The Smallest of Our Library's Big Attractions

By Eric Olson

November 2, 2012 Updated Nov 2, 2012 at 7:57 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Indiana-We all know there are thousands…millions of stories to be found at our fabulous Allen County Public Library. What some might not know is just how very odd some of those stories can be.

Tucked away in the libraries Fine Book Room is this, the Encyclopedia of Wood, ten volumes with slices of actual wood from hundreds of trees found in North America. And not just one slice, but three different sections from each tree; a transverse, a radial and a tangential.

“You can see the various grains and the various colorations of the tree,” says Special Collections manager Curt Witcher, “almost as unique as a fingerprint.”

Witcher says the Encyclopedia of Wood was probably published for furniture makers and other wood craftsmen. And then there’s this…a collection of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, with one extraordinary feature.

This rare miniature book carousel holding the complete works of Shakespeare in miniature was donated to the library. Communications director Cheryl Ferverda says she was shocked when the donator pulled this out of a paper bag.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Ferverda says. “I was speechless and anyone who knows me they understand what that means!”

The library has an assortment of miniature books, these are on Abraham Lincoln….the dimensions of this leather-bound gem are 3/8ths of an inch by 1/2 inch…you need a magnifying glass to read it. But the Shakespeare collection is really special, each play complete, the leather bindings pristine and the text all readable to the unaided eye. Cheryl Ferverda says it’s valued at about ten thousand dollars. These are truly wonderful curiosities but just two of many hundreds in the library’s Fine Book Room, two among the many hundreds of reasons our county library is among the finest in this country. Eric Olson reporting, out in Your Country.

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