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Visiting the Library

BAThe Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a beautiful building whose design, at the architectural and structural levels, merits one's attention. It is located on a magnificent site on the historic Eastern Harbor of Alexandria, almost exactly where the Ancient Library and the royal palace of the Ptolemies once stood. It faces the sea to the north, Alexandria University Complex on its southern side, and overlooks the Silsilah Peninsula.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina comprises three main elements connected underground, below the Plaza, into one large functional complex: the pre-existing Conference Center, the new Planetarium and new building that includes the Library which consists of the Main Library, Taha Hussein Library for the visually impaired, Young People's Library, Children's Library, Multimedia Library, Internet Archive, Nobel Section, and Rare Manuscript and Book Library.

The large front doors lead to a three-tier, mirror paneled grand court, Ptolemy's Court. The sides of the Court can hold exhibitions, and artistic or cultural performances, having Demetrius of Phaleron statue at the Library entrance on the left, and on the right side to the Library entrance, there is a gift shop. The Children's Library and the Young People's Library are on the first floor reachable after passing the Entrance. After crossing the closed doors of the “threshold” to the library proper, one glimpses the open space beyond. As one moves closer to the Main Hall, the soft indirect light and the well-positioned electric lights imbue the scene with a special ambiance. Then, a few steps further takes one onto the viewing balcony, named in honor of Callimachus (the great Hellenistic poet who created the first organized record of the Ancient Library's holdings organized by subject and author, thus becoming the Father of Library Science).

The Main Library interior, a total area of 13,625 m2, is split into seven levels, each has a reading area and a shelving area as well as a Reference Desk. It is considered to be the largest Reading Hall in the world with 2000 seats. The unique mastaba design of the interior levels gives a cascade-like impression, with each reading space attractively scaled and fathomable to the human psyche. The seven levels correspond to the different groupings of materials using the Dewey Decimal Classification:

F2: UN/EU Depository Collection
F1: History & Geography
E: Literature & Rhetoric … Internet Archive/Taha Hussein Library
B1: Technology & Natural Sciences and Mathematics & Languages … Microfilm Library
B2: Social Sciences … Special Collection Library
B3: Religion … Multimedia Library
B4: Philosophy and Psychology & Generalities & Periodicals & Reference Materials & Maps

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