The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a place of knowledge, exploration, and experience. Built near the original site of the ancient library, the new facility is built for eight million volumes and contains six specialized libraries, three museums, seven research centers, two permanent exhibitions, six art galleries, a planetarium, an Exploratorium and a conference center for thousands of persons. Above all, as was its ancient predecessor, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina serves as a meeting place for international scholars and scientists.
The books we read should be chosen with great care, that they may be, as an Egyptian king wrote over his library, "The medicines of the soul".
The library's old tradition of and new commitment to diversification and continuous education has led to the establishment of a librarian exchange program between the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and other well established international libraries.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina Librarian-In-Residence (LIR) program is one of sharing knowledge and designed as a mutually beneficial program. A librarian in this program is one who has a masters or doctoral degree in Library & Information Science or related fields and desires a specialized study in librarianship. It is not an academic program, but an individualized program designed according to the needs of the Bibliotheca and the LIR needs, that may incorporate research, theory development, or applied or field observation. On one hand, an accomplished librarian may wish to pursue research interests in areas of specialized content; a reference services expert may wish to study theory and practice. On the other hand, the LIR will have significant involvement in one or more units of the BA that offer opportunities for applied work with the purpose of teaching and training the BA's librarians within that unit on the subject researched. At the BA, the Chief Librarian will serve as an advisor responsible for planning the program based upon the LIR's interests and the library's needs. Since the information provided in the application is used to assess the prospective LIR's course, it is important that the librarian's goals and objectives be as clear and specific as possible and consistent with the needs of the library. Thus, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina will invite inquiries of librarians from all over the world for the yearly Librarian-In-Residence program to aid in the enrichment of our library.
It is difficult to envision a type of class training with the potential for greater impact on librarians, their institutions, and ultimately the communities they serve than the opportunity to learn from real life practice with a master in the field. The old fashion apprenticeship programs were built on this notion and to this day, they continue to supply the world with the best trained professionals in fields from pottery to surgery.
While libraries had their birth in Egypt, a great number of years went by without much development to the profession. While this loss to professional development was critical to the state of librarianship in Egypt , the cumulative loss of experienced librarians is staggering. With the new awakening of the need for good libraries and the birth of the new Library of Alexandria, many of our young graduates are seeking training courses and graduate degrees in Library and Information Science. However, the shortage of role models and experienced librarians is critical to the development of this library. Thus, it is imperative on the leadership of the BA to think of creative ways to assist in bridging this period.
The LIR program is a response to this urgent need to train the BA librarians, an education where the trainer is present for a year doing his/her research and offering his/her reservoir of experience to a group of young librarians. The LIR program also arises from institutional reinvention that would be necessary to lead and respond to changing community needs and advancing technological goals.
The program, through the cooperation and involvement between the librarians and the scholar researcher, aims to provide learning opportunities for upcoming library leaders. The LIR will assist BA librarians in acquiring new research skills, unique perspectives essential to changing institutions, and community skills, that prior to this program, were difficult to acquire. The program will also help the BA to create an effective model of action learning programs.
With the ongoing trend of globalization, the importance of diversification and awareness is becoming more vital by the day. A library's responsibility is to bring the world to the user. Since libraries offer free information services to all, they bring opportunity to all. And the greatest assets in each of these libraries are the librarians and library workers. The BA librarians act as Egypt 's window to the world and what better access to the world than the experience of other international librarians.
By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn.
Librarian-in-Residence is established to promote cross-cultural and professional dialogue among librarians in accordance to the BA's mission and goals. The program's task is to recruit an established librarian from an international library to contribute to the diversity of the professionals at the BA - all the while allowing an exchange of knowledge and experience between the Librarians-in-Residence and the BA's librarians.
- The Librarian-in-Residence program will have an established duration of one year.
- All residents will be provided professional accommodations within the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
- All residents will be considered a Visiting Librarian, with all the rights and responsibilities of other professional librarians.
- Furthermore, all resident's work will be real and meaningful, the resident will not just be an observer, but will act as a full member of the BA's senior staff.
- All residents will administratively report to the Chief Librarian so that a thorough overview of progress can be guaranteed.
- All participants will receive assistance locating accommodations of residence in Alexandria .
- All residents will be put on a rotation schedule throughout the various library departments to achieve the most effective diversification of training and shared knowledge between residents and current library staff.
All Librarian-in-Residence applicants should boast the following qualifications:
- An MLS or a Ph.D. in library sciences or related fields.
- Experience of a minimum of ten to fifteen years with a progressive career in a large public, research, or academic.
- Proficient in the English language is a must, a working knowledge in French/Arabic a plus.
- High-level skill in technology based library applications.
- Ability to teach and communicate well with others.
- Possess an appreciation for various cultures.
- Capability to be agile, adaptive and to think outside the box, reaching out for new knowledge and understanding, and stamina to challenge the status quo.
- Capacity to understand the change process and how it will impact daily activities, and ability to change strategies/behaviors in response to changing priorities and conditions.
As always, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina gains knowledge from the example of other well established institutions in library sciences. As projected by many well known organizations, such as ARL , ALA , and IFLA, development and diversification of librarians is becoming a task of the utmost importance. The following is just a small list of the programs established by these institutions to address these issues:
Association of Research Libraries (ARL): ARL Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce
American Library Association (ALA): Spectrum Initiative
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA): Action for Development through Libraries Program (ALP)