Cultured Traveler

Cultured Traveler

The New York Times recently ran this story on rare book collections that are more accessible than one might first think. I love touring libraries and rare book collections when I get the chance during a trip. Some of these locations are not far from home.

One example: The Linda Hall Library, located in Kansas City. For those who enjoy the history of science, as I do, their special collections includes copy of The Starry Messenger, “the revelatory book in which Galileo detailed his astronomical observations made with his own “spyglass” — the instrument that would later be known as the telescope.

From the Times story: “Treat it with care,” Mr. Bradley (director of science special collections) said as he gently handed me the library’s first edition, one of the more than 500 initially printed in Latin as “Sidereus Nuncius.” The library paid $38,000 for the book in 1988 — at the time the costliest book the library had ever bought. But it’s hardly the only jewel in a collection of 500,000 books, journals and pamphlets that make this private library among the largest science libraries in the world. Also in its stacks are Isaac Newton’s “Principia,” the 1687 book that presented his laws of gravity, and Copernicus’s 1543 “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres,” among other noteworthy works.

Here are some of the other museums that are highlighted in this Cultured Traveler piece:

The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library (2520 Cimarron Street, Los Angeles; 323-731-8529; is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology (5109 Cherry Street, Kansas City, Mo.; 816-363-4600; Hours vary.

The Library Company of Philadelphia (1314 Locust Street; 215-546-3181; is open 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on weekdays.

The New York Academy of Medicine Library (1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street; 212-822-7321; is open by appointment 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.

The Rosenbach Museum and Library (2008-2010 DeLancey Place, Philadelphia; 215-732-1600; Hours vary.