Libraries and People Empowerment
LIBRARY, as an Institution, is a collection of books and other informational materials made available to the people for reading, study, or reference.
It is derived from the Latin liber, "a book," whereas a Latinized Greek word, bibliotheca, is the origin of the word for library in German, Russian, and the Romance's languages.
Libraries are nearly as old as the written word. The earliest body of written materials were assembled in Mesopotamia (in present-day Iraq and Syria) more than 5,000 years ago. The Summerians, an ancient Mesopotamian civilization, collected written records of legal contracts, tax assessments and bills of sales. They recorded these documents in cuneiform, a system of writing in which scribes cut edges of varying size, shape, and depth into damp clay tablets. For permanent storage, the Summerians then baked the tablets and placed them in central locations. Archeological evidence shows that scores of cuneiform libraries existed more than 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamian urban centers.
In the 7th century BC the Assyrian King Ashurbanipul assembled and organized a collection of records, of which some 20,000 tablets and fragments survived. His palace library was built in the City of Nineve on the Tigris River in presentday Iraq.
Some scholars believe that the first library with a major collection was built by Egyptian King Ramses II in 1200 BC. Libraries in Egypt were housed in temples and contained sacred literature. The famous library of Alexandria in Egypt contained probably the largest collection in the ancient world - more than 400,000 items. King Ptolemy I founded the library before his death in 183 BC, but his son, Ptolemy II, was most responsible in expanding the library collection. Texts were written in papyrus scrolls made out of an easily harvested and available reed from the Nile River.
According to legend, Alexandrian ruler Ptolemy II banned the export of papyrus from Egypt because he was jealous of the competing library in Pergamum. This proved to be a blessing in disguise. The ban forced the scribes at the Pergamum library to use an alternative writing material. They wrote on parchment, made from animal skins which turned to be more durable than papyrus. Because of its increased durability by 400 AD parchment had replaced papyrus throughout …
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Publication information: Article title: Libraries and People Empowerment. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Manila Bulletin. Publication date: May 10, 2001. Page number: Not available. © 2009 Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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