diagnosis: Bibliomania

a bibliophile is someone who collects books. you don’t have to be a librarian to have a huge collection, you just need to love reading. but what happens when your fondness for books gets out of hand, and is effecting more than just the space in your home?

such is the case of Dr. Alois Pichler, who took a position at the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1869. he was constantly surrounded by books, as is common when working in an archive. but Pichler’s colleagues noticed strange behavior among their co-worker, as well as a large number of materials that had gone missing since he joined the staff. two years later, it was noted that Pichler had pilfered over 4500 books- the largest library crime on record! he was eventually let go, and put on trial for his crimes of (reading) passion. Pichler’s lawyer claimed his client suffered from Bibliomania, described as “a mental condition where an individual displays an overzealous passion for book collecting.” although it was never actually classified as a medical condition, Bibliomania, which swept through Europe during the 19th Century, sent folks into a panic. Alois Pichler was eventually found guilty and exiled to Siberia for his book coveting.

today, Bibliomania might be akin to hoarding behavior. but owning a ton of books doesn’t necessarily translate into hoarding. if there is ample space to walk through the living room (or wherever you keep your library), then that’s a positive sign.


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