JHU volunteers dust off several thousand old volumes at George Peabody Library

Ornate library, home to more than 300,000 volumes, gets annual cleaning

Staff from the Sheridan Libraries and University Museums volunteered their time Monday for the annual deep cleaning of the George Peabody Library.

The library, which opened in 1878, features five tiers of ornamental cast-iron balconies and is often featured on lists of the world's most beautiful libraries. With more than 300,000 volumes, mostly from the 19th century, the library is a working research library and administered by the Sheridan Libraries Department of Special Collections.

"The cleaning day has turned into one of our favorite work days. We get staff from multiple departments working together and laughing about how dirty they are getting," said Liz Mengel, Associate Director of Scholarly Resources and Special Collections. "Each year we get a few more volunteers because staff hear what a great day it is. We try to keep the day fun—or as much fun as you can have cleaning and dusting books volume by volume."