The Oxford English Dictionary edited by James A. H. Murray [and others] (Oxford, At the Clarendon Press, 1933.)
Originally I was going to choose The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester (Oxford University Press, 2003.) which tells the fascinating tale of how the ultimate dictionary of the English Language, the OED, was created and provides glimpses into the lives of the people who created it. Upon further consideration, however I decided that the book that would really need to be saved from the flames. because it holds the essential knowledge of our culture, is the Oxford English Dictionary. Without it how would we ever know what our language had been and where it began? And without that foundation I don't think our culture could rebuild.
Mary Russell, Director
Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library