10 Stand-Out Collections From Legacy Libraries

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We recently found the coolest thing on the internet (well, if you love books like we do). Library Thing is a collaborative project from a community of nearly two million bibliophiles from around the world. By joining, you can compile your library online, trade or lend books, chat with like-minded readers (in over fifty languages) and even get first dibs on new releases!

A side project of the Library Thing community is Legacy Libraries, a massive undertaking that involves the cataloging of famous book collections dating back to the ninth century. From the earliest entry (St. Photius the Great) to recent additions like Julia Child and the International Space Station, Legacy Libraries now lists the contents of 1913 personal book collections of a diverse group of famous artists, thinkers, politicians and other historically relevant figures and institutions.

You could get lost for hours in these records, which have been verified using published bibliographies, auction catalogues, library holdings, manuscripts, wills and even personal inspection. We highly recommend you head over and take a look to see how your personal library stacks up next to your favourite writers. To get you started, we’ve listed some of the highlights below.

Sylvia Plath

Featuring perhaps a surprising amount of children’s literature (such as Elizabeth Poston’s Pat the Bunny), Plath also owned books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Thomas Hardy, Ayn Rand and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Richard III

What does a notorious ruler of England like to read in his spare time? Richard III’s book collection seems focused rather fittingly on two subjects: religion and war.

Tupac Shakur

Tupac has long been esteemed as quite the wordsmith, and so it’s no surprise that his library held titles by everyone from Niccolò Machiavelli to Herman Melville to Gabriel García Márquez.

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Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s extensive library featured an impressive selection of poetry and stageplays, including works by John Keats, William Morris and, of course, William Shakespeare.

Arthur Conan Doyle

To research and craft the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle no doubt turned to his own bookshelf, which was stocked with court transcripts and books on magic and illusion.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson kept in his collection many books by children’s author Jacob Abbott, though he seemed to prefer Abbott’s historical biographies to the Rollo stories he was best known for.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald kept up with the current trends by reading novels by his contemporaries, such as Virginia Woolf, H.K. Mencken and James Joyce.

Ian Fleming

When creating a long-running character like James Bond, it is important to watch for consistency. Fleming was well prepared for this, as he kept much of his own work in his personal library, including at least two copies of Thunderball.

Lena Horne

With titles ranging from Vanity Fair’s Hollywood to The Negro Almanac, Horne’s collection speaks to her position caught between two worlds: Hollywood glamour and civil rights activism.

Lewis Carroll

Like Fleming, Carroll included many of his books in his personal library (including a biography on himself), but he also seemed to be quite interested in photography and geometry.

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So what are you waiting for? Get on Library Thing and start uploading your own list. Who knows – once you have made your place in the history books – you may save some future community member the hassle of trying to research your collection for their archives!

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