Hernando Colón, man who tried to read all the books in the world


    129,864,880. According to an estimate by Google books, which since its launch in 2005 is trying to scan them all, convert them in searchable text using special characters and then making publicly available.

    Hernando(1488-1539), half a millennium earlier, in Seville, Spain had the same aim of creating a library where he will have all the books from the world, which at that time no one has ever thought of,  as now google books are doing.

    Colon really moves forward with his thoughts and try to collect everything from manuscripts to books, from flimsy pamphlets to tavern posters.

    According to Dr Edward Wilson-Lee, from the Faculty of English and the Centre for Material Texts, he bought 700 books in Nuremberg over Christmas in 1521, before passing on to Mainz where he bought a thousand more in the course of a month.

    He said that:

    In some respects, the Biblioteca Hernandina, as it was then called, was the world’s first search engine.

    In a single year in 1530, he visited Rome, Bologna, Modena, Parma, Turin, Milan, Venice, Padua, Innsbruck, Augsburg, Constance, Basle, Fribourg, Cologne, Maastricht, Antwerp, Paris, Poitiers and Burgos, voraciously buying all he could lay his hands on.

    Image: Google

    He wanted his library not only to have everything but also to “provide a set of propositions about how the universe fits together,” he adds. “He viewed the Universal Library as the intellectual counterpart – the brain – to the world empire that Spain was aiming for in the 16th century. It was a fitting extension to his father’s grand ambitions to explore the globe.”

    Today only 3000 books of Hernando has remained, the story of him is giving us inspiration for being visionary and he had recognised the power of information way back in 14th century.

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    (Inputs from University of Cambridge Article called ‘The man who tried to read all the books)

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