The Burning Library
The Burning Library is a popular life extensionist analogy to compare the destruction of wisdom, knowledge and experiences such as the Great Library of Alexandria, to that of the knowledge lost when a human being dies.
It was first coined in 1960 by Amadou Hampâté Bâ, a Malian writer and ethnologist:
“En Afrique, quand un vieillard meurt, c’est une bibliothèque qui brûle.” ("In Africa, when an old man dies, it’s a library burning.")
The saying means that African oral history is especially valuable and suffers a great loss with the death of each elder. “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground” is a popular form of the saying that has also been used by American genealogists and historians.