Universal library

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A universal library , in contrast to a specialist library , denotes a library that contains literature from all subject areas . She describes a fictional library that contains every imaginable book as a utopia .

Real universal libraries

One of the first of its kind was the Mundaneum founded by Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine in 1894 ; By 1930 it had grown to over sixteen million bibliographic entries, which were supplemented by dossiers , reproductions of pictures, photographs and graphics . The hypertext concept Memex by Vannevar Bush ( As We May Think , 1945) or the Xanadu project by Ted Nelson took up this encyclopedic library utopia and tried to make all human knowledge available.

Today's universal libraries are usually archive libraries and serve primarily to support science , study and teaching . The largest universal library in Germany is the Berlin State Library .

Utopian universal libraries

The idea of ​​a universal library or "total library" of all imaginable books was described, along with its literary predecessors, in 1939 by Jorge Luis Borges . The term universal library appears in science fiction literature, among others, in Kurd Laßwitz 's story of the same name from 1904. It describes a library in which every conceivable book is, because the volumes are created by combining the characters used. Laßwitz takes 100 characters as sufficient to represent all human knowledge and thinking. Since (in his story) each volume contains 1 million characters, the volume is 10 2,000,000 volumes. The story shows, however, that it would be practically impossible to find a specifically needed band. In addition, although this library is finite in size, it also takes up more space than our universe. Jorge Luis Borges takes up the same idea in his 1941 story The Library of Babel . It is also found in the foundation universe of Isaac Asimov (1942) and Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979) as the Encyclopaedia Galactica .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Jorge Luis Borges: The total library. In: A new refutation of time and 66 other essays (= The Other Library . Vol. 218). Limited & numbered first edition, 1. – 6. Th., Eichborn, Frankfurt a. M. 2003, ISBN 3-8218-4525-2 , pp. 165-169; Success issue. Ibid 2003, ISBN 3-8218-4738-7 .