8 Famous African Libraries You May Want to Visit

You don’t have to travel to the United States or Europe to find some of the finest libraries in the world.  In Africa, we have a collection of libraries that you may want to visit. From Kenya to South Africa, Egypt to Ghana, and other parts of Africa, you can see some of these libraries.

Kenyatta University Library, Kenya

Kenyatta University Library in Kenya is one of the newest libraries in the continent.  The modern structure stands tall at six stories feet and every floor has a unique function. For instance, the first floor is where you find check-out desk and student lounge.

The second floor has become home to social science books, while the humanities titles stay on the third floor. You can find the science and technology titles on the fourth floor, while the fifty floor is for special collections. You can find the reading section on the top floor.

Saint Catherine’s Monastery Library, Egypt

Saint Catherine’s Monastery dates 381 A.D and is considered the world’s oldest monastery.  If you want to explore some of the oldest existing libraries in the world, you can begin here.  It is considered the second-largest after the Vatican in terms of its sort.

The library houses more than 3,500 collections in various languages. Many people come here to see the Achtiname, which is one of most valuable possessions in the library. The Achtiname bears a promise from Muhammad to preserve Saint Catherine’s Monastery.

Balme Library, Ghana

The University of Balme Library houses about 100,000 volumes, 500 microfilms, rare manuscripts and various electronic titles. People who want to use some of the best African Libraries for research come here.

You can find a sizable African collection of books, Arabic books and primary source materials from different parts of the world.

Al-Qarawiyyin Library, Morroco

Al-Qarawiyyin Library is one of the world’s oldest libraries that underwent some major renovations before it reopened in 2016. Founded in 1859, it houses many historic artifacts including writings dating over 12 centuries.

You can find a café, administrative offices, a rare book collection, a manuscript restoration laboratory, a conference room, book stacks and a reading room.

National Library of South Africa

The National Library in South Africa was started in 1818 and has some of the rarest items in it.  Over the years, the library has enjoyed donations of rare manuscripts and books.  It was designated as a legal deposit library in 1873 for the Cape Colony, and they got copies of every work published there.

In 1916, the library got expanded to the entire country and has become one of the libraries with the most comprehensive and remarkable collections in Africa.  On the other hand, it merged with the Pretoria State Library in 1999.

Kenya National Library

Kenya National Library was renovated and reopened in 2020. It has a magnificent structure with items like ornamented welcome desk with relief sculptures of drums. The desk emphasizes the Kenya National Library’s central motif, including the significance of drums in African culture.

Kenya National Library has a kid’s theatre that can accommodate at least 300 kids,  a 50-seat section for adults, and four auditoriums. It features local artists and authors’ work in a special room.

The library has a section for disabled people and you can find materials in various formats like large print, audio books, or Braille.

Library Of Alexandria

The Library of Alexandria is a magnificent library that you wouldn’t miss when you come to Alexandria, Egypt.  You can find at least eight million books, which makes the library a special educational center in Africa.

It has one million books in its collection and half of these books came from the National Library of France as gifts. You can find some of the most extensive collections of language literature in French, English Language, and Arabic.

The Library of Alexandria has four museums, a manuscript restoration center, a conference center, and a multimedia collection.

Port Elizabeth Main Library, South Africa

In 1845, the Port Elizabeth News Society started a public subscription library in a small room. With time, the room grew when the organization raised enough fund to buy the property.

However, the government used the property as a courthouse for many years before it was demolished and rebuilt. In 1902, the library was opened and designated a historic monument in 1983.