Fabulous Beasts and Imaginary Places

Though the library perches atop the Breuer Building, our clerestory windows peaking out into Wade Oval, off the Art Detour unless you make a wrong turn, we manage to attract quite a few tourists. We gladly welcome all visitors to the library, if only to walk through for a few minutes, visit our magazine racks and sit on the sofas, or to browse the reference collection. The opportunity presents itself for the attending reference librarian to provide on the spot introductions to the reference collection daily. As an unabashed fan of all things reference, dictionaries, encyclopedias, ciphers, indices, atlases, etcetera, I find myself pointing out my favorites often. If someone has a topic of interest, I pick out the newest volumes. If an artist name is brought up, we head straight to the corner for a look up in Bénézit or Who Was Who in American Art. But my favorite is the inquisitive visitor that I am free to indulge in my quirkiest of reference texts. My current go to volumes are the unmarried pair, The Dictionary of Imaginary Places and A Dictionary of Fabulous Beasts. In the latter, beware the goofus, shuck, ziphius, and boojum. For that matter, it might be best to avoid the pink and purple peanuts of the Palace of Paper Sacks, as described in the latter. As a young reader, I always preferred books with maps to books without. I found it invaluable as I sunk into the story to see where the adventure lead. The Dictionary of Imaginary Places provides a number of these maps, often printed on the endpapers of your favorite book. These same titles populate the entries of both volumes. In many ways, this is why I like these volumes. They are reference texts to books I've read, and books I would like to read, places I'd like to see, and beasts on the horizon.