A private library with valuable intellectual and cultural heritage: a case of Masood Jhandeer research library.

Author:Shafique, Farzana


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...

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