The Royal Library at Alexandria housed one of the greatest collections in the ancient world. It was allowed flourish under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty. This library worked to collect important works from the ancient world in one place. However, this library was also a research institution which produced several new works in many different disciplines.
There are several similarities between the Alexandria library and a modern academic library. This library was the repository for books in the ancient world and also had facilities to foster research for the scholars in the ancient world. Also, the layout of the Alexandria library was later emulated by many modern universities. The Alexandria Library comprised of a walkway, gardens, a room for shared dining, a reading room, lecture halls and meeting rooms.
Many ancient libraries like the one at Alexandria differed greatly from modern libraries. First, it was not open to the public. Only scholars and men of great status could access the library and its collections. The library was completely funded by the royal government and private patronage. Many modern academic libraries rely on various sources of funding besides government funding. Also, the librarians working in the library were also producing some the library’s collections. They primary worked with other scholars. Now, most academic libraries serve their large and diverse student populations.
The tools, Google Scholar, Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica provided some great general information about the ancient library. Also, a book called The Library: an Illustrated History provided some great information about ancient libraries and their role in the ancient world.