What remains from the Ancient Library?

No actual scrolls have survived from the destruction of the Ancient Library, but some of the books that were written or translated into other languages, such as The Elements of Euclid, were transferred from one generation to another.

Though some recently claimed that a certain papyrus could be the only remaining trait from the Ancient Library, it is believed that said papyrus is in fact a copy made by an ancient scholar who was studying epigrams and happened to copy first lines of epigram-poems in the form of an index, probably for his own reference. Whether this is true or not, remains uncertain.


What are the BA objectives?

  • To be the world's window on Egypt;

  • To be Egypt’s window on the world;

  • To meet the challenge of the digital age; and

  • To be a center of learning and dialogue.


How many people work at the BA (staff members)?

There are 2,447 employees currently working at the BA.


What is the degree of tolerance of the BA main building against earthquakes?

The degree of tolerance is 8.5 Richter.


What is the total area of the BA complex (including the three buildings)?

The total area is 41,000 m².


How many meters below sea level is the reading area?

 The reading area is 16 meters below sea level.


How many meters underneath the ground level is the reading area?

The reading area is 18 m underneath the sea level.


What is the height of the Main Building of the Library?

The height of the Main Building of the Library is 30.5 meters.


Can users check their own personal e-mails inside the Library?

No, they can’t check their e-mails inside the Library, due to the BA security policy.


Can readers use their own laptops in the Library?

Yes, they can.


What is the software used to develop the Demo?

The Description de l’Egypte and L’Art Arabe were developed using “Flash” and “.Net”. Other archives were developed using “.Net”, while DAR was developed using “open source”.


What is the speed of the internet inside the Library?

It is 155 megabit/sec.


What are the phases digitizing a book at the Digital Lab?

There are 3 phases to digitize a book:

  • Scanning the book

  • Processing

  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) (allows for searching within the text)


What was the system used to digitize the Description de l’Egypte?

Description de l’Egypte was digitized using the digitization workflow system, which was designed at the BA using open-source tools (DAR), to generate the images and searchable text online in the best form and resolution possible. The software used to develop the interface and browsing tools were “Flash” and “.Net”.


Is the “Description de l’Egypte” translated into Arabic?

Yes, it is.

The Library has many translated versions of the “Description de l’Egypte” and they are available online via DAR, where users may conduct an advanced search by typing "وصف مصر" in the title field and the full translation of all volumes are listed by "زهير الشايب" and others.


How much time did it take to digitize the websites dedicated to President Nasser and President Sadat?

It took almost one year to create President Nasser’s digital archive in order to collect the data from his daughter, Hoda Abdel Nasser (Nasser Foundation), and then scan, digitize and index them and to create the appropriate workflow for the data ingestion on the website. The website is continuously being updated with new material.

As for President Sadat’s digital archive, the data was already available via “Memory of Modern Egypt”. The BA took almost 2 weeks to transfer it to a separate archive with a new interface and layout to provide more focus and a deep perspective of President Sadat’s life.

Kindly note that the source of the material on President Nasser’s digital archive is not the same as that on “Memory of Modern Egypt”. The former was donated by the Nasser Foundation and the latter was compiled from different sources.


How much time did it take to establish the “Memory of Modern Egypt” website?

It took 3 years and 130 institutions/families of eminent figures who provided the library with the material in the archive.


How many Supercomputers are there in Egypt?

There may be other supercomputers in Egypt, but we are not sure about the exact number. They are used in industries, such as oil and gas companies, or small-scale HPC systems at some academic and research institutions, but they are not available for public search or public use.


Where was the Print on Demand Machine made?

It was made in the USA by a group of American inventors (not a specific company).


How many books are digitized and saved on the memory of the Print on Demand Machine (Espresso Book Machine)?

The old machine contains around 900+ books. The new one is connected to Express Net sales channel (a facility provided by On Demand Books, the provider of the machine, which promotes the distribution of titles that can be published through the EBM through its digital sales network offering access to millions of book titles).


What is the maximum capacity of the memory of the Print on Demand Machine?

The capacity of the machine is unlimited, because the books are stored on a separate server. In addition to that, it is connected to the “Express Net” which is connected to different publishers all over the world.


When will the E.B.M be open to public?

It won’t be open in the near future, because the BA is still in the process of determining the operating cost of the machine/book. That cost will be the price of the book when it is sold to the public.


Are all the books accessible to the public?

No, there are special reading areas for the Manuscripts and Rare Books that are not displayed to the public. Furthermore, some of our collections, such as theses, are stored in closed areas and must be requested from a Reference Librarian.


Are the extra copies of one book counted in the total number of volumes inside the library?

Yes, they are, as the library depends on the item number not the title number.


How does the BA acquire books?

There are 3 ways of acquiring books:

  • Donations

  • Purchases

  • Deposits (i.e, theses)

In case of purchasing, readers fill an acquisition form that includes all the details of the book that they would like the BA to acquire.

The donation is double the purchase.


Will all the 5 million books of the BA collection be available on the shelves?

The BA collection will take many years to build up. The capacity of the Main Reading Area is only 500,000 items, but the library has a storage space enough for 4.5 million volumes or more.


What is the most widely read/required field of books at the BA?

Generally, social sciences (especially social work and social problems), education, Egyptology, Islamic religion, and language books (especially dictionaries) are the most widely read printed books, while the most read electronic resources are those in the fields of technology and natural science.

