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.

The Handmade Paper that lasts 800 Years

6 September 2016

On the veranda of a home in Suoi Co, a rural Vietnamese village about 45km southwest of Hanoi, two women were squatting around a plastic bucket, dipping their fingers in murky water to select strings of fibrous white pulp. Behind them, tree bark was soaking in three metal water tanks – the first step in this long process – to separate out the fibre. They expertly assessed the mushy pulp’s consistency, making sure it was ready to be pressed into giấy Dó (Dó paper), a handmade, chemical-free paper that can last up to a staggering 800 years.