Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2011
The literature on the history of libraries indicates that the mechanism of recording the human communication and its preservation was the first step towards the manifestation of libraries. The collections consisted of clay tablets, papyrus roll, and codices were created and housed with great care in rooms adjacent to temples. The aim of writing was to preserve sacred human communication and knowledge (Ameen, 2005, p.112). From antiquity, rulers have controlled knowledge in order to establish social, religious, cultural, and political power. Their private libraries served as archives that held documents of royal families, genealogical charts, private medical records, military histories, and other personal records of the king/ruler. Thus almost all libraries until the nineteenth century were private libraries owned by kings, temples, and other individuals/institutions, and were usually restricted to nobility, aristocracy, scholars, or priests. Examples of the earliest known private libraries include one found in Ugarit (dated to around 1200 B.C.E.) and the Library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh (near modern Mosul, Iraq- dating back to the seventh century B.C.E). Private libraries for citizens became possible after the invention of the printing press, which allowed individuals to develop personal collections. Today, the concept of a private library is broadly applied to any individual’s personal collection regardless of its size. In contrast to public libraries, private libraries include one’s own personal works, letters, diaries, photos, blogs, and other personal materials (Ferington, 2002; Private Libraries Association, 2007). Famous private libraries of the world include; Queen Elizabeth II's Library in Windsor Castle; Tianyi Pavilion – the oldest private library in Asia (located in Zhejiang, China); Library of Sir Thomas Browne; Bibliotheca Lindesiana etc. (Wikipedia, 2010). The brief overview of few other famous private libraries of current era is as under:
The Folger Shakespeare Library
The Folger Shakespeare Library is an independent research library on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. It has the world's largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare, and is a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500–1750). The library was established by Henry Clay Folger and opened in 1932, two years after Folger's death. The library offers advanced scholarly programs, national outreach to K-12 classroom teachers on Shakespeare education, and plays, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. It also has several publications and is a leader in methods of preserving rare materials (Wolfe, 2002).
The Huntington Library
The Huntington Library is established by American railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington in San Marino, California, USA. In addition to the library, the site houses an art collection strong in English portraits and French eighteenth-century furniture and botanical gardens that feature North America's strongest collection of cycads (Huntington Library, 2010).
The John Carter Brown Library
The John Carter Brown Library is an independently funded research library of the humanities located on the campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The Library is recognized as possessing one of the world’s finest collections of rare books and maps relating to the European discovery, exploration, settlement, and other works that interpret its holdings to facilitate and encourage use of the collection (John Carter Brown Library, n.d.).
Hakim Zillur Rahman Library
Hakim Zillur Rahman Library established in early 60s by Prof. Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, a great bibliophilic, philanthropist, a scholar of repute and an expert in Islamic/Unani Medicine. The library at present houses over 15000 books and back volumes of journals and has access to over hundreds of medical journals. Thesis, institutional reports, staff publications, CD ROMs, video cassettes are the other resources available to all scientific community. It also has precious and valuable collections of manuscripts, special numbers of magazine, paintings, postal stamps, coins and specimens of oriental calligraphy (Ibnsina Academy, n.d.).
Masood Jhandeer Research Library: The Largest Private Library of Pakistan
Only 85 kilometers away from Multan and 70 kilometers from Bahawalpur, situated a clean, non polluted and ideal town named Sardarpur Jhandeer. The town is famous for its Jhandeer Library not only in Pakistan but also all over the world. The Library belongs to mediocre land-owners who are good cotton growers. Farming and book collection is a rare combination anywhere in the world. A few hundred books received by way of inheritance became the nucleus of this immense collection. In 1952, the library started from a single room of a farm guesthouse. Now it is housed in 25 rooms and is the largest private library of Pakistan with respect to standard and number of books. The substantial increase in the number of books started in 1960s. Jhandeer Brothers have collected and preserved religious, cultural, historical, and literary heritage and updated them. Masood Jhandeer Library achieved universal fame as a private library. In 1995, Sada-o-Cinema Iranian Broadcasting and Television Corporation direct telecasted a documentary film about Masood Jhandeer Library Via satellite. In the same year the BBC London broadcasted a documentary about Masood Jhandeer Library. In this context the BBC appreciated the forty years struggle of Mian Masood Jhandeer, Mian Mehmood Jhandeer and Mian Ghulam Ahmed Jhandeer to preserve a variety of religious, national, historical, literary and cultural heritage. Though being a private one, it has been rendering the essential services of a public research library for all purposes. Since Masood Jhandeer Library is a reference library, several research scholars, M.Phil and PhD students are quenching their thirst for knowledge. Vice Chancellors of universities, principals of colleges, professors, doctors and other professionals come here. They also provide residence to out station scholars and researchers (Mahmood, n.d.). It contains books in Urdu, English, Punjabi and Saraiki on all important topics. It has more than one thousand copies of the Holy Quran written in different calligraphic designs. It has also two thousand hand written books on religion. Of these rare books some are antique while others are gold written. There is also a volume of ten Paras of the Holy Quran which weighs 100 Kg and occupies 3 ½ x 2 ½ feet. Two men are needed to open it (Bari, 2010).