The geography of my office, and quite possibly yours too, reflects not only a diversity of interests but also the passage of the years and the staggering growth of the literature of science. I might well argue that with no more than 5 to 30 well-chosen books, a mineralogist is well prepared to tackle the identification of rocks and the minerals of which they are composed. For common, or distinctive, or particularly well-developed mineral specimens, no more than a hand lens and microscope are needed. However, the well-documented rise in the number of accredited mineral species makes it inevitable that...

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