What is education about, if it isn’t about acquiring knowledge and building on the wisdom of the past? It’s important that we have connection to philosophies and ideas and thoughts that have reigned through time in order to better recognize the world and our place in it. Obtaining this knowledge makes it possible for us to understand other cultures, time periods, and traditions, and it enables us add to that data bank by continuing to uncover all disciplines to extend on what we already know. Gathering information and materials, organizing all of it, and then making it obtainable for the benefit of everyone is one of the important roles of libraries.
If you’re one of those people that gets lost in bookstores and loves to talk about ideas, you’ll be fascinated by the story of the Library at Alexandria. It was, in its day, the center for learning and education in the ancient world. When Alexander the Great founded the city of Alexandria in 332 BC, he believed that knowledge was a key component of power.
While Alexandria was certainly a prime location from a military standpoint, Alexander believed it would become an intellectual hotspot, too. He wanted books, and lots of them, though he died before he had the chance to see that dream happened. Even so, that hope came to fruition through the endeavours of Ptolemy, who ruled following Alexander’s death.
The Library at Alexandria held a great collection of books written on scrolls. One of the ways they broadened the library was by searching travelers that came to their city. Any books that were found were taken so they could be copied by scribes. When the copying work was completed, the library would retain the original and give the copied work to the owner. (Intriguing side note: We also know that Aristotle gave his personal collection of books to the library in his will.).
The library served as a hub for intellectuals and scribes, and many of the great minds of the day spent time there for research and scholarship. Today we only know the site of the Serapeum, which housed additional materials as the library’s collection grew. Itis estimated that the Serapeum potentially held 300,000 books, but no one can say with certainty how big the collection for the entire library actually was.
And just as the Library of Alexandria was the most important library of its time, we have a modern equivalent today in the United States. The Library of Congress is an impressive library holding more materials than you can wrap your mind around. It was conceived as a library to serve members of Congress, and it’s a research library– meaning you can’t check anything out.
Not too many years after its creation, however, the Library of Congress was burned by the British in August of 1814. It was only a short matter of time before Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as an alternative. His collection of over 6,400 books more than doubled the size of the original library, and it was purchased by the United States at a price of almost $24,000 dollars.
The library takes up three buildings: the Thomas Jefferson Building, the John Adams Building, and the James Madison Memorial Building. Among other gems, the library houses some handwritten documents from significant times in our country’s history: the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, the first Inaugural Address given by George Washington, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The library’s collection contains materials from many countries, in many languages, in a variety of mediums. And how about some mind-boggling numbers? The library has over 850 miles(!) of bookshelves and receives about 15,000 items every day.
The Library at Alexandria and the Library of Congress are like bookends in time, two pillars in the ancient and modern world that attest to mankind’s thirst for information and knowledge. And as a motorcoach provider, we are grateful for the scholarship and opportunities that libraries afford us.
Information for this article originated from the following sources:.