Gallery Layout in Borges' Library of Babel

Jonathan K. Millen
Proceedings of Bridges 2015: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2015)
Pages 359–362 Short Papers


Jorge Luis Borges imagined the infinite Library of Babel in an eponymous short story. The Library fills space with hexagonal galleries, containing all possible books of a certain size. Borges' description of the connectivity between galleries is both incomplete and inconsistent. But, by relaxing two troublemaking constraints in a natural way, there is a way to connect galleries so that every hexagon contains a gallery, and every gallery is reachable by foot in a time proportional to the geometric distance from the starting gallery. A virtual 3-D version of such a Library is available on a Web site.