University Library Secures 60,000 Books Amid Arsenic Concerns

University Library Secures 60,000 Books Amid Arsenic Concerns

In Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, a library, typically a tranquil haven of knowledge and security, is now the source of distress due to an unexpected element of danger – poison. This alarm has been sounded in the university library in Bielefeld, caused by a large collection of books.

The root of this anxiety stems from the possibility that arsenic compounds, a potent poison, may have been used during the production of books and magazines in the 19th century. The University of Bielefeld library has found itself compelled to block the lending of tens of thousands of books as a precautionary measure. The exact quantity of the 60,000 volumes that are truly affected remains hazy, but estimates suggest it is likely less than ten percent.

Despite the seemingly small percentage of potentially affected books, the issue is being taken extremely seriously. The library has requested the understanding of its users as it takes the necessary time to remove, store, and meticulously inspect books of such a large quantity from the collection.

The harmful arsenic is believed to be present in the green dyes used during the production of these books. Consequently, without any prior inspection, books from this period that have green covers, book cuts, title plates, mirrors, or endpapers are generally treated as suspicious, as per the university library’s explanation. The first scientific findings related to this issue have only recently become available. However, there is currently no legal framework or guidelines to manage this risk. “We are in contact with other libraries,” further explained the university library of East Westphalia.

No danger on the shelf

According to an announcement from the university library, the potential hazard can emerge if the volumes contain green waste and readers moisten their fingers with their tongue to turn the pages. The dust from these pages may contain arsenic and could be inhaled. Additionally, there is a risk if arsenic enters your eyes when you touch the volumes. However, as long as the books remain on the shelf, they are deemed harmless.