Unusual Library Collections Around the World

Imagine walking into the home of a recently deceased resident after getting a mysterious phone call about a massive collection of maps. That’s what happened to Glen Creason, the map librarian at Los Angeles Central Library and author of Los Angeles in Maps. Creason walked out of the home with boxes of historical maps and coveted city guides that instantly doubled the library’s collection. L.A.-based filmmaker Alec Ernest captured the story of Creason and an unknown map collector named John Feathers in a mesmerizing short film about the beauty and power of physical objects, and the strange passions people have for them. Ernest’s film inspired us to travel libraries around the world and explore their unique and sometimes bizarre collections.


All of them witches at the Cornell University Witchcraft Collection, part of the library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collection, started in the 1880s. Find the earliest books on the Inquisition, demonology, and more. The collection’s focus is on witchcraft as theology and religious heresy, not as folklore or anthropology. The library’s most important materials are court records of the trials of witches, including disturbing accounts from tortured victims. There are 104 English-language books that have been digitized, but a large part of the collection is best enjoyed in person. The greatest part of Cornell’s witchy collection? It’s open to the public.