Library of Mistakes

The new Library of Mistakes opened in Edinburgh, Scotland in April of this year, moving to larger and more felicitous premises from its previous location. Like many barely financially literate folks, I would value access to a library that could potentially help to make sense of the economic gibberish in the media.

From its website:

Opened in March 2014, the library was established in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the study of the history of financial markets, and to “improve financial understanding one mistake at a time.”

The collection is focused on “decision-making under conditions of uncertainty” in the financial markets, following the work of the Nobel Laureate for Economics Daniel Kahneman.

The library therefore collects works on business cycles, the operation of financial markets, corporate history (including financial institutions and other businesses), economic theory and analysis, as well as relevant works on accounting practices, corporate governance and fraud.

The collection is print-based: there is free guest Wi-Fi.

The Library of Mistakes contains over 2,000 books, all relating to economics and finance. The library features books by writers like Karl Marx, Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Michael Lewis.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.


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