From Scrolls To Scrolling
October 18, 2012
"How many scrolls do we have?"—asked king Ptolemy of Egypt. His goal was to collect half a million for the Great Library of Alexandria, founded about 300 b.c. After three generations of this dynasty’s wheeling-dealing, trading, conspiring, deceiving, and translating, the Library of Alexandria could boast 750,000 scrolls. Gosh! We can do this many "scrolls" in a day!
Alexandrian scrolls were made of papyrus or leather and were kept in pigeonholes (much like wine bottles today). Wooden identification tags (not Dewey) were tied to the outer end. Pages collected the scrolls into leather or wooden buckets. The chief librarian and his scholarly staff were paid directly from the Royal Treasury. How have things changed!
Alexandria became the intellectual capital of the world and provided a model for other libraries to follow. After the destruction of this great library by fire, it took centuries to retrieve, translate, and recopy the lost information. Thankfully, knowledge was prized by many rulers, and soon libraries sprouted throughout Rome. With the fall of Rome, learning was lost until it was revived by the monks, who painstakingly copied by hand the available writings. During the Renaissance, private libraries were becoming popular. Select rulers, monasteries, and universities created public libraries and endorsed learning.
In America, the first library had its beginning in 1638 with a 400-book donation from John Harvard of Massachusetts. To the list of contributors we can add Thomas Bray, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Carnegie, among others. First public libraries offered paid membership. How things have changed!
Today, one cannot check out a scroll from a library. Nevertheless, information is only a scroll away. Check out our Research Databases. If you would like to improve your writing, you can find everything you need in here:
Lone Jack Branch