In 48 BC, Julius Caesar is said to have accidentally burned the library down when he set fire to his own ships in order to frustrate Achillas' attempt to limit his means of communicating by sea. Following this destruction, scholars used a subsidiary library (known as a daughter library) in a temple called the Serapeum that was situated in another part of the city of Alexandria.
The earliest source of information that has been found regarding the library is the Letter of Aristeas, which tells us that the library was first organized by Demetrius of Phaleron who was a student of Aristotle.
It was built in the Royal Quarter in the same style of Aristotle's Lyceum, and was next to, and in the service of, the Musaeum, which is a Greek Temple, otherwise known as a House of Muses (and where the word museum comes from). It was a sophisticated building and was comprised of a Peripatos walk, gardens, a reading room, lecture halls, meeting rooms and a dining room. Although the exact layout is not known, it is thought that many of today's university campuses have similar layouts.
It is also thought that there was an inscription carved into the wall above the shelves for the papyrus scrolls that read: 'The place of the cure of the soul'.