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.
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?”
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Now in my personal collection.
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.
Rained all day today. Mud everywhere. Miserable.
Water brackish. Move along.
I’ve descended into the jungles of the Asian Collection on the 4th floor. Provisions scarce.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Again, I have exhausted my provisions—thank heavens I stumbled across some Emergency Supplies.
No doubt remnants of a lost and forgotten civilization.
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.
I believe the dark and dank conditions have fostered its remarkable growth.
Here are the three thickest, shown together.
From another angle, using a Webster's Third New International Unabridged Dictionary for control.
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,
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