The New Library of Alexandria

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the fabled Library of Alexandria, has been revived in a dramatic structure by the Mediterranean. It is a major new cultural facility, and Ismail Serageldin has the unique distinction of being the first scholar in over 1600 years to hold the titles of “Librarian of Alexandria”, and “Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

BibAlex Overview

The Architecture

The Ancient Library of Alexandria, founded in 288 BC, was a unique achievement of the human intellect. It represented the zenith of learning for over six centuries, and remains to this day the inspiration for all scholars and scientists, even though it disappeared some 1600 years ago.
[click here for a summary about the ancient Library ]

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the New Library of Alexandria, is dedicated to recapture the spirit of openness and scholarship of the original. It aspires to be:

  • The World's window on Egypt;
  • Egypt's window on the world,
  • A leading institution of the digital age; and, above all;
  • A center for learning, tolerance, dialogue and understanding.
To fulfill that role, the new complex is much more than a library. It contains:
  • A Library that can hold millions of books.
  • An Internet Archive
  • Several specialized libraries:
    1. Arts and Multimedia,
    2. the visually impaired,
    3. Children,
    4. Young people,
    5. Microforms,
    6. Rare books and special collections
    7. Map
    8. Theses and Dissertations
  • Four Museums for
    1. Antiquities,
    2. Manuscripts,
    3. Sadat and
    4. the History of Science
  • A planetarium;
  • An Exploratorium for children’s exposure to science (ALEXploratorium)
  • Culturama: a cultural panorama over nine screens, the first ever patented 9-projector interactive system. Winner of many awards, the Culturama, developed by CULTNAT, allows the presentation of a wealth of data layers, where the presenter can click on an item and go to a new level of detail. It is a remarkably informative and attractive multi-media presentation of Egypt’s heritage across 5000 years of history to these modern times, with highlights and examples of Ancient Egyptian and Coptic/Muslim heritage.
  • VISTA (The Virtual Immersive Science and Technology Applications system) is an interactive Virtual Reality environment, allowing researchers to transform two-dimensional data sets into 3-D simulations, and to step inside them. A practical tool of visualization during research, VISTA helps researchers to simulate the behavior of natural or human-engineered systems, instead of merely observing a system or building a physical model.
  • Several academic research centers:
    1. Alexandria and Mediterranean Research Center (Alex-Med),
    2. Arts Center,
    3. Calligraphy Center,
    4. Center for Special Studies and Programs (CSSP),
    5. International School of Information Studies (ISIS),
    6. Manuscript Center,
    7. Center for the Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage (CultNat, located in Cairo),
    8. Alexandria Center for Hellenistic Studies,
    9. Center for Democracy and Social Peace Studies (CDSPS), and
    10. Center for Development Studies.
    11. The Environmental Studies Center
    12. The Arabic Computational Linguistics Center
    13. The Center for the Study of Islamic Civilization
    14. The Center for Coptic Studies
    15. The Center for Francophone Cultural Activities
  • Fifteen permanent exhibitions covering
    1. Impressions of Alexandria: The Awad Collection,
    2. The World of Shadi Abdel Salam,
    3. Arabic Calligraphy,
    4. The History of Printing,
    5. Arab-Muslim Medieval Instruments of Astronomy and Science (Star Riders), and the Permanent Exhibitions of Selections of Contemporary Egyptian Art:
    6. The Artist’s Book,
    7. Mohie El Din Hussein: A Creative Journey,
    8. The Raaya El-Nimr and Abdel-Ghani Abou El-Enein Collection Arab Folk Art,
    9. Seif and Adham Wanly: Motion and Art,
    10. Selected Artworks of Adam Henin,
    11. Selected Artworks of Ahmed Abdel-Wahab,
    12. Selected Artworks of Hamed Saeed,
    13. Selected Artworks of Hassan Soliman,
    14. Sculpture, and
    15. Our Digital World.
  • Four art galleries for temporary exhibitions
  • A Conference Center for thousands of persons

The New Library of Alexandria also hosts a number of institutions:

The number is growing and the Library of Alexandria is becoming the nerve center of many international and regional networks.
  • The Academia Bibliotheca Alexandrinae (ABA)
  • Arabic Society for Ethics in Science & Technology (ASEST)
  • The Anna Lindh Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures, the first Euro–Med foundation based outside Europe
  • The HCM Medical Research project (located in Shallalat premises)
  • The Arab Regiona l Office of the Academy of Science for the Developing World (ARO-TWAS)
  • The International Federation for Library Associations (IFLA) Regional Office
  • The Secretariat of the Arab National Commissions of UNESCO
  • The Middle Eastern and North African Network for Environmental Economics (MENANEE)
  • The Arab Network for Women in Science and Technology (ANWST)

Today, this vast complex is a reality
receiving about 1.5 million visitors a year

[Click here to visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina]