Damn You Thomas Jefferson!

A while back I added my library to librarything.com. In adding this books I tagged my books with various keywords. As you can imagine there were a lot tagged as "physics." Indeed when I entered the books there were only a few people who had a comparable number of physics tags, among them a user called lasermazer. Recently I checked in, and damnit, there is now a library that has a lot more physics tags books:
Yes that is the Thomas Jefferson! A cool feature of library thing are "legacy libraries" where you can compare your overlap with other historic libraries. But wait. Thomas Jefferson is cheating. I mean I don't have a copy of "Advice to shepherds and owners of flocks on the care and management of sheep", which is tagged "Physics" but it seems to me that this book is most probably not about physicists (managing physicists is not like managing sheep, it's like managing cats.)

The books I share with Thomas Jefferson are:

L'eloge de la folie by Desiderius Erasmus
The meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus by Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius
The plays of William Shakspeare : in ten volumes : with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators by William Shakespeare
Titi Lucretii Cari De Rerum Natura Libri Sex by Titus Lucretius Carus

More like this

"Advice to shepherds and owners of flocks on the care and management of sheep", which is tagged "Physics" ...

Asymptotically, as N approaches infinity, consider N spherical sheep...

Be content that I am not on librarything (but on the much better, and FREE, CiteULike) ;-)
My booklist is here. Just imagine if I have been tagging consistently...

By theoreticalminimum (not verified) on 10 Dec 2008 #permalink

Dave, on your next visit to Washington, it is perfectly feasible to do the following:

----- program for a memorable day in DC -------

(1) Go the back-door entrance of the Library of Congress

(2) You will be denied entrance, but if you ask, the guards will tell you where to apply to become a credentialed LOC researcher.

(3) Go (next door) and apply. About two hours later, your credentials will become available.

(4) Return to the LOC and proceed to the main reading room (now as a credentialed researcher).

(5) Browse in awe for an hour or so, while enjoying the awestruck inspection of the tourists in the Mezzanine who are watching you.

(6) Having armed yourself (in advance) with a fairly detailed Jefferson-related research program (mine was "Marginalia in Thomas Jefferson's copies of the works of Spinoza"), and also, having previously familiarized yourself with the existing catalogs of Jefferson's library, simply approach a librarian, and formally request access to the desired volumes from Jefferson's library.

(7) During the subsequent conversation, the librarian's initial attitude will be one of suspicion, but (if you have done your homework properly, and have good answers to the librarian's question), this will rapidly convert to an attitude of enthusiasm. Because at the end of the day, these librarians *want* to help scholars, and in fact they are thrilled that anyone cares about their treasures.

(8) Soon afterward, you will be escorted to the rare book room, given gloves to wear, and Jefferson's own books given to you for your research. Oh wow.

(9) My own research was inconclusive -- Jefferson's English translation of Spinoza's works were well-thumbed, but not annotated. In contrast Jefferson's Latin works of Spinoza were pristine -- it appears that no-one at all has read these volumes, in the three hundred years since they were printed.

This was too bad, as I had hoped to anticipate Jonathan Israel's forthcoming volume on this phase of the Enlightenment which (I strongly suspect) will analyze in-depth Spinoza's influence upon the Founders.


All of the above can be accomplished in one (long) day ... a day that is *far* more fun than simply touring the usual sights of the Mall.