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Old April 12th, 2017, 09:00 PM   #1
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The scent of old books

You’ve just stepped into a very old library. What’s the sensory experience like? Dust could shimmer in the light; silence fills your ears. But the sense most people notice first is smell—the scent of old books prickling your nose.

Describing that smell, however, is a challenge. And generic adjectives will likely be of little use to future generations of historians trying to document, understand or reproduce the scent of slowly decomposing books. Now, that task may have just gotten easier thanks to a tool called the Historic Book Odor Wheel.

In a new study published in the journal Heritage Science, researchers tried to develop guidelines for characterizing, preserving and possibly even recreating old smells. To do this, they used one of the most recognizable smells of the past: old books.

In the lab, the team, did a chemical analysis of the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, emitted by books. Since paper is made of wood and is constantly decomposing, it releases chemical compounds into the air that mix together to form a unique scent. They captured those compounds and used a mass spectrometer to analyze its chemical signature.

Such information can help conservators better understand the condition of and potential threats to a book, explains Matija Strlič, co-author of the paper. “Smells carry information about the chemical composition and the condition of an object,” he says.

Read more: The Quest to Better Describe the Scent of Old Books | Smart News | Smithsonian
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Old April 13th, 2017, 09:29 AM   #2
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You’ve just stepped into a very old library. What’s the sensory experience like? Dust could shimmer in the light; silence fills your ears. But the sense most people notice first is smell—the scent of old books prickling your nose.

Describing that smell, however, is a challenge. And generic adjectives will likely be of little use to future generations of historians trying to document, understand or reproduce the scent of slowly decomposing books. Now, that task may have just gotten easier thanks to a tool called the Historic Book Odor Wheel.

In a new study published in the journal Heritage Science, researchers tried to develop guidelines for characterizing, preserving and possibly even recreating old smells. To do this, they used one of the most recognizable smells of the past: old books.

In the lab, the team, did a chemical analysis of the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, emitted by books. Since paper is made of wood and is constantly decomposing, it releases chemical compounds into the air that mix together to form a unique scent. They captured those compounds and used a mass spectrometer to analyze its chemical signature.

Such information can help conservators better understand the condition of and potential threats to a book, explains Matija Strlič, co-author of the paper. “Smells carry information about the chemical composition and the condition of an object,” he says.

Read more: The Quest to Better Describe the Scent of Old Books | Smart News | Smithsonian
My first job after coming home from the Navy was repairing and maintaining a Randtriever at Ohio State University Medical Library. An automated book retrieve and return system and huge and tall. Old books have a musty smell and I opened and read more than a few. Many of the books were illustrated and over 100 years old but most were new. An early form of bar code logic was used.

edit: four axis servo using discrete electronics (no computer) and the early form of bar code was grey code

Last edited by Twisted Sister; April 13th, 2017 at 10:02 AM.
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Old April 13th, 2017, 12:00 PM   #3
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You’ve just stepped into a very old library. What’s the sensory experience like? Dust could shimmer in the light; silence fills your ears. But the sense most people notice first is smell—the scent of old books prickling your nose.

Describing that smell, however, is a challenge. And generic adjectives will likely be of little use to future generations of historians trying to document, understand or reproduce the scent of slowly decomposing books. Now, that task may have just gotten easier thanks to a tool called the Historic Book Odor Wheel.

In a new study published in the journal Heritage Science, researchers tried to develop guidelines for characterizing, preserving and possibly even recreating old smells. To do this, they used one of the most recognizable smells of the past: old books.

In the lab, the team, did a chemical analysis of the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, emitted by books. Since paper is made of wood and is constantly decomposing, it releases chemical compounds into the air that mix together to form a unique scent. They captured those compounds and used a mass spectrometer to analyze its chemical signature.

Such information can help conservators better understand the condition of and potential threats to a book, explains Matija Strlič, co-author of the paper. “Smells carry information about the chemical composition and the condition of an object,” he says.

Read more: The Quest to Better Describe the Scent of Old Books | Smart News | Smithsonian


There are a few sensory things in life that turn me on: the smell of freshly baked bread, freshly mowed grass, Gardenias which used to grow outside my bedroom window, my grandmothers perfume, my 2 yr old grandson's hair and skin, and the smell of old books/libraries/bookstores. WONDERFUL!! HEAVEN!
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Old April 13th, 2017, 12:06 PM   #4
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There are a few sensory things in life that turn me on: the smell of freshly baked bread, freshly mowed grass, Gardenias which used to grow outside my bedroom window, my grandmothers perfume, my 2 yr old grandson's hair and skin, and the smell of old books/libraries/bookstores. WONDERFUL!! HEAVEN!
The smell of fresh cut hay smells wonderful to a farm boy but makes city people sneeze, hay fever.
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Old April 13th, 2017, 04:53 PM   #5
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There are a few sensory things in life that turn me on: the smell of freshly baked bread, freshly mowed grass, Gardenias which used to grow outside my bedroom window, my grandmothers perfume, my 2 yr old grandson's hair and skin, and the smell of old books/libraries/bookstores. WONDERFUL!! HEAVEN!
My mom used to buy frozen dough and bake the bread herself. You can't beat a slice of warm bread right out of the oven.

