Hello. My name is History of Rochester. I happen to be the oldest book in the Laramie County Library. Yes sir, I was printed in 1838. That means your grand pappy’s grand pappy was a young man.
I’m writing for one reason. I have a bone to pick with the library world…
Why in the world do those young whippersnapper books with their glossy covers and their gleaming white pages get a bookshelf all to themselves right down there where everyone can see ‘em?
Do they have the years of experience that I have? Do they have that elegant “old book smell”? Do they have the wisdom of the ages? If a book as old as me is still on the shelves, you know I have something important to say. I even have a fold out map. I’d like to see one of these newfangled books with a fold out map.
I just think all you folks with a hankerin for these silly new books should think about an old book like me once in a while. If you want to find me, I’m in the special collections area up on the third floor. My call number is GEN 974.789 O’Rel if you want to know. There’s some others like me around the library. They get to go home with you though. I’m too old for those kind of shenanigans anymore. If you’re interested I’ll tell you their names.
The books with the oldest copyright dates on the third floor are The Epic of Gilgamesh which was written approximately 1700 BC. Now that makes me look like my ink is still wet! Beowulf was written somewhere between 975 and 1025 AD, and The Canterbury Tales was written between 1387 and 1400 AD. Of course there’s also the King James Bible. The oldest book in the Bible is Job, dated somewhere before the life of Moses (who lived around 1300 BC). But the English translation we know as the King James was written in 1611. Don’t leave out The Iliad by Homer written around 760 to 710 BC. Those are some seriously old books folks!
For you newly printed humans who like to hang out on the second floor making a racket, well, there’s Robinson Crusoe which was originally published in 1719. That’s pretty old. The Last of the Mohicans is from 1826, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was published in 1870. Then of course there’s that rascally Tom. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1876. I guess I never did get as famous as some of those books.
Way down there on the first floor you have The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. It was first published in 1678. The history of Tom Jones a Foundling was written in 1831. Then you can’t forget good ol’ Dickens. He wrote Bleak House in 1853.
So there’s a little idea of some of us oldies but goodies at the library. Now get away from that new shelf, and dig a little deeper for the grandfathers of literature, still here on the shelves for your enjoyment and edification.