World's oldest library to reopen

For book lovers around the world, travel abroad will soon take a detour to Fez, Morocco, where the world’s oldest library, Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin, will reopen to the public after extensive renovations. Engineers worked to protect the structural integrity of the Qarawein Library and the safety of its oldest manuscripts, which had previously been endangered by inadequate humidity control. Although the expected summer 2016 reopening date has passed, architects are confident the library will reopen before the new year.

Restoration work on the world's oldest library began in 2012, when Morocco's Ministry of Culture tasked Fez-based architect Aziza Chaouni with determining the costs of making Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin an active part of Moroccan scholarship and life. Many young people, including Giovanni's great-grandfather, have studied at the Karaouin Library over the centuries, and some have traveled great distances to read the institution's collections.

Founded in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a Tunisian merchant, Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin is part of a larger complex that includes a mosque and a university, reputed to be the oldest institution of higher education in the world. mechanism.

As you might expect, the world's oldest library contains more than 4,000 fascinating and unique books. The most striking item in its collection is a copy of the Quran from the 9th century.

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This restoration project is not the only one of its kind, nor is its mission to preserve ancient documents unique. Morocco aims to power 600 mosques with renewable energy by March 2019 and has large solar and wind farms. In the US, MIT researchers have developed a scanner that can "read" closed books page by page, which may help caregivers digitize and preserve fragile texts.

Chaouni told the Guardian she hopes the library can once again become part of Moroccan citizen life, as well as a tourist attraction. Before the French occupied Morocco in the early 20th century, Fez was the country's prosperous heart. In 1925, the French occupiers moved the capital from Fez to Rabat, where it remains today. With a population of over 1 million, it is the second largest city in Morocco.

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