By the end of this year, the oldest known library in the world will reopen to visitors. Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin, located in Fez's old medina, was founded in the 10th century, and houses approximately 4,000 ancient texts, including a 9th-century Quran written in Kufic calligraphy and a 14th-century copy of Ibn Khaldun's "Muqadimmah."
Following the renovation, these manuscripts are being kept in a temperature-and-humidity controlled room. That's a far cry from the old—intimidating—security system. "The original manuscript room door had four locks," . "Each of those keys was kept with four different people. In order to open the manuscript room, all four of those people had to physically be there to open the door."
Now, "all of that has been replaced with a four-digit security code."
That's not the only advancement stemming from the renovation. The four-year, multi-million dollar restoration process has added solar panels and air conditioning to the space in addition to structural and plumbing repairs, new gutters, and restored wood and tile work.
For now, the space will be open to scholars and academics though, the architect, a local woman named Aziza Chaouni, is lobbying for a public exhibition room.
"We have to preserve it. We have to restore it because it's our identity," Abdullah al-Henda, a member of the restoration team, "It's our archives. It's our memory."