The Naval Observatory library in Washington, D.C., is unnaturally quiet. It is a large circular room, filled with thousands of books. Its acoustics are perfect; a mere whisper from the room’s open circular balcony can be easily heard by those standing on the ground floor. A fountain in the center of the ground floor softly breaks the room’s silence as its water stream gently splashes into a small pool. From this serene room, a library clerk will lead you into an antechamber, beyond which is a vault containing the Observatory’s most rare books. In this vault, one can find an original 1802 first edition of the New American Practical Navigator.
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