According to Oxford Open Learning, the very earliest libraries are believed to have been built around five thousand years ago, with the first human efforts to organize collections of documents. These took the form of clay tablets in a cuneiform script about an inch thick, in various shapes and sizes.
They placed mud-like clay in the wooden frames, and the surface was smoothed for writing and allowed to dry until damp. After being inscribed, the clay dried in the sun, or for a harder finish, was baked in a kiln.
According to research, the word “library" originated in Latin, from the word Libraria, meaning “place storing books," and the Latin liber, meaning “book." In contrast, a Latinised Greek word, bibliotheca, is the origin of the word for library in German, Russian, and the Romance languages.
The world's oldest known library is believed to be The Library of Ashurbanipal which was founded sometime in the 7th century B.C. for the “royal contemplation" of the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal. Located in Nineveh in modern-day Iraq, the site included a trove of some 30,000 cuneiform tablets organized according to subject matter. The library, named after Ashurbanipal, in fact, the last great king of the Assyrian Empire, is a collection of more than 30,000 clay tablets and fragments containing contemporary texts of all kinds, including a number in various languages.
At Stellenbosch University, we have one of the country's biggest and richest knowledge libraries where we can explore all the gems of the literary world and more. And what is more, as staff members, we have free access to all of this.
Suppose you prefer to visit SU's library online. In that case, you will soon discover that this is your one-stop-reading and research portal for the newspaper of the day – yes, even the New York Times, e-journals such as the Economist or Harvard Business Review, and many more. When you start searching, you will end up in corridors and corridors of knowledge that could keep you awake for long hours.
And if all else fails: search!
Why not tell us about your SU library experience and share with us the gems you found? You can email us here.