Throughout the past and present, mankind’s unremitting desire and pursuit of freedom and knowledge can be seen in every well-known library in the world. Seekers are devout pilgrims, always on the road, heading toward the holy land in their hearts. Today, let’s take a look at the libraries that have experienced the vicissitudes of life, and see what their charm is, which attracts batch after batch of saints to walk tirelessly and without regrets on the way to them .
The Library of Alexandria reborn from the ashes
In the ancient and mysterious ancient civilization of Egypt, there is such a library: it does not need to be grandstanding, but as long as its name is mentioned lightly, it is enough to make people feel like thunder, and it does not need to be unconventional. It cannot be underestimated, and even without any publicity, it is already a sacred coordinate on the way of pilgrimage for spiritual practitioners. It is the Library of Alexandria. This library located in the port of Alexandria is the only library in the world in terms of its long historical tradition and its ups and downs legends – it was once the largest library in the world and the earliest After several trials and tribulations, it was once destroyed, but it was finally reborn in the last century, and its history of ups and downs is definitely worthy of a legend.
The Library of Alexandria was founded in 259 BC. At that time, Alexander the Great had passed away, and Ptolemy, who was once his proud general, became the king of the occupied Egypt, and established the Ptolemaic Dynasty with Alexandria as the capital for 276 years. Ptolemy was an ambitious monarch. What is commendable is that in addition to martial arts, he also pursued civil governance and ordered the construction of the world’s largest library. In order to achieve this goal, in addition to sending special staff to buy books and classics abroad, Ptolemy also used his powerful national power and power to detain all merchant ships passing through the port of Alexandria in order to send people to transcribe books and manuscripts on board. ; and also demanded that all the countries that had dealings with Egypt lend him their own books to reproduce. This huge project continued until the period of Ptolemy III. Ptolemy II once sighed: “I feel desperate when I see such a huge project.” Various means; according to Ptolemy III, he once persuaded the Athenian Archives on the grounds of making copies in order to obtain the manuscripts of the three great Greek tragedies (Euripides, Aeschylus and Sophocles) Lending, but the final return is the copy, the original is left behind. It is under such good intentions that the Alexandria Library after its completion has indeed become the library with the largest collection of books, the largest number of languages, and the most complete bibliographic records in the world at that time. In its heyday, the collection of books even reached 900,000 volumes. Like the Lighthouse of Alexandria, it is one of the highest representatives of Alexandria’s achievements.
The history of this library is too splendid to be detailed. The precious materials it collected at that time included: all the poems of Homer, the original manuscripts of the mathematician Euclid including the Elements of Geometry, Astronomer Aristophanes’ theoretical works on heliocentric theory, medical manuscripts of Hippocrates, the founder of Western medicine, works of anatomist Herophilas, translation of the first Greek “Bible” of the Old Testament Pentateuch , the writings of Aristotle and Archimedes… Its curators are full of great scientific and cultural celebrities: Aristotle’s student Metelius was the earliest organizer of the library, Callimachus, the most learned poet of the Alexandrian school and known as the “father of library science” for writing the problem-solving catalogue “Pinax”, served as the third curator, poet and grammarian Oldham, astronomy Home Eratosthene, literary critic and grammarian Aristophanes have all served as curators. In addition, there are also many famous people who wrote books here, such as Euclid, Eratosthenes, Heropheres, Ptolemy, Aristotle, the medical scientist Galen and Archimedes Germany, etc., the Library of Alexandria provided them with a good environment and contributed to the birth of those great works.
However, what makes people sigh is that the library, which used to be so prosperous, has established a spiritual height in the hearts of many people, influenced the thoughts of many generations, spread the culture, and contributed to the progress of mankind. However, it once disappeared like the wind in human history, leaving only a huge blank in the wilderness silently silent, and it is difficult for us to even deduce what it looked like today.
War is the main culprit in all of this. The fire it ignites has not only destroyed books, but also caused the desolation of human thought. In 48 BC, Caesar led an army into Egypt in pursuit of his rival Pompey, and later intervened in the civil war between the Egyptian queen Cleopatra and her younger brother for power. In a series of struggles, he ordered the burning of Egypt. The fleet, unfortunately, came to the library. According to the recollection of Greek historian Balutarik, 400,000 books were burnt and the loss was tragic. In the 4th century AD, the Roman Emperor Theodosius I launched another religious war, which caused the main library of the library to be burned down, and only the branch library located in the courtyard of the Temple of Salabem survived. But in AD 391, he ordered the demolition of all pagan churches and temples in Alexander. One of the library branches will not escape bad luck. So far, the Library of Alexandria, which has accumulated more than 600 years, has disappeared. In addition, it was later said that the library was completely destroyed when the Arab armed forces occupied the city of Alexandria. Although this story has been questioned due to the lack of reliable documentation, in any case, the library of Alexandria suffered war and eventually disappeared. It is an undeniable fact. The sudden collapse of this monumental building of the human spirit cannot but be said to be a serious loss to mankind and a shame to civilization.
