5 Most Astonishing Libraries Around The World
Wherever one lives in the world, a public library is a thing to be treasured, supported, and appreciated. In these collections of decidedly non-fake news, one may find everything from the latest edition of the local newspaper to a Quickbooks alternative for solving financial issues to the wisdom of great scientists and philosophers. The very fact that libraries provide the public with these vital services for free makes them one of the world’s most important, and most democratic, institutions.
1. Bardo Clubhouse Library
At a time when Egypt is cracking down on journalists, publishing houses, and libraries, it was important for Omar Amin to have a library on the first floor of his clubhouse in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. In November 2017, Amin left his marketing job to work at the library full-time. His collection, made up entirely of donations and books Amin purchased in the book markets of Cairo, includes books in Arabic and a variety of other languages. It even contains a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. More than simply a place to read, the clubhouse provides Egyptians with a relatively safe place to meet, socialize, and freely exchange ideas.
2. Iraq National Library and Archive
Iraq’s National Library and Archive dates back to 1920. One of its most precarious moments was the 2003 invasion of Iraq, during which the library was looted and burned. As much as 95 percent of its rare book collection was lost, along with 60 percent of the archives. The collection barely had time to begin rebuilding before a bomb hit the library in 2007.
The Iraqi capital of Baghdad remains subject to instability and bombings. The library’s director, Saad Eskander, soldiers on, and the library remains open to the public five days a week.
3. Kabul Public Library
In 1966, two small libraries combined to create this public library in the capital of Afghanistan. Since its founding, the Kabul public library has survived the Communist rule of the Soviet Union, the Afghanistan civil war, the extreme religious fundamentalism of the Taliban, and the war ignited by the 2001 campaign by the coalition of nations that includes the U.S.
Just as in Cairo, Kabul’s public library provides a critically-needed meeting place for people in search of ideas and information. It allows scholars and laypeople to talk about the many different schools of thought in Islam, exposing Kabul’s citizens to more than one viewpoint.
4. Mogadishu Library
The nation of Somalia faces many serious problems, including the threat of an impending famine and attacks by the extremist group al-Shabaab. In the country’s capital of Mogadishu, Abdulrahim Aden and Badra Yusuf still plan to face down these obstacles by opening a modern library. The pair is currently collecting donations to get the much-needed resource started.
5. Roseau Public Library
The island nation of Dominica prides itself on the Roseau Public Library, a 19th-century library that houses an important collection of Afro-Caribbean literature. Sadly, the library’s 1906 building in the town of Roseau lost its roof and many of its books to Hurricane Maria in 2017. Undaunted, the library workers re-opened in a temporary location in December 2017 with a donated collection of 2,000 books. To Dominicans who lost property and homes in the natural disaster, the temporary Roseau Public Library provides space to use the Internet and study.
Librarians might be thought of as meek, mild guardians of books, but often it takes real courage to protect knowledge. These five amazing libraries show that remaining a repository of information in a chaotic world is possible against incredible odds. Whether facing the destructive power of nature or the equally-destructive power of political turmoil, the brave librarians of these world libraries continue to provide crucial resources to their patrons free of charge.