The books in Herman's library can be seen as a toolbox of “really useful
knowledge” for someone who has to conceive the notion of freedom. The term
“really useful knowledge” originated with workers' awareness of the need for self-education in the early-19th century, describing a body of 'unpractical'
knowledge such as politics, economics, and philosophy, workers needed to
understand and change their position in society, and opposed 'useful
knowledge' – knowledge of 'practical' skills