As I was weeding my new collection, the 500s, I came across this book. I instantly thought, “why on earth do we have a book about the abacus?” and put it directly in the weed pile. Then I talked to another staff member about it, and she informed me that some people actually like to teach their children simple math with an abacus. My mistake! People still use, and companies still sell, abaci. There’s even a cool interactive online abacus.
(Side note, just because it’s interesting: I looked up the plural form of abacus. Wikipedia used “abaci.” Other sites used “abacuses.” One who uses an abacus is an “abacist.”)
This book is a history of the abacus. As a history, it’s not so bad to keep in a library collection. At first glance, patrons may have the same reaction I did because it looks outdated. It is, after all, 43 years old. If people still use abaci, there must be newer books about how to use them. Even better if those new books include a history.
I did weed this book. The history of the abacus is information I can find elsewhere. A 43-year-old book with yellowed pages and a bit of an odor wafting from within just isn’t cutting it. The way this is presented as a “pocket computer” is confusing to people who think of their smart phones and PDAs as pocket computers. However, this episode was a reminder to me that you have to look further into some topics and not judge a book based on what you think you know about the subject. I honestly had no idea that the abacus was something anyone even thought about any more.