Dr.IsmailThe New Library of Alexandria, the New Bibliotheca Alexandrina is dedicated to recapture the spirit of openness and scholarship of the original Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Its mission is to be a center of excellence for the production and dissemination of knowledge, and to be a place of dialogue and understanding between cultures and peoples.

It is our hope that the New Bibliotheca Alexandrina will be a worthy successor to the Ancient Library of Alexandria. That great Library was a unique ecumenical effort of the human intellect and imagination, and remains engraved in the memories of all scientists and intellectuals to this day.

The Ancient Library is undeniably the greatest chapter in the history of Alexandria. Our great city, founded by Alexander and home to Cleopatra, has had a remarkable history of 2300 years. It is a city of living history and renewed imagination that has inspired creative talents from Callimachus to Lawrence Durrell. In addition, the past is suddenly coming alive as underwater archaeology is bringing to light the sunken treasures of Alexandria, capturing the imagination of the world with glimpses of bygone glory.

That is the setting for the New Library of Alexandria. The beautiful new building, with its distinctive granite wall covered by the letters of all the world’s alphabets, is today a recognizable landmark of the new Alexandria.

Before we turn to the future, it is only fitting that we should salute all those whose vision and dreams launched this great enterprise more than quarter-of-a-century ago, from UNESCO to the architects and engineers, and contractors, from the management of the project to the workers who labored in the quarries, from the Associations of Friends of the Library all over the world to the eminent people who served on international commissions, from the generous Government donations to the many individual donations. All must be thanked for having brought us to this important achievement.

The four objectives of the New Bibliotheca Alexandrina is to be:

  1. The window of the world on Egypt;
  2. The window of Egypt on the world;
  3. An instrument for rising to the digital challenge;
  4. A center for dialogue between peoples and civilizations;

The way forward is difficult and challenging. The Library seeks to establish itself as an international center of excellence. In terms of our collections strategy, we focus on: First, the Ancient Library of Alexandria, Alexandria and Egypt; Second, the Mediterranean, the Arab world (without duplicating other efforts underway) and Africa, then the rest of the world. In terms of thematic focus, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s specialized centers and departments undertake a number of specific projects and activities which complement and support one another in a coherent fashion. These projects all contribute to the BA’s mission.

The means to move forward is partnering with many eminent institutions of learning around the world, either in an ongoing manner or around specific events such as seminars, conferences and exhibitions. Equally important to these links with eminent institutions are the links to the civil society in Egypt and the world. It is here that the 34 Associations of Friends of the Library have an invaluable role to play.

It is also challenging to link-up electronically with the rest of world. We have already put together a complex web of agreements to bring the marvels of the digital age to all parts of Egypt and the region, and to bring the fruits of Egyptian creativity and scholarship to the new digital world of instant communications and electronic publishing.

Supported by the Council of Patrons, guided by the Board of Trustees, and in constant touch with the Friends of the Library of Alexandria, in Egypt and all over the world, the staff of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina are moving forward to build, over the years to come, an institution worthy of bearing that great name. We hope it will indeed be “a source of pride for Egypt and the world”.

Ismail Serageldin
Director of the Library of Alexandria