With the aim of enriching cultural life in Jordan, the kingdom has reopened Al-Jahith’s Treasury (Khazanat Al-Jahith), an iconic library in the cultural heart of Downtown Amman after a history filled with misfortunes, including a fire in 2018 that destroyed more than 10,000 old books and manuscripts.
The library was created a century ago by Mamdouh Al-Maayta, who established it in Jerusalem in 1922 and moved it to Amman in 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homeland. With this move, the first lending library in Jordan was established.
“We are talking about a great history that spans to around 100 years where people used to spend time reading books, meet and discuss what they have read, before technology took over,” Majdi Tall, a journalist who covers cultural news in Jordan, told Al-Fanar Media. “Al-Jahith’s Treasury is truly an icon and a symbol of this great place that used to serve intellectuals, students and researchers with thousands of titles and in many languages.”
The library, which both lends and sells books, was named after the 9th century Arab writer Abu ‘Uthman ‘Ami ibn Bakr al-Kinani al-Fuqaimi al-Basri, popularly known as al-Jahiz, who died, according to legend, when a huge pile of books fell on him.
“In the 1940s, the library was supported by the late King Abdullah I of Jordan,” said Tall, “and in 2018, King Abdullah II supported the rehabilitation of the library after the fire,” which destroyed the library’s main kiosk, one of three.