AUC’S Rare Books and Special Collections Library Preserves Local and International Heritage
The conservation of the cultural and historical heritage of Egypt and the region has been one of the main objectives of The Rare Books and Special Collection Library (RBSCL) at The American University in Cairo (AUC) since its creation in 1992. In addition to housing stellar collections of rare books, documents, manuscripts, photographs and archival collections from Egypt, the Middle East and other parts of the world, the RBSCL strives to preserve these for posterity while increasing their accessibility through digitization and an active conservation program.
The RBSCL has one more very effective project for conserving intellectual and cultural history that should be mentioned: its Oral History Program. This program has two parts: one is documenting the history of the University through interviews with the professors, students, leadership, and staff. A second effort in recording the personal histories of men and women whose life stories are the history of Egypt. Both programs are under the direction of University Archivist Stephen Urgola and the intent in both cases is to assemble unique accounts of life in Egypt that can offer researchers insight into the world these people knew and in which recent history has been made. “There is also a time imperative,” says Urgola. “A generation is rapidly disappearing and if we do not record their memories now, they risk being lost forever.”