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10 Scintillating Library Shelving Facts

What Do Libraries Have On Their Shelves

Libraries are those hushed and fascinating places with rows of various shelving where you can get lost for hours at a time in the pages of an excellent read. Man has had a desire to leave behind a legacy – a story that tells a tale of their everyday lives right from the beginning of time; there are records of these ancient people and their daily lives. We see these on the caves of the Bushmen and often violent records and drawings of the Aztecs – it is these places of odd shelving that hold the secrets and tell a story all of their own.

Here are ten scintillating facts about libraries

  • In the Middle Ages monasteries had libraries that were open to the public.
  • Priceless hand-written books were chained to the shelves to prevent the theft of books and were lent to be copied but a deposit or a book of equal value was required as security.
  • The oldest library in China is the Tianyige library which was established in 1561 by Fan Qin during the Ming Dynasty.
  • This ancient library contained no fewer than 70 000 antique books on its shelving at one stage.
  • A library of wood, Haeinsa Temple in Korea, was built in 802 AD and is most famous for its Tripitaka Koreana; these are 81 258 wooden printing blocks that contain the entire collection of Buddhist scriptures and is without question the world’s most comprehensive version of Buddhists canon and is written in Hanja script, has no errors and consists of 52,382,960 characters organised over 1496 titles and consists of 6568 volumes which are housed safely on an arrangement of sturdy shelving as each block weighs as much as 4kgs each!
  • The library of Celsus is an ancient Roman building in Ephesus, Turkey, which was built to store 12 000 scrolls and Celsus, a wealthy senator who sponsored this structure is buried underneath the structure.
  • Libraries were first established in Greece during the 6th Century BC and housed the writings of Aristotle.
  • At the start of the 3rd century BC, Ptolemy 11 had a library built in Alexandria in Egypt.
  • This library was the largest in the ancient world and houses more than 400 000 scrolls on its shelving.
  • Rome’s very first library was established with books and documents looted by the Greeks and the Romans, with the very first public library being established in 37AD.


Due to the advancement of technology, libraries are not only collections of shelves groaning with books, but offer massive quantities of information available on the internet at the touch of a button

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