At the Bibliotheca: digital archive for the Egyptian press

26-05-2015 12:50 PM

Nasser Sobhy


Sunday 24 May saw the launching by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) of the digital archive for the Egyptian press. The huge work is the fruit of cooperation between the BA and the Centre for Social, Legal, and Economic Documentation Studies (CEDEJ). Both institutions play a pivotal role in documenting, and hence preserving, heritage in Egypt.

The launching ceremony was attended by BA director Ismail Serageddin, French Ambassador to Cairo André Parant, head of the digital humanitarian sciences department of CEDEJ Hala Bayoumi, and the project’s director Bassem al-Sayed.


The French Ambassador said the launching of the digital portal crowns French Egyptian cooperation in a number of fields, and coincides with the silver jubilee of the Alexandrian Studies Centre. Mr Parant explained that CEDEJ had begun its compilation work for the archive since as far back as 1976. Now, he said, the archive includes a wealth of 800,000 journalistic articles. The BA, Mr Parant said, employed its technical resources to digitise this expansive archive. The project provides a digital version of Egypt’s contemporary history to people all around the world, he proudly announced.


Dr Serageddin totally confirmed the great value of the digital archive project. He explained that the BA fully realises the importance of organising and being able to employ and benefit from various documents. The BA, Dr Serageddin divulged, is currently cooperating with the Ministry of Finance to digitise the documents of the Egyptian National Archives. He applauded the efforts by CEDEJ over the years to provide a body that reflects the evolution of the Egyptian community.


For her part, CEDEJ’s Ms Bayoumi said that since 1976 CEDEJ had amassed a documentary wealth of 800,000 articles in Arabic, English and French compiled from 24 daily and weekly Egyptian and Arab newspapers and 11 digital publications. She explained that these articles cover the period from 1976 till 2010, which would enable users to follow the political, cultural and economic evolution of contemporary Egypt. The articles, she explained, were classified into 15 themes depending on topic, with each theme divided into sub-themes. She also talked about further cooperation between CEDEJ and the BA, referring especially to the Smart Library project where the BA will digitise all of CEDEJ publications.

Mr Sayed listed the technical details the BA undertook in order to realise this project at its different stages. He announced that the BA has set up a website accessible to the public, that offers access to the entire CEDEJ collection. CEDEJ, for its part, Mr Sayed pointed out, placed an index on the website.


CEDEJ is a multi specialisation research centre founded in 1968 and affiliated to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French National Centre for Scientific Research, which focuses on contemporary Egypt and the Arab World. Its research library includes more than 35,000 books, mostly in Arabic, as well as a map archive of all Egypt.


Watani International

26 May 2015

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