The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) prides itself on a collection encompassing many subjects. From the Arts to Zoology, the BA collection strives for a richness in its intellectual wealth, while trying to meet the specific needs of its patrons. It is to meet these diverse demands and achieve a certain balance that the BA has developed a collection development policy that specifies the levels of intensity in collecting library materials. The policy lays the principles that govern the selection and retention of the library holdings and of the library's acquisition priorities.
The library was designed to house up to eight million volumes, 500,000 in the open stacks within the main reading hall and 7.5 million in storage facilities within the building. Most books found in the main reading hall fall within the ten general subjects defined by the Dewey Decimal Classification System. The general collection includes printed materials of all types, books, periodicals, conference proceedings, maps, reference materials, and more. The special libraries and special collections include multimedia materials, depository documents, university theses and dissertations, and other unique or unusual items in addition to the standard printed materials. The BA also provides access to many valuable electronic resources.
In addition to the general collection, the library has extensive holdings in closed stacks. These items are not directly accessible by the public and may have various restrictions on their use due to their age, condition, value, or other criteria set by the BA librarians. All items in closed stacks may be viewed on request by the patron from any reference desk.
All library collections accessible to the public are arranged according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC). DDC provides a simple and effective way of providing a unique identification number, known as a “call number”, for each item in the library, thus making them easier to find within the library.
The physical locations of different broad areas of the collection are given in the table below.