When you look around you library and think about old technology and old books, you can get some perspective on it by looking at some REALLY old libraries!
The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal is just the library for you.
“The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal has sometimes been described as the ‘first library’ in the world, or the ‘oldest surviving royal library in the world’. The library was discovered by archaeologists who were excavating at the site of Nineveh, today known as Kuyunjik. As this was the imperial capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire during the reign of Ashurbanipal, the library has been attributed to this ruler. The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal contains over 30,000 clay tablets and fragments with texts written in the cuneiform script. The subjects of these texts range from governments records to works of literature and technical instructions.”
Every library person knows the importance of good organization and cataloging – but a British archeologist did not get this message (from Wikipedia):
“The library is an archaeological discovery credited to Austen Henry Layard; most tablets were taken to England and can now be found in the British Museum, but a first discovery was made in late 1849 in the so-called South-West Palace, which was the Royal Palace of king Sennacherib (705–681 BC).
Three years later, Hormuzd Rassam, Layard’s assistant, discovered a similar “library” in the palace of King Ashurbanipal (668–627 BC), on the opposite side of the mound. Unfortunately, no record was made of the findings, and soon after reaching Europe, the tablets appeared to have been irreparably mixed with each other and with tablets originating from other sites. Thus, it is almost impossible today to reconstruct the original contents of each of the two main “libraries”.”