Bibliotheca Alexandrina

© UNESCO
Biblioteca Alexandrina, Egypt

Reconstruction of the Library of Alexandria

At the meeting point of the three continents, Asia, Africa and Europe, Egypt has been the cradle of civilizations since ancient times. 

The ancient city of Alexandria, one of the glories of antiquity, was at the beginning of the third century B.C. the birthplace of the great plan to build a library: the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. 

But the library, this vast storehouse of learning, was destroyed by a fire which ravaged Alexandria. The Egyptian Government, in close co-operation with UNESCO, decided to build a new library in Alexandria to endow this part of the world with an important focal point for culture, education and science.

 

Historical Dimensions

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.

Objectives

The revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria Project aims at building a universal modern public research library to be a center of education, 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 of Egypt and the region. 

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina will be the world's window on Egypt; Egypt's window on the world; a leading institution of the digital age for the transfer of knowledge and skills; and a vibrant center of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.

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