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Library of Congress Conservation Expert Works with National Library and Archives of Egypt To Conserve Damaged Books

April 5, 2012

A Library of Congress specialist on conservation and preservation techniques was in Cairo March 11-23 to work with 15 Egyptian staff members at the National Library and Archives of Egypt (NLAE) on the emergency conservation of the books rescued during the tragic fire at the Institut d’Egypte last December.  Specialist Alan Haley applauded the work performed by National Library and Archives’ staff on the recovered books.

“The NLAE staff has so much to be proud of concerning their heroic and effective efforts to stabilize the Institut’s collection, which was so severely impacted by fire and water.  I doubt that any emergency response team with more experience could have done a better job,” Mr. Haley said. “It was a true honor to work with the fine people of the NLAE.  Their warmth, generosity, and willingness to share their experiences in a group setting made the sessions productive and memorable.”

Mr. Haley’s visit was a follow-up to the initial support given to NLAE from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the American Center for Research in Egypt in the wake of the fire at the Insitut d’Egypte. In January, USAID provided funding for critical equipment and supplies at the request of the NLAE, which oversaw rescue and salvation operations. During the training, Mr. Haley, whose work at the institut was supported by the Library of Congress, worked with senior and junior members of NLAE staff to help boost their conservation skills and abilities to work with damaged library materials.

The Institut d’Egypte was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 and became a center for research and scholarship about Egypt, producing the well-known “Description of Egypt.” It was recognized as the oldest functioning academy of sciences and arts outside Europe.  The collection consists of rare books and manuscripts, some of which date back to the 14th century.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its vast multi-lingual collections and programs. The Library also preserves the nation’s intellectual and cultural patrimony and offers its expertise in conservation to brethren institutions worldwide, offers free online access to many of the treasures at and offers documents on the history of Arab and Muslim science at a site it has launched with UNESCO, the World Digital Library at