0.0001% Around the World

Last week’s post discussed the completion of a project to house items from our Wetmore Collection of Children’s Books in archival storage boxes. That project entailed measuring the height width and depth of 540 books in the collection and recording their call numbers. That means that we now have a spreadsheet full of measurements, and so it seemed like an opportunity to present that data with a selection of entirely unrepresentative, un-scientific, and unreliable statistics (done sloppily, for good measure). Think of this as a post authored by an evil Nate Silver.

WARNING: Really, this data is not to be trusted and shouldn’t be used for anything meaningful!

We’ll start off slow:

Based on our sample of 540 children’s books, the average height is 7.6 inches.

The average width is 6 inches.

And the average depth is 0.7 inches.

The ideal height-to-width ratio for a children’s book (in case you’re in the process of designing one) is 0.85 . So if your children’s book is 10 inches tall, you’ll want to make sure it’s exactly 8.5 inches wide.

The total width on the shelves of the newly-boxed books is 1,556 inches. But that number isn’t very easy to visualize, so we’ll use a more standard measurement: If every book were shelved together in a single line it would stretch 0.43 football fields! According to the data gurus at the New York Times, the average NFL field goal is from 35.9 yards out, which means that at 43 yards, children’s books are better than the average NFL kicker.

If you laid every one of the books flat head-to-tail, they would go 0.0001% of the way around the world.

Averaging together the call numbers for all of the books in the spreadsheet, the resulting call number is 529.5. That’s the Dewey number for the “Chronology>Calendar Reform“. Who would have guessed that the Gregorian calendar would be such a popular topic for children’s books?

Words and numbers are alright, but what we really need is some data visualization, so here’s a scatter plot of width (x-axis) and height:

scatter chart

Just ignore the values which seem to indicate that we have books with heights and widths of zero.