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The Oldest Library On Earth Was Started By a Woman, and It's Opening Soon

The library in the University of Al Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco is said to be the oldest on Earth. What many might not know is that a woman founded it.

The ancient university complex, opened in 859, houses a collection of 4,000 rare books and Arabic manuscripts written by prominent scholars throughout the region.

The complex, including a mosque and library, was started by Fatima Al-Fihri, an heiress described as "a young woman fascinated by knowledge and curious about the world." She was tasked with overseeing the construction of the complex.

Today, the university has moved to another location, but it continues to be distinguished as a leading authority in academia and religion in Morocco.

The library however was not restored until another woman, Canadian-Moroccan architect, Aziza Chaouni, took charge.

"Throughout the years, the library underwent many rehabilitations, but it still suffered from major structural problems, a lack of insulation, and infrastructural deficiencies like a blocked drainage system, broken tiles, cracked wood beams, exposed electric wires, and so on," she said on TED.com.

Now the library will feature solar panels, a new gutter system, digital locks to precious books, and air conditioning.

And in even more exciting news, the library will soon be open to the general public. Peek through the gallery above to see the library.

NEXT: This New Book Highlights Iran's Promising Feminist Movement »

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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Samia Errazouki 

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