Widely believed to be the oldest library in the world, the ninth-century Al-Qarawiyyin Library in the old medina of Fez, Morrocco will reopen to the public in 2017 after 5 years of extensive renovation.
The library is known to bibliophiles for housing a vast collection of manuscripts; Morocco’s two main collections with over 5600 titles, with texts including everything from the Muqadimmah, a 14th-century historical treatise by the renowned scholar Ibn Khaldun (previously displayed by the Louvre in Paris), to a 9th-century Quran.
The library is also famously known for the fact that is was founded by a woman, Fatima al-Fehri in 859 C.E., turning it into a hub of intellectualism for hundreds of years and serving as the foundation for the Qarawiyyin University, the oldest higher education institution in the world.
Modern, state of the art conservation facilities, a sewerage and underground canal system to drain away the moisture that had threatened to destroy many of its prized manuscripts and laboratories for digitisation and preservation of the manuscripts, will now ensure a safe future of this bibliophile treasure.
The reopening of the library was scheduled for 2016 but later delayed until 2017 as architects and authorities were still deciding about the best way to allow the public access to this cultural treasure but also protect and preserve its collection.
Read an article in the Guardian
andConde Nast Traveller Magazine