Tom Johnson, 83, of Osceola, Missouri lives in a library. His grandfather built the house in 1899 and moved his 8,000 volume personal collection into it. Over time, the family added more books and more rooms to house the books. Now Mr. Johnson has a home library that is the envy of bibliophiles everywhere:
Three generations of Johnsons never set out to collect “rare books.” Instead, they collected books that fell within their diverse areas of interest — from Plato, to law, to economics, to India, to archeology, to Sanskrit.
Not everything in the collection is a 300-year-old scholarly tome. The museum has mystery novels, Jackie Collins’ steamy tales of lust, small books designed to fit into the pockets of GIs during World War II and tawdry novellas Richards calls “bodice rippers.”
Many of the older books are in Latin or Greek — or both, on facing pages — and date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The best digital searches, Richards said, show that some of the books are only cataloged at one or two libraries in the world.
The oldest book in Mr. Johnson's collection dates back to 1489. His entire collection is protected from network outages:
But wherever you look, you won’t find a computer. In this digital age, with the future of printed books uncertain, Johnson lives surrounded by the printed word.
“For me personally, I prefer books to digital resources,” he said.
(Photo: Dan Holtmeyer/News-Leader)