A hushed crowd watched with anticipation as hundreds of Guinness World Records books were slowly stacked atop one another in the new Russell Books location Thursday evening.
The iconic local book store has nearly completed its biggest move in three decades – transporting hundreds, if not thousands, of books from its previous, 12,000- foot store across the street to its new multi-level, 18,000 sq. ft. facility at 747 Fort Street.
|Onlookers watch as more books are placed atop the world record-setting tower of Guinness World Records books at the new Russell Books location Thursday evening. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|
“It’s a work in progress. It’s a huge move but we’re so lucky that its just across the street,” said co-owner Andrea Minter, who worked at the original Fort Street location since she was 13-years-old. “It is a bit bittersweet because it was a great location and I love it…We had such a great experience there, I have so many strong memories.
“But this is amazing. We’re moving into a space that’s bigger, better, [has] more air, more light, better accessibility throughout the building [and] the ability to hold more books.”
The book store has strong family ties for Minter, whose grandfather opened the first Russell Books in the ’60s. Minter’s mother painted a colourful mural near the escalators depicting the silhouette of a young girl reading against a tree. The girl is a representation of Minter’s daughters, who now help her run the store.
“If [my grandfather] were here today I’m sure he would be grinning from ear to ear,” she said.
The cross-street move is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, but for now both locations are open for business, a decision pushed ahead in order to open the new store in time for Guinness World Records Day, and the book store’s big challenge.
The book stacking record is a new category, explained Guinness World Records adjudicator Phillip Robertson, but Russell Books must stack the books higher than six metres, or 19 feet eight inches tall.
“They’ve got approximately a thousand books they are building into a stack now, once it reaches that six metres, it needs to stand for 10 seconds,” he explained. “If it collapses during that time the Records will not stand.”
Robertson said one unforeseen challenge was that the Guinness books – which were donated by community members – were stored in varying conditions, some in dry places that cause pages to thin and crumble, and other in humid places that caused swelling.
“Every architect will tell you they don’t like the word variance, and there’s a lot of variance in books,” Robertson said. “I would encourage them to go as slow as they can.”
By 6:30 p.m. Russell Books had made history, sealing the deal with the tallest stack of Guinness World Records books in well, the Guinness Book of World Records.
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