fetishizing them. 

    Or, beautiful photo with a sad feeling akin to nostalgia.

    But, if that were my parents garage/attic the books would be encyclopedia britanica yearbooks, readers digest condensed books, and outdated tax manuals. The only crime there is that they were printed at all.

    So what I really want to say is that art has another purpose than being evidence of a crime. If you can avoid immediately wanting to judge someone and feel the actual ambiguity of the situation you can come away with a deeper understanding of even seemingly unrelated things like how people might end up screwing up their lives, even though . . . 

    That photo causes a pit in my stomach about missed opportunities. 

  7. Even without the context provided above, as a librarian with more than twenty years’ experience in libraries of all types, I find the sentimentality displayed above as ridiculous as someone getting misty-eyed over a pile of old AOL CDs. We weed books all the time, and while some get discarded or sold because they’re out of date or we simply no longer have room for them and have to replace them with electronic versions, there are some books that never deserved to be in print in the first place and give us pause when we’re selecting their replacements.

    1. Anthropologists, sociologists, and even some day archeologists (with the right conditions) feel differently.  There is value in human detritus.  How many garbage dumps have yielded vital clues to the local culture and history of a place long forgotten?

      I have thrown out books.  I have also kept ridiculously out-of-date books because they are beautiful, or they remind me of something precious to me, or I worry that I would not be able to find the contents anywhere on the web in my lifetime, should I choose to do so.

      AOL CD’s all look the same and have no purpose other than to connect humans to a technology which has changed dramatically since they came out.  Even so, I’m sure you’re not suggesting we should trash ALL of them, since they have merit due to their place in the history of the internet.  Books (and their equivalents such as scrolls) can still be read hundreds if not thousands of years after they were written.  And they look nice.  It’s the wrong example to use for equivalency.

  8. In my library in Cracow, Poland we have lots of old communist propaganda books from ’50, ’60 and so on. It’s all rubbish. They weren’t read for decades. We started  removing them. Leaving just one copy of each book. Suddenly we have lot of space in our magazines.

    This panorama is sad view because those books should go for recycling..

    1. Or be sold by the foot as wall covering. I remember (but not can’t find) a Boingboing piece from a few years ago about one of those firms that sells leatherbound books as decoration for rooms. Apparently they mainly use Danish religious tracts.

      And I imagine that a wall completely lined with books would be relatively well insulated…

    2. Professional kudos to you that you keep at least one copy – even rubbish propaganda is worth preserving.
      Thinking of Cracow: is there any library there with a special collection of Stanisław Lem’s works? And are there historical library rooms of the Biblioteka Jagiellońska, comparable perhaps to the ones in Coimbra or Vienna?

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