Have you ever been to a library? Most probably you have. So what do you think makes a library unique? You may say the collection it holds. True! But there are some libraries which are unique in themselves, like Epos – the floating library, or the Beach Library, Albena, Bulgaria, or maybe the Haskell Free Library which is perhaps the only library situated on the border of two countries. While these libraries are unique, there is a library that is more than just unique. A library that is mysterious and strange – the Library of Babel. The library is so mysterious and strange, that it never existed – or did it? Let’s find out.
A Strange Library
The Library of Babel is a library conceptualized and described in detail in a Spanish short story written by Argentine author and librarian Jorge Luis Borges. In this story, he conceived of a different and strange universe. He pictured the universe to be a vast library – a mysteriously unique one. The library consists of hexagonal rooms having an entry on one wall and bare necessities of life on the other and shelves of books on the other four walls. The books again are not the usual ones you will find in any library – they were odd. Each book has exactly 410 pages with the same formatting. But this is not the unique feature of this library. Its uniqueness lies somewhere else.
The most unique feature of the Library of Babel is the fact that in those 410 paged books you will find everything that is ever written in the English language and everything that will ever be written, and English translation of every book in every language of the world. You can find Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare, and also the textbook you read in the 9th standard. The library has a copy of the love letter you never sent to your crush and also the grocery list you have in your pocket right now. You can find all the answers in one of its books and all the questions ever asked. It has the names of every person you ever met, and all those you will never meet. You can also find the most viral tweet you retweeted today and can also find a copy of the blog post you are reading. This is the ultimate library you would ever visit.
Where can I get a copy of the book – The Library of Babel
If you want to read more about this mysterious library, I would suggest that you read the book before reading any further. This is a great read and the concept of the library described is mind-boggling.
The book is available for purchase and rent at various online and offline stores and libraries. Some of them are
- The Library of Babel Hardcover at Amazon.com
- Collected Fictions (including The Library of Babel) Abridged at Amazon.com
- Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges, Audiobook at Google Play
- In the following physical libraries – List by WorldCat.com
- In the following online stores – List by GoodReads.com
To read more about the short-story and its background visit its page at the Project Gutenberg.
Does The Library of Babel Actually Exist?
Well, the answer is both ‘No’ and ‘Yes’.
It is practically impossible to fathom a library of such a humongous size. If the library had to exist it would contain 1.956 times 101,834,097 books. In comparison, the world’s largest library, the British Library, has 1.7 times 108 books. So yes the library of Babel does not exist and the chances are slim that it will ever exist physically in the near future.
However, there is a virtual version of The Library of Babel which exists. Computer programmer Jonathan Basile based on this short story created a digital version of the Library of Babel. You can check it out at the Library of Babel Website.
Do check out the site. You will love it. A real treat for geeks and book lovers alike!
Oh! By the way, do you remember I told you that you can find this blog post in the library of Bable. Well, check out this link – https://libraryofbabel.info/bookmark.cgi?gqikyeyvwsezbpjj268.