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A Sanatorium for the Mind – The Great Library of Alexandria

800px-ancientlibraryalexToday let’s dive into how one of the worlds greatest libraries of all time can be your inspiration for creating a portal of knowledge for your market or niche.

Over two millennia ago in Alexandria there was an immense library and a research institute. Today we have the faintest clues as to what this building (or buildings) looked like and only the tiniest of fraction of what it once contained.

This was the intellectual center of the ancient world and humankind’s greatest repository of knowledge.

The library, often called the Great Library of Alexandria, was a sanctuary for thought in a very violent age and carved over one of it’s main entrances was the inscription ‘A Sanatorium for the Mind’.

Carl Sagan once said that if he could travel back into time this is the place he would visit– the great library at it’s height two thousand years ago…

“Here in an important sense became the adventure that has lead us into space, all the knowledge of the ancient world was once within these ancient walls”.

Built on the waterfront of Alexandria in the royal district known as the Brucheon. Here among lecture theaters, laboratories, observatories, botanical gardens, and even a zoo stood the great building.

The main building had ten large interconnecting rooms or halls, each devoted to a specific area of learning. Each hall had walls that were broken into a series of alcoves where papyrus scrolls were stored (more on those in a second). In the center was a shrine to the Muses – a Musion – from which we get the term ‘museum’.

It wasn’t just the buildings that made this library great.

The real backbone of the library was its books and scrolls. The organizers of the library combed all the cultures and languages of the world. They sent agents abroad to buy up libraries and any books or scrolls they could get their hands on.

Commercial ships docking in the harbor (no doubt guided by the Great Lighthouse) were searched– not for contraband but for books.

No one knows for sure but historians believe that at its peak the library contained at least 1 million scrolls.

Many historians point to the great library at Alexandria as the first time we collected seriously and systematically the history of the world.

Giants of knowledge studied here: Euclid, the father of geometry, whose books are still in print over 2000 years after his death. Archimedes, one of the greatest mathematicians and engineers of all time. Galen, foremost doctor and physiologist.Claudius Ptolemy the father of both astronomy and geography. I could list many more…

In many ways it’s amazing this great library is still spoken about because barely anything survives except for a dank cellar.

Today we can scoff at how great the library must have been because we have vast knowledge available at our fingertips. But for much of humankind it hasn’t been that way.

How the great library was destroyed is still the topic of many debates. But no one really argues that much of its demise was due to how the ancient world viewed knowledge.

Such knowledge was often dangerous and throughout it’s history there are episodes of burning and destruction.

Thankfully it appears we’ve advanced past that point in our modern era.

See in today’s digital world building your own great library has never been easier. Especially with an easy to use tools like WordPress and Curation Suite.

Much like how Alexandria became a magnet for great thinkers.

You want places like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the social networks to see you have a place of knowledge. A gathering of thought around your market or niche.

The more content and thinkers you have on your great site the more these digital machine learners understand what you’re about.

The more they will reward you with traffic and visitors.

You’re also creating a library for a living breathing person. Someone who is on an adventure to be entertained and educated.

Your going out and collecting the knowledge in your market. Just like how the great library housed great thinkers and scrolls your site and your platform is housing the great thinkers in your market.

No matter what market your in: weight loss, drones, celebrity gossip, RV industry, stock trading, marketing, SEO, health, sports… really any market.

Just as the great library had sections each devoted to it’s own study you have categories and topics.

You’re looking to build your own great library of knowledge and thought.

The Listening Engine acts as your emissary gathering sources for your content. In ancient times these were scrolls, in today’s world these are blog posts, stories, articles, memes, infographics, and videos.

I’d like to say that the platform your building is going to be around for 2,000 years in the future. That’s kind of a bold goal but what if you went about building your site with that in mind?

I know– a high minded high brow thought.

But when I think of the great library I can only imagine the great thinkers showing up each and every day. Winding their way to their section of the library passing hall after hall. No doubt tables and desks of students and researchers silently consuming new and even more ancient knowledge.

The smell of the sea air mixed with what must have been aroma of lamps, candles, and thousand upon thousands of scrolls adorning the walls.

It must have been a thrill and an unbelievable inspiration to these great thinkers to go deeper. To reveal and discover truth.

I believe you can capture some of that by building your own virtual great library.