On our voyage, Egypt is the only country where we stop in two ports. So although our arrival in our second Egyptian port, Alexandria, is not accompanied by the familiar routine of pre-port meetings and hoards of disembarking students, this is the port I’ve most anticipated. I make sure Bibliotheca Alexandrina anticipation fills the air in Cabin 5046. Our city orientation tour includes an afternoon stop at THE library. So we first “endure” four stops: 1) a centuries-old catacomb; 2) a treasure-filled museum; 3) an emperor’s palace; and 4) lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean near a fort built with stones salvaged from one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Once all that hooey was thankfully out of the way, then we could get down to business.
This library is a stunner. It’s built near the site of the original library founded in the 3rd century. The new building opened in 2002 with shelf space for 10 million items. The main reading room is eleven levels of open space overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s something of an international attempt to recreate the glory and scholarship of the ancient library.
They treat visiting librarians well, giving Erika and me (and Kelly) a private tour of the huge place led by Sherine, a business librarian. So we heard all the info, good and bad, about this library but are inclined to only put the good in writing.
I’ve visited libraries in almost every port without encountering folks from our ship, but here in Alexandria, THE library was a center of Semester At Sea activity.
Yours in library heaven,