“Book Burning” Points Up Advantage of Sprinklers

Issue 3 and Volume 113.

“Book Burning” Points Up Advantage of Sprinklers In tests conducted by the Factory Mutual Research Corporation recently at Norwood, Mass., 14,000 books were burned. The “book burning” was an experiment by insurance men and librarians to find out, among other things, how quickly books packed closely in steel racks actually burn and to determine whether fire or water posed the greater relative danger to books. In the past, many librarians have called water more harmful than fire. Insurance men, on the other hand, believe that sprinklers should be installed near book shelves. They are reluctant to continue to insure clients like the New York Public Library, whose shelves (without sprinklers) contain a Gutenberg Bible, insured for $500,000, and a draft of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, insured for $150,000. To carry out the tests, the New York Public Library provided 20,000 books it considered damaged or worthless, and…

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