Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Friday, 5 August 2016 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions, Opera Houses, Theaters, Libraries, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  11 minutes

© flickr.com - Argenberg/cc-by-2.0

© flickr.com – Argenberg/cc-by-2.0

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. It is both a commemoration of the Library of Alexandria that was lost in antiquity, and an attempt to rekindle something of the brilliance that this earlier center of study and erudition represented. The idea of reviving the old library dates back to 1974, when a committee set up by Alexandria University selected a plot of land for its new library, between the campus and the seafront, close to where the ancient library once stood. The notion of recreating the ancient library was adopted by other individuals and agencies. One leading supporter of the project was former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; UNESCO was also quick to embrace the concept of endowing the Mediterranean region with a center of cultural and scientific excellence. An architectural design competition was organized by UNESCO in 1988 to choose a design worthy of the site and its heritage. The competition was won by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural office, from among more than 1,400 entries. The first pledges were made for funding the project at a conference held in 1990 in Aswan: USD $65 million, mostly from the Arab states. Construction work began in 1995 and, after some USD $220 million had been spent, the complex was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2002. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trilingual, containing books in Arabic, English, and French. In 2010, the library received a donation of 500,000 books from the National Library of France, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The gift makes the Bibliotheca Alexandrina the sixth-largest Francophone library in the world. The BA also is now the largest depository of French books in the Arab world, surpassing those of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, in addition to being the main French library in Africa.

The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 20,000 square metres (220,000 sq ft) on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory. The library’s architecture is equally striking. The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-panelled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 m in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts. The collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina were donated from all over the world. The Spanish donated documents that detailed their period of Moorish rule. The French also donated, giving the library documents dealing with the building of the Suez Canal. The BA/IA partnership is built with the aims to preserve heritage for future generations and to provide universal access to human knowledge. The BA maintains the only mirror and external backup of the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive donated five million USD to the BA, including: 10 billion web pages spanning the years 1996–2001 from over 16 million different sites, 2000 hours of Egyptian and U.S. television broadcast, 1000 archival films, 100 terabytes of data stored on 200 computers, A books-scanning facility for local books. The library provides access to print on demand books via the Espresso Book Machine.

Planetarium at Bibliotheca Alexandrina © flickr.com - D-Stanley/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - Argenberg/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - Argenberg/cc-by-2.0 © Roland Unger/cc-by-sa-3.0 © flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0 © Roland Unger/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Majorly/cc-by-sa-2.5 © flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0
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Planetarium at Bibliotheca Alexandrina © flickr.com - D-Stanley/cc-by-2.0
Taha Hussein Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired
The Taha Hussein Library contains materials for the blind and visually impaired using special software that makes it possible for readers to read books and journals. It is named after Taha Hussein, the Egyptian professor of Arabic and literary critic and one of the leading figures of the Arab Renaissance (Nahda) in literature, who was himself blinded at the age of three.

Nobel Section
Contains book collections of Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature from 1901 to present. The Nobel Section was inaugurated by Queen Silvia of Sweden and Queen Sonja of Norway on 24 April 2002.

Antiquities Museum
Established in 2001, the BA Antiquities Museum is the first archeological museum to be situated within a library. The primary aims of the museum are to promote research, creativity, and cultural awareness. Holding approximately 1,316 artifacts, the Antiquities Museum collection provides a glimpse into Egyptian history from the Pharaonic era to the conquest of Alexander the Great to the Roman civilizations before the advent of Islam across Egypt. The collection includes underwater antiquities from the Mediterranean seabed near the Eastern Harbour and the Bay of Abukir. The museum provides descriptions of artifacts in three languages: English, Arabic, and French.

Manuscript Museum
The Manuscript Museum provides visitors and researchers with rare manuscripts and books. Established in 2001, the Manuscript Museum contains the world’s largest collection of digital manuscripts. It is an academic institution that is affiliated to the Library of Alexandria. The stated aims of the museum are to preserve heritage, foster human cadres in the conservation and restoration of manuscripts, and create a generation of new restorers. The Manuscript Museum operates alongside the Manuscript Center, which provides digital access to more than 6,000 rare books, maps, and documents within the museum’s collection. There are three sections housed within the museum:

  • Rare Collections: This section includes the BA’s unique items, such as original manuscripts, early printed books, maps, and antique coins.
  • Microfilm: This section includes micofilms of around 30,000 rare manuscripts and 50,000 documents, as well as a collection from The British Library of around 14,000 Arabic, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts, which is considered the largest collection in Europe. Additionally, visitors can find a vast archive of national and Arabic newspapers.
  • Museographic Display: This section is divided into the Exhibition Gallery group and the Traveling Exhibition group. The Exhibition Gallery displays the Manuscript Center’s electronic publications and selected digital manuscripts.

Sadat Museum
This museum contains many different personal belongings of the Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat. The collections include some of his military robes, his Nobel Prize medal, his copy of the Qur’an, a few of his handwritten letters, pictures of him and his family, and the blood stained military robe he wore the day of his assassination. The museum also contains a recording in his voice of part of the Qur’an and assorted newspaper articles written about him.

History of Science

Digital Collections

  • Our Digital World: The “Our Digital World” exhibition displays some of the library’s digital projects, including digital archives of former presidents, the Science Supercourse, and the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). Additionally, digital versions of valuable books, such as Description de l’Egypte and L’Art Arabe are available.

Personal Collections

  • The World of Shadi Abdel Salam: “The World of Shadi Abdel Salam” exhibition contains many of the works and effects of the Egyptian film director, screenwriter, and costume designer Shadi Abdel Salam, donated by his family to the Library to put on permanent display. This includes his personal library, some of his furniture, several awards, and many storyboard paintings and costumes from several of his films.
  • Impressions of Alexandria: The “Impressions of Alexandria” exhibition is divided into two sections: Alexandria as seen by Artists and Travelers, and Cosmopolitan Alexandria: a Photographic Memory. The former section features travelers’ and artists’ original lithographs, maps, and engravings about Alexandria for the time period of the 15th century to the 19th century. The latter section features photographs from the 19th century to the mid-20th century, drawing attention to cultural works from writers and artists of the time.

CULTURAMA
The culturama hall consists of a huge 180-degree panoramic interactive computer screen with a diameter of 10 meters that is made up of nine separate flat screens arranged in a semicircle and nine video projectors controlled by a single computer. Culturama has enabled the display of information that could never have been displayed clearly using a regular computer display system. It was developed by the Egyptian Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage (CULTNAT) and holds its patent in 2007. It displayed 3 periods from the history of Egypt: Ancient Egyptian Period, Highlights of Islamic Civilization, and Modern Egypt.

VISTA
Virtual Immersive Science and Technology Applications. It uses CAVE Technology. VISTA features several projects including

  • BA Model: A complete virtual recreation of the BA including the Library’s main building, planetarium, study rooms, and even the Library’s furniture will be seen clearly and accurately in this demo.
  • Sphinx
  • Socio-Economic Data Visualization: A new visualization technique for multi-dimensional numerical data. The case study uses data provided by the UN, including health care, life duration expectancy and literacy rate over a 25-year period in some countries.

Digital Assets Repository
The Digital Assets Repository (DAR) is a system developed at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) by the International School of Information Science (ISIS) to create and maintain digital library collections and preserve them to future generations,[16] as well as providing free public access to the library’s digitized collections through a web-based search and browsing facilities via DAR’s website.

Read more on Bibliotheca Alexandrina and Wikipedia Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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