Al-Qarawiyyin library in Fez, Morocco, is the world's oldest, continuously running library. It dates back to 859 AD.
The library is part of the complex that includes Qarawiyyin Mosque and Qarawiyyin University. Over the last four years, the library has undergone a multimillion dollar restoration.
The library is home to over 4,000 texts, including some that are exceedingly rare, such as a 9th-century Qu'aran written in Kufic script on camel skin. The restoration includes a state-of-the art lab that can digitize and restore these texts, as well as mend holes in ancient paper rolls, and prevent cracks in scrolls.
The al-Qarawiyyin Library has long been a source of fascination for Fez residents, few of whom ever passed through its doors. The architect and engineer charged with the restoration -- Aziza Chaouni -- helped to ensure the library is open to the public.
Chaouni is the latest is a line of women that have shaped the library's history. The library was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant.
Over the centuries, rain water poured off the roof of the neighboring mosque and infiltrated the library. After excavating, Chaouni discovered what she described as a river running underneath the floors. To rescue the structure from further damage, she built an underground canal system to lead the water into the sewer.