Following on from my ‘biggest library’ post, I was asked what the oldest library in the world is. This is somewhat more difficult to quantify as there are libraries from ancient civilisation times, that no longer exist (Alexandrina for example). Therefore the oldest continually running library in the world is at the St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, Egypt. It was built in the middle of the 6th century and houses the second largest collection of religious material in the world (after the Vatican). However it is not accessible to the public, only by monks and invited scholars.
The bibliotheque de Paris (Library of Paris) combined with the National Library of France, is the oldest continually running public library service, dating back to 1368 when it was housed at the Louvre. It has moved several times over the past 700 years, into newer and larger accomodation and new premises again are currently in the design phase.
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