Government policies and public welfare paint in the mind of the populace that libraries, as a society or a community’s source of knowledge and information, has to be open to the public. However, some countries in the world have maintained some secret libraries for various reasons. Here are some countries and places were you can find a hidden library.
Dunhuang Library in China
In the outskirts of the Gobi Desert in the town of Dunhuang, a hidden library situated in a cave was found containing more than 500 cubic feet of ancient documents and manuscripts. The cave, renamed as the Dunhuang Library, was discovered by Taoist monk Wang Yuanlu in 1900, but the issue of the Boxer Rebellion dwarfed his discovery of the cave. After explorers taking a gander on the precious documents, the Beijing government was able to salvage a fifth of the original collection. The materials found within, like valuable Buddhist manuscripts, were from at least seventeen languages and scripts that were long extinct. A digitization program made the contents of the Dunhuang Library more accessible.
The Vatican’s Secret Archives
The Vatican archives contain a rich collection of tens of thousands of codices and more than a million copies of ancient printed books. Visitors can take a guided tour of the archives which is home to the oldest known Bible, St. Peter’s letters and other valuable documents. However, a section of the archives accessed through the Porta di Santa Anna and guarded by Vatican Swiss Guards remain closed to the public. This section is called the Vatican Secret Archives, which is rumored to contain documents originating from the 8th century or even older. Researchers who are given access to the Secret Archives are, and if they are allowed, they are strictly monitored and timed.
Ivan the Terrible’s Library
Considered as a lost library, Tsar Ivan IV’s extensive book collection is an object of myth. The library was said to have begun when the Ivan III, the tsar’s grandfather, married the niece of the last among the Byzantine emperors, Sophia Paleologue. Both of them were avid book collectors and Sophie brought her own collection to add to that of her husband’s. It was rumored that the legendary collection contained priceless books from the libraries of Constantinople and Alexandria. The immense library was said to be stored in the Kremlin’s basement. The library was never found, after being thought to have vanished after the Terrible’s death of tsar Ivan, and was said to have been destroyed in a fire.
Himmler’s Occult Library
During the WWII, the Nazi’s campaign for world domination was also rife with infamous stories about party members’ association and fascination with the occult. The discovery of 13,000 occult and witchcraft books in the National Library of the Czech Republic is a proof. The collection was discovered to belong to SS Chief Heinrich Himmler who led the accumulation of the books from 1935 to 1944. He and other Nazis fellow, raided 260 libraries as they believed that the power of ancient masters would lead them to victory and allow them to rule the world.