Athenæums in Africa?

One of the reasons why the New York Times is my homepage is because of articles like this one: Where Greek Ideals Meet New England Charm (above pictures also from article). I got to learn a new word today - Athenæum - 'a Greek term for a place of learning, culture and discourse that stems from Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the arts.' These basically seem like high class libraries.

As anyone who remotely knows me will tell you, there for few things my life that can compete with reading a good book and while I'm very supportive of book stores, libraries are hard to beat. While I have a vague recollection of the public library in West Deptford, NJ where we lived with my aunt when I first came to the states, I vividly remember the summer when I was 13 or something and my mom finally put her foot down with buying me books because I would plow through them so quickly. It was either I get a library card or not read. Because I was went to boarding school about 3 hours away, summers meant 3 LONG months of being away from all my friends and doing a whole bunch of nothing which made reading equivalent to breathing. So since not reading wasn't an option, I found my way to downtown Wyomissing, PA where my mom was living at the time and got a library card. Ever since those days, I have been a serious advocate of libraries.

So clearly articles like this are must reads as far as I'm concerned which is why I'm obligated to share with you! What really makes me wonder is if there are places like this (i.e. really good public libraries) here in Africa - maybe South Africa, Cairo, or Nairobi? Now I know that most countries here have much bigger priorities like creating jobs for their citizens, reforming their constitutions, bringing down dictators, stabilizing their economy and the like....but where are the libraries?!?! All those white colonialists must have been doing their learning and discourse in some cute little lodge somewhere that has now been converted into the Nairobi or Lagos Athenæum, right?!?! Where are all the history books stored?!?!? I admit complete ignorance in this department so if you have inside knowledge, please share!

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