Fortunately, more than a thousand years later, in 1974, Alexander University solemnly proposed to rebuild the library. With the full support of the Egyptian government and UNESCO, the reconstruction project finally broke ground in 1995. After 7 years and a cost of 176 million US dollars, in October 2002, the Alexandria Library finally reopened after more than a year of depression. He opened his eyes and ushered in a new life with an absolute new attitude. The new library has 11 floors with a total height of 33 meters and a usable area of more than 80,000 square meters. The library is divided into the main library, the youth library, the library for the blind, the planetarium, the handwriting exhibition hall, the museum of ancient books and rare books, and the research of international materials. Colleges, conference centers and other departments have collected a large number of precious books, classics, manuscripts, calligraphy and painting, video products, and ancient coins from all over the world.
The new pavilion now stands on the seafront in Alexandria, overlooking Hesselsey Bay in the Mediterranean Sea. The sun is shining and the sea is blue, but this library is still silent, like the majestic mountains or the surging river, as always silent, with an absolute static in exchange for the continuous life of life-perhaps, this is Alexander What the library can teach us. Although it is impossible to copy the predecessor one by one, but after experiencing Nirvana, we have reason to believe that this new library will eventually usher in a greater light than the past!
Libraries associated with politics
Books represent freedom, but many Not only will it not be insulated from politics, on the contrary, the two are inextricably linked, because a benign political system has at least one thing in common with books: they both pursue humanistic care. If political war was a pain for the Library of Alexandria, there were occasional exceptions. For example, Napoleon’s military library was indissoluble with the war.
Immediately Emperor Napoleon, the reason why he was able to dominate Europe was not only due to his unprecedented military genius, but also his excellent political talent. And what made all this, in addition to talent, also came from the huge nutrients he got from reading a lot of books. Napoleon commanded nearly 60 battles in his life, and the battlefield almost occupied most of his life; but he was unwilling to give up reading even in battle. To this end, he came up with a good idea: to set up a library that accompanied the army, so that the unified army could also accompany the book when it swept across Europe. Napoleon’s library has a total collection of books, mainly humanities and arts, involving religion, narrative poetry, opera, poetry collections, novels, geography, travel notes, biographies and memoirs. The books are classified by bibliography, and each box contains 60 volumes, neatly kept for free reading. And the bookcase is also very elegant, and it is also lined with velvet, and the details are enough to show how much he cherishes books. These books are not only for entertainment on the battlefield, but also for their rich humanities.
Intellectual knowledge also provided great help for Napoleon’s decision-making. Out of this love for books, there were rumors in Europe at the time that if anyone knew what books Napoleon was collecting, it would be easy to guess where he wanted to march.
In 1798, Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt, in addition to the heroic soldiers, he also brought the army library as always, which included all the books about Egypt that could be found in France at that time. In order to better protect the library, Napoleon issued the classic order-“Let scholars and donkeys walk in the middle of the team”, which shows the importance attached to the library. In Egypt, the French were deeply impressed by this ancient and mysterious land and immersed in its profound culture. Scholars lingered in many fascinating and wonderful buildings, worked without sleep or food, and finally gained a lot – unearthed a large number of first-hand valuable cultural relics; The famous Rosetta Stele; compiled a twenty-four volume “Journey to Egypt”, which introduced the customs of Egypt in detail and became the pioneering work of Western Egyptology. Now Napoleon’s merits and demerits are divided into different opinions, but there is one thing that no one can deny, that is, his huge influence on the library industry, and the inestimable contribution that his military library has made to the development of human civilization. .
Coincidentally, Benjamin Franklin, another famous political figure who lived roughly in the same era as Napoleon, also had a great fate with the library. Franklin loved reading since childhood and was a model of self-taught. In 1727, when he was a printer in Fairfield, he organized another eleven like-minded friends to set up a book club. Because most of the members are workers who wear leather aprons, it is called the “Leather Apron Club”. Every Friday night, after a hard day’s work, twelve people gather under the lamp to exchange their reading experience and express their opinions on science, politics, literature and philosophy, which greatly promotes their ideological progress. With his years of hard work and perseverance, this progressive and beneficial club has lasted for 30 years.
In the past three decades, due to the growing influence of the club, more and more people asked to join, so the “leather apron club” eventually expanded and developed into a library. For a small monthly fee, people could use library rooms and borrow new books—the first library in the Americas was born. Franklin wrote in his “Autobiography”: “This library gave me an opportunity to constantly study and improve myself, and I spent an hour or two reading books every day. This made up for my lack of advanced education to some extent. “The Philadelphia Library soon showed a very high utilization rate of books, and the enthusiastic support from all walks of life made it grow rapidly. Later, the first Continental Congress, which had a major impact on American independence, was held here in 1774. held. The Philadelphia Library is known as the “Mother of Public Libraries in the Americas”, and many cities have followed suit and established public libraries, making borrowing books a fashion.
