Ramblings from the Representative-at-Large

Submitted by Patty Lunsford, Representative-at-Large, Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health, Lafayette, Crawfordsville, and Rensselaer, Indiana

“The State Liaisons Committee shall serve as a conduit for communication between the chapter and state health sciences library associations, local library groups and library science educational programs. It shall serve as a mechanism for chapter officers and committees to distribute information and receive feedback at the state and local level.”

In February, I had the privilege and life-changing experience of visiting Egypt for two weeks on an archaeology/history tour with the academy Archaeological Paths—which included the utmost honor of meeting Dr. Zahi Hawass, one of the most renowned Egyptologists in the world, and Mrs. Anwar (Jehan) Sadat, Egypt’s beloved former First Lady and wife of President Anwar Sedat, who led Egypt as its President from October 15, 1970 until his assassination on October 6, 1981.

Our journey in Egypt was an intense and challenging program (I would not even call it a “vacation,” though it most certainly was a deviation from one’s “everyday work life,” as a vacation is typically defined).  We toured and climbed through what seemed like countless pyramids, temples, and tombs; we visited The Sphinx, the Citadel of Saladin, The Egyptian Museum, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens,  sailed up the Nile River from Luxor to Aswan, visited a Nubian village, rode camels, and attended lectures, presentations, and (attempted to) learn conversational Arabic.

One of the most memorable and enlightening tours—among all the innumerable experiences in this ancient, magnificent country, was at the Library of Alexandria—the Bibiotheca Alexandrina– in the city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea. We were there for merely a few hours—however, it would take an entire university career, no, a lifetime– to absorb and visit its exhibits, museums, displays, collections, and eleven floors of pure rapture.

photo of Library of Alexandria, Egypt

Library of Alexandria

This imposing National Library of Egypt, which was dedicated on October 16, 2002, is situated across the avenue from the campus of the University at Alexandria and at the seafront of the Mediterranean Sea, close to where the ancient Library once stood. The Library campus includes a conference center and a planetarium, and specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the visually impaired, children, adolescents, four museums, four art galleries, fifteen permanent exhibitions, a manuscript restoration laboratory, and more.

Photo of Plaque at the Library of Alexandria

Plaque at the Library of Alexandria

The Library at Alexandria is truly an international endeavor and collection—major funding was provided by UNESCO, along with generous donations from the Arab states and nations throughout the world. The collections are also representative of gifts and donations of documents, books, and manuscripts form all over the world, notably among them: from Spain: documents conveying the history of  its Moorish rule, and from France: the documentation of the construction and governance of the Suez Canal.

The four museums are extraordinary, and they commemorate: Antiquities, Manuscripts (Rare Collections, Microfilm, and Museography); Anwar Sadat, and the History of Science. The permanent exhibitions include: Our Digital World, The World of Shadi Abdel Salaam, and Impressions of Alexandria.

The Culturama Hall is a 180-degree panoramic interactive computer screen which was create in 2007 by the Egyptian Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage and displays three periods from the history of Egypt: the Ancient Egyptian Period, the Islamic Civilization, and Modern Egypt.

photo of bust of Alexander the Great at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt

Bust of Alexander the Great at Library of Alexandria, Egypt

If there were ever a time to be simultaneously humbled, awed, and proud to be a member of the library profession, it was standing next to the statue of Alexander the Great, gazing upon this edifice of antiquity-meets- the- contemporary world, and ogling at this indescribable monument of humanity and erudition.

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