Library of Mistakes – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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Library of Mistakes

A library where thousands of books explain how to avoid another Great Recession. 


In both 1929 and 2008, economic experts everywhere claimed to know exactly what they were doing, yet not a single person could fix the series of mistakes that crashed the world’s economy. To avoid future financial catastrophes, a library in Edinburgh, Scotland has compiled a collection of sensible economic literature that aims to educate the next generation of economists.

The Library of Mistakes contains over 2,000 books, all relating to economics and finance. The small, cozy room that makes up the library is packed with books by writers like Karl Marx, Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Michael Lewis. Cumulatively, the collection addresses every country on the planet.

The Library of Mistakes was inspired by the 2008 Great Recession, which served as a perfect example of how, according to the library’s curators, “smart people keep doing stupid things.”

The library promotes the belief that quantitative economic algorithms provide a false sense of objectivity, and that trusting these imperfect models is a recipe for disaster. The books offer readers a chance to turn to financial history as a way to learn from past mistakes instead of relying on how economics should theoretically function under unrealistic assumptions.

Its mission is to provide university students with a more accurate economic education, a holistic understanding of financial history, and a grasp of how to use books as a resource to prevent another recession.

If you’re someone who cares about the world’s economy, there should be no doubt in your mind that visiting the Library of Mistakes would be no mistake.

The Atlas Obscura Podcast is a short, daily celebration of all the world’s strange and wondrous places. Check out this episode about the Library of Mistakes.

Know Before You Go

The library is free and open to the public Monday - Saturday, 9 am- 5 pm. One does have to be a member, which they can join via the website. This is also a good place to see upcoming events like lectures, talks, ad nausea. Most of which are recorded for online podcasts.

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