Nowadays, public libraries have already occupied a special position in American culture. They are rich in content and meticulous in classification. For example, in addition to traditional books, there are also audio areas, computer Internet areas, newspapers and magazines areas, etc., which closely follow the development of the times. pace. As a public service organization, the library also strives to provide services for readers in various fields, such as buying large-size books for elderly readers, equipment for the blind to read and surf the Internet, books regularly sent to prisons and senior centers, and new Foreign language books prepared by immigrants, etc. It can be said that it has really penetrated into people’s social life and is the most important free public space between communities. In addition to providing free reading and borrowing opportunities, various cultural lectures, cultural gatherings and social activities are often held, which have become a link between community residents. It is precisely because of these humanized services that American public libraries are invincible in the Internet age in the electronic age; they still occupy a place in the middle. After many years, the pursuit of independence and strength of the early citizens of the “Leather Apron Club” still inspires the world, and it has been passed down from generation to generation, inspiring future generations to continue to struggle on the road to knowledge.
Argentine library where heaven is located
If you asked to describe the library, what words would appear in your mind? So far, the most beautiful description I know is this sentence: “I have always been in my heart. Secretly imagined that heaven should be like a library.”
The one who said this was the famous Latin American writer, Borges; he said this sentence, which is aimed at the National Library of Argentina.
The predecessor of the National Library of Argentina, the Public Library of Buenos Aires, was established on September 7, 1810, under the order of the May Revolutionary Government Committee; in 1882, the collection reached 32,000 volumes; in 1884, all assets were handed over To the State: On October 5 of the same year, the name was changed to “National Library” in accordance with the laws of the Parliament and the State Register. Since the 1950s, in addition to the increase in collections, new library buildings have been planned. Today, the National Library of Argentina has a rich collection of 1.9 million volumes, including 20 ancient editions, the most famous of which are the “Cuestiones de Potencia Dei” of St. Thomas published in Venice in 1476, the “Divine Comedy” of Dante in 1484, Don Quixote, published in Brussels in 1607, and many important Argentine works.
The National Library of Argentina has a worldwide reputation and is not unrelated to Borges. In 1955, the newly formed military government overthrew the Peron regime and appointed Borges as director of the National Library of Argentina. The book-loving Borges saw it as a divine gift from God, and took the job so seriously: Before the official appointment was made, he and his mother made a special trip to see the library building, but for a certain reason. This kind of superstition did not enter, I am afraid that the dream will come to nothing. Even when he recalled the past years later, he said: “I have received many disproportionate honors in my life, but there is one I particularly like: the director of the National Library.” Until his retirement in 1972, Borges was in the Eighteen years have been spent in this position.
In his later years, he was almost blind, but this did not hinder his communication with books at all. A friend of his recalled: “He could open a book, turn to the page he was looking for, without bothering to read it. He can quote whole paragraphs of text. He walks along the corridors full of books, nimbly turns around the corners, and walks into the corridors where he can’t see his fingers. Blind.” – Borges’ saint-like spirit is truly pure and sincere in this secular society: although he can’t read books, it doesn’t matter, because these books have long been deeply imprinted on him. In his mind, he only needed to be in the middle, surrounded by the 900,000 books at that time, and he was already comforted and found the destination of his soul. When he walked towards the long corridor, when he was persistently holding on to the unchanging nostalgia for books in the dark, when he used 900,000 books to fight against fate, the figure of the old man was projected. On the ancient wall that has been around for a long time, a holy light that is so powerful that people can’t look at it gradually radiates from the swaying. At this moment, all the abrasions that mediocre life gave him, all the noise that the outside world gave him, and even the deep misfortunes that heavy fate gave him, all disappeared and ceased to exist, and he was no longer lonely, depressed, hesitant, or even unhappy. , he has nothing but contented pleasure, happiness, and strength, for it is his holy heaven that accompanies him and gives him strength. Only the word “heaven” can be grateful for God’s gift and care!
Now that I think about it, the reason why Borges can occupy a pivotal position in the world of literature is related to this Argentine National Library, which has a great relationship with him, where he absorbed sufficient nourishment and opened up a spiritual supreme hall . Today, if we walk into this library with a history of more than 100 years, walk through the rows of ancient bookshelves with a slightly musty smell, and wander in the unclear atmosphere where light and shadow are intertwined and flow, the number of Huge yellowed ancient books and new books linger, we will find that the whole world is quiet, so quiet as if there is only such a castle that is isolated and calm from all the hustle and bustle of the world. Here, you can hear the rustling of gently turning the pages, you can see the light hitting the pages of paper through the window, leaving traces of silence on the pages, and you can smell the breath of the ancient times lingering in the air— All of this can make your heart completely calm down and appreciate the mood of Borges back then. In a trance, the lovable and respectable old Argentine man seemed to appear in our sight, standing between the bookshelves, squinting slightly, reaching out and gently stroking the books, looking for his paradise in the real touch. ——How can people not be moved by this situation?