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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37

Libraries in Constantinople

page 53

Libraries in Constantinople.

There are thirty five public libraries at Constantinople—one at every imperial mosque. They are built with taste and elegance, and contain from one thousand to five thousand volumes, bound neatly in red, green, or black morocco. Excepting on Tuesdays and Fridays these libraries remain open to the public at all times of the year. Each library is under the care of three or four librarians (Hafiz Kutub), who spend the day here, and receive most politely whoever enters.; Everybody is permitted to use what book he pleases to make I extracts or even copy the whole book, provided it is done I in the library. At each of these libraries a very exact catalogue of the books is kept, containing the title and subject of every volume. The Sultan's library contains about fifteen thousand volumes.

This was in 1828, when a free library was unknown in England, or perhaps throughout western or "civilised" Europe.