Thursday، 19 May 2016 12:00 AM
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina lies alongside the University of Alexandria Faculty of Arts campus, in Shatby, and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea along a substantial portion of its northern frontage.
At Selsela, it is almost the same site of the ancient library-museum complex within the Royal Quarter, in the district then known as the Brocheum, where a few remains of the Graceo-Roman civilization were recently uncovered and later will be displayed in the Library museum.
At the panoramic vista across the circular Eastern Port stands diametrically and serenely the old Mameluke Citadel of Qait Bey, built in 1480 on the site of the famous Pharos Lighthouse.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina lies alongside the University of Alexandria Faculty of Arts campus, in Shatby, and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea along a substantial portion of its northern frontage. At Selsela, it is almost the same site of the ancient library-museum complex within the Royal Quarter, in the district then known as the Brocheum, where a few remains of the Graceo-Roman civilization were recently uncovered and later will be displayed in the Library museum. At the panoramic vista across the circular Eastern Port stands diametrically and serenely the old Mameluke Citadel of Qait Bey, built in 1480 on the site of the famous Pharos Lighthouse.
The international community has taken the first step towards effacing the disaster caused by the fire that burned down the old library, more than 1600 years ago, by supporting the Revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandrina Project.
At the meeting point of the three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe, Egypt has been the cradle of civilizations since ancient times. After more than 4000 years of development of the Pharaonic culture, the Greek dynasties, begun with the Ptolemies, made it possible for Alexandria to be the world’s intellectual and commercial capital and metropolis. The Library they built there, in the fourth century BC, became the world’s first university with its college scholars including such famous names as Euclid, Erastosthenes, Heron and Archimedes, to name but a few.
The great library, which also served as a publishing house, was built at the side of the museum.
Anticipating our modern libraries in the way it was run, it had a catalogue of all the works it possessed - 700,000 of listed and classified manuscripts already in the third century BC - and enjoyed "legal deposit rights", thereby, being entitled to make a copy of every book that entered the country.
Design of the new building:
The design concept is a simple circle inclined towards the sea, partly submerged in a pool of water, the image of the Egyptian sun, that in contemporary terms will illuminate the world and human civilization.
Moreover, an inclined roof allows indirect daylight and a clear view of the sea. Designed as an arrow, an elevated passageway links the University of Alexandria to the Corniche. The building is surrounded by a wall clad with Aswan granite engraved with calligraphic letters and representative inscriptions from the world civilizations.
This timely conceptualization symbolizes a unique form cum-fiction which combines the heritage of the region with the intended revival of cultural radiance to reach the corners of the universe.
The winner of the first prize of the 1989 international architectural competition is the Norwegian architectural firm of Snohetta. The Consortium Consultant Snohetta/Hamza was contracted in October 1993 for the design, implementation and construction supervision of the Project.
Foundation execution works began in January, 1995.
Training of manpower resources and book acquisitions are parallel activities currently under implementation.
Book contributions have been received from individuals and governments from around the world.
However, GOAL requests the international community to respond to UNESCO’s appeal for active participation in terms of monetary and in-kind contributions.
Several seminars and symposia have been organized for experts and scholars to contribute with their thoughts and ideas for the future Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Facts and Figures:
The cost of this ambitious international project is estimated at US $172 million. This does not include the cost of the land, the Conference Center, the Consultant fees and GOAL’s budget that was donated by the Government of Egypt and is worth US $182 million.
The Library construction cost is estimated at US $121 million, while both book collections and periodicals are expected to cost about US $31 million and the cost of equipment about US $20 million.
Total site area: 45,000 m²
Total Library floor areas: 69,000 m²
No. of floors: 7
No. of seats: 3500
No. of volumes: 4 million
No. of maps: 50,000
No. of manuscripts: 100,000
No. of electronic applications: 30 data bases
No. of rare books: 10,000
No. of electronic materials: 100 CD-ROM titles
No. of musical media: 200,000 disks/tapes
No. of audio-visual material: 50,000 disks/videos
No. of staff: 578
Complex includes: Conference Center (3200 seats), science museum, planetarium, school of information studies, calligraphy institute and museum.
Negotiations with consultants
Acquisition of 40,000 volumes
Establishment of the Executive Secretariat
The Norwegian Team began preliminary design studies
Project Technical Development and the preparation of the executive design and tender documents
Acquisition of 30,000 volumes
Announcement of International Tender for the project execution
Acquisition of 40,000 volumes
Training programs for the Library staff and recruitment of various library expertise 1995-1996
Construction activities (foundation and super-structure) Collection Development
Acquisition of 60,000 volumes
Scholarships for Masters and PhD studies in the library and information fields 1997-1998
Preparing and finishing internal systems
Equipment and furnishings Collection Development
Transfer of new acquisitions of 200,000 volumes to the new Library Human Resources
Tests and preliminary operations of equipment and Library functioning 1999-2000
2000: OFFICIAL INAUGURATION OF THE BIBLIOTHECA ALEXANDRINA
The revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria Project aims at building a universal modern public library to be a center of culture, science and academic research.
