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Dewey Decimal Disease Prevention

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‘Girdwood Hygienic Library’ appears above the door to what is now a popular local cafe. Private lending libraries striving for greater hygiene arose from fears from the late 19th Century onwards of books being the carriers of disease. To give people peace of mind, each book in the Girdwood Hygienic Library was wiped down with formaldehyde to reduce the risk of germs spreading via fingers touching “contaminated” books. Such libraries existed until the 1950s, when greater health awareness coincided with increased funding for public libraries.

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