Sunday, April 02, 2006

Books kept by most libraries

The Online Computing Library Center (OCLC) has updated for 2005 its list of the "top 1000" titles owned by its member libraries. (Dave Lull sent me the link.) According to OCLC's website, these are the "intellectual works that have been judged worth owning by the 'purchase vote' of libraries around the globe." The top 10, in order, are: The Bible, the US Census, Mother Goose, The Divine Comedy, The Odyssey, The Iliad, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Lord of the Rings (trilogy), Hamlet and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I find this mixture a somewhat eclectic mix, so thought I'd note the next 10: Don Quixote, Beowulf, the Koran, The Night Before Christmas, Garfield at Large, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Aesop's Fables, Arabian Nights, Macbeth, Gulliver's Travels. Of the books in the top 20, the Bible, the Koran, both Twains, the Arabian Nights and Don Quixote were once banned. It is a relief to know that Garfield never suffered this fate. The ranking in the list is determined by how many libraries own the title in question. I don't know if multiple titles at one libraray are counted, or if there is any weighting for the number of times a title is borrowed. But the list seems to be created from more than 53,000 libraries in 96 countries. Here's a link to some more information about OCLC and how it works. Dave Lull has also provided a link to some "fun facts" about the list. Here's a couple of sample entries: What is the highest-ranking work written by a woman? Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë, ranks 28 on the list. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, is ranked 30, and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice ranks 32 Who is the top monster? Dr. Frankenstein's monster. Ranking 43, he beat both Count Dracula (75) and Edward Hyde (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ranked 141). This year the vampire, Lestat, ranked 927 on the OCLC Top 1000 list, but Shrek didn't make the list. There is also a brief comparison of duplicate titles on the OCLC list with various others. Thanks, Dave, I enjoyed the rather crazy experience of looking round the OCLC site.