The First Librarians

    "While Demetrius was a convert of Serapis and thus probably an official of the new Greco-Egyptian cult invented by Ptolemy, the Serapeum was not yet built at his death and he is remembered neither as librarian of that institution nor at the Museum. The first recorded Librarian was Zenodotus of Ephesus, holding that post from the end of Ptolemy I's reign until 245 B.C.E. His successor Callimachus of Cyrene was perhaps Alexandria's most famous librarian, creating for the first time a subject catalog in 120,000 scrolls of the Library's holdings, called the Pinakes or Tables. It was by no means comprehensive, but was more like a good subject index on the web. Apollonius of Rhodes, his younger rival and the writer of the notoriously meticulous epic, Argonautica, seems to have been Callimachus' replacement. Eratosthenes of Cyrene, Stoic geographer and mathematician, succeeded him in 235, and compiled his "tetagmenos epiteis megaleis bibliothekeis", the "scheme of the great bookshelves". In 195 Aristophanes, a Homeric scholar of no relation to the comic playwright, took up the position, and updated Callimachus' Pinakes. The last recorded librarian was Aristarchus of Samothrace, the astronomer, who took up the position in 180 B.C.E. and was driven out during dynastic struggles between two Ptolemies. While the library and Museum persisted for many centuries afterwards, from that time onward scholars are simply recorded as Alexandrian, and no Librarians are mentioned by name."

    "The library of Alexandria is a legend. Not a myth, but a legend. The destruction of the library of the ancient world has been retold many times and attributed to just as many different factions and rulers, not for the purpose of chronicling that ediface of education, but as political slander. Much ink has been spilled, ancient and modern, over the 40,000 volumes housed in grain depots near the harbor, which were supposedly incinerated when Julius Caesar torched the fleet of Cleopatra's brother and rival monarch. So says Livy, apparently, in one of his lost books, which Seneca quotes. The figure of Hypatia, a fifth-century scholar and mathematician of Alexandria, being dragged from her chariot from an angry Pagan-hating mob of monks who flayed her alive then burned her upon the remnants of the old Library, has found her way into legend as well, thanks to a few contemporary sources which survived. Yet while we know of many rumors of the destruction of "The Library" (in fact, there were at least three different libraries coexisting in the city), and know of whole schools of Alexandrian scholars and scholarship, there is scant data about the whereabouts, layout, holdings, organization, administration, and physical structure of the place".