Regarding books in the field of technology and natural and applied science, the most required fields are engineering (especially electronics and civil engineering), maritime transport, mathematics, anatomy, and nutrition.


What is the temperature and the level of humidity in which books are kept?

The temperature in which books are kept at the BA is 18–20 degrees and the humidity level is 40–60 %.


What can we offer to children at the Library?

  • The Children’s Library contains a large collection ofpicture books, story books, nonfiction books and multimedia materials in several  languages and covers a wide range of subjects. It also encompasses a computer lab, an activities room, a storytelling and puppet-show corner, and a multimedia corner. In addition, it organizes various activities and workshops for children during summer and midyear vacation for library members only.

  • The Arts Center seeks to be an incubator for the talents of children, and it provides training and development opportunities. It is now located in a villa in Roushdi, but it is still under the jurisdiction of the BA.

  • The Writing and Scripts Center offers several educational activities, including educational courses and workshops for children, as well as sessions to teach children, youth, and adults about ancient calligraphy in conjunction with the cultural season lectures.

  • The ALEXploratorium primarily targets children through interactive exhibitions, workshops, and other programs and activities that aim to relay science principles in a simple and fun manner.


What is the classification system used at the Library?

The classification system used at the BA is the Dewey Decimal System.


Are the 5% of any copyrighted book on DAR selective or not?

No, they are not selective. They are the first 5% of the pages of the book starting from the cover page.


Does the BA have censorship on books?

No, but books that have controversial subjects are kept in the Safe Room on the B4 floor and only researchers are allowed to access them after checking their fields of study and their relevance to the books they wish to access.


Can anybody print/photocopy any book?

Yes, they can.

According to the law of copyrights, only 20% of any book can be photocopied at the cost of 50 piasters/page.

As for printing, a Smart Card can be purchased with at the cost of 5 LE and charged with any amount of money to allow the user to print anything from the internet.


Is the Nobel Section accessible to the general public?

No, it is not. It is open for researchers and it requires a prior reservation and coordination with the Library Services and Information Desks.


How many users frequent the library annually?

The total number of  Library visitors for the year 2015/2016 is 715,976.

167,836 of them are visitors and the rest are readers, in addition to the entry of 16,438 membership holders.


What is the number of BA visitors/day?

In 2016, the average number of BA visitors per day was 2,300.    


What are the nationalities that visit the BA the most?

The top 9 nationalities that visited the BA the most during 2016 are as follows:

  1. Egyptian
  2. American
  3. French
  4. Spanish
  5. Italian
  6. German
  7. Australian
  8. Greek
  9. British


What is the percentage of students among the users of the Library?

They are the majority. It can easily be said that 80% of BA users are students and researchers.


Does the BA have the largest Reading Area in the world?

Not exactly. The BA Main Reading Area is considered the largest open one worldwide, meaning that there are certainly other libraries in the world with larger reading areas. However, those reading areas are separated into several reading rooms on several floors, while the BA has a single reading room with cascading “terraces”.


What is Egypt’s National Library?

The National Library of Egypt is Dar Alkotob in Cairo.


How does the BA acquire manuscripts and rare books?

Most of the BA collections of manuscripts and rare books were donated from different individuals and/or countries, such as the Government Library of Alexandria and the Religious Institution of Semoha.


How many museums for President Sadat are there in Egypt?

There are three museums for President Sadat in Egypt:

  1. One in Mit Abul Kom (the president’s birth place)
  2. One in the Pharaonic Village in Cairo
  3. One at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.


Who funded the Bibliotheca Alexandrina?

During the construction of the Library, the Egyptian Government paid more than  50% of the cost (around 120 million US dollars). The donations for the remaining 50% (around 100 million US dollars) were provided by countries from all over the world.


What is the annual BA budget?

The visitors can read the Annual Report issued by the BA at the end of each year to know the BA budget.


What was the role of the UNESCO in the Library?

UNESCO organized the competition to select the design for the BA and the publicity for it. However, it no longer plays any roles.


Who finances the BA now?

  • ARTICLE 4 of Law No. 1 of the year 2001 Concerning the Library of Alexandria states that:

    The President of the Republic shall determine by decree the mechanisms by which the Library shall be supervised and administered, and the method in which its administrative and financial affairs shall be run, in a manner appropriate with the nature of its activities. Thus enabling it to achieve its mission, and without being constrained by the administrative regulations stated in any other law.

  • ARTICLE 5 states that:

    The resources of the Library shall comprise: 

  • Allocations provided for by the State.

  • Support, gifts, donations, bequests, and financial contributions from national or international sources.

  • Loans secured in favor of the Library.

  • Revenues from operating services and activities and returns on invested funds.

  • Any other sources that may be legally allocated to the Library.

  • ARTICLE 6 states that:

    The Library shall have an independent budget, and its financial year shall start and end with the financial year of the Government.

    The Library shall have a separate account at the Central Bank of Egypt or a commercial bank subject to the approval of the Minister of Finance.
    It shall deposit, in an allotted account, the proceeds of its resources.
    The surplus in that account shall be carried forward from one financial year to the next.

  • ARTICLE 7 states that:

    Within the limits of its official use and requirements, the Library and its affiliated bodies shall be exempt from general taxation of its surpluses and the revenues of its current activities, and from all charges for registration and declaration, and from customs duties on its imports of scientific material.