Last Sunday marked the opening of the new library at Deir al-Surian (the the Monastery of the Holy Virgin, commonly known as the Monastery of the Syrians), at Wadi al-Natroun in the Western Desert
Last Sunday marked the opening of the new library at Deir al-Surian (the the Monastery of the Holy Virgin, commonly known as the Monastery of the Syrians), at Wadi al-Natroun in the Western Desert.
The new library, partially funded by the Levantine Heritage Foundation of London, has been built within the 10th century walls of the 6th century Coptic monastery to house the priceless collection of ancient Christian Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopic, and Arabic manuscripts, many of which date back to the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries. The Foundation, which is strongly committed to the preservation and recording of manuscripts, has worked since 2006 in the conservation, cataloguing and preservation of the Deir al-Surian collections in situ.
Anba Matta’ous, Abbot of Deir al-Surian was on hand to welcome the guests who participated in the opening event. Among them was Sir Derek Plumbly, President of The Levantine Foundation; CEO Elizabeth Sobczynski; Dr Khalil Nougaim, Executive Director of The Levantine Foundation in Egypt; a number Coptic Orthodox clergy and public figures.
The purpose-built library provides world class storage for the collection and facilities for all aspects of book conservation, including education and training which will enable unrivalled state-of-the-art care for the library’s precious collection.
The building is equipped with an advanced temperature and humidity control system for long term preservation, a conservation laboratory, and public access areas such as reading rooms for visiting scholars. Biannual conservation field campaigns organised by The Levantine Foundation will give British, European, and Egyptian conservators unique professional development opportunities to acquire broader capability and ‘extended professionalism’ characterised by independent judgment, involvement in a community of practice, and the demonstration of practical or intellectual leadership.
21 May 2013