The library world, like the real world, is impossible to understand on a rational basis.
-Norman D. Stevens
The Molesworth Institute is one of the major sources of library humor, as well as a repository for various kinds of “librariana”. It was founded by Francis A. T. Johns and Norman D. Stevens. Katie Herzog is the current Director. The original purpose of this organization has long since been forgotten and the origins of its name are likewise shrouded in mystery.
Since the first article, “The Molesworth Institute”, appeared in the ALA Bulletin (57:756-7, 1963), over 50 articles describing the results of specialized research carried out by the staff of the Institute have appeared in all of the major American professional library journals, as well as in library journals in Brazil, Italy, Russia, and Sweden. In addition to the research staff, there are now 87 Fellows of the Molesworth Institute who assist in the furtherance of the organization’s work.
While its primary focus is on library humor (its Archives of Library Humor is the most extensive of its kind), the Institute has developed a sizeable collection of library postcards and commemorative and souvenir china all of which is now located in the Centre Canadienne d’Architecture. Other significant collections include a file of prominent individuals who worked in libraries, a file of more than 1,000 quotations relating to librarians and libraries, a collection of more than 1,000 postcards depicting books and reading, a large collection of children’s books dealing with books, reading, librarians, and libraries, and a collection of several hundred objects in the shape of books.