Libraries in the Sand
The West African nation of Mauritania is dominated by the vast Sahara desert, with only about 2% of its land being fit for human habitation. In the country's north lies a town named Chingueti, an ancient settlement that houses lifetimes of Islamic knowledge in its 12 ancient libraries. For centuries, Muslim traders and scholars would stop in Chingueti during their long treks across the Sahara, bringing with them works on Islamic law, mathematics, and poetry to discuss and to sell. Each library is managed by a specific patrilineal line of librarians who preserve the works ranging from Indonesia, Central Asia, Arabia, Ummayad Spain, and more. Today, drought and desertification imperil the existence of Chingueti. Much of the town has been consumed by ever-encroaching sand dunes. The future of this ancient town and the works held within is uncertain.