Skip to content

By David Rooney on

Bridging Moats, Scaling Walls And Surfing The Book-wheel

Last week, I showed you our 1930s mobile library from Erith. This got me thinking about libraries and the wonders they contain.

Our own library has the most extraordinary collection of literature. If you like anything at all, you’ll find riches beyond compare at the Science Museum Library – and it’s all free to see.

Our Ingenious website is great for finding highlights. For instance, here’s Agostino Ramelli, a sixteenth-century Italian engineer:

Agostino Ramelli, 1588 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Ramelli wrote a highly influential book called (in translation) The various and ingenious machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli, full of incredible machines and fabulous gadgetry.

Faced with a tricky moat? Try the portable moat-bridge…

Floating bridge, 1588 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

High wall on the other side? You may prefer the combined moat-bridge and wall-scaler…

Machine for bridging a moat and scaling walls, 1588 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

But if all this looks too much like hard work, Ramelli had just the device:

Machine for studying several books at once, 1588 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Incapacitated by gout? Surf the book-wheel. All your reading needs met without having to move from your chair. Priceless!

If you want to see Ramelli’s book in the flesh, you can make an appointment to see an original copy at our Swindon library, or there’s a 1970s translation in London (check it hasn’t been borrowed before making a special journey).

And if you want to chat to our librarians and archivists in anything above a whisper, they’ll be exhibiting at the Who Do You Think You Are? show at London’s Olympia, the country’s biggest family history event, from 26 to 28 February. Well worth a visit!