The Value of Too Many Books

from Herbert Simon, Administrative Behavior, 4th Edition, p. 244:

Even reading one book a day—a pretty good clip—a person who has collected a library of 30,000 books will take 100 years to read through all of them. We may even consider it a bit ostentatious of people to collect more books than they can possibly read—as though they were trying to impress us with their learning. However, we must not be too hasty in judging them. If their libraries are properly indexed, then each of our collectors has potential access to any of the information in the 30,000 volumes. They are quite justified in collecting more volumes than they can read if they cannot predict in advance what particular information they will need in the future, and if they have a good indexing system for finding, on demand, what they want to see.


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