In today’s fast paced world everything is being replaced by technology. The libraries once occupied with people are losing their charm in this world of eBooks and kindles. People often choose to go for movies over a quiet reading session in the library. But libraries have been in existence since ages. The earliest libraries emerged not long after the first civilizations started keeping written records.
Here’s a list of world’s oldest surviving libraries:
St. Catherine’s, Egypt
The ancient library that holds thousands of centuries-old religious and historical manuscripts at the famed St. Catherine Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in South Sinai. Built between 548 and 565, the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world.
The ancient library holds around 3,300 manuscripts of mainly Christian texts in Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Georgian and Slavonic, among other languages. It also contains thousands of books and scrolls dating to the 4th century.
Al-Qarawiyyin Library ( Morocco)
Founded in 860, Qarawiyyin is believed to be the oldest working library in the world. It is part of Qarawiyyin University which, according to the UN, is the oldest operating educational institute in the world. The library was established by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a prosperous merchant from Tunisia. The library holds over 4,000 manuscripts by some of Islam’s greatest thinkers. Library’s most precious manuscript is a 9th century copy of the Qur’an.
Sorbonne Inter university Library , France (1289)
The ‘Bibliothèque interuniversitaire de la Sorbonne’ is one of the most famous and oldest libraries in the world. Containing more than two million documents in its collection, this library became a part of the University of Paris and is now operated and used by five universities.
Wells Cathedral’s Library, England (1430)
It was the first Gothic style library to come up in England. This library is known for its unique architecture. This Library has a collection of three rooms namely Muniment Room (for early documents), the “Chained Library” (before 1800s), and the “Reading Room” (after 1800s).
Malatestiana Library , Italy (1452)
The library was built during Renaissance period in Cesena, Italy. One of the most precious manuscripts in this library is a 13th century illuminated Bible. The library is home to 400,000 books and is often cited as Europe’s first Civic library.
Sarasvathi Mahal Library (India’s oldest Library ,1535 AD)
This beautiful library situated in Tanjore , Tamil Nadu is known as one of the oldest libraries in Asia. The library was used as a Royal Library by the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur for their private use during their rule between 1535 and 1675 AD.