“Global Timbuktu” Symposium at Rutgers University

16 March 2017

In the early 1800s Free African Americans and emancipated slaves adopted the name “Tombouctou” for their towns, linking their own struggle for freedom and equality with the prestige of this medieval West African town, a center of Islamic scholarship and African accomplishment.  The Rutgers Center for African Studies is hosting a series of symposium on March 24th at Rutgers University, New Brunswick and March 25th at Burlington County, New Jersey on ‘Global Timbuktu: Meanings and Narratives of Resistance in Africa and the Americas’. The symposium commemorates the remarkable use of the name ‘Tombouctou’ for two antebellum Black settlements in New Jersey (1826 - Burlington County) and New York (1846 - Adirondack area).

The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition: A Digital Portal

14 February 2017

The Zaydi literary tradition is among the richest and most variegated traditions within Islamic civilization and at the same time one of the least studied. The literary production by Zaydi scholars stretched over more than one thousand years covering a wide spectrum of traditional disciplines, such as law and legal theory, exegesis, Qur’anic sciences and traditions, geography and encyclopedias, medicine and mathematics, history and biography, grammar and philology, theology and literature (prose as well as poetry). Moreover, Zaydis were at all times intimately familiar with the relevant intellectual strands beyond the confines of Zaydism and actively engaged in them, and the typical library of a Zaydi scholar would comprise not only works belonging to his own religious tradition but also an array of titles of authors from other communities (Sunni, Twelver Shii, Ismaili).

A new lease of life for a 200-year-old Indian library

17 December 2016

The 204-year-old Madras Literary Society in Chennai is getting a new lease of life, thanks to youthful volunteers and a social media campaign.

The sight takes your breath away. As you step in, you encounter bookshelf after bookshelf rising up from the floor to the ceiling. It is as though you have stumbled upon a waterfall of books.

The most beautiful libraries in America – in pictures

18 October 2016

After two years and $12m, the New York Public Library reopened the Rose main reading room and Bill Blass public catalog room at the Stephen A Schwarzman Building. There are thousands of libraries across the US, which are public, private and university-owned, varied in design and size – here are some of the best…

The Secret Libraries of History

6 September 2016

Beneath the streets of a suburb of Damascus, rows of shelves hold books that have been rescued from bombed-out buildings. Over the past four years, during the siege of Darayya, volunteers have collected 14,000 books from shell-damaged homes. They are held in a location kept secret amid fears that it would be targeted by government and pro-Assad forces, and visitors have to dodge shells and bullets to reach the underground reading space.