The library is to provide both the national and international communities of scholars and researchers with unique collections and facilities focusing on Alexandrian, Egyptian, ancient and medieval civilizations as well as on contemporary disciplines. The Library will also have valuable collections of science and technology resource materials to help the socio-economic and cultural development studies on Egypt and the region.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina will sponsor intensive studies on the historical and contemporary cultural heritage of the region.
As one of the BA’s main sectors, the Library Sector has many functions, responsibilities, and goals. It seeks to establish itself as an international center of excellence through its collection of books, periodicals, maps, multimedia, and electronic resources, and most importantly, customized services to its users. The BA is a new form of learning space that is designed to bring the community of learners together to partake in knowledge in all its formats. The mind boggling structure and the comfort enhanced interior, combined with the multitude of services, help in creating a first-rate environment that augments the library users learning opportunities, and cultural and intellectual interactions. The open access shelves display the library collection through a reading area which cascades over the seven levels of the library and accommodates 2,000 readers under its roof. Museums, exhibitions, a conference center, and other entities are all within a few steps from the reading area. It is truly a place that appeals to all five senses.
The library is composed of the Main Library, the Taha Hussein Library, the Children’s Library , the Young People’s Library, the Arts & Multimedia Library and the Nobel Section. Each one of these contributes as parts of a whole, meeting the needs of diverse groups of individuals. Whereas any theater has its backstage crew, the Library Sector has a behind-the-scenes reinforcement staff handling every aspect of the library, all the while making sure things on the outside run smoothly.
The sector’s staff consists of eight main sections: Special Libraries, Digital Library Services, Technical Services, Access Services, Public Services, New Initiatives, Arts & Multimedia Services, and Enabling Infrastructure.
The Taha Hussein (TH) Library for the blind offers a new concept in meeting the special needs of the visually impaired, enabling them to access all the resources of the library as well as selected web resources. The TH Library is equipped with special software, which will allow the blind and the visually impaired to access the Library’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) using Braille and sound software. Similar software will allow TH library users to access all of the electronic resources available through the main BA website. Scanners that use special software to transfer text into speech are also available that enable users to read any printed material.
The Children’s (CH) Library provides educational, recreational, and cultural resources for children ages 6 to 11. It aims at opening a window for Egyptian children to the world, preparing a generation to face the challenges imposed by the digital age.
The main objectives of the CH Library are develop the children’s reading, research, and creativity skills through different programs and activities. The CH Library contains a collection of more than 15,000 volumes. This collection includes picture books, easy-to-read books, reference materials, and multimedia items. The collection is available in many languages, covering a wealth of different and intellectually stimulating subjects. A computer lab, monitored by the CH library’s staff, offers a safe environment for children to explore the many exciting websites and to learn how to do research in a library.
The Young People’s (YP) Library opens up a vast world of knowledge, entertainment, culture, and information for youth ages 12 to 16 years. The YP Library introduces young adults to modern information technology, develops their global awareness and knowledge, encourages social interaction in and out of the library, and develops their reading and research skills. YP librarians follow school curricula in order to ensure availability of support materials to help students prepare their research assignments using BA resources in print and non-print format. The collection of books in the YP Library covers the same subject areas as the Main Library, but takes into consideration young adults’ special needs and requirements. The YP Library offers access to digitized books, periodicals, multimedia and e-resources, with free access to the Student Resource Center database covering most subject areas.
The Arts & Multimedia Library is one of Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s specialized libraries and is located on level B3. The library contains a print and audio/visual collection on the Arts, such as Painting, Architecture, Music, Cinema, Theater, Sports and Recreational art, etc. The print collection includes of books, scores, and periodicals; and the audio/visual collection consists of sound recordings, such as CDs, audiotapes, phonograph records, videotapes, DVDs, and open reel, and other formats.
The Audiovisual materials cover a broad spectrum of motion pictures, documentary films, educational programs, and self teaching methods on languages and computers. Also included are complete conference proceedings, musical performances, and cultural activities that took place at Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The Audiovisual materials may be used in individual or group study rooms within the library. The Arts & Multimedia Library provides its services to the general public, students, researchers and art connoisseurs.
The Arts & Multimedia library is responsible for the acquisition, registration, and classification and cataloging of all audiovisual materials of the main and specialized libraries of the BA, in coordination with the other technical units of the BA.
Located on the third floor (F3) of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Nobel Section is dedicated to serving scholars and researchers. The Nobel Section reflects the essence behind the celebrated Nobel Prize, an international award given yearly since 1901 for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, and economic science (added in 1968).
The Nobel Section is comprised of the Nobel Room, the Gad Rausing Auditorium and the Söderberg Lounge. It is furnished with replicas of the original furniture and lighting designed for the Nobel Institute in Stockholm in 1918 and for the meeting room of the Swedish Cabinet. The furniture in the BA Nobel Library was manufactured in cherry wood to the exact specifications of the originals.