The underappreciated library kick stool

Kicked around.  Kick the habit.  Kicked off the island.  With connotations like this, is it any wonder that the lowly library kick stool doesn’t get much respect? But think about it…is there a better way for the vertically-challenged to get to a book high up on the top shelf?

The stool is a brilliant bit of unheralded design.  Kick it and it rolls.  Step on it and it locks into place.  If you tip one over you will see the secret: hidden casters on springs.  [Legal disclaimer: if you upend one in the library please put it upright when you are done so I…I mean, so no one trips over it.]  Without the aid of growth hormones it makes anyone instantly 14” taller (look, I’m suddenly 6’11”!) and can support up to 300 pounds.

The time-tested kick stool has been around for more than 50 years and has provided access to countless books for people of all shapes and sizes (well…mostly for those of us who never excelled at basketball).  At 5’9”, Einstein himself probably used one at the Institute for Advanced Study to get some books none of us could possibly understand.

So the next time your arms are loaded down with books and you carelessly kick one of our stools out of your way, don’t feel bad…they were made for this sort of abuse![Photo: Burns Library, Boston College]

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