Having this knowledge enables us to understand other cultures, time periods, and traditions, and it helps us add to that data bank by continuing to explore all disciplines to expand on what we already know. Collecting information and materials, organizing all of it, and then making it available for the benefit of everyone is one of the essential roles of libraries.
If you’re one of those folks that gets lost in bookstores and loves to talk about concepts, you’ll be captivated by the story of the Library at Alexandria. It was, in its day, the center for knowing 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 factor of power. His father, King Phillip, had wanted Alexander to receive the best education available. As a result of this, Alexander was educated under the great Aristotle, who said:” Educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living are to the dead. The fate of empires depends on the education of youth.”
While Alexandria was definitely a prime location from a military standpoint, Alexander believed it would become an intellectual hotspot, too. He wanted books, and loads of them, though he died before he had the chance to see that dream happened. That hope came to fruition through the efforts of Ptolemy, who ruled following Alexander’s death.
The Library at Alexandria held a huge collection of books written on scrolls. One of the ways they expanded the library was by searching travelers that came to their city. Any books that were found were brought so they could be copied by scribes. When the copying work was undertaken, the library would retain the original and give the copied work to the owner. (Interesting side note: We also know that Aristotle gave his personal collection of books to the library in his will.).
The library represented a hub for intellectuals and scribes, and a number of the great minds of the day spent time there for study and scholarship. It’s fascinating that for being such a famous and important location in antiquity, we aren’t sure where the original library was. Today we only know the site of the Serapeum, which housed more materials as the library’s collection grew. Itis estimated that the Serapeum potentially held 300,000 books, but no one can say with assurance how big the collection for the whole library actually was. But we know that it did exist, and that learning for the sake of learning was valued and motivated in the ancient world. Doesn’t that sound like something we want our young people to value today?
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.
Few 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 acquired 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.
The Library at Alexandria and the Library of Congress seem like bookends in time, two pillars in the modern and ancient world that attest to mankind’s thirst for information and knowledge. And as a motorcoach provider, we thank for the scholarship and opportunities that libraries afford us. Not all education takes place when you’re sitting down with a book. Some of it occurs when you do practical, hands-on learning outings to get out and see an actual site where important events took place. So … if you have a transportation need for a group of students, let us be the solution you’re trying to find!
Information for this article came from the following sources:.