Library Lesson Links

Exploring the Urban Legend of the Sinking Library

1. Go to and read the urban legend about a famed college library.

Answer the following questions:

a) What is the most common urban legend about college libraries?
b) What is one actual cause of the architectural problems at a library mentioned in the article?
c) How you would approach the problem of finding out the total weight of the books in the school library without actually weighing all of the books?
d) How would you express your solution as an equation?
e) What is the weight of the books in the school library? (Provide a detailed report on the process you used to make your estimate.)

2. Read the article ³Flaw may stall library opening² from the Las Vegas Review-Journal of January 23, 1999 at

a) How would you calculate the cost per square foot of the Lied Library building?
b) What is the cost per square foot of the Lied Library according to the information provided in the article?
c) How many square feet of floor space will be supported by each additional foot of steel beam that is added on the second and third floors?
d) What will be the average number of books per square foot in the new library?
e) What percentage of the cost of the library will paid by the Lied foundation?
f) Do you trust the information provided in this article? Why?

3. Using an electronic database or an Internet search engine, find at least one other article (containing some statistical information) about a library with a weight problem (either real or urban legend).

a) Briefly summarize the information (100 words).
b) Is the information reliable? Justify your answer with reference to the credibility of the author, the nature of the source and any other relevant considerations.
c) Make up at least one math question based on information in the article. Provide the correct answer and the calculations used to arrive at that answer.



History of Libraries


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