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Libraries of a Yester-Era


Roland Silva

Chancellor of the University of Moratuwa, LK
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Seals found at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa civilizations and Clay Tablets of Mesopotamia prove that the concept of libraries originated in the prehistoric era and mostly centered on Asia. Dr. Siran Deraniyagala in his study through excavation of Anuradhapura found written materials akin to Brahmi writing assigned to the third century B.C. This indicates that Sri Lanka have had a deep rooted history of libraries. After Buddhist Texts were systematically documented at Aluvihara, in 89-77 B.C. it is clear that every Vihara had provisions for storage of books especially the doctrinal texts covering Thripitaka. This article investigates the architectural view of libraries in ancient Buddhist monasteries of Sri Lanka. Buddhist monasteries in ancient Sri Lanka find various types viz. Mahavihara Type, Panchavasa Type, and Vanavasa Type and every Vihara had a place for doctrinal studies where much use of books occurred. These places were attached to edifices such as Uposathaghara, Chapter house or Parivenas in monasteries.

Keywords: Sri Lanka Library History; Ceylon Architecture; Ancient libraries; Monastery libraries of Sri Lanka; Buddhist Monasteries

doi: 10.4038/jula.v14i1.2684

Journal of the University Librarians Association of Sri Lanka. Vol.14 (Issue 1). 2010 1-14

How to Cite: Silva, R., 2010. Libraries of a Yester-Era. Journal of the University Librarians Association of Sri Lanka, 14(1), pp.1–14. DOI:
Published on 15 Dec 2010.
Peer Reviewed


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