Library News 8 October 2021

Published on October 08, 2021


New Teen Fiction

Any Place but Here by Sarah Van Name
Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil
Under the Radar by Des O’Leary
In Our Own Back Yard by Anne Kayes
The Summer of Lost Letters by Hannah Reynolds
The World Between Us by Sarah Ann Juckes
Liberte by Gita Trelease
Love & Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
It’s Behind You by Kathryn Foxfield
A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert

Pam Coleman
Community Engagement Librarian

For most of my life as well as a deep interest in language I have had an absolute fascination with history. I found myself going down a rabbit hole of research recently when a fellow librarian shared the book ‘Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin,’ (available in our collection).This macabre book is not an easy subject for librarians, historians and medical professionals to discuss. There are not many of these books and most of them were made or collected for members of the medical profession in the 1800s, (usually from the cadavers of prisoners) which surprised me as I had believed that its origins began in the medieval age.

The author of the book Megan Rosenbloom, dives head-first into the subject, discussing its origins, myths and ethical considerations. She raises questions about why these books bound in human skin continue to be seen as curiosities that often remain on public display. These books are truly controversial in that there is a diversity of opinions about what should be done with them.

Rosenbloom and her team also conduct special testing to debunk some of the books claimed to be bound in human skin. She believes the motivation was financial, because using such a rare binding increases the value for a certain kind of collector.

However, while the book looks at the dark history of anthropodermic bibliopegy (the practice of binding books in human skin) it also looks at the history of the book, binding, the printing process and medical ethics. She is particularly scathing of the dark era of 18th and 19th medical practice and stresses how she believes that doctor’s distanced clinical gaze must be tempered with clinical empathy to avoid the depersonalization of the relationship with their patients. Rosenbloom’s main aim in the book is to restore some humanity to victims of medical exploitation.

 ‘Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin,’ may not be a book for everyone and while it is taboo, it is part of the history of books. This spurred me on to research more about the oldest books (codex) in the world that still exist today.

This week I found “A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order,” perhaps the perfect book for a librarian, and another which I expect will take me on another voyage of discovery. It just goes to show how books can transport someone into some wonderfully (or troublingly) surreal but engrossing topics.

What’s On

As we continue to work together at level 2 to contain the new outbreak of the delta strain of coronavirus, Libraries Horowhenua continue to take extra practical steps to ensure our community have access to our services during this time.

Under Alert Level 2:

  • All of our Horowhenua Libraries will be open normal hours.  The exception to this is no late night Wednesday at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō.
  • The Youth Space will be closed until further notice.
  • Please wear a mask, as these are mandatory during Alert Level 2.
  • Please scan the NZ Covid Tracer App QR Code at the entrance to our facilities, or use the alternative paper methods that will be provided.
  • Please maintain 2 meter physical distancing at all times.
  • Customer numbers will be restricted at Shannon Library, so we can ensure safe 2 meter distancing
  • There will only be one entry and one exit point at each of our facilities.
  • Our staff will be ensuring our spaces are safe and healthy with cleaning and hygiene protocols.
  • All programming is cancelled until further notice.
  • Public computers are still available, but with physical distancing measures.  
  • EBooks, audiobooks, and online resources are available 24/7 on our website through our online platform Libby


We appreciate your understanding and cooperation, this helps us ensure we all keep safe during Alert Level 2.

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