University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Book checked out from library after 167 years

Librarians happy in the Frederiksberg campus. For the first time, a reader showed interest in a book that had been sitting on a shelf for a long, long time

It is proven beyond doubt that this particular book has never, ever been read, perused or even skimmed to see what the content is. (Even though the book, as a work, may have been). This is according to the librarians at Copenhagen University Library Frederiksberg.

The book was ordered up to the reading room by an interested reader a few days ago. But not before the librarians could ascertain that it was from 1848 and that the pages were still bound together, uncut – 167 years after the publishing date.

“This happens once in awhile, that books are ordered that clearly have never been lent out. This can be normally seen by the pages being still bound together,” explains Marianne Grützmeier, head librarian to the University Post.

User-generated purchasing

But it is seldom that something so old, and yet so … unread, is found. Even in a library that boasts half a million titles.

Generally speaking in the world of science, the older something is, the less likely it will be borrowed, according to Marianne Grützmeier. A 2008 study in the library showed that of all the books acquired by the library in a three year period, 32 per cent were never checked out.

“This was one of the direct causes of us switching to a user-generated purchasing system,” Marianne Grützmeier explains, where the reader’s demand for books is the sole determinant of the purchasing.

Can’t be that interesting, or?

Databases at the library do not go back far enough to be able to ascertain how many old books there are that have never been checked out.

With this degee of interest, the book title can’t be that enticing, Judge for yourself. It is: “Royal Society of Medicine Association’s writings, new series. book 1”. It is in Danish actually and the title is ‘Det kongelige Medicinske Selskabs’ skrifter, ny række, bind 1″

Give it a boost. Ask for it the next time you are in the Frederiksberg campus library.

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