World's Oldest Library to Share Its 'Magical Aura' Again
Morocco's Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin is reopening to the public
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2016 6:14 PM CDT
The world's oldest library is set to reopen by the end of the year after an extensive restoration.   (AP Photo/Samia Errazouki)

(Newser) – What is believed to be the world's oldest library is set to reopen to the public in the coming months, and the architect behind its restoration can't wait to share its "magical aura," the Guardian reports. “One of the startling aspects about restoring a building this old is that you never know what’s behind a wall," Aziza Chaouni tells the National. "You could scrape it and find a painting, take out the painting and find a door." One such door at Morocco's Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin library—founded in 859—is made of iron and has four locks, the keys for which were held by four separate people. The ancient library was committed to protecting its most valuable works.

That spirit of protection continues on in the restoration of Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin. Chaouni and her team have added underground canals and temperature controls to keep unwanted moisture from the ancient texts, some of which date back to the 600s. They've also added a machine to keep the works just moist enough to prevent cracking. Of the 4,000 or so books the restoration is protecting, the most valuable is a copy of the Koran written on camel skin from the ninth century, Bustle reports. The library is scheduled to reopen by 2017—five years after the restoration project began. Chaouni hopes it will be embraced by the people "like a second home." (Researchers made a "fantastically exciting" Koran discovery at a library last year.)