If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid looking in a mirror, because I bet that will really throw you into a panic. -Jack Handey
Question #63538 posted on 06/17/2011 11:50 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What is the thickest book in the Harold B. Lee Library?

I have searched somewhat on my own, but I believe that the skills of the Board far outstrip my own for these sorts of tasks.

-V. J. M.

A:

Dear Vincent James McMahon, Sr.,

Why a promoter of professional wrestling (and a dead one, at that!) would want to know this tidbit of information is beyond me. Nevertheless, I began my search by asking a librarian.

“Would you be able to tell me what and where the thickest book in the HBLL is?” I queried.

I thought it was a fairly simple question, one that any librarian would know off the top of his head. After all, in the immortal words of Sarris, “Does not the commander know every bolt, every weld of his ship?”

Apparently not.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know. I think the only way to figure that out is to go through all the books and see for yourself.”

Uh-huh. THERE ARE OVER THREE MILLION BOOKS IN THE HBLL! (See Board Question #5382.) Undeterred, and in the spirit of adventure, I set out to discover…THE THICKEST BOOK IN THE Harold B. Lee Library.

DAY ONE

First day out. I’m optimistic, as I have already sighted some large game--particularly a fairly thick History of Architecture on the 5th floor; still, I have a feeling there’s something more out there. I hear its call. Call number, that is.

DAY TWO

My first real success! While collecting water from a nearby fountain, I heard a rustling to my immediate left. After picking up the paper trail, I stalked the beast to its lair.

 Stalking periodicals.JPG

Here I waited, and watched, marking its movements and behavior patterns. When the time was right—just before closing and the accompanying eerie music of the wild--I moved in for the kill.

The International Index to Periodicals July 1931-June 1934, Volume VI.

Location of Index.JPG

Now in my personal collection.

DAY SEVEN

Not much luck as of late. Ever since the periodical index, I have been disappointed with the sizes of books in the surrounding region. Will move ahead, I think, to more abundant lands soon.

DAY ELEVEN

Rained all day today. Mud everywhere. Miserable.

DAY FIFTEEN

Water brackish. Move along.

DAY TWENTY-FOUR

I’ve descended into the jungles of the Asian Collection on the 4th floor. Provisions scarce.

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN

Three days without a proper meal; I resorted to eating a local artifact of my surroundings—a tasty little Korean book I caught in a snare manufactured using bent paperclips from the Information Commons.

Tasty Little Asian2.jpg

Just as I was about to take a bite from its raw and quivering pages, I was swarmed and attacked on all sides by two larger Korean tomes, instinctively protecting their young!

Tasty Little American.JPG

Oh, the terror of the ink! The rancid smell of old, acid-based paper! The beautiful, but deadly, gold lettering on the cover—THE SEOUL DAILY PRESS. Barely did I escape with my life from Asian Collections. The horror of the experience still haunts me in my dreams.

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT

As I was hacking my way out of the jungle, I came across an indigenous tribe of librarians. I asked for food, but—for shame!—they had none. Fortunately, though, they were friendly, and I next asked if they might know of the location of their "Big Big Book." To my dismay, they could not speak English; instead they spoke a dialect of the Dewey System which I was not familiar with.

“BX 374.54 .T60?” their leader asked.

“No,” I said, making large waving gestures with my hands, “Big big book. Show me?” I asked, palms up and shoulders shrugged.

“Sampler Collection?” he responded.

Ugh. In frustration, I pulled out a sketch I had made of what I thought the animal would look like.

“Oooh!” they all awed, and began nervously chattering among themselves.

“NE 45.221 .K32!” “MB 107.66 .I20.” “AE 66.002 .LF3?” Obviously, they knew something.

Gradually, we were able to work out a crude form of communication. They knew what I was after, but they wanted something in return. I dug around in my pack and found my negotiating leverage—seven brightly colored bits of glass.

“JOJOJOJOJOJO!” their leader exclaimed! And snatching up the glass, he drew me a basic map on a torn page of a Japanese dictionary.

Written on the map were three words—one floor quota. With renewed determination, I set out for the 1st Floor Wasteland.

DAY THIRTY

Knowing that I could continue no farther without rest and provisions, I constructed a shelter in Maps, and scrounged food from the wilderness. I created fire, using a highly flammable alcoholic solution plentiful in the nearby woods.

Map Shelter.JPG Need food!.JPG  Light a Fire.JPG 

 

DAY THIRTY-FIVE

Packed up camp and continued my journey. The native librarians were correct! I captured a trophy of a novel.

Records of the Second Division (Regulars) 1918, Vol. 5

Location of Infantry.JPG

The book recounts American Marine, infantry, artillery, engineer, and machine gun battalion movements in World War I. Surely, this must be the most massive! Still, I must make sure.

DAY FORTY-FOUR

Shelving units are beginning to blur. I’ve seen them all. I have paced every aisle, I have braved the cannibals of the Special Collections, and I have, on two occasions, nearly been crushed in the booby-trapped moveable shelving units. Under extreme conditions, not to be endured by any other explorer, I continue.

DAY FIFTY-THREE

Again, I have exhausted my provisions—thank heavens I stumbled across some Emergency Supplies.

Emergency Supplies2.jpg

No doubt remnants of a lost and forgotten civilization.

DAY FIFTY-FOUR

My sojourn is rapidly coming to an end. After all the pain, after all the hunger, after all the restless natives,  after the accounting TA uprising (very dangerous; my life was almost discounted!), after all the relentless searching, I have finally come to the last recesses of the building, and have been richly rewarded. Here I have found a behemoth creature Specifications and Drawings of Patents, July 1883.

Location of Patent_4.JPG

I believe the dark and dank conditions have fostered its remarkable growth.

Here are the three thickest, shown together.

Three Thickest.JPG

From another angle, using a Webster's Third New International Unabridged Dictionary for control.

With Dictionary for Control.JPG

Let the records show that Specifications and Drawings of Patents, July 1883 is the thickest book in the Harold B. Lee Library, measuring 20 centimeters, or roughly 7 7/8 inches.

I’ve got to get to safe country soon. While in these dungeons, I have unwittingly stumbled across secret government information,

Government Info.JPG

and am being hunted by an underground library assassination organization known [shudder] as the Writing Fellows. I may not resurface from these 1st floor depths to the light of day. If this log is ever found, please post it to the theboard.byu.edu.

I am, and shall remain

Yours cordially,

Appleton