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Isaac Asimov: Exploring the Fields of Knowledge

David Turshyan, Librarian, International Languages Department,
Book Covers

How can we explore Los Angeles Public Library’s vast collection through the writings of a single author? Let’s talk about Isaac Asimov! Being a highly prolific and extremely versatile author, Asimov has a book in every major Dewey decimal category, with the exception of Philosophy. However, even this field of knowledge is represented if we take into account his contributions for Edward Ericson’s The Humanist Way and for Paul Levinson’s In Pursuit of Truth on the philosophy of Karl Popper.

Although best known for his science fiction works, such as I, Robot and Foundation series, Asimov’s writings include non-fiction on how to enjoy writing, etymology, photosynthesis, Shakespeare, limericks, the Egyptians, just to name a few. He even coined words, such as robotics, which according to The Oxford English Dictionary is “the technology or science of the design, construction, operation, and use of robots and similar automatic devices.”

Asimov’s writing style is clear and direct, often spiced with gentle humor. In his autobiography In Memory Yet Green, he provides a tip on how to pronounce his family name. “There are three very simple English words: ‘Has,’ ‘him’ and ‘of.’ Put them together like this—‘has-him-of’—and say it in the ordinary fashion. Now leave out the two h’s and say it again and you have Asimov.” The name was originally Ozimov (in Russian: Озимов), deriving from the word ozimiye (озимые), meaning winter grains.

Asimov’s books have been translated into many languages. When visiting the International Languages, one may find Asimov’s books in Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. And when continuing to explore the works of Asimov, the journey may lead one through the library’s every department. One may also consider searching for Asimov’s works in electronic resources, such as e-books and e-audiobooks. So, here’s an author who can become our companion in exploring the fields of knowledge in the library’s vast collection.


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