If you like odd and obscure information the Atlas Obscura is the web site, and book, for you. I avoided for years because I was sure that it was just one of those schlock sites that bait you in on shock headlines and then had very mundane articles that attempted to titillate.
There is some attempt at this at the Atlas, to be sure. The headline on the page I am looking at has an article about how during the siege of 1870 Parisians ate a host of animals from the zoo as well as ones such as cats and rats. However also on that page is articles on the search for Caligula’s pleasure ship, and a free speech issue that oddly enough involves an inflatable Mario plus many more.
A friend is a big fan and sent me a few stories. Then I saw a couple of additional articles that interested me and I started subscribing to its newsletter and now I look forward to the news letter every morning.
What brings me to raise this issue this morning is an article on libraries, but not just everyday libraries. It is about ten of the most unusual lending libraries. You always hear about community lending libraries that might offer garden tools or, well really that is about all I have heard about aside from books.
I will not go into detail on all of them but they cover everything from seeds and fishing poles to umbrellas. While I knew about Andrew Carnegie and his huge role in the growth of libraries in America, the history of the Carnegie Library in Braddock, Penn. is very interesting. Originally it had not just books but billiard tables, a bathhouse, music hall, pool and bowling alley. It has naturally evolved over the years and now sports a major Art Lending Collection with offerings from local artists.
This type of information might seem useless, and it might be, but it also makes me wonder what is available in my area that I might be interested in. I will look around this afternoon and see; my lawnmower just bit the dust last weekend.
I noticed that book, Atlas Obscura: An Explorers Guide to the Hidden Wonders of the World is a New York Times best seller. I may have to add that to my birthday wish list.