In our ongoing series of highlighting “non-standard” libraries, we’ve featured videos of libraries of sound, color, embalmed specimens, and obsolete technologies, not to mention libraries located in salt mines and nuclear bunkers. Today we go one step further and offer you a library of air.

At the northern tip of Tasmania, a bottle of air is archived every few months, going back to 1978. The location, Kennaook / Cape Grim, has the “cleanest air in the world” when the breeze is blowing from the southwest, and the air has traveled over thousands of miles without touching land. Hence, the specimens are considered “background air” and useful for tracking changes over time in our atmosphere. Samples can be drawn from the tanks from different years, particularly as new technologies develop and new measurements are needed.

The library also takes donations, and patrons have sent in their own bottled air, in the form of scuba tanks dating back as far as 1956. More details in the video below.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.