I've never thought to smell my 2 yr old grandson's hair. Since my daughter has twins, I'll try smelling them both.

I've tried reading some books on my Kindle, but you just can't top the sensory experience of holding a book in your hands.
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Old April 13th, 2017, 05:13 PM   #6
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My mom used to buy frozen dough and bake the bread herself. You can't beat a slice of warm bread right out of the oven.

I've never thought to smell my 2 yr old grandson's hair. Since my daughter has twins, I'll try smelling them both.

I've tried reading some books on my Kindle, but you just can't top the sensory experience of holding a book in your hands.


Here's MY philosophy ala Dr. Suess:

I will read. I will read on a boat.
I will read on a goat.
I will read on a train. I will read in the rain.
I will read with a fox. I will read on a box.
I will read with a mouse. I will read in a house.
I will read here or there. I will read anywhere!!!

AND I will read on a Kindle or turn pages with a Thimble. LOL
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Old April 13th, 2017, 05:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bookworm View Post
You’ve just stepped into a very old library. What’s the sensory experience like? Dust could shimmer in the light; silence fills your ears. But the sense most people notice first is smell—the scent of old books prickling your nose.

Describing that smell, however, is a challenge. And generic adjectives will likely be of little use to future generations of historians trying to document, understand or reproduce the scent of slowly decomposing books. Now, that task may have just gotten easier thanks to a tool called the Historic Book Odor Wheel.

In a new study published in the journal Heritage Science, researchers tried to develop guidelines for characterizing, preserving and possibly even recreating old smells. To do this, they used one of the most recognizable smells of the past: old books.

In the lab, the team, did a chemical analysis of the volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, emitted by books. Since paper is made of wood and is constantly decomposing, it releases chemical compounds into the air that mix together to form a unique scent. They captured those compounds and used a mass spectrometer to analyze its chemical signature.

Such information can help conservators better understand the condition of and potential threats to a book, explains Matija Strlič, co-author of the paper. “Smells carry information about the chemical composition and the condition of an object,” he says.

Read more: The Quest to Better Describe the Scent of Old Books | Smart News | Smithsonian
Do you collect any old books?
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Old April 13th, 2017, 08:24 PM   #8
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Do you collect any old books?
Yes, but I consider a book to be old if it is over 100 years old. I don't think I own anything that is over 200 years.
I own an eight volume set called The Library of Universal History published in 1897. I saw on Ebay that a set was listed for 165 dollars. Library of Universal History. . 1897 . . 8 vol. . Illustrated | eBay

Also I have this book of poems by Emily Dickinson from the 1880's.
Emily Dickinson - Poems - First Series - Early Edition | eBay

I have a few boxes of old books that probably aren't worth any money but would look lovely in floor to ceiling bookcases.
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Old April 14th, 2017, 03:50 AM   #9
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Yes, but I consider a book to be old if it is over 100 years old. I don't think I own anything that is over 200 years.
I own an eight volume set called The Library of Universal History published in 1897. I saw on Ebay that a set was listed for 165 dollars. Library of Universal History. . 1897 . . 8 vol. . Illustrated | eBay

Also I have this book of poems by Emily Dickinson from the 1880's.
Emily Dickinson - Poems - First Series - Early Edition | eBay

I have a few boxes of old books that probably aren't worth any money but would look lovely in floor to ceiling bookcases.
Build a book case using cedar wood. Cedar wood smells wonderful to humans but smells bad to bugs.
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Old April 14th, 2017, 08:15 PM   #10
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Yes, but I consider a book to be old if it is over 100 years old. I don't think I own anything that is over 200 years.
I own an eight volume set called The Library of Universal History published in 1897. I saw on Ebay that a set was listed for 165 dollars. Library of Universal History. . 1897 . . 8 vol. . Illustrated | eBay

Also I have this book of poems by Emily Dickinson from the 1880's.
Emily Dickinson - Poems - First Series - Early Edition | eBay

I have a few boxes of old books that probably aren't worth any money but would look lovely in floor to ceiling bookcases.
Nice. I do not have any that old. I do not seek out old books, but do come across them or receive them as gifts. Here is an Alexandre Dumas edition from 1900 I received as a gift. I have a lot of older books, but mostly mid-twentieth century. I have a couple of libraries I am proud of. One here and one in Spain.



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